209th Avn. restores WAAF’s P-40 ‘Warhawk’

| April 1, 2016 | 0 Comments
Photo by Spc. Pantarat Peakpipat, 209th Aviation Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division Soldiers of the airframe repair team, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, work on a P-40 Warhawk fighter plane airframe that was used in the 1970 film “Tora Tora Tora,” the story of the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Restoration photos by Spc. Pantarat Peakpipat, 209th Aviation Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division
Soldiers of the airframe repair team, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, work on a P-40 Warhawk fighter plane airframe that was used in the 1970 film “Tora Tora Tora,” the story of the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

Story by Sgt. Daniel Johnson
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

 

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — The Airframe Squad of the 209th Aviation Support Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, spent nearly a year of volunteer work to restore a replica Curtis P-40 “Warhawk” for display, here, at Kawamura Gate.

“When this project was given to us we did not understand the condition of the airframe,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Peralta, Airframe squad leader. “Initially, we thought it would be some surface repairs and painting. After a short time we opened up the surface skin and found that it had deteriorated almost completely and needed significant repairs.”

Restoration being done in a hangar on WAAF's runway, one of the same hangars that housed Warhawks and took damage during the 1941 attack.

Restoration being done in a hangar on WAAF’s runway, one of the same hangars that housed Warhawks and took damage during the 1941 attack.

“It was an enlightening experience to repair a piece of history,” said Spc. Immanuel Tan, aircraft structural repairer. “Also to help share the memory of Soldiers who have served before us during the Second World War.”

“The restoration has definitely been a huge learning experience for everyone who laid hands on it,” said Pvt. 1st Class Alec Eller, aircraft structural repairer. “Overall what it came from to what it has become is something to be proud of.”

The P-40 was the main U.S. Army Air Corps fighter aircraft in the South West Pacific and Pacific Ocean theaters during 1941–42. The fighter was used by the U.S. and its allies throughout the war in all theaters. This specific airframe has a history of its own, starring in a Hollywood production in 1970.

“The experience the Soldiers gained from repairing such a fragile aircraft has given them more knowledge of Army aviation and the World War,” said Sgt. Jeffery Jordan, aircraft structural repairer. “It is also unique this structure was used in the movie “Tora! Tora! Tora!”

P-40s taking off from Haleiwa Auxilary Airfield in the 1970 film "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

P-40s taking off from Haleiwa Auxiliary Airfield in the 1970 film “Tora! Tora! Tora!”

The Warhawk was used as a prop in the film. “Tora! Tora! Tora!” outlines the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. P-40s were in use with the Army Air Corps in Hawaii and the Philippines on Dec. 7, 1941. Two Army pilots from the 47th Pursuit Squadron, 15th Pursuit Group, stationed at WAAF and famously wearing tuxedo attire from the previous evening, took off and engaged attacking aircraft with Warhawks stationed at Haleiwa Auxiliary Airfield, North Shore. They were two of the few defending fighters to successfully take off, and take part in, the battle.

P-40s were later used in China, with great success, by the famed American Volunteer Group, the “Flying Tigers.”
032316_0506

One of the streets on WAAF is named “Warhawk.”

“This project allowed for junior leaders to develop and understand what it takes to accomplish the many things involved in restoring such a great piece of history,” said Spc. Pantarat Peakpipat, an aircraft structural repairer.

The restoration definitely was a huge learning experience for everyone who laid hands on it, Pvt. 1st Class Marcus Davila agreed.

“Overall, what it came from to what it has become is something to be proud of,” Davila said.

032316_0492

Airpark photos by John Reese, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs

The gleaming, like-new Warhawk was returned to a static display aside other historic Army aircraft, like the OH-23 Raven, also restored by the 209th Avn.

OH-23 Raven, one of the recent restoration projects by the Airframe Squad of the 209th Aviation Battalion, located a few yards away from the Warhawk.

OH-23 Raven, one of the recent restoration projects by the Airframe Squad of the 209th Aviation Battalion, located a few yards away from the Warhawk.

It is easily visible from off-post on Kamehameha Highway in an airpark static display that’s a popular photography stop for visitors.

(Editor’s note: Historical background information was added to this article by the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs Office.)

032316_0499

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *