Boeing P-12

The Boeing P-12/F4B was an American pursuit aircraft that was operated by the United States Army Air Corps and United States Navy.

P-12 / F4B
Boeing P-12E at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, in markings of 6th Pursuit Squadron, 18th PG, Wheeler Field, Hawaii
Role Fighter aircraft
Manufacturer Boeing Aircraft Company
First flight 25 June 1928
Introduction 1930
Retired 1949 Brazilian Air Force [1]
Primary users United States Army Air Corps
United States Navy
Philippine Army Air Corps
Royal Thai Air Force
Produced 19291932
Number built 586[2]
  • 366 P-12
  • 187 F4B
  • 33 demonstrators and exports

Design and development

Developed as a private venture to replace the Boeing F2B and F3B with the United States Navy, the Boeing P-12 first flew on 25 June 1928. The new aircraft was smaller, lighter and more agile than the ones it replaced but still used the Wasp engine of the F3B. This resulted in a higher top speed and overall better performance. As result of Navy evaluation 27 were ordered as the F4B-1; later evaluation by the United States Army Air Corps resulted in orders with the designation P-12. Boeing supplied the USAAC with 366 P-12s between 1929 and 1932. Production of all variants totaled 586.


The F4B-1 was built using traditional construction techniques of the day. The fuselage was a steel tube truss design with formers and longerons to define the aerodynamic shape. Wings were of traditional construction and covered by fabric. Ailerons were of a tapered design with corrugated aluminum covering. The Pratt & Whitney R-1340 nine-cylinder radial engine was uncowled and sported prominent cooling fairings behind each cylinder which were later removed in service.

Operational history

P-12s were flown by the 17th Pursuit Group (34th, 73rd, and 95th Pursuit Squadrons) at March Field, California, and the 20th Pursuit Group (55th, 77th and 79th Pursuit Squadrons) at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. Older P-12s were used by groups overseas: the 4th Composite Group (3rd Pursuit Squadron) in the Philippines, the 16th Pursuit Group (24th, 29th, 74th, and 79th Pursuit Squadrons) in the Canal Zone, and the 18th Pursuit Group (6th and 19th Pursuit Squadrons) in Hawaii.

The P-12 remained in service with first-line pursuit groups until replaced by Boeing P-26s in 1934–1935. Survivors were relegated to training duties until 1941, when most were grounded and assigned to mechanic's schools.

Production History

The production runs are shown below with the P-12 designations for Army aircraft and the F4B designations being for the Navy. The remaining aircraft are civilian or export.

Number BuiltModelEngineModifications
90P-12BR-1340-9NACA cowl, shorter landing gear, larger wheels
96P-12Cring cowl, spreader-bar landing gear
110P-12Esemi-monocoque metal fuselage, redesigned vertical tail, some with tailwheels replacing skids
27F4B-1split axle landing gear, ventral bomb rack
46F4B-2spreader bar landing gear, frise ailerons, tailwheel replacing skid
21F4B-3semi-monocoque metal fuselage,
92F4B-4R-1340-16redesigned vertical tail, underwing racks (two 116 lb bombs), last 45 had mod. headrest w/life raft
5100/100A(civilian version of F4B-1)
14256(F4B-4, export to Brazil)
9267(F4B-3 fuselage/P-12E wings, export to Brazil)


