from Bud Fortier's book An Ace of the Eighth:
My first flight in the P-40 is still etched in my memory. Challenge no. 1 was keeping the thing on the runway during the takeoff roll. I couldn't see over that huge nose in front of the cockpit, and I was standing on the right rudder to keep the engine torque from pulling me off the left side of the runway into a swamp. As the tail lifted, I could see over the nose, and that helped. When the airspeed increased, the P-40 came alive and lifted into its own element. It began to act like an airplane.
Challenge no. 2 was getting the landing gear up. It was no simple matter, like just pulling the gear handle up. I did that, but the gear stayed down. Then I remembered that the hydraulic system had to be actuated before the gear could come up. There was a little ring on the end of a wire attached to the stick. First you had to find the little ring without letting the airplane get away from you, and then you hooked your little finger in the ring and pulled. This opened the valve that allowed hydraulic fluid to get to the gear---and presto! The gear came up. The engineer who devised this system obviously never flew the P-40.
By the time I got the gear up, the engine throttled back and the propeller pitch adjusted, I was over Big Cypress Swamp, climbing through five thousand feet. I saw the Gulf of Mexico ahead and Tampa to my left, and it occurred to me that I'd better not let the airfield out of my sight. I was not familiar with this part of the world.
I turned back and located the field. The rest of this orientation flight was flown in a wide circle of the base, trying to memorize checkpoints to keep from getting lost in case I was ever talking into flying a P-40 again. I did a few rolls and lazy eights. Finally, I thought, I'm getting used to the feel of this airplane. At about 15 thousand feet I started a shallow dive to build up airspeed for a loop. I needed ever-increasing pressure on the left rudder to keep the nose pointed straight ahead; as I pulled the nose up, I had to apply more and more right rudder as power increased and airspeed decreased. On the back sided of the loop, just the opposite--less power, more speed, and more left rudder were needed. I felt i was learning a foot-stomping dance step. My first landing was uneventful, unless you consider a jarring, bouncing, jackrabbit landing uneventful. I was just glad to get back on terra firma.