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The last P-36C built flies again!

May 5, 2015 in Show Reports

This is the last Curtiss P-36C constructed, serial number 38-210. Built in 1939 and delivered to Selfridge Field, Michigan in May 1939. She participated in the 1939 Cleveland Air Races in September 1939 with experimental camouflage, then participated in the War Games at Maxwell Field following the Air Races.

The P-36C was sent to Wright Patterson for testing in 1940 and then on to serve with several different squadrons on the U.S. East Coast.

In 1942 the airplane was sent to Chanute Technical Training Command for a few months, thereafter it was labeled obsolete and flown to Buckley field in Colorado, where it was used in a Tech School following decommissioning, and was later acquired by a Pratt & Whitney Tech instructor from Canada. The P-36C was stored in Canada until a Florida collector acquired it and passed it on to The Fighter Collection more than a decade ago.

The restoration began four years ago, under the leadership of Matt Nightingale, who had restored the Hawk 75A-1 that flew in 2004 at Chino, after sufficient original parts capable of overhaul were recovered to ensure the aircraft could be completed to fly. Steve Hinton carried out the shakedown flights and the FAA certified the P-36C for flight in April 2015. It made it first public appearances at the 2015 Planes of Fame Airshow, where I took these photos last Saturday. The P-36C was the only “new” airplane at this year’s show, which did not feature as many aircraft as the shows the past three years.

The guy on the motor scooter in the last shot is Matt Nightingale, the restorer.

27 additional images. Click to enlarge

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15 responses to The last P-36C built flies again!

  1. I dunno if there are enough ways to say “Beautiful” for this one. Or how does one define “labor of love”. Great pics.

  2. Hope it can make EAA this year! For once I’ll have the entire week off! (The USAF is bringing a B-52 this year and for the first time landing it at Oshkosh. 18/36 is only 150″ wide and I’m guessing the outrigger gear on the Stratofortress are pretty close to that far apart!) To be able to see this would be an awesome addition. I hear we might have TWO B-29s this year as well! (If Doc gets up and running smoothly.) The next few years are going to be very interesting in the warbird community!

    • It’s owned by Stephen Grey (the Fighter Collection) and is headed for Duxford in time to make the Flying Legends show in early July, so I wouldn’t be holding my breath. This display at Chino was the only public display before it leaves.

      • Another great addition to the Duxford collection, which is only an hour’s drive from me, so will no doubt make my way over there this summer for a closer look.

  3. That’s so brilliant. What a magnificent aeroplane. What I’d do to see it up close. Kinda hard when living in Australia. 🙂

  4. I love the fact that these guys put so much effort into restoring these gorgeous aircraft, & getting the paint schemes so right-on. What a beauty, thanks for sharing Tom.

  5. Heart be still…some excellent sharp,clear photos of some real Americana. The last of the breed to come off the line and sold to the highest bidder…so it goes to the Brits. A real treat and I’m green with envy at not being able to be at that show. TC, thank you for the photos and taking the time away from your busy schedule of writing. I’m sure it was painful having to see all that aircraft porn.

  6. Thanks Tom. Lovely to see restorations of this quality & what great photos for references.
    I too am in Australia; such a long way away from this wonderful stuff although not entirely without its attractions such as Temora, Avalon & HARS in Wollongong.

  7. Wish I lived near Chino…

    • There’s actually a downside to that. “Familiarity breeds contempt.” There were more than a few people commenting with disappointment at the show that there was “only” the P-36C among the new. “I’ve seen all these before” was the common comment.

      I’m glad whenever any of my many friends from far away get to southern California and we’re able to meet out at Chino and I give them “the tour.” It always reopens my eyes to what’s there, and that it’s really not just “airplanes seen to death.”

      (For any of you who do get to S. Calif., the offer of a tour is always good)

  8. What would the world be without enthusiasts?
    Pretty damned boring I say.
    Thanks for sharing

  9. My favourite Curtiss fighter from building a Monogram in 1/72 at the age of 11 or something like that 🙂 ! I also see a not-yet-delivered-to-Sweden P-35/ J 9 in the background, it’s 75 years overdue now 🙂 !



  10. I see you added a pic of the interesting Republic “Seversky” I think it was called? I like that aircraft, interesting canopy setup and the elliptical wing, you can see where the P47 Thunderbolt bloodline there.

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