Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The little compartments on the bottom of the P-40’s wings have always confounded us. The little alcoves are 27 inches long and about 5 inches deep and have a door across the bottom. It led us to joke that it’d be an excellent place for a pilot to cool a couple of bottles a beer during a long flight. And hey, stuck on some hot Pacific island with a shooting war going on, who could blame him? The real answer is a bit more reasonable. Flares. Early P-40 aircraft were designed to deploy M-8 parachute flares to illuminate a landing spot or a target. The Army Air Corps objected to this type of “flare rack” on their aircraft but it certainly didn’t want Curtiss to stop their production line to fix it. As a result, all P-40s up through the C-model have these abandoned nooks hidden in their wings.