Curtiss’s new design included some of the latest technology
The P-36 was the first all-metal monoplane developed and manufactured by Curtiss-Wright. Throughout its service, the fighter was underpowered, due to the inability of American engine manufacturers to develop a reliable high-powered radial while the P-36/Hawk 75 was in production. As Finnish ace Kyösti Karhila recalled, “it wasn’t fast enough”. The Wright R-1820 Cyclone used in the H75A-4/A-8/Mohawk IV sub-type was troublesome and unreliable, with no two units putting out the same power, added to which were problems of oil loss in flight. The Pratt & Whitney R-1830, employed in the P-36 and the other H75 sub-types, was the superior engine; the Finns ultimately replaced the Wright engines in their H75A-8s with R-1830s obtained through the Germans from French spares, despite the fact that the Wright-powered aeroplane was slightly faster.