If the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was not the best fighter in the arsenal of the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) when the United States entered the conflict, it was the most numerous type available. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning could outperform the P-40, especially at high altitude, but the P-40 was less expensive, easier to build and maintain, and — most important — it was in large-scale production at a critical period in the nation’s history when fighter planes were needed in large numbers.
A total of 11,998 P-40s were built before production was finally terminated in 1944. Warhawks constituted the principal armament of the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighter squadrons throughout 1942 and 1943. Even after the appearance of newer types of fighter aircraft in the USAAF rendered the P-40 obsolete, it continued to contribute to victory in a variety of Allied air forces.The P-40 was the product of a long development process that began when the USAAC invited vari