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Desert Preserves P-40, .50 Cals.

by Robert W. Hunnicutt   |  May 17th, 2012 11

A Polish oil company worker exploring the Egyptian desert came across a very well-preserved Royal Air Force Curtiss P-40 that had remained in place since it crashed in June of 1942.

The Egyptian army quickly swooped in to confiscate the old fighter’s six .50 cal. machine guns and their ammunition, which was in remarkably good condition after 70 years in the open.

The plane’s pilot apparently survived the crash, but probably perished while trying to walk out of the desert. As the crash site was 200 miles from the nearest town, that effort would have been futile.

While most Americans know the P-40 from its use by the Flying Tigers, it was more notably utilized by the RAF and Australian, French and Soviet air forces. Although it was obsolescent at the start of World War II, more than 13,000 were made.

  • Jim Dickson

    This reminds me of the movie Sole Survivor, check it out.

  • gunstuff

    I could be wrong but it appears to be one of the later versions of the P-40, perhaps with the more desireable Merlin engine. A great find of a legendary airplane. In 1941 we were caught with our pants down and this was basically THE airplane we had to fight back with.
    I'd like to know what's going to happen to it now. I hope you do a follow up story. Thanks.

    • Brian

      It`s a rather common Kittyhawk Mk. IA, British equivalent (lend-lease) to an American P-40E. No Rolls Royce I`m afraid. An Allison V-1750 inline V12.

  • JCitizen

    I feel sorry for the pilot! Very sad!

  • Richard Mick

    I have seen worst wrecks rebuilded let the money do the talking

  • Alan Whitney

    Shades of the Lady Be Good…

    • Robert

      That was a spooky situation with all the surrounding happenings to the people who found the Lady be good.

  • Brian

    Unfortunately the aircraft has been looted. There were even local Egyptians offering a "tour" of the site for about 65Ilbs.! There`s talk of the Egyptian Army securing the site however that has not been confirmed. The RAFM is trying to get the aircraft out but with the turmoil in Egypt right now it`s not easy.
    As an aside, unless they destroyed the wing main spar or jacked the aircraft those guns should still be in the wings,
    They are removed and installed from the bottom and reloaded from the top.
    Hope they get her out.

  • Cave Man of NH

    When that prop tore off I bet that woke up the camels. It had to be turning not feathered and shutdown for that type of landing.

  • Joe

    Nothing sounds better than an Allison in a P-40. I think they sound better than a Spitfires Rolls engine. Hope someone with deep pockets gets it out and restores it.

  • Old Hegs

    It woulld be a sin to allow this treasure to be looted instead of being brought back and rebuilt. If for no other reason than to honor the pilot and the other allied pilots who fought the Nazis in the 40's. I remember the "lost squadron" P-38 which was brought back from the Iceland glacier and rebuilt and flown at the EAA air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I don't know how we could get the original 50 caliber machine guns and ammunition back from the looters.

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