Model Airplane News
THE AIR CORPS’ FIRST PURSUIT FIGHTER
The first pursuit fighter to enter service with the U.S. Army Air Corps, the
P-26 Peashooter was the first all-metal fighter aircraft Boeing built. The first prototype flew in 1932 and the aircraft saw service as late as 1941 in the Philippines. An early monoplane, flying wires were kept as part of the wing structure. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1340-27 Wasp 9-cylinder radial engine, an aerodynamic fairing around the engine helped with cylinder cooling, a first for its time. Though it was an advanced design, only 150 were built and it was eventually replaced by the Seversky P-35 and Curtiss P-36 designs.
Adding in some rudder to coordinate turns will reward the pilot with smooth and beautiful turns. I set the center of gravity right at the wing tube, just aft of the recommended measurement.
Aerobatics: The Peashooter excels at large scale military maneuvers. Huge loops and slow rolls are easy to perform. At high speed with enough rudder, it will hold a knife-edge across the entire field with very little coupling corrections needed.
Takeoff and landing: The tall and narrow gear and short coupled tail require the pilot to stay on top of the rudder and elevator during takeoff and landing. Make sure you have plenty of servo throw on the rudder, you cannot overdo it here. On takeoff, slowly advance the throttle as there’s big power in the 19-inch prop. The plane requires a little rudder correction for P-Factor and will gently lift-off just past half throttle. Landings require a little more careful planning. Flaps are essential to help maintain lift but the huge engine face also provides a ton of drag. As a result, you want to stay on top of the throttle and fly the airplane to the ground and avoid getting it too slow as it can slow down quickly without sufficient throttle. If the landing approach doesn’t look perfect, a go around is recommended.
When you are settled into a stable approach, fly the plane to the ground for a nice rollout on the mains before the tail settles in. Be ready to correct with rudder as needed to prevent ground looping.
The Peashooter rewards the advanced scale pilot with a plane that presents incredibly well and handles beautifully in the air. Take care during ground handling and landing, because just like Gee Bees or similar short-coupled aircraft, the narrow landing gear track can be challenging. However, get those takeoffs and landings just right, and it’s spectacular! If you are a fan of big, graceful maneuvers, this plane will reward you on every flight.