The P-36 was developed from the Curtiss Hawk Model 75, a prototype participant in a series of design competitions held by the Air Corps between 1935 and 1937. After initial setbacks in early competitions, the aircraft was equipped with a new Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine. The Air Corps was so impressed by the performance of the P-36 that it ordered 210 of the aircraft, the largest military order of a single airplane type since World War I. Including 30 P-36G export models seized by the U.S. government in 1942 because of the German occupation of Norway, the Army Air Forces possessed a total of 243 P-36s [three P-36s (S/N 37-68 to 70); 210 P-36As (S/N 38-001 to 210); 30 P-36Gs (S/N 42-38305 to 38322 and 108995 to 109006)] .
Both France and England used the Hawk 75A in combat over Europe in 1939 and 1940, even though the airplane was obsolescent when compared to its major adversary, the Messerschmitt 109. During 1941, the AAF transferred 39 of its P-36s to Hawaii and 20 to Alaska, and with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, two of the first six AAF fighters to get off the ground to meet the enemy were P-36s. Following the outbreak of hostilities, the outmoded P-36 was relegated to training and courier duties within the United States.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force has a P-36A on display.
Initially designed Y1P-36
210 ordered; one as XP-40; one as P-36B
P-36A with supercharged R-1830-25
S/N 38-51 and last 30 P-36A modified
P-36A with four .30-cal. wing guns
P-36A with eight .30-cal. wing guns
P-36A with two 23mm wing cannon
Hawk 75A for Norway - seized
TECHNICAL NOTES (P-36A): Armament: Two .30-cal. or two .50-cal. machine guns Engine:Pratt & Whitney R-1830-13 of 1,050 hp Maximum speed: 313 mph Cruising speed: 250 mph Range: 830 miles Service ceiling: 32,700 ft. Span: 37 ft. 4 in. Length: 28 ft. 6 in. Height: 8 ft. 5 in. Weight: 5,650 lbs. loaded