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Aerofax Minigraph 08 - Boeing P-26 Variants

Aerofax Minigraph 08 - Boeing P-26 Variants

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Published by Gheorghita Vednueb
Aero Detail, Aero Series, Aerofax, Dtagraph, Aeroguide,Profil Publication, Aircraft, Aviation, Fightfile,Airlife
Aero Detail, Aero Series, Aerofax, Dtagraph, Aeroguide,Profil Publication, Aircraft, Aviation, Fightfile,Airlife

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01/25/2014

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..
r
Aerofax
Minigraph
8
BoeingP.26
Variants
by
Peter
Bowers
ISBN
0·942548·13-2
©1984
Aerofax,
Inc.
p.o.
Box120127Arlington,Texas76012ph.817261-0689
u.s.
TradeDistributionby:
MotorbooksInternational
729ProspectAve.Osceola,Wisconsin54020
ph.
715294-2090EuropeanTradeDistributionby:
MidlandCounties
Publ1cations
24TheHollow,EarlShiltonLeicester,LE97NA,Englandph.(0455)47256
.,;
....
--------------
;
:-
~
Q.
Ii:
@
 
THE
BOEING
P-26
VARIANTS
STORV
Three-quarterfrontviewoftheBoeingXP-936windtunnelmodelwithoutpropeller.Alsomissingare
the
flyingwiresforthewings
and
tailsurfacesandothermiscellaneousdetailssuch
as
theradiomastandexhaustpipecomplex.Model,datedFebruary
of
1932,
wasmeticulouslybuilt
of
hardwoodwith
a
metalTownendring
and
engineparts.Woodandfabricfull-scalemock-up
of
XP-936lackstailsurfaces
and
landinggear.Noteworthyaretheexternalwingrootmountingof
the
cameragun,
the
abbreviatedwindscreenandheadrest,andthe
use
of
a
rea;engine.PhotowastakenonNovember
25,1931.
CREDITS:
Theauthorand
Aerofax,
Inc.
wouldlike
to
expresstheirthankstothefollowingindividualswhocontributedphotographsandlordatatothisMinigraph:DanaBell,JackBinder,DustinCarter,RobertCavanagh,HarryGann,WalterJefferies,FredrickJohnsen,JohnandJoeKobe,EdwardLePenske,EdwardMaloney,MikeMcCaryandCrownHobbiesofDallas,DavidMenard,
AI
Hansen,JamesMorrow,MarilynPhipps
of
BoeingHistoricalServices,KennRust,VictorSeely,JaySpenser,GordonSwanboroughof
AirInternational,
RobertVolker,GordonWilliams,andthelateA.U.Schmidt,EugeneSommerich,andJosephNieto.
PROGRAM
HISTORY:
TheBoeingP-26,unofficiallynicknamed
Peashooter
(inthe1930'stheterm
Peashooter
wasoftenappliedtosingle-seatpursuitaircraft;
in
thecontextofpresent-dayhistoricalreferences,thetermisgenerallyconsidered
to
applyspecifically
to
theBoeing
P-26),
is
uniqueamongUSArmypursuitaircraftforatleasttworeasons:
it
wasnotdevelopedunderastandardUSArmyAirCorpsexperimentalcontract,butratherasaprivateventureofthemanufacturerwiththeaidandencouragementoftheAirCorpsMaterielDivisionatWrightField,DaytonOhio;and
it
broketheestablishedAirCorpstraditionofdualprocurementofequivalentmodels(Curtiss
P-6
andBoeingP-12pursuits;Curtiss
0-1
andDouglas
0-210-38
observationmodelssimultaneously,forexample).WhiletheCurtissXP-934(laterdesignated
XP-31
bytheUSArmyAirCorps)wasconsideredtheBoeingXP-936's(P-26familyprototype)primarycompetition,onlytheBoeingpursuitwas
to
see
production.Thisreachedatotalofonly136P-26NBICairframes.Thoughappearingsmall,thisorderrepresentedthelargestsinglenewpursuitdesignprocurementsince1921.Therewas,however,justificationforthesmallproductionrun,asboththeArmyandBoeingrealizedthatthenewmonoplanewasstrictly
an
interimmodel.
In
fact,anentirelynewgenerationofhigh-performancemonoplanes,withmorepowerfulenginesandstructuraland
aerodynamic
improvements,was
already
under
consideration.
In
itstransitionalrole,theP-26wasalsonotableforbeingbothalastandafirst.
