How to Paint a Curtiss P-40 Shark Mouth


One of the most popular, famous and recognizable World War II warplanes is the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. The shark mouth on this fighter, the emblem of "The Flying Tigers" in WWII, makes it one of the most popular models to build and paint and is easily recognizable by teens and war veterans. The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is also a very popular model to paint on canvas. The shark mouth that makes the P-40 so infamous is also simple enough that most people can paint it with basic instruction and a little practice.

Things You'll Need

  • Model plane
  • Canvas
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Clear sealer, paint on or spray on
  • Draw the outline of the open mouth, a line for the top and bottom jaw, with a pencil. The shape is like a lemon lying on it's side with one open end.

  • Outline the top teeth and the bottom teeth on the jaw with a pencil. The shark teeth are like the triangular shape of a saw blade. It is helpful to look at an image of the P-40 Curtiss Warhawk shark mouth on a fighter plane as you create the outline. Also add the outline (boundary) in the middle of the mouth that will be the dividing line between the red of the bottom jaw and black or gray of the top jaw.

  • Paint the red on the outline (boundary) in the middle of the mouth. Outline the jagged edges of the bottom teeth in red for the lower boundary of the red color. Now fill in the area between the teeth outline and the outline (boundary) in the middle of the shark mouth to complete the red section.

  • Paint a gray (or blue or black) line along the outline (boundary) in the middle of the mouth above the red line. Now outline the jagged edges of the top teeth in gray (or blue or black) for the upper boundary of gray (or blue or black) of the shark mouth. Fill in the area between the lower gray boundary line and the teeth boundary with gray (or blue or black) to complete this section of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.

  • Paint the outline around the mouth, the top and bottom sideways lemon shape, using a thick black line to complete the P-40 Curtiss shark mouth.

  • Fill in the teeth of the shark mouth with white paint if the background was not originally white. After all the paint dries completely, brush on or spray on a clear paint sealer over the entire painted area to help protect and preserve the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk shark mouth.

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  • Photo Credit teeth image by Tomasz Pawlowski from pencil image by AGphotographer from red splash image by Georgios Kollidas from blue image by Sirena Designs from wet running splatter image by pdtnc from paintbrush #3 image by Adam Borkowski from
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