The P-40C in Aces High II
If you don't think the game is enough of a challenge, then the P-40C is the aircraft for you. Outclassed by almost everything you meet, the P-40C is unlikely to ever be popular and really represents something that is suited to scenario use. Still, there are some people who use the P-40C and can be reasonably successful in it if they are very disciplined and skilled, picking their fights and utilizing what strengths the P-40C has to offer. The P-40C can still get the job done but may make you work pretty hard for every kill you get and then even harder to land them.
Poor, at low altitudes the P-40C is amongst the slowest fighters in the game (about 3rd slowest) at only 276mph. WEP is not an available option so what you see is what you get, then again, it also means you can't run out of WEP at the moment you really need it. Performance improves dramatically with gains in altitude, every 1,000ft equalling about 4.25mph in gained speed. Top speed is 345mph at 16K, not bad considering what you start at but performance above this altitude actually decreases making the P-40C a medium-low altitude aircraft. Climb rates are poor, only 2,300ft/min though this remains fairly steady up through 15K. There isn't much to describe the acceleration other than to say it's the worst in the game by a large margin. Fuel duration is 36 minutes with no option for drop tank, leaving a more difficult decision about how much fuel you should carry. Generally, consider the longer transit, climb and acceleration times you will need and load a little extra fuel to account for that.
Aces High II Performance Charts
A little weak but still useful, the P-40C mixes things up a bit with an unusual arrangement of guns. Twin cowl mounted .50s are the primary hitting power with 380 rounds/gun, backed up by four wing-mounted .303s with 490 rounds/gun. This package can be surprisingly useful. The cowl mounted .50s, set to long convergence (D650) give consistent performance out to medium ranges. The wing mounted .303s need a somewhat closer setting (D200-D325) but in combination can put a lot of lead on target in a short order. Doing a little ranging with the .50s can help reel a target into full guns range where you can put everything to work and often make reasonably short work of someone. Don't over-rate this package though, you need to get everything you can focused onto a target and hold it there for a short period, these aren't like cannons where snapshots can be enough to destroy a fighter. You are going to need to hold a target in your gunsight in order to damage it significantly.
Generally pretty good though the lack of power hurts it in an extended maneuvering type fight. It's not the instantaneous turn-rate that will kill you, it's the lack of reasonable sustained turn-rate that is a problem. Any sort of climbing fight is purely bad news and should be avoided, though vertical fighting to maintain/recover energy is highly advised. Basically, everything can build energy faster than you can so don't let yourself get behind the curve. Roll rate seems good and the P-40C handles high speeds well. This is not a light aircraft though, weighing in at over 7,300lbs, and with a somewhat small wingspan. Also, the weight of the cowl guns seems to make the nose a little less stable. The P-40C appears to have some pretty poor spin characteristics, possibly a lack of tail area being a problem. Flat spins, upright or inverted, are entirely possible and can be very difficult to recover from. Be very careful when pushing the P-40C to the limits of performance as it isn't always very forgiving.
Fighting in the P-40C
Offensively, you will likely have your work cut out for you in getting, and then landing, kills. If any aircraft requires you to set up a kill, this is the one, planning your ingress while you build you energy and position, then converting that into a kill and slipping out before you become a fatality yourself. While BnZ'ing is a preferential method of retaining your energy levels it also typically only presents fleeting shot opportunities, something the P-40C can't necessarily take advantage of. Instead of a snapshot, a brief tracking shot is likely to be more effective if you can find it, otherwise you may find you put bullets into lots of aircraft only to get assists when other people apply superior firepower in finishing them off. Climb before the fight while you transit and come in above the enemy. Try and work near the edges of a fight and with a wingman who can corral and set up some kills for you. If you can isolate someone you are in a much better position to work that contact for a better quality shot over time. Don't be afraid to fire the .50's while trying to disable an enemy aircraft, often a single hit could be enough to disable an essential component and bring advantage to yourself. Always be very alert to the situation around you also, your defensive abilities are not great and you need to make good decisions early.
Defensively, you need to start early, very early, and be aware of the whole tide of the battle. You can't afford to let anyone get even close to you that could have a similar energy situation because they can quickly eat you up and spit you out. You can't out-run anything, don't even try unless you know that a very steep dive can build you enough separation and time to get close to friendly forces who can help. Your performance is worst near the water so keep what you can while up higher. You may be able to out-turn average aircraft but sustained you are going to find you get into trouble quickly as they can hold their turns longer because they have more engine power to do so. Don't assume a little altitude is enough to ensure safety either, most aircraft can quickly climb to your level and then track you down just as easily. Be very aware of someone who scoots away from the fight to only come back at your altitude later. Stay near the edges of the fight and be ready to turn away when you see the chance, you may even want to break away while you still have some advantage left, hoping the enemy will simply let you go rather than try and chase. If an enemy gets in close on your tail you'd better have your A game with you. Look for overshoot opportunities because enemy closure rates tend to be quite high against the P-40C. Rolling should help as could a shallow dive to gain some speed to at least give you some maneuveirng options. Don't just dive away as your separation is not likely to be as much as you'd hoped and your initial acceleration may not be enough to save you.
Fighting against the P-40C
You should be able to beat a P-40C pretty easily though it often centers around the P-40's acknowledged inability to escape or build energy quickly. If you can pin a P-40C down for every a second then you should be able to own him and even if he tries to run you should easily be able to track him down. Be careful though, the P-40C makes for good bait and a smart group of guys working together can often use a P-40C to bait suckers into a trap.
BnZ him and look to keep him defensive and turning. P-40s have little option but to fight in a downwards pattern since they don't have the horsepower to climb and fight effectively. If they do, they become too slow and too vulnerable to quick shots, thus they always tend to descend. The P-40 gets weaker as it gets lower too, from a high of 345mph at 16K, to a low of 276mph at sea-level. Drag the energy out of the P-40C or get it to fight you in the vertical, where it has little hope of keeping up. If he dives away you can pursue, as he is giving up all his altitude to try and run, which will be useless if he can't find a way to help quickly. You may be able to catch him in the early parts of a dive and the P-40C is only reasonably tough. Land hits and you may find yourself damaging him quickly. Be aggressive since you likely have a lot of options even if you make a mistake and end up temporarily on the defensive. Always consider though if a chase is worth it or whether he is simply baiting you back to more of his friends. The P-40 is also a pretty slender targets, though not necessarily small, so sometimes landing hits can be a little tough.
Defensively, exploit his lack of climb and speed. Don't slow down for him and he likely can't catch you. If one is diving on you, try and match his dive speed and then pull away as he levels and slows. Use your superior climb to build energy advantage or to defeat his turning ability. Climbing spiral turns tend to be most effective against the P-40C because it doesn't have the power to follow for long, even in a relatively gentle circle. Whenever defensive, you should always consider that you only need to get to an equal energy state in order to be able to switch to the offensive. The P-40C tends to only have one way to maintain energy in a fight, trade altitude. Head-Ons are not recommended though he is pretty weakly armed in the front so you may be able to seriously wound him with less chance of him hitting back. Best to take your shot and break off slightly early to avoid his full firepower with .303s joined in.
Soda's Aircraft Evaluations