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Author Topic: Flying the P-40 against German fighters, from Capt. James Reed of the 33rd FG  (Read 12195 times)
Mark Joyce
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« on: February 23, 2008, 06:51:07 AM »

I thought this little tidbit of information wasn't quite adequate enough, at least in length, to fit in the 'Veteran's Stories' section, so decided to share it here.

On November 11th, 1942, Lt. (later Capt.) James E. Reed of the 33rd Fighter Group was piloting one of the 77 P-40Fs that was catapulted off the carrier 'Chenango,' a converted Great Lakes oil tanker, for a landing at an airport at Port Lyautey, 90 miles north of Casablanca, as part of Operation Torch--the invasion of North Africa. Not long after the landing, Lt. Reed had to turn over his P-40F, named 'Irene' in honor of his then-girlfriend and later wife, to the French Lafayette Escardrill Squadron, much to his chagrin (along with that of the other pilots who had to give up their planes as well).  Lt. Reed ultimately completed 83 missions flying P-40s.  Many of these missions were against German fighters, especially the Me-109.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to correspond with Capt. Reed via telephone, snail mail, and email.  In one of my emails, I asked about how the P-40F and L (which he also flew) compared to both the Me-109 and Fw-190, which also flew in North Africa but to a lesser degree (more often as a fighter-bomber).  Here is Capt. Reed's emailed reply:

"Regarding performance aginst the Me-109 and FW-190.  The 190 was tough to out-turn.  I could out-turn the 109, but it was hard to do.  I, at times, had to drop a few degrees of flaps and slow down to out-turn it.  On one mission dropping the flaps was not enough so I had to drop my landing gear to slow down enough to out-turn the Me-109 and get away from his fire.  I think dropping the flaps and landing gear probably saved my life.  I never had a one-on-one with the FW-190 so am not sure what I could do with it.  I understand that it was harder to get away from than the Me-109."

I hope this is of interest to some.  The Americans and allies that flew the P-40/Tomahawk/Kittyhawk had a tough time against the Axis fighters in North Africa, especially the Me-109 and Italian Macchi 202, but the old Curtiss fighter was a tough, well-armed aircraft that, when flown to its potential by experienced pilots, could dish it out as well as take it.

Regards,

Mark
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2008, 08:53:09 AM »

Thanks for the great story! Interesting to hear the comparison between the 40 and the 109.
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2009, 12:51:37 PM »

Not sure why I didn't reply to this sooner about being in the Group section, if you wouldn't mind, I would like to put it in the Group section.  Length doesn't matter.  Smiley
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grizzly8
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2011, 10:08:02 AM »

Thanks for sharing. It is of great interest to me as I am determined to successfully fly and fight in the P-40E in Aces High II online WWII air combat game. I don't encounter too many 109's, but lots of guys fly the 190 and I try to BnZ fight most of the time. This story provides me with a tactic to try in the arena next time.
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