With the Hurricanes and Spitfires of the RAF being needed for home defence duties, the arrival of large numbers of American Curtiss Tomahawk fighters allowed older aircraft to be replaced in North Africa and the Middle East. Able to withstand significant battle damage, the Tomahawk was to see extensive service in these theatres and pose a considerable threat to their Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica adversaries.
Robust and reliable, the Curtiss Tomahawk was used extensively by the Desert Air Force during WWII and proved crucial in challenging the advance of German and Italian forces in this theatre of operations.
Effectively, the new Curtiss fighter allowed the Royal Air Force to continue fighting on a number of fronts, without placing an increased burden on their existing forces. Serving in the deserts of North Africa and in the Middle East, RAF and Commonwealth Tomahawks eventually went on to equip sixteen Squadrons, forcing the Luftwaffe to commit more aircraft to these theatres. In the hands of a capable pilot, the Tomahawk was a match for most of the Axis aircraft it could potentially meet in combat.