Skip to content

Basement Chronicles: The Peashooter

February 27, 2009

Most don’t know that our museum has a full fabrication shop—an “aircraft factory”—in our basement, deep below our galleries. Down in the depths of the Museum, volunteers draft schematics (or blueprints), bend metal, shape wood, and drill, hammer and rivet to create some of the airplanes you see on our galley floor. Many of these volunteers worked for large aerospace companies and our now lending us their expertise. The Basement Chronicles will follow their work. This edition focuses on the Boeing P-26 “Peashooter.”

Back in 1999, the museum decided to augment its collection by building (thanks to our fabrication shop) a Boeing P-26 “Peashooter.” The P-26 was the Army Air corps first monoplane, first all-metal fighter and last fighter with fixed landing gear. It set the stage for the next generation of high powered, sleek fighters that would dominate the skies during World War II.

The P-26 was nicknamed the “Peashooter” because of the gun sight mounted just in front of the windshield. The plane’s two guns, their barrels hidden behind engine cylinders, were mounted inside the fuselage and would shoot through the propeller. The gun sight looked like its only weapon and it reminded people of the peashooter toy blow gun.

Below is a time line, written by one of the volunteers working on the P-26, of the aircraft’s development:

P-26 Timeline

Timeline of the Boeing P-26

Timeline of the Boeing P-26

Sept – Prototype design Started (XP-936) BAC #248

Jan – 1st metal cut
Prototype roll-out
March 10 – 1st flight
April 16 – 1st A/C flown to Wright Field
April 22 – 2nd prototype flown to Wright Field
May 6 – 3rd A/C flown to Selfridge Field
June 30 – Last minute addition to FY1932 budget for P-26

Jan 28 – Initial order for 136 P-26-As
Nov 24 – 1st production A/C moved to Boeing Field
Dec 7 – 1st flight
Dec 16 – delivered 1st A/C
2nd production A/C to Barksdale

June 30 – Last of 136 A/C delivered
Aug 2 – Export version – 1st flight (model 281)

April 10 – One Export A/C to Barajas, Spain
Dec 15 – Delivery to China started

Jan 15 – Last of 12 A/C delivered to China

Aug 20 – P-26’s based @ Chuing destroyed 6 Japanese G3m2’s w/o loss
Dec 13 – By time Nanking fell – no flyable p-26’s left
Back in U.S. – As new A/C came in P-26’s were sent out of country

July – 6 P-26’s Engaged _ Zeros
Dec 7 – 4 in U.S. – 7 in Panama – 8 in Hawaii, 6 in Philippines

Service Career spanned just under a decade (according to Wikipedia the last combat use was the 1954 Guatemala coup and the last operational use was as a trainer in 1957)

17 Sept 1999 – We started work on our P-26

They have been working on the P-26 for almost ten years. The fuselage has its basic shape with the engine mounted and the wings are being covered in sheet metal. Here is a video showing the P-26’s current status after 10 years of work in about 12 seconds:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: