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Boeing P-26 Peashooter

Monoplane Fighter Aircraft

Boeing P-26 Peashooter

Monoplane Fighter Aircraft


The Boeing P-26 Peashooter monoplane fighter became the first all-metal aircraft design for the United States of America.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1932
MANUFACTURER(S): Boeing Aircraft Corporation - USA
OPERATORS: China (Taiwan); Guatemala; Panama; Philippines; Spain; United States

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Boeing P-26A Peashooter model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 23.82 feet (7.26 meters)
WIDTH: 27.95 feet (8.52 meters)
HEIGHT: 10.40 feet (3.17 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 2,273 pounds (1,031 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 3,012 pounds (1,366 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Pratt and Whitney nine-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 500 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 227 miles-per-hour (365 kilometers-per-hour; 197 knots)
RANGE: 360 miles (579 kilometers; 313 nautical miles)
CEILING: 27,395 feet (8,350 meters; 5.19 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 2,360 feet-per-minute (719 meters-per-minute)

2 x 0.30 caliber Brownning M1919 machine guns OR 1 x 0.30 caliber with 1 x 0.50 caliber Browning Heavy Machine Gun (HMG).

2 x 100 lb conventional drop bombs OR 5 x 31 lb anti-personnel drop bombs.
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Series Model Variants
• P-26 "Peashooter" - Base Series Designation
• XP-936 - Prototype aircraft fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-1340-21 "Wasp" radial piston engine of 525 horsepower; three produced.
• P-26A - Initial production model; PW R-1340-27 engine of 600 horsepower fitted; 111 examples completed.
• P-26B - Fitted with PW R-1340-33 fuel-injected engine of 600 horsepower; 2 examples produced.
• P-26C - Fitted with PW R-1340-33 carburated engine with revised fuel delivery system; 23 examples completed.
• Model 281 - Export variant of the P-26C production model; 12 complete with eleven examples to China and one to Spain.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter Monoplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 3/21/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The classic American-originated Boeing P-26 "Peashooter" arrived between the wars and was a product of its time. America's first all-metal fighter, the design still carried several more traditional elements of a bygone era of flight such as an open-air cockpit and fixed, spatted tail-dragging undercarriage. The P-26 would be the last quantitative fighter of the United States to feature these throw-back elements as the shift to more modern systems was had heading into World War 2 (1939-1945).

The P-26 began as a private venture by Boeing with the Model 248. This specimen, designed around the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 air-cooled radial piston engine, was brought to the attention of U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) authorities who became interested in the type back in September of 1931. In a short nine week period, a fully-flyable prototype (XP-936) was completed and first-flown on March 20th, 1932. Three prototypes eventually emerged for the program - all fitting the PW R-1340-21 "Wasp" radial.

The basic design incorporated low-mounted monoplane wings well-ahead of midships. The cockpit, too, was set ahead of midships with generally decent views over the nose and wings. A headrest was set behind the pilot and protruded from the dorsal spine line. The large radial engine sat ahead of the pilot and the tail incorporated a traditional single-finned arrangement. The large, spatted main landing gear legs were set under each wing. Performance from the engine was impressive for its time - allowing the aircraft to reach speeds of 227 miles per hour, much faster than anything available to the USAAC.

Boeing P-26 Peashooter (Cont'd)

Monoplane Fighter Aircraft

Boeing P-26 Peashooter (Cont'd)

Monoplane Fighter Aircraft

Armament centered on 2 x 0.30 caliber Browning M1919 air-cooled machine guns or a combination arrangement of 1 x 0.30 caliber and 1 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine gun. In addition to this, the fighter could take on light bombing sorties by carrying 2 x 100lb bombs into action. This could also be substituted with five anti-personnel bombs as needed.

The USAAC liked what it saw and ordered the type into service to succeed the line of Boeing P-12 biplane fighters (these managed a max speed of 190 miles per hour). Such was the interest in the nimble machine that the P-26 order became the largest in USAAC history when placed in January of 1933.

Initial models were the P-26A which sported a taller headrest to protect the pilot during nose-over accidents (one pilot was killed during such an accident, prompting a revision to the structure). 111 were produced to the standard and these were outfitted with the PW-1340-27 engine of 600 horsepower. Just two were completed in the P-26B guise which featured the fuel-injected R-1340-33 radial of 600 horsepower. The P-26C then followed in 23 examples and these were completed with carburated R-1340-33 radials sporting a new, revised fuel system. It was exported as the Model 281 by Boeing with eleven examples shipped to China and a single example delivered to Spain.

Beyond the United States, China, and Spain, the Peashooter was used by the Guatemalan Air Force and the Philippine Army Air Corps.

In practice, the lightweight fighter was a pilot favorite with key qualities being responsiveness and handling. Landing speeds were fast (about 73 mph), however, and took a steady experienced hand at the controls particularly when attempting a landing on a rough airstrip - split flaps were added to remedy this. Still, the P-26 remained the fastest USAAC fighter mount even into 1938

The P-26 was something of an outclassed relic by the time of the official American involvement in World War 2 as modern all-metal fighters with enclosed cockpits and retractable undercarriages were appearing in greater numbers. It was nonetheless pressed into service particularly by the Chinese in their war against the invading Japanese where the P-26 acquitted itself rather well as a bomber-interceptor. P-26s were also pressed into service during the Philippines campaign by the Americans and Filipinos and were in use as defenders over the critical Panama Canal Zone. During the war, Guatemala received their P-26 stock. In time, the value of the P-26 dwindled and it was overtaken / overshadowed by more advanced mounts. It continued to serve in second-rate air services globally and flew its last combat-minded sortie (with Guatemala) in 1954.

In all, 151 of the type were produced. The P-29 and XF7B-1 were both offshoots of the P-26 by Boeing as engineers attempted to advance the product along - though neither of these aircraft succeeded.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (227mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Boeing P-26A Peashooter's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

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Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
In the Cockpit...
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
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Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
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Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
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* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.