How to Paint a Curtiss P-40 Shark Mouth

By Heather Inks ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Model plane
  • Canvas
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Clear sealer, paint on or spray on
Modern plane with 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.

Use a pencil with a light stroke to draw the shark mouth outline.

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 shark teeth boundaries with pencil.

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.

Outline the lower teeth in red.

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 the upper shark teeth outline using gray, blue or black.

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 shark mouth outline using black paint.

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 shark teeth with white paint if the background is not white.

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 color -- red, black/gray, blue -- dry completely before attempting to paint the next color.

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.