|This page is about the American fighter P-36A. For the premium version, see Rasmussen's P-36A. For other versions, see P-36 (Family).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
The P-36A Hawk is a rank I American fighter with a battle rating of 1.7 (AB/SB) and 1.3 (RB). It was introduced in Update 1.31.
In the early 1930s, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation began a private venture to build a fighter aircraft which was a revolutionary departure from earlier cloth-covered biplanes of World War I. This project aircraft under development was named the Curtiss Hawk Model 75 (later it would be known by P-36 Hawk, Hawk-75 – or just H-75 and Mohawk. The P-36 was an all-metal monoplane (although the control surfaces were fabric-covered) with a 900 hp radial engine, enclosed cockpit and retractable landing gear. Even though this aircraft touted some of the state-of-the-art development in aircraft design, several aspects remained lacking, such as the original two machine guns firing through the propeller arc, a 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm and other critical components such as the absence of armour in the cockpit and self-sealing fuel tanks.
By May 1935 the first prototype flew and attained speeds of 281 mph (452 km/h) and reaching an altitude of 10,000 ft (3,000 m). It wasn’t long before the original 900 hp Write XR-1670-5 radial engine was replaced with an upgrade Wright XR-1820-39 Cyclone at 950 hp and several modifications to the body of the aircraft was completed like the addition of scalloped rear windows which significantly improved the pilots rear view (although the hump on the back of the aircraft still blocked a significant portion of the view). This version of the aircraft was designated as Model 75B while oddly enough the earlier version with the 1670-5 was listed as a Model 75D.
In early competitions against the Seversky P-35A saw the underpowered and more expensive P-35A as the winner in the U.S. government's eyes, however, the United States Army Air Command (USAAC) went ahead and placed an order for three Y1P-36 prototypes as a backup contingency fighter. When delivered, the Y1P-36 (Model 75E) had been outfitted with the 900 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-13 Twin Wasp engine. Due to this version of the aircraft performing so well, an order for 210 P-36-A fighters was placed.
The P-36 was known as an outstanding turning aircraft due to its extremely low wing loading and had a beefy power-to-weight ratio of 0.186 hp/lb that placed this aircraft as one of the best climbing aircraft of the time. One drawback noted was that the P-36 was not outfitted with a supercharger which hampered its ability to operate at high altitudes, requiring it to stay under 10,000 ft in altitude. For all of this aircraft’s positive attributes and unfortunate shortcomings, it performed well mostly for other nations such as Finland where the Hawk was known as “Sussu” or Finnish for “Sweetheart” as between 58 Finnish pilots flying the Hawk, they scored 190.3 aerial victories. The P-36 was the proving ground and stepping stone to the later great fighter, the P-40.
The P-36A is a relatively easy fighter aircraft to fly and requires only a relatively short space to both takeoff and land. During World War II the P-36 was ferried over to Pearl Harbor aboard an aircraft carrier from which they took off and then landed at the Army Air Corps base. In the game, due to the very low stall speed, the P-36 can land on an aircraft carrier to a complete stop and take off again. Due to the fantastically low wing loading rate of 23.9 lb/ft2, this fighter is an excellent turning aircraft and accompanied by a strong rudder can spiral climb easily especially during WEP cycles. This aircraft has the advantage of being both a turn fighter and a Boom & Zoom fighter, depending on the situation, type of aircraft which are flying against and mission type. The P-36 will out-turn many fighters of its rank and can prove difficult to follow if attempting to shoot it down.
| Max Speed
(km/h at 3,048 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
| Max Speed
(km/h at 3,048 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run|
|Combat flaps||Take-off flaps||Landing flaps||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
| Wing-break speed
| Gear limit
| Combat flaps
|Max Static G|
|< 290||< 380||< 420||> 300|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|1,981 m||1,050 hp||1,219 hp|
Survivability and armour
- 9.5 mm steel behind the pilot
As with many early pre-war fighters, not much emphasis was put on the survivability of the aircraft. The best course of action was for the pilot to not let anyone get behind them. The P-36A’s only sources of protection for the pilot is the engine block and the 9.5 mm (angled at 24° for effective thickness of 13 mm), that being said, depending on the engine block to save the pilot may do so at the expense of the engine, thus requiring the pilot to glide back to base if possible or bailout. The P-36 lacks self-sealing fuel tanks, so if any of the three are punctured (one directly behind the pilot and two below the pilot’s feet) they will leak fuel and if accompanied by fire, will rapidly degrade the aircraft structure to failure and destruction. There are also two unprotected oil coolers if which are punctured, the aircraft will leak oil until depleted eventually causing the engine to seize up.
The P-36A is armed with:
- 1 x 12.7 mm Browning M2 machine gun, nose-mounted (200 rpg)
- 1 x 7.62 mm Browning machine gun, nose-mounted (500 rpg)
For the P-36A fighter, the armament of a single 12.7 mm and 7.62 mm machine gun is quite weak in comparison to the level of performance this aircraft is capable of. Later Hawks rectified this situation by adding two or four machines guns. For this aircraft, both machine guns are mounted in the engine cowl and fire through the propeller arc. The disadvantage to this is that the machine guns are limited in firing rate due to being synchronized with the rotating propeller; however, with these guns nose-mounted, there is little need to adjust for convergence. Options in ammunition will allow the pilot to select the type best suited for their mission whether it be as an interceptor, ground target hunter or a stealthy pouncer.
