AIRCRAFT CONFIRMED - CURTISS P-40 KITTYHAWK & GUNS
Warbirds Over Wanaka organisers have confirmed one of the eagerly anticipated acts from the cancelled 2020 Airshow will feature at next Easter’s Airshow - a unique opportunity to see a P-40 Kittyhawk firing its six .50 calibre machine guns up close.
Warbirds Over Wanaka General Manager, Ed Taylor, believes Wanaka is the only Airshow in the world where you can see a P-40 firing its guns.
“On the Saturday and Sunday the P-40 will be part of a recreation of the Battle of Milne Bay, a famous Australian WWII battle. However, before that on the Friday we will be having a special one-off ‘firing of the guns’ on the ground to allow fans to get up close and personal for a very noisy experience of a lifetime.”
“The P-40 guns are something of an only-at-Wanaka thing. They were first used back in 2008 and then in 2012 and 2016. It’s great to have them back for 2022 after the disappointment of having to cancel our last show,” says Ed.
Pilot Frank Parker says when the guns are fired it changes the P-40’s character from a quaint old aircraft to a ‘weapons system’. “The guns are a bit muted by the engine noise, however the whole airframe rattles - there is no doubt there is some serious action going on. They add a further dimension to the aircraft and the display routine. I’m very privileged to be in the seat and it does give you a very real feeling for how it must have been when P-40s were flying in combat back in the 1940s,” says Frank.
The spent shells will be recovered and signed by Frank and will then be offered for sale to Airshow visitors raising funds for the Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust Flying Scholarships.
Background: The Battle of Milne Bay took place in 1942 on the eastern tip of Papua New Guinea and is often described as the first major WWII battle in the Pacific in which allied troops decisively defeated Japanese land forces. At the time Milne Bay was predominantly defended by Australian troops with crucial air support from the likes of the P-40 Kittyhawk.