Outstanding as a close ground support aircraft, the P-40 somehow gained a post-war reputation as a mediocre design as an air superiority fighter. Modern research has shown that the P-40 in reality performed surprisingly well in this regard, too, taking a very heavy toll of enemy aircraft, including when flown against the lightweight and maneuverable Japanese fighters like the Oscar and Zero.
Later versions, such as the N version of this package, were the most capable. Climb performance was still below average, and performance above 15,000 feet lagged behind many other fighters, but manouverability at mid to low level was truly excellent, dive acceleration was good and dive speed was excellent. The highest-scoring P-40 ace, Clive Caldwell (RAAF), who claimed 22 of his 28½ kills in the type, said that the P-40 had "almost no vices.”
The P-40 tolerated harsh conditions in the widest possible variety of climates, from the heat and humidity of the Pacific to the dust and sand of the North African deserts to the Arctic conditions of Alaska and Russia. It was a semi-modular design and thus easy to overhaul and repair, including in the field. Although it lacked many of the aircraft innovations of the later War fighters, it made up for this with a strong structure including a five-spar wing, which enabled P-40s to even go so far as to survive several midair collisions (some intentional). Caldwell said P-40s "would take a tremendous amount of punishment, violent aerobatics as well as enemy action.” Operational range was good by early war standards, and was almost double that of the Supermarine Spitfire or Messerschmitt Bf 109, although this was quickly overtaken my newer aircraft types.
The P-40 offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground-attack aircraft and a trainer long after it was obsolete as a fighter.
More N’s were built than any other P-40 variant, some 5,215 in all. The last rolled off of the production line in Buffalo, NY, on November 30, 1944.
As of 2013, it was reported that some 72 P-40’s were still in existence (25 of those being N models), with 31 of those (10 N) being airworthy.