• The Boeing P-26 "Peashooter" was the first American production all-metal fighter aircraft and the first pursuit monoplane to enter squadron service with the United States Army Air Corps. Designed and built by Boeing, the prototype first flew in 1932, and the type was still in use with the U.S. Army Air Corps as late as 1941 in the Philippines.
    Design and development
    The project funded by Boeing to produce the Boeing Model 248 began in September 1931, with the US Army Air Corps supplying the engines and the instruments. The open cockpit, fixed landing gear, externally braced wing design was the last such design procured by the USAAC as a fighter. The Model 248 had a high landing speed, which caused a number of accidents. To remedy this, flaps were fitted to reduce the landing speed. The Army Air Corps ordered three prototypes, designated XP-936, which first flew on 20 March 1932.

    The Boeing XP-936's headrest offered little protection should it flip onto its back, risking injuring the pilot. As a result, production Model 266s (P-26As) had a taller headrest installed to provide protection.

    Two fighters were completed as P-26Bs with fuel-injected Pratt & Whitney R-1340-33 engines. These were followed by twenty-three P-26Cs, with carburated R-1340-33s and modified fuel systems. Both the Spanish Air Force (one aircraft) and the Republic of China Air Force (eleven aircraft) ordered examples of the Boeing Model 281, an export version comparable to the P-26C, in 1936.

    The "Peashooter", as it was known by service pilots, was faster than previous American combat aircraft. Nonetheless, rapid progress in aviation led to it quickly becoming an anachronism, with wire-braced wings, fixed landing gear and an open cockpit.
    Operational History
    The first P-26As entered service with the USAAC in early 1934. The first USAAC units to take delivery of P-26s belonged to the 20th Pursuit Group (55th, 77th, and 79th Squadrons) based at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, the 1st Pursuit Group (17th, 27th, and 94th Squadrons) based at Selfridge Field, Michigan, and the 17th Pursuit Group (34th, 73rd, and 95th Squadrons) based at March Field, California.

    In 1938, P-26s were assigned to the 18th Pursuit Group (6th, 19th, 44th, 73rd, and 78th Squadrons) bassed at Wheeler Field on Oahu in Hawaii. In 1940, more P-26s reached Wheeler Field to join the 15th Pursuit Group (45th, 46th, and 47th Squadrons). The P-26s replaced P-12s and served alongside the Curtiss P-36.

    The P-26s were in service with the 17th Pursuit Group for only a year, after which these planes were transferred to the 16th Pursuit Group (24th, 29th, and 78th Squadrons). The 16th Pursuit Group (24th and 29th Squadrons) set up operations at Albrook Field in the Canal Zone beginning in February of 1939. These planes were later transferred to the 37th Pursuit Group (28th, 30th, and 31st Squadrons) which flew them until May of 1941 when they were replaced by P-40Bs. Some were later transferred to the 32nd Pursuit Group (51st and 53rd Squadrons). However, by the time of Pearl Harbor, only nine P-26s remained airworthy in Central America.

    P-26s were also flown by the 6th and 19th squadrons of the 18th Fighter Group based in Hawaii from 1938 onward. They were also flown by the 3rd Squadron in the Philippines.

    The P-26 was a popular pilots' airplane and performed well until outclassed by more modern fighters. P-26s served in front-line units with the USAAC until 1938-40, when they began to be replaced by Seversky P-35 and Curtiss P-36A fighters. All P-26 models had been withdrawn from regular squadron use by the time of Pearl Harbor, and most surviving stateside P-26 aircraft had been relegated to mechanic training schools.

    There were still some P-26s sitting on the flight line at Wheeler Field at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Six of them were destroyed and one was damaged.

