The largest customer of the Hawk abroad was the French Air Force. After the Moran-Solnier M. S. 406 fighter, Curtiss's aircraft was the most numerous in the French fighter units at the time of the start of the German offensive in the spring of 1940.
In February 1938, two months before the readiness of the first production copy of the P-36A, as part of an order from the US Army, the French government began negotiations with Curtiss on the purchase of 300 Hawk-75A fighters for its Air Force. The Hawk -75A was an export model of the P-36A and could be powered by either a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engine or a Wright Cyclone engine.
However, the price of the fighter seemed too high to the French - it was twice as high as for their own fighter Moran-Solnier M. S. 406. In addition, the proposed pace and timing of deliveries (the beginning of deliveries of the first 20 aircraft - March 1939, and then 30 aircraft monthly) were also unacceptable. Given that Curtiss could not resist the supply schedule for the US Army Air Force, it is clear that the US Army opposed this contract.
Nevertheless, the rapid rearmament of Germany urgently required the renewal of the French aircraft fleet, and the French insisted on continuing negotiations. As a result of the direct intervention of President Roosevelt, leading French test pilot Michel Detroit was allowed to fly over the pre-production Y1P-36 at Wright Field in March 1938. The tester provided an excellent report and Curtiss promised to expedite shipments if the French would finance the construction of a new assembly line.
The French were still embarrassed by the high price, and on April 28, 1938, they decided to postpone the final decision until the tests of the MB-150 Block, the expected price of which was two times lower. However, the MB-150 was still a very "raw" aircraft and had to be finished for another two years. Recycling of the MV-150 Block promised to be an expensive and time-consuming affair, but there was just no time. As a result, on May 17, 1938, the French Minister of Aviation decided to purchase Curtiss Hawk, and an order followed for 100 Hawk gliders and 173 Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines. Under the contract, the first Hawk was to fly to Buffalo by November 25, 1938, and the last 100th aircraft was to be delivered by April 10, 1939.
The first production version of the Hawk received the trade designation Hawk -75A-1, and it was 100 of these machines that the French ordered. According to the original plan, most of the Hawks were to be transported across the ocean on a ship disassembled for subsequent assembly in France at the SNCAS (Central National Aircraft Industry Association) in Bourges. Hawk-75A-1 flew to Buffalo in December 1938, only a few days late. The first disassembled aircraft were delivered to France on December 14, 1938. Another 14 Hawks were delivered assembled for testing by the Air Force, and the rest were delivered disassembled.
In March-April 1939, the 4th and 5th fighter squadrons of the French Air Force began rearmament with Devutin-500 and -501, and by July 1, the 4th squadron had 54 Curtiss fighters, and the 5th - 41 fighters. The rearmament was not without problems: one Hawk-75A-1 was destroyed during landing after the engine overheated; another crashed after being caught in a flat spin while performing aerobatics with full tanks. It must be said that during the entire period of operation of the "Hawk" -75, it had problems with handling and maneuverability with full tanks.
The Hawk -75A-1 had a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC-G engine, which developed 950 hp. on takeoff. The fighter was armed with four 7, 5-mm machine guns: two in the nose of the fuselage and two on the wings. Except for the altimeter, all instruments had a metric graduation. The seat was adapted for the use of the French Lemercer parachute. RUD worked in the "French manner" - in the opposite direction compared to British and American aircraft.
The French have retained the aircraft's factory markings - pass-through for each model. In addition, the keel indicated: Curtiss N75-C1 # 09. "C" meant Chasse (fighter), "1" - single, "9" - the ninth aircraft ordered by France. Following the placement of the first order for the Hawk-75A in May 1938, a preliminary request was made for another 100 vehicles. This request was officially issued on March 8, 1939. The new series differed from the A-1 by an additional pair of 7, 5-mm machine guns in the wing, a slightly reinforced tail section of the fuselage and the possibility of replacing the R-1830-SC-G engine with a more powerful R in the future. -1830-SC2-G, which developed up to 1050 hp. with.
