Flying Sharks!

If you thought you were safe in the air, think again.




When photographs of the No. 112 Squadron's sharkmouth-emblazoned P-40s appeared in the Illustrated London News, members of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) saw the images and were smitten. The unit popularized the shark's mouth when they painted the motif on their P-40s (above, a P-40 on display at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center). "It was an instantaneous hit with our group," recalls pilot Dick Rossi (read his story here)," and within days all our planes were adorned with it. It fit the P-40 perfectly."

No. 112 Squadron retained the sharkmouth motif until the unit was disbanded in Italy in 1946. "It reformed at R.A.F. Fassburg in Germany on 12th May, 1951," writes Ward, "equipped with de Havilland Vampire FB.5 aircraft. Sometime in late February or early March the sharkmouth reappeared on a Vampire, and from that time onward was carried by the successive equipment of No. 112 Squadron," including the Canadair Sabre Mk. 4, and Hawker Hunter F4, until the squadron was disbanded on May 31, 1957.

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