Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette –  60 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Aircraft

The Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk
Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk at No. 1 Central Navigation School, Rivers Manitoba, Air Force Day - August 1945
 Although the Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk was not used in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, it was a significant fighter-bomber in the Royal Canadian Air Force home defence squadrons. It and variants P-40 Warhawk and P-40 Tomahawk comprised the 13,738 aircraft built by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation between 1939 and 1945, all in the Curtiss-Wright Corporation plant in Buffalo, New York.

One hundred and thirty four of the Curtiss Kittlyhawks were obtained for the RCAF through the Lend-Lease Program. They flew operations exclusively for eight Home War Establishment Squadrons on Canada’s east and west coasts.

The RCAF utilized the P-40 Tomahawk in four Article XV Squadrons operating in Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. These squadrons were created when the four Commonwealth Countries (Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia) signed the Riverdale agreement to create the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. According to Article XV of the agreement, BCATP graduates were to be assigned to squadrons in each of their country’s air forces or to squadrons defined by national identity of the training graduates but under Royal Air Force control. Under RAF control, the squadrons were given numbers in the 400 to 490 range. Canadian squadrons were numbered 400 to 449, Australian squadrons were numbered 450 to 467 and New Zealand squadrons were numbered 485 to 490. Forty-four Canadian, 17 Australian and six New Zealand Article XV squadrons were created during World War II. Despite the formation of 67 national squadrons, most graduates of the BCATP were assigned to British units contrary to the conditions of Article XV.

Based on the Curtiss P-36 fighter, the prototype P-40 first flew in 1938 . Other primary users of the P-40 fighters were the United States Army Air Corp, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The United States cost to build one of these aircraft in 1941 was $45,000 – equivalent to $624,000 today.

The P-40 was an all-metal, single-engine, single wing fighter and ground-attack aircraft noted for its excellent abilities in low and mid-range altitudes. It was less successful at high-altitudes due to engine performance issues caused mostly by an inferior fuel delivery system.  The Kittyhawk utilized two 0.5 inch guns in each wing and had armor around the engine and cockpit

When the Japanese Navy occupied territory in the Aleutian Islands, RCAF home defence pilots in P-40 Kittlyhawks from Canada’s 14 and 111 Squadrons worked with the United States Army Air Force to repel the enemy.  When these two squadrons returned to Canada, they were redeployed to England without the Kittyhawks.

No. 133 Squadron RCAF Patricia Bay saw limited action intercepting Japanese balloon-bombs designed to start fires in remote British Columbia as did members of RCAF 135 Squadron. All of the Canadian based P-40 Kittyhawk squadrons specialized in maritime patrol and defence over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Canadian P-40, Article XV squadrons serving in the UK under direct command
and control of the RAF, with RAF owned aircraft.

- 403 Squadron (Tomahawk IIA and IIB, March 1941)
- 400 Squadron (Tomahawk I, IIA and IIB, April 1941–September 1942)
- 414 Squadron (Tomahawk I, IIA and IIB, August 1941–September 1942)
- 430 Squadron (Tomahawk IIA and IIB, January 1943–February 1943)

P-40 Operational Squadrons of the Home War Establishment (HWE) (Based in Canada)

- 111 Squadron (Kittyhawk I, IV, November 1941–December 1943 and P-40K, September 1942–July 1943),
   Patricia Bay
- 118 Squadron (Kittyhawk I, November 1941–October 1943), Dartmouth to Alaska
- 14 Squadron (Kittyhawk I, January 1942–September 1943), Western Air Command and Alaska
- 132 Squadron (Kittyhawk IA & III, April 1942–September 1944),
- 130 Squadron (Kittyhawk I, May 1942–October 1942),
- 163 Squadron (Kittyhawk I & III, October 1943–March 1944),
- 133 Squadron (Kittyhawk I, March 1944–July 1945) and
- 135 Squadron (Kittyhawk IV, May 1944–September 1945).