The new model received the brand designation "Hawk" -75A-2. Four wing-mounted machine guns and a new engine made the fighter equivalent in combat qualities to the XP-36D tested by the US Army. The first A-2 was delivered to the French in May 1939. The first 40 of them did not differ from the A-1 in either armament or engine. The new engine and enhanced armament were actually installed only from the 48th aircraft of the series. The 135 Hawks -75A-3 were a version of the Hawk for the improved 1200-horsepower R-1830-S1CЗG engine and with weapons similar to the A-2 (six 7.5 mm machine guns). In fact, before the defeat of France, about 60 Hawk-75A-3s arrived there, and the rest ended up in Great Britain.
The last order received from France before its defeat was for 795 Hawk-75A-4 fighters. Their main difference from the A-3 was the installation of the Wright R-1820-G205A Cyclone engine with a capacity of 1200 hp. with. The version with the Cyclone engine was distinguished by a shorter hood of a slightly larger diameter and the absence of blinds behind the hood and attachments around the machine gun ports. In reality, 284 A-4s were built on this order, and only six of them ended up in France.
French "Hawks" entered the air battles almost from the first days of the war in Europe. On September 8, 1939, the 11/4 fighter regiment, armed with the Hokami -75A, chalked up two Messerschmitts Bf.109E, the first aircraft shot down by the Allies in aerial combat. However, by the time of the invasion of France in May 1940, it was clear that the Hawk was inferior to the Messerschmitt fighter. In total, the Hawks have recorded 230 confirmed and 80 "probable" victories with losses in aerial combat of only 29 of their aircraft. While these numbers are far too optimistic, they say the Hawk has fared pretty well in fights. Of course, it was inferior to Messerschmitt Bf.109E in speed and armament, but it had better horizontal maneuverability and controllability. So, the most titled ace of the French Air Force in 1939-40. Lieutenant Marine La Mesle scored 20 of his victories on the Hawk.
In total, the French managed to receive 291 Hawk-75A fighters, but some of them died during transportation. As mentioned above, only six A-4s reached France before the armistice. 30 A-4s were lost in transports, 17 were unloaded in Martinique, and six more in Guadeloupe. Later in 1943-1944. these machines were sent to Morocco, where they were used as training machines. At the same time, the Cyclone-9 engines were replaced with Twin Wasp. The Hawkees that remained undelivered to the French were transferred into service with England under the designation Mohawk IV.
After the defeat of France, those "Hawks" that were not on the territory of "free" France or did not have time to fly to England, turned out to be trophies of the German troops. Some of them were even still packed in boxes. They were sent to Germany, assembled at Espenlaub Flyugzeugbau, equipped with German equipment, and then sold to Finland.
The Finns received 36 former French Hawks -75, as well as eight former Norwegian. Finnish Hawks were used on the side of the Axis countries when Finland entered the war against the Soviet Union on June 25, 1941. The Hawks were quite satisfactory to the Finns and remained in service until 1948.
After the armistice, French fighter regiments 1/4 and 1/5 continued to use the Hawks as part of the Vichy government's air force. The first regiment was in Dakkar, the second in Rabat. Vishiski Hawks -75A took part in battles with the Americans and the British during Operation Torch, an allied landing in North Africa in the fall of 1942. During air battles with carrier-based fighters Grumman F4F Wildcat, Visiski Hawks shot down seven aircraft and lost 15. This was one of the few cases of American aircraft being used against the Americans themselves.
After testing the Hawks in France by British pilots, the British government also showed interest in them. I was especially attracted by the fighter's good maneuverability and ease of control. So, in the entire speed range, the ailerons were easily shifted, while on the Spitfire at speeds over 480 km / h it was practically impossible to control them. In December 1939, the British government hired one Hawk (88 serial Hawk -75A-2) from the French and conducted comparative tests with the Spitfire -I. In many ways, the Hawk was better than the Spitfires. The British have confirmed that the Hawk has excellent handling throughout the entire speed range. The dive speed -640 km / h - exceeded the dive speed of the Spitfire. When conducting a maneuvering battle at speeds of the order of 400 km / h, the Hawk had a higher chance of winning due to, again, better controllability and better visibility. However, the Spitfire could always get out of combat using a higher speed. When the Spitfire dived onto the Hawk, the latter quickly turned into a turn and dodged. "Spitfire" did not have time to turn on "Hawk" and always missed. The Hawk propeller's reactive moment during takeoff was less than on the Spitfire, and during the climb the Hawk was easier to control. True, the Hawk accelerated worse on a dive.