12.7 mm ammunition
|Belt Type||1st Round||2nd Round||3rd Round||4th Round||5th Round|
|T = M1 Tracer bullet; Ball = M2 Omni purpose bullet; I = M1 Incendary bullet; AP = M2 Armor piercing bullet|
7.62 mm ammunition
|Belt Type||1st Round||2nd Round||3rd Round||4th Round||5th Round||6th Round|
|T = Tracer bullet; Ball = Omni purpose bullet; I = Incendary bullet; AP = Armor piercing bullet|
This aircraft does not have the option to select any additional suspended armaments nor does it have any defensive weapons to counter any attackers.
Usage in battles
Energy retention lends this fighter to be a great zoomer, dropping in for a shot and then speeding back up to regain the energy advantage. With this aircraft having such a low stall speed; it makes a great fighter to practice Rope-a-dope energy depletion manoeuvres. This requires the P-36 pilot to bait another fighter into following them in a climb, as the attacker attempts to get guns on, the P-36 pilot can start to spiral climb which will cause the attacking aircraft to pull a tighter circle haemorrhaging their energy. If done correctly, the attacking fighter will stall out and be completely helpless as they begin to fall back to the ground allowing the P-36 to roll over or Split-S and take out the stalled fighter below.
Most fighters are typically only good at one thing whether its turning, speed or weapon systems, however, the P-36 is good at two, speeding and turning. This fighter has the ability to not only zoom attack but can also turn fight competitively with most other aircraft. There are few aircraft (notably the A6M Zero fighters of the Imperial Japanese Navy) which may outshine while turning, however, when utilizing flaps and rudder while turning, the P-36 can manoeuvre into some tight turns and allow guns to get on target.
Even with all of its power and mobility, the P-36 is a relatively fragile aircraft. Without much armour on the aircraft, many of its critical systems are exposed and it will not take much even from lower calibre machine guns to cause fuel fires, oil leaks and the engine shutdowns, not to mention a knocked out pilot. Situational awareness is critical to potentially know not only where the targets are, but also the enemy aircraft which are manoeuvring into position and ready to pounce. The weakness of only having two machine guns will require the pilot to get in close (50 – 200 m) to make the most of their shots as anywhere past 150 m, bullet penetration drops off considerably.
Manual Engine Control
|Not controllable|| Controllable
Not auto controlled
| Not controllable
Auto control available
Not auto controlled
|Combined|| Not controllable
|I||Fuselage repair||Radiator||Offensive 7 mm|
|II||Compressor||Airframe||New 7 mm MGs|
|III||Wings repair||Engine||Offensive 12 mm|
|IV||Engine injection||Cover||New 12 mm MGs|
Pros and cons
- High climb rate, especially with war emergency power applied
- Impressive roll and turn rate, highly efficient Immelman and split-S manoeuvres
- Strong rudder, excels in wing-over and hammerhead stall manoeuvres
- Slow stall speed (about 55 mph or 88.5 kph)
- Armament is inadequate against bombers and other aircraft with rear-facing gunners
- Standard Army Air Corps armament for the time, same as the P-26A-34 M2 Peashooter
- Lack of adequate armour renders engine, fuel tanks, oil coolers and virtually defenceless
The P-36 Hawk began its life at Curtiss Aeroplane Company as a design in the early 1930s. A private venture by Curtiss, the project was headed up by Donovan A. Berlin, a former Northrop aircraft company engineer who was the principal designer and incorporated design portions of early Northrop designs. The P-36, at this time known as the X-17Y, was a stretch from the biplane years by utilizing an all-metal low-wing monoplane with fabric-covered control surfaces. This aircraft also featured retractable landing gear, which utilized a design put forward by Boeing Aircraft Company and required royalties to be paid to Boeing for every aircraft in which this landing gear was installed. Initial weapon load-outs included the standard 12.7 mm and 7.62 mm machine guns, both of which were mounted in the forward fuselage deck and fired through openings in the cowling, synchronized to fire through the propeller arc.
The initial flight took place in 1935 and when it was presented at a competition the next year, the competitor aircraft (Seversky SEV-2XP/P-35) was heavily damaged in transit. While Seversky took their aircraft back to perform repairs and modifications, Curtiss took the opportunity during this time to make some modifications of their own, and namely replacing the Wright XR-1670-5 twin-row air-cooled radial engine with the upgraded Write XR-1820-39 Cyclone radial. With the Seversky aircraft repaired, the competition was back on. Even though the Seversky aircraft underperformed and was more expensive than Curtis X-17Y, it was selected and an order of 77 aircraft were put in for, however later the Material Division of the USAAC contacted Curtis and put in an order for three examples as they were becoming nervous about Seversky’s ability to deliver their aircraft on time. Curtiss worked on modifying the P-36 by again upgrading the motor and working on the cockpit, especially increasing the amount of area behind the cockpit where the pilot could see. During the 1937 competition, test pilots who piloted the P-36 all commented that the aircraft responded to pilot input favourable and at all speeds and even noted that it handled well on the ground while taxiing. With such a reaction from the test pilots, the USAAC put in an order for 210 P-36A fighters, which at that time was the largest single US military aircraft order since World War I.