It
wasthelastArmypursuittofeatureboth
an
open-cockpitandfixedlandinggearwithexternally-bracedwings;andconcommiUantly,itwasalsoAmerica'sfirstproductionall-metalmonoplanepursuit.ProductionP-26'shadaUSArmyservicelifeofeightandone-halfyearsandeventuallybecamethefirstUSserviceaircrafttobepassedontoothernationsforcontinueduse.Atthetime,thiswasconsideredextremelyunusual
as
previousUSmilitaryaircrafthadbeenscrappedorrelegated
to
trainingschoolsfollowingtheirsevicecareers.
It
is
interesting
to
notethatthelasttwoofthenumerousP-26'srelegatedtoforeignserviceusewerenotretireduntil1956.Bothaircraft,atthetimeoperatedbytheGuatemalanAirForce,werereturned
to
theUS.Theyare,today,theonlyknownsurvivingP-26's.
In
1931,whenBoeing'shistoricallysignificantP-12andF4BbiplanefighterserieswasstillsellingwelltotheUSArmyandNavy,respectively,Boeingintuitivelyforesawthattheendofthebiplaneerawasnear.
In
fact,
the
com
panyhadjustintroducedarevolutionarycommercialmonoplane,theModel200
Monomail,
and
had
alreadyinterestedtheArmyinitsModel214and215twin-enginebomberderivativeswhichtheArmybought
as
the
Y1
B-9
andYB-9,respectively.Evenmoresignificantwasthe
fact
thatthecompanywasthendesigninganequivalentciviltransport,theModel247,whichwassoontorevolutionizetheairtransportindustry.SincethespeedofthenewB-9wasexpected·tobegreaterthanthat
of
contemporarypursuitaircraft,BoeingofferedtheWarDepartmentanopportunitytodevelopanewpursuitgenerationthatwould
be
fasterthanthenewbombersthenunderdevelqpment.
 
Boeing
had
alreadyanticipatedtheadventofthemonoplanepursuitwiththeModel96of1929,ahighwingdesignthattheArmyfinanced
as
the
XP-9
foralowpriorityexperimentusingall-metalconstruction.TheModel
96
number
was
in
thesequenceofBoeingdesignnumbersreachingbacktotheBoeingModel1of1916.NoteveryBoeingdesignstudyassignedanumberwasbuilt
and
noteveryassignednumberwasgivento
an
airframe;there
was,
in
fact,aseries
of
modelnumbersfrom
104
through199that
was
reservedforBoeing-designedairfoils.The
XP-9
provedunsatisfactoryaerodynamically,butBoeingtriedagain
in
1930withitsModel
202
and204which
were
nearlyidenticalall-metalparasolmonoplanestested
by
theArmyandNavy
as
theXP-15
andXF5B-1
,respectively.Both
were
essentiallyconventionalbiplaneswiththeirlowerwingsremoved.
No
ordersfortheseaircraftwereplaced.Followingintroductionoftherevolutionary
Monomaif
in
Mayof1930,Boeinginitiatedpreliminarystudiesforanewpursuit,theModel224,
in
Februaryof1931.Thiswasessentiallyascaled-down
Monomaif
withasimilarlowtaperedcantileverwinghousingabackwardretractinglandinggear,all-metalsemi-monocoqueconstruction,P-12Etailsurfaces,
and
a
550
hpPratt
&
Whitney
Wasp
engine.Oldpursuittraditionsweremaintained
in
theform
ofan
opencockpit.Informaldiscussion
of
theModel224betweenBoeing
and
WrightFieldrepresentativesarousedlittleofficial
in
terest;regardlessofmajoradvancestheArmyhad
no
requirementforanewpursuitaircraft
at
thetime.Boe
ing
thereforeshelvedtheModel224andwent
b~ck
to
thedrawingboard
to
layout
amoresimplifiecfdesign,theModel245.TheModel
224
concept
was
not
to
dieoutjustyet,however.
It
wasrevampedtwoyearslater
as
theModel
264,
whichfirstflew
in
January
of
1934.
The
Armyboughtthreeexamples
as
theYP-29forservicetest,butdidnotorderthetypeintoproduction.
