BOEING P26-A 'PEASHOOTER'
In the late 1920s - early 1930’s whilst the United State Army Air Corp fighter fleet of aircraft still revolved around the antiquated wooden/canvas WWI biplane design, civil aviation was making significant advances in all metal monoplane aircraft development.
The US Government was already awarding contracts to deliver mail by air and air transportation, particularly that of passenger services were spreading rapidly across the country.
Charles Lindbergh had already flown solo, non stop from New York to Paris in his all metal Ryan M2, Spirt of St Louis in 1927 and the first mass produced civil all metal passenger aircraft, the 3-engined Ford Trimotor carried its first paying customers only a year later.
In the US military however, the only advances in aviation had been in the area of bomber design with the Glen Martin Group introducing their all metal B-10 bomber in the early 1930s.
Equipping three US Army Squadrons, the twin engined B-10 featured an enclosed cockpit, retractable undercarriage and with a maximum speed of almost 180kts, represented a unique period in military aviation history when bomber development outstripped that of fighters.
In an attempt to update their ageing fleet of single engine bi plane fighters the USAAC commissioned Boeing to design an all metal monoplane fighter based along the lines of the Martin B-10 bomber.
Unfortunately, Boeing were hobbled from the get go with the military insisting that the new design should feature externally braced wings, an open cockpit and fixed landing gear.
The Air Corps believed that a fighter’s unbraced wings would simply sheer off at higher speeds, an open cockpit was essential to enable the pilot to bail out unhindered and that retractable undercarriage only added additional weight.
Surprisingly, these beliefs were in direct contrast to fighter design in Europe where the RAF were already test flying their Hawker Hurricane and Germany, their Bf 109 fighters.
Working within those restraints Boeing designed the P26-A and delivered the first of 111 all metal monoplane fighters to the USAAC in December 1933 where they remained the Air Corps front-line fighter until 1938.
Affectionately known as the ‘Peashooter’ due to its long tubular gunsight-mounted just forward of the cockpit, the P26-A had a top speed of 203 kts and featured two belt-fed M1919 .30cal machine guns inside the fuselage, firing through the propeller area via interrupter gears.
Despite its bulky ‘spattered’ landing gear, the aircraft still proved to be highly responsive with excellent manoeuvrability although its high landing speed had to be remedied with the fitting of wing flaps and a ‘roll-bar’ hump behind the pilot after a number of aircraft had flipped in touchdown.
At its peak, the aircraft equipped six US Squadrons as well as the Philippine Army Air Crop but even at its debut, it had already been superseded by the latest European single engined fighters of the RAF and Luftwaffe and more ominously, the new Japanese A6M Zeros.
By 1940, the USAAF had already began replacing their operational Peashooters with the next generation of single seater fighters such as the P-36 Hawk, precursor to the highly successful P-40 Warhawk that was to shortly follow.
In fact, fourteen P-26s were still in Hawaii, lined up wingtip to wingtip, in December 1941 when they were destroyed on the ground by the Japanese Pearl Harbour strike force.
When Japan attacked the Philippines in December 1941, twelve Filipino Peashooters flew alongside of sixteen US Army P-26s as part of the 4th Composite Air Group from the Clark Army Airbase.
Amazingly, the Filipino aircraft shot down a Japanese G3M ‘Nell’ bomber and two A6M Zeros but within sixteen days of the Japanese attack, all Peashooters had been destroyed.
While a small order of P26-A’s were purchased by the Guatemalan government and a remained in service up until 1951 the Peashooter had been replaced by the P-40 and P-39 Airacobra and today, only three original aircraft exist with a number of reproduction models a favourite at airshows around the world for their squat and speedy shape and colourful livery.
All Boeing P26-A 'Peashooter' Instruments come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
Return to VINTAGE ORIGINAL AIRCRAFT INSTRUMENTS
BOEING P26-A PEASHOOTER DUAL AMP/VOLT METER
Early Weston Instrument Dual Amp/Volt Meter installed in the 1930's...