As the P-36 fighters began to roll off the assembly line, they were shipped to US squadrons, however, problems developed with the aircraft which left them grounded while waiting repairs. The P-36 continued to have problems, however, four P-36A fighters stationed at Wheeler Air Field in Hawaii were able to get airborne and attach a flight of Nakajima B5N1 torpedo bombers, claiming two shot down and gaining the first US fighter aircraft "kills" of the Pacific War. Despite this action, the P-36 fighters were withdrawn from combat outfits and sent to training units for new pilots to train on. While the P-36 did not see much action with the U.S., it did see combat action while flown by other nations such as France and Finland where they put the little fighter to the test and were highly successful with it. 10 P-36A training fighters were transferred in 1942 to Brazil where they remained in service until 1954.
A single-seat cantilever monoplane fighter with an all-metal construction, closed cockpit and retractable landing gear with a tail wheel. Designed by Don R. Berlin at the Curtiss Wright Corporation design bureau.The plane's prototype (Model 75B) completed its maiden flight in mid-April 1935.
On the whole, test pilots gave the new plane positive reviews: they noted its ease of control and good maneuverability. The plane was also stable in flight and responded well to its pilot, reacting precisely to every movement of the stick.
Pleased with the results of the flight tests, the United States Army Air Corps signed a contract with the Curtiss company on 7 June, commissioning the immediate production of a series of 210 P-36A planes. This was the largest fighter order any American company had received since the end of World War I.
The plane was powered by the twin-row 14-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-1830-13 Twin Wasp air-cooled radial engine with a maximum output of 1,050 hp.
The plane's armament was standard for American fighters of the time – one 7.62 mm synchronized Colt-Browning ANM2.3 machine gun with 600 rounds and one 12.7 mm synchronized Colt-Browning ANM2.5 machine gun with 200 rounds.
The planes began to join USAAC combat units in April 1938. The first fighters joined the 55th, 77th and 79th Pursuit Squadrons, which made up the 20th Pursuit Group at the Barksdale Field airbase. As soon as the new plane went into active service, a number of problems became visible, in particular the design's weak structural integrity and incomplete exhaust system. Nonetheless, the military continued to gradually switch to P-36A fighters in the 1st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field (17th, 27th and 94th PS), the 8th Pursuit Group at Langley Field (33rd, 35th and 36th PS) and the 16th Pursuit Group in the Panama Canal Zone (24th, 29th and 43rd PS).
A total of 180 P-36A planes were produced.
- Analogues of other nations
- Militaryfactory.com website [Curtiss P-36 Hawk (Hawk 75 / Mohawk)]
- Aviationhistory.com website [The Curtiss P-36 Hawk]
- Joebaugher.com website [Curtiss P-36A]
|Fighters||P-36A · Rasmussen's P-36A · P-36C · P-36G · P-40C · P-40E-1 · P-40F-10 · XP-55|
|Bombers||SB2C-1c · SB2C-4|
|Export||Hawk III · H-75A-1 · H-75A-4 · H-81A-2 · ␗P-40E-1 · ▂P-40E-1 · ▄SB2C-5 · CW-21|
|P-26 Peashooter||P-26A-33 · P-26A-34 · P-26A-34 M2 · P-26B-35|
|P-36 Hawk||P-36A · Rasmussen's P-36A · P-36C · P-36G|
|P-39 Airacobra||P-400 · P-39N-0 · P-39Q-5|
|P-40||P-40C · P-40E-1 · P-40F-10|
|P-47 Thunderbolt||P-47D-25 · P-47D-28 · P-47M-1-RE · ⋠P-47M-1-RE · P-47N-15|
|P-51 Mustang||P-51 · P-51A (Thunder League) · P-51D-5 · P-51D-10 · P-51D-20-NA · P-51D-30 · P-51H-5-NA|
|P-63 Kingcobra||P-63A-5 · P-63A-10 · P-63C-5 · ␠Kingcobra|
|F2A Buffalo||F2A-1 · Thach's F2A-1 · F2A-3|
|F3F||F3F-2 · Galer's F3F-2|
|F4F Wildcat||F4F-3 · F4F-4|
|F4U Corsair||F4U-1A · F4U-1A (USMC) · F4U-1D · F4U-1C · F4U-4 · F4U-4B · F4U-4B VMF-214|
|F6F Hellcat||F6F-5 · F6F-5N|
|F8F Bearcat||F8F-1 · F8F-1B|
|Other countries||▃Ki-43-II · ▃Ki-61-Ib · ▃A6M2 · ▃Bf 109 F-4 · ▃Fw 190 A-8 · ▃Spitfire LF Mk IXc|