P-36 Hawk, U.S. Fighter

Photograph of P-36 Hawk

National Museum of the USAF

Curtiss P-36C Hawk


Crew 1
Dimensions 28'10" by 37'9" by 9'6"
8.79m by 11.50m by 2.90m
Wing area 236 square feet
21.9 square meters
Weight 4620-6150 lbs
2100-2790 kg
Maximum speed       300 mph (483 km/h) at 10,000 feet (3050 meters)
272 mph (438 km/h) at sea level
Cruising speed 200 mph
322 km/h
Landing speed 75 mph
121 km/h
Climb rate 47 feet per second
14.3 meters per second
Service ceiling 33,000 feet
10,000 meters
Power plant 1 1200 hp (895 kW) Pratt and Whitney R-1830-17 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder two-row engine driving a three-blade constant-speed Curtiss propeller.
Armament 1 0.50 fixed cowling machine gun (200 rounds)
1 0.30 fixed cowling machine gun (500 rounds)
2 0.30 fixed wing machine guns (500 rounds)
Range 670 miles (1080 km) on internal fuel
1010 miles (1630 km) with fuselage tank
Fuel 87 gallons (320 liters) internal
48 gallons (182 liters) in optional fuselage tank

1424 of all models. 177 P-36A, at least 33 P-36C at Curtiss-Wright Airplanes Division, Buffalo, NY.

A small number were assembled overseas, including 20 in Argentina, 30 or 40 in China (CAMCO) and 5 in India (Hindustani Aircraft).


The P-36A used a 1050 hp (783 kW) R-1830-13 and lacked the wing guns.

The Hawk 75 was an export version using an R-1820 engine and fixed landing gear. These were sold to Argentina, Thailand, and China.

The Hawk 75A used the more powerful R-1830 and was sold in large number, 350 reaching France before the capitulation.

Although a capable aircraft by the standards of 1940, and a thorn in the side of the Japanese in China before the arrival of the Zero, the P-36 Hawk was obsolete by the time war broke out in the Pacific. In particular, its lack of any kind of supercharger greatly limited its high-altitude performance, and its combat radius was only about 225 miles. Its retractable landing gear were excessively complicated to avoid paying royalties on a more modern design.

The design came out of an Army Air Corps competition to design a modern monoplane fighter. The prototype flew on 15 May 1935, but the Air Force awarded the competition to the P-35 Seversky instead. Curtiss replaced the original R-1820 with a more powerful Twin Wasp, demonstrating the prototype in February 1937 and winning a production contract shortly after. France ordered a large number of the Hawk 75A export version, and 350 of these aircraft claimed 311 Luftwaffe victims in the battle of France. The remainder of France's order of 620 went to Britain as the Mohawk.

A number of these aircraft were present in the Philippines, Hawaii, and the mainland, and saw some combat, in which they were usually outmatched by the Zero fighter. However, P-36s claimed two enemy aircraft at Pearl Harbor.


Bodie (1991)

Gunston (1988)

Peattie et al. (2011)

Wilson (1998)

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