Model 83
One prototype with spreader-bar landing gear and 425 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-8 engine, later designated XF4B-1 for Navy evaluation.
Model 89
One prototype with split-axle undercarriage and provision for a 500 lb bomb on ventral rack, later designated XF4B-1 for Navy evaluation.
Model 102, U.S. Army Air Corps version of the F4B-1 with a 450 hp R-1340-7 engine, nine built.
Model 101, 10th built P-12 with NACA cowl a 525 hp R-1340-9 engine and shorter undercarriage, one built.
Model 102B, as P-12 with larger mainwheels and improvements tested on XP-12A, 90 built.
Model 222, as P-12B with ring cowl and spreader-bar undercarriage, 96 built.
Model 234, as P-12C with a 525 hp R-1340-17 engine, 35 built.
Model 234, as P-12D with semi-monocoque metal fuselage, redesigned vertical tail surfaces, some were later fitted with tailwheels instead of skids, 110 built.
Model 251, as P-12E with a 600 hp R-1340-19 engine, 25 built.
P-12B modified with a R-1340-15 engine with side-type supercharger, one converted.
P-12D modified with a GISR-1340E experimental engine, one converted.
P-12E modified with a 575 hp R-1340-23 engine, and special bomb sight, one conversion.
P-12E and P-12J re-engined with a fuel injected SR-1340E engine, seven temporary conversions.
YP-12K temporary fitted with a F-2 supercharger, one converted.
designation for proposed use of P-12 as a radio-controlled target drone (cancelled)
Designation given to two prototypes for Navy evaluation, the former Model 83 and the former Model 89.[3]
Boeing Model 99 for the United States Navy, split-axle landing gear and ventral bomb rack, 27 built.[4]
One F4B-1 converted to unarmed executive transport for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, fuel tank moved to upper wing centre section.[5]
Boeing Model 223, spreader bar landing gear, frise ailerons, tailwheel replacing skid, 46 built.[6]
Boeing Model 235, as F4B-2 but with semi-monocoque metal fuselage and equipment changes, 21 built.[7]
Boeing Model 235, as F4B-3 but with redesigned vertical tail surfaces, 550 hp R-1340-16 engine, underwing racks for two 116 lb bombs, last 45 built had an enlarged headrest housing a life raft, 92 built and one built from spares.[8]
23 assorted P-12 aircraft transferred from USAAC for use as a radio-controlled target aircraft.[9]
Model 100
Civil version of the F4B-1 with upper wing tank, four built.[10]
Model 100A
Two-seat civil version for Howard Hughes, later converted to a single-seater, one built.[11]
Model 100D
One Model 100 temporary used as a P-12 demonstrator.[12]
Model 100E
Export version of the P-12E for the Siamese Air Force, two built, one later transferred to the Japanese Navy under the designation AXB.[13]
Model 100F
One civil variant of the P-12F sold to Pratt & Whitney as an engine test bed.[14]
Model 218
Prototype of the P-12E/F4B-3 variant, after evaluation sold to the Chinese Air Force.[15]
Model 256
Export version of the F4B-4 for Brazilian Navy, 14 built.[16]
Model 267
Export version for Brazil with an F4B-3 fuselage and P-12E wings, nine built.[17]


 United States

Aircraft on display

Specifications (P-12E)

Data from Bowers 1989

General characteristics



  • Guns: 2 x .30 inch (7.62 mm) Browning machine guns with 600 rounds per gun or 1 x .30 inch (7.62 mm) machine gun with 600 rounds and 1 x .50 inch (12.7 mm) machine gun with 200 rounds [29]
  • Bombs: 244 lb (111 kg) of bombs carried externally.

See also

Related lists



  1. "Historical Listings: Brazil, (BRZ) Archived 2012-10-18 at the Wayback Machine."] World Air Forces. Retrieved: 19 May 2011.
  2. "F4B." Retrieved: 10 June 2011.
  3. Bowers 1989, p. 166.
  4. Bowers 1989, p. 168.
  5. Bowers 1989, p. 170.
  6. Bowers 1989, p. 181.
  7. Bowers 1989, pp. 187–188.
  8. Bowers 1989, pp. 188–189.
  9. Bowers 1989, pp. 189–190.
  10. Bowers 1989, pp. 171–172.
  11. Bowers 1989, pp. 173–174.
  12. Bowers 1989, p. 175.
  13. Bowers 1989, pp. 175–176.
  14. Bowers 1989, p. 176.
  15. Bowers, 1989. pp. 179–180.
  16. Bowers 1989, pp. 192–193.
  17. Bowers 1989, p. 193.
  18. "Boeing P-12E". National Museum of the US Air Force. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  19. "Flying & Static Aircraft". Planes of Fame Air Museum. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  20. "Airframe Dossier - Boeing P-12E, s/n 32-0017 USAAF, c/n 1512, c/r N3360G". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  21. "F4B-4". National Naval Aviation Museum. Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  22. "Airframe Dossier - Boeing P-12F, s/n 32-92 USAAC, c/n 1782, c/r N7037U". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  23. "Boeing F4B-4". Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. 2016-04-23. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  24. "Boeing 100/P-12/F4B". The Museum of Flight. The Museum Of Flight. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  25. "Airframe Dossier - Boeing F4B, c/n 1488". Aerial Visuals. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  26. "Museum Aircraft". Tennessee Museum of Aviation. Tennessee Air Museum. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  27. "Historic Displays". Honolulu International Airport. State of Hawaii. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  28. Angelucci 1983, p. 120.
  29. Bowers, Peter M. The Boeing P-12E. London and Watford: Profile Publications. p. 4.


  • Angelucci, Enzo. The Rand McNally Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft, 1914–1980. San Diego, California: The Military Press, 1983. ISBN 0-517-41021-4.
  • Baugher, Joe. "Boeing P-12". American Military Aircraft, 6 June 1998. Retrieved: 10 June 2011.
  • Bowers, Peter M. Boeing Aircraft since 1916. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1989. ISBN 0-85177-804-6.
  • Bowers, Peter M. The Boeing P-12E. Number 2, Profile Publications
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