Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Boeing P-12E

The little Boeing P-12 was in terms of numbers one of the most successful American fighters, or pursuit aircraft as they were known then, of the inter-war ear. It was aprivate venture of the Boeing Company, and it flew for the first time on June 25, 1928. The aircraft equipped both the U. S. Army Air Force and the U. S. Navy, although it was referred to as the F4B in Navy service. Boeing P-12s were used by the 17th Pursuit Group at March Field in California and the 20th Pursuit Group at Barksdale Field in Louisiana, and P-12s were also deployed to the Philippines, the Panama Canal Zone and Hawaii. The aircraft saw use between 1929 and 1934/35, when it was replaced by the monoplane Boeing P-26 "Peashooter" after which the P-12 served in training units until 1941, when the survivors were assigned to mechanic's schools. Some P-12s were also used by Brazil, China, the Philippines, Spain and Thailand. In all, 586 P-12 and F4Bs were built.

The P-12 was powered by a 500 HP Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial engine which gave the aircraft a cruise speed of 189 mph and a maximum speed of 257 mph. The service ceiling was 26,300 feet and the range 570 miles. The Boeing P-12 was armed with two .30 inch machine guns or one .30 inch and one .50 inch machine gun as well as 244 lbs of bombs slung externally.

This kit is the Matchbox P-12E from the early 1970s. It was molded in two colors to enable it to be built without painting by the novice modeller, and the fit is rather nice. It is very sturdy for a 1/72 biplane, and the details are adequate. I decided to add a Revell pilot instead of detailing the cockpit, and I used stretched sprue for the rather simple rigging. The Matchbox decals were not used, and I opted for Starfighter Decals' markings of a Squadron Leader of the 24th Pursuit Squadron in the Canal Zone in 1934. It is difficult to imagine what it must have been like to be deployed around the Panama Canal in 1934, just a couple of years after the Great Depression, but hot, humid and lonely seems to be a fair bet.

Boeing P-12E at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, in markings of 6th Pursuit Squadron, 18th PG, Wheeler Field, Hawaii

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