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The P-40M, The A-11 Spec, And The Inspiration

The P-40M KittyHawk, The A-11 Specification (Spec), And The Inspiration of the P-40M Mechanical pilot watch.

First, The P-40M was a bad ass warbird.

The very first days of ww2, including the Infamous Dec 7th, were perilous, the conclusion was unknown and certainly not in our favor during at the onset of WW2.

The P-40 was the plane that when we were thrust into war with, and why we were not crushed from the start.

Lets step back and look at who made the P-40 and where. The P-40 was made by American aviation company Curtis Wright in one of it's factories located in Buffalo New York.

The Curtis Wright factory image below shows the P-40 series unknown, but in the picture we can see the air intake that the P-40M used for the super charger, the year of the picture reportedly dates from 1943. Could it be the P-40M? Notice the female mechanic standing on the wing in the foreground. Image Credits

The Curtiss Wright Factory in Buffalo New York in 1943 Assembling The P-40.

Some Tales of P-40 pilots have become legends. 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 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 hero's struggle of WW2.

When Rick Bell walked into the expansive air of one of the Tri-State Warbird Museums hangars, of course The Cincinnati Miss, the shiny P-51 Mustang demanded attention with its slick aerodynamics, shiny polished metal, custom checkered paint work of art on her nose; a weaponized sports racer among precision flyers called out.

Certainly, a Warbird To Admire:

The Tri-State Warbird Museum's The "Cincinnati Miss" P-51 Mustang

A Special Tour was provided The Cincinnati Watch Company. We were allowed into the P-51 Mustang Cockpit!

An Exhilarating experience!

The Union Terminal Watch by The Cincinnati Watch Company inside the cockpit of the restored P-51 Mustang by The Tr-State Warbird Museum

The cockpit panel of the Warbird Museum's P-51 Mustang includes original cockpit mechanisms and modern flying apparatus.

But it was the P-40M that attracted Rick Bell from the first time he looked at the matte green fighting warbird; the large green rugged strong P-40M called to Rick Immediately.

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 but with Power of 12 giant cylinders. Above notice a unique characteristic of the P-40, the cut out so that the pilot can look back over their shoulders to see their blind spots.

The A-11 Specification.

The A-11 Spec was the name of the US Military document that specified all of the needs of the 8-day clocks to be installed into the American warcraft. Privately owned American companies like Waltham, Elgin, Hamilton and others had to meet these specifications if they wanted to produce 8-day clocks for the cockpits of the warbirds.

The cockpit clocks inside of the P-40M restored by The Tri-State Warbird Museum as well as all of the American Warbirds in WW2 had to align with a strict U.S. Military specification list generally referred to as the "A-11 Spec".

It is 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 that inspired the dial design of the P-40M Mechanical..

The A-11 Spec Sheet included some of these necessities:

  • Black Dial (Background)
  • White markings
  • Outer ring marking the seconds made of simple dashes
  • Numerals at the 5's on the outermost ring
  • Big bold Arabic Numerals marking the hours
  • large white minute and hour hands

8-day clock conforming to the A-11 American Military Spec

A very interesting necessity of the A-11 specifications for the 8-day clocks designed for the cockpits of WW2 Warbirds is 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.

What is an 8-Day Clock?

Inside of airplanes in the WW2 era the clocks in the cockpit 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 of a watch, large enough that one full wind and the clock would run for 8 days.

See Waltham's 8-day clocks here.


Strong and powerful The P-40M not only has the fearsome 6 pipes coming from each side of her nose. The air intake grill on the front is an air intake for a Super Charger Powerful Engine is another P-40M discerning trait. In the picture below you can see the wing mounted 50 Caliber machine guns.

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 on the wing there is a white stripe of paint, in the bulge on the front of the wing was where the camera was mounted vertically inside of. You can see the small opening where the camera's aperture looked out.

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.

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 to see it to go diagonal 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.

(Continued. More About the Restoration Process to come

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:

Paul Redlich

Barry Anderson

Mike Durkee

Steve Emery

Greg Muir

Kenny Wiggers.

It could not have been possible without:

David O'Maley, John Fallis, Dale Hoffman, John Saunders, Chad Van Hook, and Tom Wilson.

Thank you Tri-State Warbird Museum! All orders of the P-40M Mechanical can receive a year membership to the Tri-State Warbird Museum upon request. A portion of all sales of the P-40M Mechanical pilot watch are donated to the living museum for future warbird restorations.

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.

Thank you!

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