The P-26A marked a significant step in the evolution of fighter aircraft -- it became the U.S. Army Air Corps' first all-metal monoplane fighter in regular service. Affectionately nicknamed the "Peashooter" by its pilots, the P-26A could fly much faster in level flight than the Air Corps' older wood and fabric biplane fighters. The P-26A also had a higher landing speed. Although not initially delivered with wing flaps, P-26As were later fitted with them to reduce landing speeds.
Even with its monoplane design and all-metal construction, the Peashooter retained some traditional features, such as an open cockpit, fixed landing gear and external wing bracing. The P-26A became the last Air Corps fighter to have these obsolete characteristics.
The first of three prototype P-26s flew in March 1932. After purchasing these aircraft, the Air Corps ordered a total of 111 of the production version, the P-26A, and 25 of the later B and C models. Boeing delivered the first P-26As to the Air Corps in December 1933. The P-26 remained the Air Corps front-line fighter until 1938, when the Curtiss P-36A and the Seversky P-35 began to replace it.
The P-26 also flew in foreign air forces. In 1934 Boeing sold an export version to the Chinese, who flew it in combat against the Japanese. In December 1941, the Philippine government employed the then-obsolete P-26 against the Japanese in a futile effort.
This P-26A reproduction is painted to represent the commander's aircraft of the 19th Pursuit Squadron, 18th Pursuit Group, stationed at Wheeler Field, Hawaii, in 1938.
Armament: Two .30-cal. or one .50-cal. and one .30-cal. machine guns; 200 lbs. of bombs
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-1340 "Wasp" radial of 500 hp
Maximum speed: 234 mph
Cruising speed: 199 mph
Range: 360 miles
Ceiling: 27,400 ft.
Span: 27 ft. 11.5 in.
Length: 23 ft. 10 in.
Height: 10 ft. 5 in.
Weight: 2,197 lbs. empty; 2,955 lbs. maximum
Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.