By
thattime,withanewgenerationoflarger,morepowerful,andmorestreamlinedpursuits
on
thedrawingboard,theYP-29'sactuallyofferedtoolittle,toolate.The
Model
245wasawire-bracedmidwingmonoplane,stillwiththe
Wasp
engine
and
opencockpit,
but.
witharigidsingle-leglandinggearattachedtothefuselage.Thebasicconceptoftheforthcoming
P-26was
nowestablished.WrightFieldrepresentativesquicklysawthedesign'spotential
and
withsuggestionsandrecommendations,theyencouragedBoeing
to
expand
and
developthestudiesfurther.Theresult
was
theModel
248,
alowwingmonoplanewithfixedlandinggearattached
to
astubcentersectionintegralwiththefuselagethat
was
verysimilar
in
appearancetothatfound
on
thenewrecord-holding
Gee
Bee
racer.Thewingwaswirebraced
from
thelandinggear
and
topofthefuselage.WrightFieldrepresentatives,thoughstillhobbled
by
Headquartersbudgetaryconstraintsand
no
specific
re
quirementforanewpursuit,nowsawadesignthat
it
wanted.
An
ingenioussolutionto
the
Army'sdilemma
was
soon
workedout.Boeingwoulddesignandbuildthreeprototypepursuits
and
deliverthemtoWrightFieldfor
Ar
my
testing
on
abailmentcontract
as
company-ownedaircraft.
To
reduceinitialcosts,WrightFieldwouldlend
Boe
ingall
the
hardwarethat
was
normallysuppliedasgovernmentfurnishedequipment(GFE)forcontractedmilitaryaircraft.Thisincludedthepowerplant,thepropeller,thearmament,instrumentation,andotheritems,
all
of
whichnearlyequalledthecostoftheairframe
in
whichit
was
installed.Thisprovedadvantageous
to
bothparties
asit
allowedtheArmyAirCorps
to
evaluateanewandadvanceddesign
at
essentially
no
cost;andBoeingtookarelativelysmallfinancialgamble
on
apossiblesubstantialorder
in
theshrunkenmilitaryandcivilaircraftmarket
of
theearlyDepressionYears.
XP-936:
Designwork
on
theBoeingModel248(theprototypeforthe
P-26
family)started
in
Septemberof1931,underthedirectionofProjectEngineerRobertMinshall.TheModel
248was
laterassignedtheWrightFieldXP-936designator.Thisrepresentednumber936
in
aseries
of
experimentalaircraft,bothmilitary
and
civil,tested
at
Wright
Field
and
its
predecessor,McCookFieldback
to
1917.Originally,the
"P"
stoodfortheword
"plane",
butbythetimetheseriesreached
9QO,
theletterindicatedthetype
of
aircraft
(as
PforPursuit,BforBomber,etc.).TheXP-936designation
was
assigneduponsigningofthebailmentcontractforthefirstthreeaircraft
on
December
5,
1931.Therewasatimeadvantage
in
developingthenewpursuit
as
aprivateventureinsteadof
as
Armyproper
ty.
Asan
Army-ownedmodel
it
would
have
to
incorporate
2
many
of
thedetailedrequirementsoftheArmy'sbible,theHandbookofInstructionsforAirplaneDesigners(HIAD).Boeingwasguidedbythemajorrequirements
in
thispublication,butwasabletoeliminatemanyofthelesserones
as
beingunnecessaryfora"proofofconcept"prototype.Thefirstmetalwascut
on
theprototypeaircraft
in
Januaryof1932,and
in
an
attempt
to
speed
up
themainconstructionprocess,Boeingearly-onelected
to
moveengineersanddraftersintotheconstructionarea
to
be
in
closeproximitytotheactualaircraft.Manypartswereactuallybuiltfromfree-handsketchesand
on
ahandfittedbasis.Tenweeksafterthecuttingofthefirstmetal,theprototypeXP-936,
cln
1678,
was
completedatBoeingField.Thisaircraft,withballast
in
place
of
armamentandfuel
in
themaintanksonly,wassuccessfullytestflownforthefirsttime
on
March
10,
1932,fromthecompany'sBoeingField,Seattle,Washingtonfacility.ApreliminaryevaluationpermittedcompanytestpilotLesTowertoconcludethatthenewaircrafthadexcellentflightcharacteristics.FollowingadditionaltestflightsundertheauspicesofBoeing,Tower,
on
April16th,ferriedtheXP-936toWrightFieldwhereit
was
formallyturnedovertotheArmy
on
April25th.ThesecondXP-936,
cln
1679,destinedforstatictest,
was
flownaway
on
April22ndby
Lt.
L.H.Dawson,
an
Armypilot,eventhoughitwasstillBoeingproperty.
