The aircraft we present today is the one that served during World War II in its earliest days. The name of this aircraft is Boeing P-26 Peashooter which was a fighter aircraft developed for America’s United States Army Air Corps. The interesting thing about the Boeing P-26 Peashooter is that it was the first-ever American fighter aircraft to be built in an all-metal frame body and was the first in line for the purist of a monoplane to enter in the service.
The design of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter was proposed by none other than the Boeing Aircraft Company back in 1938 and in a short time of 9 weeks, a flying prototype was able to take its first flight that every same year. The aircraft went on to serve for the USAAC until 1941 during their venture in the Philippines as well as many other companies also operated this particular aircraft.
As of today, only 2 working models of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter are still present with 3 reproduction units being placed in exhibitions and 2 more in the construction phases.
For our readers, we bring to you all the amazing facts about the Boeing P-26 Peashooter; the first American all-metal fighter.
Designed and Manufactured in 9 weeks:-
The start of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter was started by the Boeing Company back in the early 30s as their private venture which they named a Model 248. That particular aircraft model was designed around a single Pratt & Whitney R-1340 air-cooled radial piston engine. The model of this aircraft caught the eye of the USAAC and they showed their interest in a full-fledged aircraft prototype in 1931.
Boeing accepted the proposal of USAAC and in the time of 9 weeks, they were able to create the successful first prototype for the Boeing P-26 Peashooter which was designated as XP-936. This aircraft took its first successful flight back on 20th March 1932. Later on, Boeing created 2 more of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter prototypes and all of them were built around the PW Wasp Radial position engines.
The basic design for the Boeing P-26 Peashooter was comprised of an aircraft that had low mounted wings of a monoplane while the cockpit was set a little bit ahead to avoid any mishaps from the nose and wing sections. The headrest, which protruded from a dorsal spine line, was placed right behind the pilot. As for the large-sized radial engine, it was placed in front of the pilot while the tail section had the commonly used single fin arrangement. The landing gear legs were large in size and were placed under the wings. The performance of the PW Radial engine was impressive enough to give it a speed of 227 mph which was far much better than anything that USAAC had in their fleet at the time.
Powerplant, Speed, and Range:-
A single one of the Boeing P-26 Peashooters was equipped with 1 Pratt & Whitney R-1340-21 Wasp radial piston engine which had 9 cylinders to create a horsepower of 500 from its two-blade propeller fitted at the nose section. This much power was enough to propel the aircraft in the sky at a service ceiling of 27395 feet to fly at a top speed of 227 mph. the aircraft had a climbing rate of nearly 2360 feet per minute while it could cover a range of 360 miles.
Armaments were specially created for the Boeing P-26 Peashooter and a single Boeing P-26 Peashooter was equipped with 2 of the 0.30 caliber Browning M19191 machine guns which were air-cooled. In place of these Browning machine guns, some Boeing P-26 Peashooters were also equipped with 1 of the 0.30 and 1 of the 0.50 caliber Browning M2 machine guns.
This was not all in the firepower for the Boeing P-26 Peashooter as the aircraft could also carry a bombing payload of nearly 200 lbs. this was often used either to drop 2 of 100 lbs bombs or 5 small bombs of antipersonnel attack.
Replaced Boeing P-12:-
The prototype model from the Boeing was heavily liked by the USAA and they decided to enter the aircraft in the active duty service. In order for the Boeing P-26 Peashooter to take place in the USAAC, the air corps released their aging fleet of the Boeing P-12s; the biplane fighter aircraft. In fact, the order for the Boeing P-26 Peashooter become the largest ever order placed by the USAAC when it as placed back in January of 1933.
The initial models under these contracts were designated as P-26A and nearly 111 of these aircraft were manufactured within the first year of the contract. As for the model designated as P-26B, only 2 of them were ever created which had the primary features of being built around a single Fuel Injected Pratt & Whitney R-1340-33 radial position engine. Then cm ether line of the P-26C models which had the same engine configuration but with a better fuel injection system to improve the range and speed. 23 units for the P-23C model were created.
Other operators of Boeing P-26 Peashooter:-
The version of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter designated as P-26C was shipped by Boeing to China under the named Model 281 along with one being sent to Spain.
The aircraft was liked by the air forces of these countries and other than the United States; other following countries also got their own fleets of Boeing P-26 Peashooters.
Total number of Boeing P-26 Peashooter manufactured:-
All in all, nearly 151 units of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter were created by Boeing, which were supplied to both USAAC and the air force of other countries as well. Boeing engineers also tried their hand at creating advanced versions of the aircraft under designation P-29 and the XF7B-1 but both of them failed to reach their desired results.
World War II service:-
By the time, America was embroiled in World War II, the deigns of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter was already becoming obsolete as more and more fighter aircraft were created in all-metal frames. Still, it was entered in the service and the country that used it most was China. China used the Boeing P-26 Peashooter in their liberation effort against the Japanese army where it acted as the bomber interceptor aircraft.
The last time aircraft served for the USAAC was back in 1941 and the last service of the Boeing P-26 Peashooter came back in 1954 with the second rate air force of Guatemala.