After the tests, the British government at one time wanted to order the Hawks for the RAF, but for some reason these plans did not come true. Only with the fall of France in June 1940 did several Hawks end up in the British Isles.
These were "Hawks" -75A that did not reach France (mainly A-4), as well as several machines on which the French pilots flew to the British Isles in order not to be captured by the Germans. In the RAF they received the designation "Mohawk". In total, the RAF received 229 aircraft of this type. Most of them were former French cars, as well as a few former Persian Hawks and a few licensed cars built in India.
Former French "Hawk" -75A-1 bore the designation "Mohawk" -I, and "Hawkey" -75A-2 - "Mohawk" -II. More than 20 former French Hawk -75A-3 that ended up in Great Britain were designated Mohawk-III. The designation "Mohawk" IV was given to the rest of the French "Hokey" -75A-4, which were already supplied to the new owners.
The Mohawks in service with the RAF were equipped with British equipment, including 7.7mm Browning machine guns. The "French" throttle was replaced by the "British", that is, the engine speed was now increased when the throttle was given away from you. The RAF decided that the Mohawks were not suitable for the European theater of operations. As a result, 72 of them were transferred to the South African Air Force. At one time, the eight "Mohawks" were all that the air defense of Northeast India had at its disposal. At the front in Burma, this type remained in combat units until December 1943, when they were replaced by more modern fighters. 12 Mohawks were transferred to Portugal.
The designation "Hawk" -75A-5 was assigned by Curtiss to aircraft powered by Cyclone engines intended for assembly in China by the Central Aircraft Company (CAMCO). In fact, one assembled aircraft and several disassembled ones were delivered to China. After assembling several Hawks, SAMCO was transformed into Hindustan Aircraft Ltd. based in Bangalore, India. In April 1941, the Indian government placed an order with Hindustan for the production of 48 Hawk-75A fighters for Cyclone-9 engines, as well as for the necessary spare parts. Hindustan acquired a license from Curtiss, and on July 31, 1942, the first Indian-built fighter took off. Shortly after the first flight, the priorities were changed, as a result of which it was decided to stop production of the aircraft in India. In total, the Indian company delivered only five aircraft. In the RAF they were also called "Mohawks" IV.
The government of Persia (present-day Iran) has issued an order for ten Hawks -75A-9 for Wright R-1820-G205A engines. They arrived in Persia shortly before the occupation of the country by British and Soviet troops on August 25, 1941. The Allies found the Hawks in their original packaging. The British took these aircraft from Persia and transferred them to India, where they entered service with the 5th Squadron of the RAF under the designation "Mohawk" IV.
In the fall of 1939, an order for 12 Hawks -75A-6 for Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S1CZG Twin Wasp engines with a capacity of 1200 hp. was hosted by the Norwegian government. Later, another 12 fighters were ordered, which brought the planned volume of deliveries to 24 Hawks. Deliveries began in February 1940, but only a few A-6s had been received before the German invasion. The Germans captured all the Hawks, some even in their original packaging, and then sold them to Finland along with 36 Hawks captured in France.
Norway, shortly before the German occupation, also ordered 36 Hawks -75A-8 for 1200 hp Wright R-1820-G205A Cyclone engines. After the German invasion of Norway, these aircraft were acquired by the US government. Six of them were delivered in February 1941 to the Free Norway forces to train their air forces in Canada, and the remaining 30 were transferred to the US Army under the designation P-36S.
The Netherlands ordered 20 Hawk-75A-7 fighters with Cyclone engines, but after the occupation of the Netherlands by the Germans in May 1940, the A-7s were delivered to Dutch East India. They entered service with the 1st Squadron of the Royal Air Force Corps of East India, and on December 8, 1941 went into battle against the Japanese aggressors. Yielding numerically and qualitatively to the Japanese Zero, by February 1, 1942, all the Hawks were lost.
In early 1937, Curtiss began design work on a simplified version of the Y1P-36 specifically for export. Curtiss had already negotiated with a number of potential customers, but the high-quality level of aircraft operation in their air forces did not allow them to hope for proper maintenance of such technically advanced aircraft solutions as retractable landing gear struts. The "simplified" Hawk project received the brand name "Model 75H".