It
reachedWrightFieldviaacircuitousroute;MarchField,California,andtheAnacostiaNavalAirStation,Maryland.Uponarrival
at
WrightField,
it
enteredthestatictestlaboratoryandneverflewagain
as
Armyproperty.ThethirdXP-936,
cln
1680,
was
flowndirectly
to
SelfridgeField
on
May
6th
byMaj.
G.
E.
Browerforevaluationbythethreesquadronsofthe1stPUrsuitGroup.Oddly,thoughtheXP-936'swerecompany-ownedaircraft,theydidnotcarrycivilregistrations.Apparentlytheirmilitarymarkingsandcoloring,plusthe"XP-936"lettering
on
theirtails,qualifiedthem
as
militaryaircraft
in
the
eyes
ofcivilofficials
and
thuslegitimizedtheabsenceofcivilregistration.
XP-26:
AftertheinitialXP-936flighttestprogramwascompletedbyBoeingandArmypilots(allthreeaircraftwereofficiallyacquiredfromBoeingbytheArmyunderapurchasecontractsignedonJune
15,
1932),the
Army
cautiouslyconcludedthatthetypewasindeedasignificantimprovementoveravailablepursuitsandthereforeaworthyadditiontotheoperationalinventory.Thoughconcernoverhighlandingandtakeoffspeeds,overlylongtakeoffandlandingdistances,slowresponse
to
throttleretardation,andrapidacceleration
in
adive(consideredanegativecharacteristicatthetime!),
re
mained,
it
neverthelesselectedtosqueezeproductionfundingoutof
an
alreadyoverburdenedbudget.Alastminuteadditiontothe1932FiscalYearBudget,whichendedJune30,1932,includedfundingfor
an
initialP-26order.Interestingly,oncetheybecameArmyproperty,thethreeXP-936prototypeswereassignedastandard
US
ArmyPursuit-seriesdesignator,XP-26,toindicatethattheyweretechnicallyexperimentalprototypes(officialacknowledgementofthedesignationassignmentwasconsequenttotheacquisitionoftheaircraft
on
June15,1932).Armyserialnumbers32-412,413,and414wereassigned
at
thistime,identifyingthe412th,413thand414thArmyaircraftprocured
in
FiscalYear1932(July1,1931throughJune30,1932).
Y1P-26:
As
adeviationfromstandardpractice,thethreeprototypesdidnotretaintheirX-prefixespermanently,
as
was
customaryfor
new
prototypes.Instead,theArmydecidedtochangethestatusofthenewaircraftfrom"Experimental"
to
"ServiceTest",thusrequir
ing
thereplacementofthe
"X"
prefixwith
the
"Y"
prefiX.To
complicatethingsevenfurther,
in
somecases,such
as
withthethree
P-26
prototypes,thedesignationbecame
Y1
P-26to
indicatethattheaircraftwerepaidforwiththe
F-1
fundsratherthanregularAirCorpsappropriations.Usually,servicetestmodelswereprocured
on
separatecontracts
and
weredifferentaircraftthantheprototypes.
XY1P-26:
As
astillfurtheroddity,theXand
Y1
designationswerecombinedbrieflyinAugustof1932,asthe
XY1
P-26.Thiswasapparentlyforadministrativepurposesonly,though
it
musthavecausedsomeratherseriousconfusionamongbureaucratsrequiringaccuratedesignationinformationI
P-26:
Eventually,
all
theprefixingdesignatorsweredropped,
as
wascustomary
in
theAirCorpsduringthistime,andthe
XY1,
Y1,
and
Yprefixeswereremovedfromthe
P,
andthreeprototypesthusbecomingsimplyP-26.Thoughthefate
of
thesecondP-26
was
sealedwhenitbecameastructuraltestarticleatWrightField(beingremovedfromtheAirCorpsinventory
in
September
of
1932),thefirstandthirdaircrafthadrelativelylonglifespans.Thefirst
P-26
remained
at
WrightFieldduringmostofitsflighttestandevaluationprogram,andthen
was
assigned
to
ChanuteField,Rantoul,Illinois.Eventually
it
wasdeclared"Class
25"
andwasutilizedforgroundcrewtraining.
It
hadac.cumulatedatotalof465Armyflighthoursbythistimeand
was
eventuallyscrapped.ThethirdP-26prototypeshuttledbackandforthbetweenSelfridgeandWrightFields
on
varioustestandevaluationprogramsbeforecrashing
on
October
12,
1934,due
to
thelossofawing
in
flightnearBaltimore,Maryland,withatotalof344Armyflighthours
in
its
log
book.
