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Boeing P-26 Peashooter


Monoplane Fighter Aircraft


United States | 1932



"The Boeing P-26 Peashooter monoplane fighter became the first all-metal aircraft design for the United States of America."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/16/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this 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.

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.

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Cockpit
While traditional jobs involve workstations, office desks, or cubicles, aircraft provide operators with their own unique, ever-changing view of the world below.
Cockpit image
[ Click to Enlarge ]
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Boeing P-26A Peashooter Monoplane Fighter Aircraft.
1 x Pratt and Whitney nine-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 500 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
Propulsion
227 mph
365 kph | 197 kts
Max Speed
27,395 ft
8,350 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
360 miles
579 km | 313 nm
Operational Range
2,360 ft/min
719 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Boeing P-26A Peashooter Monoplane Fighter Aircraft.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
23.8 ft
7.26 m
O/A Length
28.0 ft
(8.52 m)
O/A Width
10.4 ft
(3.17 m)
O/A Height
2,273 lb
(1,031 kg)
Empty Weight
3,012 lb
(1,366 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter Monoplane Fighter Aircraft .
STANDARD, FIXED:
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).

OPTIONAL:
2 x 100 lb conventional drop bombs OR 5 x 31 lb anti-personnel drop bombs.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter family line.
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.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Boeing P-26 Peashooter. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 151 Units

Contractor(s): Boeing Aircraft Corporation - USA
National flag of China National flag of the Philippines National flag of Spain National flag of Taiwan National flag of the United States

[ China (Taiwan); Guatemala; Panama; Philippines; Spain; United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (227mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
151
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
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Image of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter
Image from the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio, USA.
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Image of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter
Image from the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio, USA.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
AIR-TO-AIR COMBAT
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Boeing P-26 Peashooter Monoplane Fighter Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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