Happy late Birthday P-40 Warhawk

Since yesterday was the 77th anniversary of the first flight of the P-40 Warhawk and today is my weekly aviation Thursday post, I thought, why not combine them. On October 14th, 1938 Curtiss test pilot Edward Elliott flew XP-40 for the first time over Buffalo, NY. Edward flew for some 300 miles in 57 minutes at an average speed of 315mph. The P-40 was improved to go up to 366mph. In April 1939 the United States Army Air Corps placed the largest order for single seat fighters up to that point of 524 P-40’s. P-40’s became a training and front line fighter for years until other fighters replaced it. The P-40 has a huge legacy that spans the length of the globe. One of the first planes I wrote about in this new blog section is the P-40. Why? Because it is one of my favorite Warbirds. You can read about it’s history here. Happy Birthday Warhawk.


The Perspective of Scale

While I was out shooting one morning with Dad he brought up the issue of putting these planes into perspective as far as scale goes. If you have never experienced being around any of these aircraft, which I recommend everyone goes and sees them at some point, then it is hard to grasp the actual size of these planes. While some are quite small others are enormous. So how do we show this in a photograph? Well the easiest answer is finding something that everybody recognizes and stick it next to the plane. If you don’t have something then here’s another way.


Everything looks bigger looking up at something. By getting down low you instantly make the subject larger. Now if you are working an airshow and have multiple planes around, then by simply having one in the background a size relationship is created. You can instantly make a small plane like the P-40, look bigger with a plane behind it.


Or to reverse that, you can make a large plane, like this B-25J, look even bigger by making the P-51C Red Tail look dwarfed in the background. These simple compositions can add huge depth and scale to any photograph, you just have to use what’s around to make it happen.

Trainer, Fighter, Classic Warbird

One of the few easily recognizable Warbirds today has got to be the P-40 Warhawk. Now most people probably recognize this plane from Pearl Harbor and the famous fight against the enemy Zeros, however there is a lot more to what this plane. The P-40 is one of the few planes that took part in theater of WWII. First introduced as a top of the line fighter, it quickly fell away to the speeds of the German and Japanese planes. The pane stayed in action in Africa, Asia and far less known the Aleutian Islands. Probably the most famous use of this plane was in Claire Chennault’s group of American volunteers known as the Flying Tigers. The Texas Flying Legends P-40 has the Aleutian Tiger painted on the front cowling in honor of Jack Chennault and the importance of the Aleutian fight.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Texas Legends do their reutine at Houston

I got home last night and am still getting through images. It was just a ton of fun photographing planes this past week at Ellington Field. For the warbird enthusiast, Wings over Houston really is a good airshow to go to. It’s just non stop warbirds flying and since it is only a couple days long it makes it really time convenient for other projects. One of the groups that is based on the field is the Texas Flying Legends Museum. Their fleet includes eleven flying aircraft all with amazing histories. They were up doing their routine Saturday and Sunday.


Their performance is amazing. In a fifteen minute show they reenact battles in the Pacific with the Zero, B-25 and P-40. The Corsair then comes in and so do the mustangs in formation. The whole performance is quite amazing with the hardest critiques being done by the pilots. Sunday Warren Pietsch went up and truly showed off nimbleness of the Zero.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

True Racing

This is why we go to the races, for the rush. If you are into speed and racing, then there is no better rush than when a plane goes by you at 500mph. It makes your head spin so fast that you do a double take to see what just happened. Over the years I have been blessed by the photo gods being able to capture some great moments at the races. Two of my favorite were actually in the first couple of years.


The first one was when a stack up, what we call when two planes are next to each other during a pass, occurred between two P-40 Warhawks. Stack ups are one of the coolest things in racing. They don’t happen often and are often the most dangerous times for the pilots, due to a lack of options if something goes wrong.


The second time is when I got to go to Home Pylon and see the race from a different perspective. It’s the only place on field where you can see the planes going by with the Grand Stands for the background. It’s really freakin cool and was a special trip. Needless to say it doesn’t happen often, so to get up there once is unbelievable.

In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 200-400 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Where Statics are Born

The one thing that can truly bring out the romance of aircraft is the static image. Static’s are also one of the hardest due to the planes usually being parked at a location surrounded by other objects and clutter. Over at Stead Airport one of the many luxury photographers have is not having to deal with that issue. This image is from last year but happens to be one of my favorites. It is a P-40 Warhawk from Warhawk Air Museum, ID.

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In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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