BoeingModel
266:Flightandstructuraltestingofthethreeprototypeshad
led
to
anumberofrelativelyminorchanges
in
theproductionairframesandothersystems.Amongtheseweretheeliminationofthemainwheelcowlingprotrusionsvisiblejustbehindtherearstrutfairings;achange
to
smaller-diametermaingearandtailwheelwheelsandtires,andreducedareaailerons.Lessnoticeablebutofperhapsgreaterimportancewerethevariousinternalchangeswhichincludedredesignofthewingstructure(thoughthephysicaldimensions
of
thewingremainedessentiallyunchangedwiththeexception
ofan
11-5/8"
increase
in
span);
and
provisionwasmadepermittingtheinstallationofTypeA-4AskisorType
A-8
wheel-skisasalternatives
to
thestandardlandinggear.
In
additiontochangesbrought
onby
designconsiderations,therewerealsoareasofcontentionexpressed
by
thevarioustestpilotswhohadbeenprivilegedtoflythetwoavailableXP-936prototypes.Amongthesewere:nohandlesorstepswereprovidedtoaidapilotwearingbulkyflyingclothesduringingressandegress;theinstrumentpanelandenginecowlingvibratedexcessive
ly
atlowandhighengine
rpm;
andsomecontrolswereinaccessiblefromtheseatwhenthepilotwasproperlystrapped
in
place.Additionally,
it
wasnotedthatforwardvision
was
obscuredduringtaxi
by
theTownendring;
and
stabilityduringtakeoff,duetotheshortcoupledlandinggear,wasmarginal.Pilotsalsonotedthatnormalflightattituderecovery
was
slowfollowingpitchchangeinputs;
an
unassistedrecoverytolevelflightduringabankingmaneuver
at
highspeed
was
difficult
to
obtainandusuallyresultedinstead
inan
ever-increasingspiraltotheleft,andeventually,aspin;andlandingspeed
(82
mph)andlandingroll-out
(350
to400yards)wereexcessive.
P-26A:
TheinitialArmyorder,placed
on
January
28,
1933,wasfor
111
productionP-26A's.Thiswaslateramended
to
include
an
additional
25
aircraft,thusgivingatotalof
136.
Unitcost,lessGFE,was$9,999,withtotalairframeproductioncostsbeing$1,163,192.AparallelArmycontractwithPratt
&
Whitneyresulted
in
anorderfor
121
R-1340-27
Wasp
engines
at
attotalcostof$540,778.
On
November
24,
1933,lessthanayearafterthe
Army
orderedtheproductionversionoftheXP-936,thefirstP-26AwasassembledonBoeingField.BoeingtestpilotLesTowermadethefirstflight
on
December7th.Thefirstarticle,33-28,wasturnedovertoAirCorpsCaptain
C.
H.
Strohm
on
December16th,andhepromptlytookoffforWrightField.ThefirstP-26Aforasquadron,33·30,leftthesamedayforBarksdaleField,nearShreveport,Louisiana,piloted
by
Lt.
E.M.
Robbinsofthe20thPursuitGroup.ThelastP-26,33-138,would
be
delivered
to
the1
st
PursuitGroupatSelfridgeFieldjustoversixmonthslater,
on
June30,1934.
P-26B:
ThefirstbatchofP-26A'swasfollowed
by
acontractrevisioncallingfor
an
additionaltwenty-fiveaircraft,thisbeingtheresultofa
good
P-26A
servicerecord.ThesewereidenticaltothefirstP-26A'sexceptfortheaddition
of
flaps.Later,asaresultofthesuccessfulservicetestingofsevenCurtissP-12E'swithfuel-injected
R-1340
engines(leading
to
atemporaryXP-12Kdesignationbeingapplied),WrightFielddecidedtotryfuelinjectedengines
on
theP-26A.Consequently,thefirsttwoP-26A's
in
thesecondproductionlotwereorderedto
be
completedwiththeinjectedengines.Thenewengine
was
theR-1340-33which,sinceitwasappreciablyheavier
Gust
over100pounds)thanthecarburetor-equipped-27,causedballast
to
beaddedtothetailtomaintainproperc.g.requirements.Becauseoftheextensivesystemandweightchangesinvolved,theAirCorpsredesignatedtheR-1340-33-equippedaircraftP-26BandBoeingconsequentlyassignedarevised'modelnumber,266A.Theenginechangeandtheadditionoftheflapsrais
ed
theunitcost
of
thetwoP-26B'sto$14,009,lessGFE.ThefirstP-26B,33-179,
was
flowntoWrightFieldfortest

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