The design of the "model 75H" was similar to the Y1P-36. The main differences were the less powerful engine and fixed landing gear struts in the fairings. The first demonstration version of the fighter was equipped with a Wright GR-1820-GE "Cyclone" engine with a takeoff power of 875 hp. The car received civil registration, and in the company's advertising brochures it bore the designation "Hawk" -75. The main emphasis was placed on ease of maintenance, the ability to operate from poorly prepared airfields and the ability to complete the aircraft with various engines and weapons at the request of the customer.
The second demonstration aircraft differed from its predecessor by large "ears" of glazing in the gargrotta behind the cockpit canopy and the cover of the canopy itself. The armament was supplemented by a pair of wing-mounted 7, 62-mm machine guns outside the propeller disk. Ten 13.6 kg bombs or six 22.7 kg bombs could be hung under the wings. One 220 kg bomb could also be hung under the fuselage.
The first experimental Hawk -75H was sold to China. The Chinese government handed over the aircraft to General Clair Chennault for personal use. The second prototype was sold to Argentina.
The first buyer of the simplified Hawk -75 was the Chinese nationalist government, which ordered 112 Hawk -75s with fixed chassis, R-1820 Cyclone engine and armament from a quartet of 7, 62-mm machine guns. The aircraft were produced by Curtiss in the form of individual units, and then assembled at the Central Aircraft Building Plant in Loy Wing. Later, these machines received the brand name "Hawk" -75M. In addition to additional wing-mounted machine guns and several modified landing gear fairings, these aircraft practically did not differ from the second "simplified" Hawk.
It is not known exactly how many Hawks the Chinese received. Since May 1938, according to Curtiss, only 30 Hawks -75M have been delivered. In addition, components and materials were supplied for several more "Hawks" for assembly in China, but it is not known how many machines were prepared there. In total, three squadrons of the Chinese Air Force were armed with the Model 75M. The aircraft were used quite successfully by the Chinese, especially considering the poor training of pilots and maintenance personnel.
The government of Siam (Thailand) has also shown interest in Hawk-75. As a result, an order was placed for about 12-25 cars (the exact number varies in different sources). These fighters received the brand name "Hawk" -75N and in general they resembled the Chinese "Hawk" -75M except for the shape of the landing gear fairings and weapons. 12 "Hawks" -75N were delivered to Siam (Thailand) in November 1938. These "Hawks" -75Ns were used by the Thais during the invasion of Indochina in January 1941. Their first combat sortie took place on January 11, 1941, when the Hawks were covering nine Thai Martin-139W bombers during a raid on the French airfield at Nakorn Wat. They were intercepted by four French Moran-Solnier M. S. 406. As a result of the air battle, the Thai "Hawks" announced two victories (although later the French did not confirm this). On December 7, 1941, the Thai "Hawks" again entered the battle against the Japanese aggressors. During the short campaign, a third of the Hawks were lost. The rest were captured by the Japanese. One Hawk is now in the Royal Thai Air Force Museum in Bangkok.
Following the acquisition of a demonstration aircraft, the Argentine government ordered 29 production aircraft with fixed landing gear and an 875 hp Cyclone engine. The aircraft received the brand designation "Hawk" -75O. The landing gear fairings were modeled on Thai aircraft, but the exhaust system was redesigned with an electrically adjustable hood louver. Armament consisted of four 7, 62-mm Madsen machine guns. The first Hawk-75O was completed at Curtiss in late November 1938.
At the same time, the Argentines acquired a license for the Hawk-75O. Production was planned at the Militar de Aviones Factory. The first Hawk built at the FMA was removed from the shop on September 16, 1940. A total of 20 machines were produced. Some of them flew until the sixties.
The designation "Model 75Q" was given to two demonstration aircraft with fixed landing gear for the R-1820 engine. One of them was converted into retractable landing gear and presented to Chai Kan-Shi's wife. She handed the plane over to General Chenot, who was then reorganizing the Chinese Air Force. The second plane was shown in China by American pilots, but was destroyed on May 5, 1939, immediately after takeoff.