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1943 Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk Shark Squadron Tribute Looks Ready to Bite

One cannot but love how the fighter airplanes of the Second World War were tattooed. I mean, how else would we have seen shark-inspired creatures taking to the skies?
1943 Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk 5 photos
1943 Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk1943 Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk1943 Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk1943 Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk
Officially, the habit of painting stuff on aircraft is called nose art. Historically, it was first used (some say as far back as the early 1910s) as a means for friendly units to identify themselves. It wasn’t until the Second World War, though, that nose art became increasingly complex, with all sides coming up with their own designs, meant to either boost their own morale or defeat that of the enemy.

On the allied side, legend has it that the first to use the shark mouth design on the nose of airplanes was the British 112 Squadron. Deployed in several war theaters during the war, from Greece to the Middle East and Italy, it was also the first air force unit to use the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk ground attack/fighter aircraft. Seeing the shark mouth used by Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Bf 110s, the unit decided to copy it and thus became known as the Shark Squadron.

The plane you see here was never deployed by this particular unit but did see action as part of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It is a Curtiss P-40 of the Kittyhawk variety, not a Tomahawk, and is presently for sale for $1,795,000 somewhere in Australia.

After being sold for scrap following the war, it was rescued and entered the private circuit. The plane has been dressed up to look like a Shark Squadron machine, featuring the very menacing shark mouth and eyes up front. It was restored back in 2006 and is powered by an Allison engine (the same it had on when it rolled off the lines back in 1943) that saw just 265 hours of operation since restoration.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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