How to Paint a Curtiss P-40 Shark Mouth

Updated April 17, 2017

One of the most popular, famous and recognisable 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 recognisable 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.

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 grey 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 colour. 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 grey (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 grey (or blue or black) for the upper boundary of grey (or blue or black) of the shark mouth. Fill in the area between the lower grey boundary line and the teeth boundary with grey (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.


If you are a beginner or inexperienced with painting, let each colour -- red, black/grey, blue -- dry completely before attempting to paint the next colour.

Things You'll Need

  • Model plane
  • Canvas
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Clear sealer, paint on or spray on
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About the Author

Heather Inks is a social entrepreneur who educates on improving communities and the world. She is an educator, writer, photographer, artist and model who has taught K6-12th grade and public educators. Inks is a life coach specializing in personal, career, educational, dating, health and fitness, and gifted children issues. She has been educated at fine universities including graduate work at Stetson University.