The Curtiss P-36 Hawk, which was also known as the Curtiss Hawk Model 75, was initially designed for the United States Army Air Corps. Although the USAAC did not find the design overtly impressive, the first production of the P-36s was nevertheless delivered to the 20th Pursuit Group in Louisiana in April 1938. During its service in the US Air Force, the P-36 showed numerous problems which affected the over-all performance of this WW2 aircraft. By the time these problems were corrected, the P-36 design was already considered obsolete even during the early part of the Second World War.
The P-36 Hawk was nevertheless widely accepted during its development because it offered new features such as a fully-enclosed cockpit canopy and a powered retractable undercarriage system that did not exist in most single-crew fighters of that time.
Although the design was for the use of the USAAC, the French government already negotiated for the delivery of 300 units even before the initial production. The P-36 Hawk was extensively used by the French Army and served France until its untimely fall under the German Reich Army. The P-36 Hawk however, was given credit for being responsible for the first German aircraft kill of WW2.
After the Fall of France, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) came into possession of 229 Hawks that came from the diverted shipments and from escaped pilots. Although the RAF already had their Supermarine Spitfire MK I fighter, they still decided to use the Hawks, which they designated as Mohawks, because of the obvious advantages they had. The Mohawks had lighter controls and were easily maneuverable during dogfights, take-offs and landings. The Mohawks also had better visibility than that of the Spitfire. During its service with the RAF, this WW2 aircraft would eventually be used in the Indian skies under the British government of India.
The P-36 Hawk would also find its way to the Finnish Government as Germany agreed to sell the captured French Hawks to the country. The P-36 Hawk was so loved by the Finnish Air Force that they affectionately nicknamed the plane “Sussu”, which translated to “Sweet Heart”.
|Allied Codename:||Hawk / Mohawk / “Sussu” Sweet Heart|
|Type:||one-man fighter aircraft|
|Design:||Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company|
|Engine(s):||1 x Wright R-1820-G205A Cyclone piston radial engine generating 1,200 HP|
|Max Speed:||518 km/h (322 mph; 280 knots)|
|Max Range:||650 nautical miles (1,046 km)|
|Ceiling:||9,860 meters (32,349 feet; 6.1 miles)|
|Empty Weight:||2,121 kg|
|Loaded Weight:||2,667 kg|
|ARMAMENTS||4 x 7.62mm machine guns
2 x 12.7mm machine guns