    Most of those P-26s that had been stationed in the Philippines had been sold to the government of the Philippines by the time of the Japanese attack. The Philippine government acquired 12 P-26As beginning in July of 1941. Some of these P-26s were serving with the 6th Pursuit Squadron of the Philippine Army Air Force based at Batangas Field at the time of the Japanese attack. Despite their total obsolescence, the Filipino P-26s succeeded in scoring some victories against the Mitsubishi A6M Zero during the first few days of the Japanese attack. One of the Philippine P-26s is credited with shooting down the first Japanese plane destroyed during the early attacks on the islands. The best-known action took place on December 12, 1942, then a group of six Philippine P-26s led by Capt. Jesus Villamor shot one bomber and two Zeros with the loss of three P-26s. However, the few P-26s operated by the Philippine Army Air Force were quickly overwhelmed by the onslaught of the Japanese Zero fighters, and the surviving P-26s were destroyed on the ground by Filipinos to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

    Following Pearl Harbor, only nine P-26s remained airworthy in the Panama Canal Zone. They were replaced by P-40s in June of 1942. In November of 1942, the Fuerza Aerea de Guatemala expressed interest in acquiring these obsolescent P-26s. However, there was at that time a Congressional rule forbidding export of fighters to all Latin American nations except Brazil and Mexico. Consequently, in order to get around the restriction, the fighters were identified on transfer documents as "Boeing PT-26A" aircraft, a trainer designation which actually belonged to the Fairchild Cornell primary trainer. A total of seven P-26s were transferred to Guatemala under this ruse. Serials were 33-049, 075, 089, 123, 126, 132, and 135. The last of these, in fact the last P-26 in American service (33-89) was transferred to Guatemala on May 4, 1943.

    Several of the Guatemalan P-26s were still active as trainers as late as 1957. One P-26 was obtained from Guatemala by the Planes of Fame Museum of Chino, California where it has been restored to flying condition in its original US Army markings. Another was obtained from the same source by the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.

    The P-26 was the last Boeing Company fighter aircraft to enter service until Boeing acquired McDonnell-Douglas and took over its production and continuing support contracts for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 2002.
    Model 266, prototypes powered by a 525 hp (391 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340-21 Wasp radial engine, three built.
    26 Aircraft Parked At An Airfield Likely At The National Air Races In Ohio Circa 1930
    26 No 2
    26 No 3
    Single-seat fighter aircraft, powered by a 600 hp (450 kW) R-1340-27. 111 built.
    26A Cockpit
    26A Landing Gear Assembly
    26A Bolling Field
    26A At Naca Langley
    26As At Hickam Field
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    26A Wheeler Field
    26A 55th Sq Floyd Bennett Field May 9th 1938
    26A 55th Sq Floyd Bennett Field May 4th 1938
    26A 19th PS Wheeler Field
    P 26A Skis
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    26A March Field
    26A 73PS 1PG 43 1937
    150 73PS 20PG 3Feb34
    137 17PS 1PG
    26A 20PG
    26A 19PS 18PG 6Mar39 Hawaii
    26 Aircraft Of The 17th Pursuit Group United States Army Air Corps Parked On The Inspection Line March Field California February 18 1935
    Single-seat fighter, powered by a fuel-injected 600 hp (450 kW) R-1340-33. two built.
    191 17PS 1PG
    26B Of 1935
    26B Jpg
    Single-seat fighter, with a carburated R-1340-33 and a modified fuel system. 23 built.
    Model 281
    Export version of the P-26C; 11 built for China and one for Spain.
    26 Chinese
    Specifications (P-26A)
    General characteristics
    Crew: One
    Length: 23 ft 7 in (7.19 m)
    Wingspan: 28 ft (8.5 m)
    Height: 10 ft (3.0 m)
    Wing area: 250 sq ft (23 m2)
    Airfoil: Boeing 109[28]
    Empty weight: 2,196 lb (996 kg)
    Gross weight: 3,360 lb (1,524 kg)
    Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-1340-27 Wasp 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 600 hp (450 kW)
    Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller
    Maximum speed: 234 mph (377 km/h, 203 kn)
    Combat range: 360 mi (580 km, 310 nmi)
    Ferry range: 635 mi (1,022 km, 552 nmi)
    Service ceiling: 27,400 ft (8,400 m)
    Rate of climb: 719 ft/min (3.65 m/s)
    Guns: 2 × .30 in (7.62 mm) M1919 Browning machine guns or 1 x .30 in (7.62 mm) and 1 x .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
    Bombs: 2 × 100 lb (45 kg) GP bombs or 5 x 31 lb (14 kg) anti-personnel bombs.

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