The "P-40M KittyHawk III", The A-11 Spec 8-Day Clock, & The Inspiration of the P-40M Mechanical Pilot Watch.
In a little known hanger in Batavia lies 14 beautiful historically accurate restored WW2 Warbirds including the "P-40M KittyHawk III". It's this Osh Kosh Award Winning restoration that our P-40M Mechanical pilot watch is made to honor.
The Tri-State Warbird Museum won The 2016 Osh Kosh Grand Champion restoration award for their precise restoration of their P-40M KittyHawk III. A Prestigious award reserved for only the most historically accurate of warbird restorations. Accuracy down to using the same wires, bulbs, parts... A True Bird of the Past.
The P-40 was the plane that we were thrust into war with, and why we were not crushed from the start.
The P-40M KittyHawk III was made in May 1943 by American aviation company Curtis-Wright in one of it's factories in Buffalo New York.
The Curtis Wright factory image below shows P-40's being built (P-40 series unknown, but in the picture we can see the air intake that the P-40M used for the additional cooling). The year of the picture reportedly dates from 1943, the year the Tri-State Warbirds P-40M KittyHawk was built. Could the picture below be the P-40M's being built in Buffalo, New York?
Notice the female mechanic standing on the wing in the foreground. Image Credits
One Distinguishing Feature of the P-40M is the screened air intake grill on the front which functioned as an additional cooling air intake.
During WW2 war planners needed to improve our pilot's training and count the number of combat kills a pilot had, a camera was mounted inside of the wing and would start recording when the 50 Caliber guns were fired.
In the picture below there is a white stripe of paint on the wing in the bulge, this is where the camera was mounted vertically inside of. As it was a Post Production addition it could not fit anywhere else. Turning the camera vertical was a good solution. You can see the small opening where the camera's aperture looked out.
In the picture below you can see the wing mounted 50 Caliber machine guns, the screen for the additional air intake in front of the exhaust pipes and behind the propeller.
It was the P-40M that attracted Rick Bell from the first time he looked at the powerfully matte green fighting warbird, sparkling in her completely polished adherence to rolling off the production line. Rick discovered immediately he was looking at an Osh Kosh Grand Champion Restoration down to the smallest bolt, the smallest switch.
Some Tales of P-40 pilots have become legends. It was the P-40 that was sent to China with 100 pilots and 200 crewman to defend China against the attacking Japanese before the onset of American involvement of WW2. Later to be collectively known as The Flying Tigers.
It was the P-40 that in January 1942, 5 Tuskegee Airmen trained in.
Our story is about one of the most important P-40's ever built, The P-40M RNZAF NZ3119. Reborn by the Tri-State Warbird Museum the P-40M RNZAF NZ3119 is the most special of special warbird planes, the one selected to live forever, to be reborn to work as living history bringing to life the real story of the American & Allies hero's struggle of WW2.
When you see the P-40M restored by the Tri-State Warbird Museum you see how cool this bird is. Its the leather helmet, Babe Ruth of Warbirds with Power of 12 giant cylinders.
Like Inside of the restored P-40M KittyHawk, The clocks in the WW2 era cockpits flight control panel were mechanical clocks. No batteries were necessary or electricity used for the clock to work. Since the clocks were mounted in a cockpit control panel the main spring and barrel of the clock could be made much larger than that in a wristwatch, large enough that
One full wind and the clock would run for 8 days.
See More of Waltham's Modern 8-day clocks here.
The A-11 Spec is the unofficial name of the US Military document that specified all of the needs of the 8-day clocks to be installed into the American warcraft cockpits. Privately owned American companies like Waltham, Wittnauer, Elgin, Hamilton and others had to meet these specifications if they wanted to produce 8-day clocks for the cockpits of the warbirds.
The P-40M's 8-Day Clock
It's likely a Waltham 8-Day Clock inside the cockpit of the P-40M RNZAF. Made in Waltham, Massachusetts by The Waltham Clock Co. to meet the standards of wartime production specification A-11. It is this clock that inspired the dial design of the P-40M Mechanical.
The A-11 Spec Sheet included these necessities & more:
One A-11 specification for the 8-day clocks designed for the cockpits of WW2 Warbirds was that the movements had to be adjustable from the back enclosure of the case without having to access the movement itself to adjust the movement's speed. This way, military "mechanic horologists?" could adjust the 8-day clocks easily with a screwdriver while sitting in the cockpit of the plane without having to remove the movement from the case.
(I wonder if the US Air-force pilots synched their cockpit clocks as well as their pilot's watches? I wonder if the movements were tested on a regular basis. )
The Tri-State Warbird's P-40M propellers have the original Curtis Wright logo on them as they would have looked like coming out of a box in 1943, because they came out of a box from 1943.
The story of the original propellars on the P-40M KittyHawk by the Tri-State Warbird Museum in Batavia, Ohio is one of Survival, Death, Rebirth, and Miracles.
The P-40M was on a flight in 2011 when suddenly an oil pressure alarm went off. Suddenly, the pilot loses power! The courageous pilots first thoughts were for the airplane and getting it back to the airport. His selfless courage stayed with the plane during the life threatening harrowing situation, he stayed calm and glided the plane 12 miles back to the airport where he crash landed successfully, alive! and the P-40M in great shape considering. The propellers bent back as they hit the ground but otherwised the plane and pilot were in good shape. Here's Pictures
In the search for the original propellers the museum was astounded by their luck to find a set of brand new Curtis-Wright P-40 propellers available. New Out Of The Box! Incredible Blessing.
There are so many heroes that died in the all out war, so many men standing in the face of death turning into the hail of bullets every minute that it is very difficult to pass on, to tell their story, to share the sacrifice made by and entire generation with books, and dry documentaries.
When you see and hear a restored warbird, the history is literally brought to life!
Here is our inspiration, the Tri-State Warbird's Oshkosh Grand Champion restoration of the P-40M taxing on the runway after landing.
Notice how the pilot has to zig zag on the runway since the nose of the aircraft sits so high, the only way for the pilot to see in front of the plane is to go diagonal literally zig zagging while taxing.
The beauty of the restoration is the great efforts the Tri-State Warbird Museum went to to restore the plane as it would have been in 1943. The museum found an original drop tank, they created the old school wiring in some cases, they recreated so many components parts that are now 80 years old. Most noticeably, they did NOT paint the Flying Tigers teeth on the nose because this P-40M was not a Flying Tiger. The plane is painted with the Royal New Zealand Air Force signatures including the large yellow, blue, and white circle. We love this living history.
The restoration of the P-40M "KittyHawk III" began in February of 2008 and required 32,000 hours of restoration. The museum and restoration team working for the Tri-State Warbird Museum on the P-40M NZ3119 included:
David O'Maley, John Fallis, Dale Hoffman, John Saunders, Chad Van Hook, and Tom Wilson.
We are honored to acknowledge not only the brave pilots, but the grounds crews, mechanics, assembly line, and all of the strong people of the Greatest Generation who sacrificed for our American Constitution.
The P-40M Mechanical pilot watch on Pre-Sale here. Delivery August/Sept 2019.
A portion of all sales of the P-40M Mechanical pilot watch are donated to the living museum for future warbird restorations.
All orders of the P-40M Mechanical can receive a Year Membership to the Tri-State Warbird Museum.