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Boeing P-26 Peashooter

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The P-26 Peashooter would be the first all-metal monoplane fighter to serve with the United States Army Air Corps. It would form the core of pursuit aircraft based in the United States and would spend four years in service as a frontline fighter. The Boeing P-26 Peashooter would be stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack on the 7th December 1941.

Quick Facts
Boeing P-26 Peashooter side profile image
First flight
20th March 1932
Entered service
January 1934
Total built

Front view
Sorry, no view photo available
Side view
Sorry, no view photo available
Rear view
Sorry, no view photo available

The P-26 began its life as the Boeing Model 248 in September 1931 and development of the aircraft was funded by Boeing themselves. Under the designation XP-936, three aircraft would be produced to undergo trials. With the engines and instruments supplied by the United States Army Air Corps.

The 20th March 1932 saw the first of the three aircraft fly, and along with the second example, which was undergoing static tests, would go to Wright Field for evaluation. The third aircraft would be sent to operational squadrons based at Selfridge Field to undergo testing on the 25th April 1932. The United States Army Air Corps would go on to purchase these three aircraft and renamed them to Y1P-26, before placing an order for 111 P-26s, which would be increased later on by a further 25 to a total of 136 aircraft.

The production aircraft featured a number of improvements with radio and emergency floatation gear added and a new higher headrest in case of a roll-over accident. The Peashooter also had a high landing speed, which was solved by fitting the aircraft with trailing edge flaps, which were fitted to aircraft currently in production and retrospectively to ones in service.

Powered by a 600-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-27 Wasp engine, the 10th January 1934 saw the first production P-26A fly. It had a top speed of 234 mph, range of 360 miles with a service ceiling of 27,400 ft. Armament was two 0.30-in machine-guns and 200lb bombs. By the end of June 1934 the initial 111 Peashooters ordered had been delivered to the United States Army Air Corps. The further 25 aircraft that had been ordered comprised two P-26Bs powered by the 600-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-33 engine, with the rest featuring minor changes and known as P-26Cs. Although a number of these would be modified to P-26Bs.

When the P-26 entered service with the United States Army Air Corps in January 1934 it would be its first all-metal monoplane fighter, and would go on to spend four years as a frontline fighter for the USAAC. During this time it would serve with a number of Pursuit Groups, including the 12th Pursuit Group and 20th Pursuit Group, before starting to be replaced by the Curtiss P-36 Hawk and Seversky P-35. Despite this fourteen examples were based at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack on the 7th December 1941.

The P-26 would be sold abroad, with a sole example going to Spain and 11 to China and 31 to the Philippines. With both the Philippines and China using the type against the Japanese. A number of surplus P-26s would be used by a number of countries, including Guatemala.

An improved version of the P-26 was produced by Boeing and featured retractable undercarriage and an enclosed cockpit and was known as the YP-29, but this was not put into production. So only the original order of 136 Boeing P-26 Peashooter aircraft were produced.

Technical Details

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Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
P-26A 234 mph 360 miles 27,400 ft two 0.30-in machine-guns
200lb bombs
P-26A side profile image
P-26B Two aircraft fitted with a 600-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-33 Wasp engine.
P-26C 23 aircraft with minor changes.
Model 281 Twelve P-26Cs built for the export market. Spain would receive one with the rest going to China.


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See This Aircraft

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

No known examples currently on public display in the UK.

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