Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Henry Lloyd Child 1904-1970

Lloyd Child was a Naval Aviator from 1927-1952. He held the world altitude record in 1930 and in 1935 power dived a Curtiss Hawk 75 to 600 MPG and was labeled the man “faster than a bullet”. He joined Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Co. in 1926 and was responsible for development of the Curtiss Thrush and Falcon models. He worked for Lockheed from 1958-1968, then retired.

Curtiss factory test pilot Lloyd Child took the Curtiss P-36A for its first test flight on 13 May 1935 but reported that the aircraft did not handle all that well, and power from the engine was disappointing. The XR-1670-5 was totally unsatisfactory and it was temporarily replaced with an obsolete 700-hp P&W R-1535. Seven hundred horsepower was not enough for a plane like the Model 75 so the engine mount was redesigned and the airframe was fitted with a Wright XR-1820-39 single-row radial of 950-hp. Child felt that the extra real horsepower improved the handling and performance of the machine so, on 27 May, the aircraft was submitted to the Army's Material Division for testing.

The first production P-40 was flown on April 4, 1940 by Curtiss Chief Test Pilot Lloyd Child, and this batch of airplanes was delivered to the Air Corps between June 1st and October 15th of that year. The first three machines, in natural aluminum finish, went to Wright Field (Dayton, Ohio) for official Air Corps' tests; the rest were finished in overall olive drab with gray under-surfaces.