Revell 1/72 P-26A


H-656 (1971)


Less than a buck in 71


One option, 34 PS


Brian Baker


Also issued as kit #  H-667 (1967)  Issued in 3-pack with Macchi C.200 and Curtiss P-36A .


  The Boeing P-26 series evolved from a series of three Model  XP-936  prototypes built  at Boeing's  expense during 1931.  After flight testing at Wright Field, the Army ordered 111 Model P-26A's in 1933, followed by 25 P-26B's,  with fuel injected engines, and 23 P-26C's,  which featured minor changes.  All were later equipped with flaps, which lowered the landing touchdown speed from 82 mph. to 73 mph, a significant improvement. An improved tail wheel was also retrofitted to all aircraft, and some aircraft appear in photographs without the telescopic gun sight commonly associated with the type.The Boeing P-26's bridged the gap between the World War I style biplane, with fixed landing gear, bracing wires, and an open cockpit, and the modern  all-metal high speed monoplane, with a cantilever wing, enclosed cockpit,  constant speed propeller, supercharger, and increased armament. 
Army P-26A's equipped the 20th Pursuit Group at Barksdale Field,  Shreveport, LA, from late 1933. Later, the 1st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan, reequipped with the type,  along with the 17th Pursuit group at March Field, CA.  Overseas assignments included the 15th and 18th Pursuit Groups at Wheeler Field, TH;  the 37th Pursuit Group defending the Panama Canal; and the 3rd  Pursuit Squadron  of the 4th Composite Group at Nichols Field in the Philippines. As P-35A's reached the Philippines,  3rd PS aircraft were passed on to the Philippine Air Force.  Other export models went to Spain (1) and  China (10).  In the Canal Zone,  surplus P-26A's were passed on to the Guatemalan Air Force, redesignated PT-26A's for political reasons.  Therefore, the modeler has a large selection of color schemes and markings to choose from in building a model of this aircraft type. 


The Revell P-26A kit in 1/72 scale has been around since at least 1967, and I have a number of them in stock.  They are very basic,  with surface detailing consistent with the time they were produced,  so building a modern,  state-of-the-art model requires some work.  Cast in bright yellow plastic,  the kit consists of about 22 parts, including a pilot figure.  There is no interior detail except for a very crude seat,  and the radial engine does not include any of the exhaust system.  The decals are extensive, and strangely enough,  the old "U.S. Army" letters were sufficiently well preserved to be used on my model.
The original P-26's were delivered with olive drab fuselages with yellow wings and tailplanes. In the middle thirties, many were repainted with light blue fuselages and other individualistic squadron generated color schemes,  which marked one of the most colorful eras of American military aviation. About 1940, some were repainted silver overall, and after Pearl Harbor,  varying patterns of olive drab and neutral gray appeared.  Tail stripes,  common on all Army aircraft, were deleted after Pearl Harbor, and the last Army P-26's which survived into 1943, had the standard OD over neutral gray, with the white star on blue disk adopted during 1942.
The Revell kit decals depict the airplane currently in the National Air and Space Museum, and carried markings of the  34th Pursuit Squadron..  This aircraft originally was stationed in Panama, and was later passed on to the Guatemalan Air Force, flying with that service until about 1957.  Two were returned to the United States in the late fifties, one being restored to display condition by the Air Force Museum, later going to the Smithsonian, while the other was rebuilt by Ed Maloney's Planes of Fame Museum in California.  This one flies occasionally.  A third P-26A exists,  a reproduction,  currently on display at Wright Field.  I saw it recently,  and it is very convincing.  The AFM has an excellent restoration staff. I haven't heard about any flying scale replicas, but with a 225 hp Jacobs or Continental radial,  it would certainly be a possibility.


I wanted to do something different, so I opted for one of the last P-26A's in the Army,  stationed in Guatemala during 1943, immediately before the aircraft was transferred to the Guatemalan Air Force.
On page 15 of the Bowers book is a photo of a rather forlorn looking P-26A,  33-049,  taken by Frederick Johnson,  in Guatemala City on  11 May 1943, before the aircraft left Army service.  It is a faded OD over neutral gray, with black tail numbers (3049) and blue and white insignias.  the aircraft has the late type tail wheel but no telescopic gun sight.  Decals were no problem on this one.

I first sanded off nearly all of the rivet detail,  as the airplane WAS flush riveted.  I used the seat as a pattern and rebuilt the entire interior, using photos in the Bowers book as a reference. Kit instructions say to paint the interior "light green" but  Army aircraft interiors from this time period were bare aluminum,  and they were rarely repainted.  A new seat, side details, instrument panel, and other "goodies" were scratch-built. The cockpit opening is very small on this aircraft, but at least I know that it looks like the real thing.  There are no wheel wells on a fixed gear airplane, so that makes things easier.

Basic assembly is straightforward, but there are some fit problems,  especially in the wings and the wing-fuselage attachment.  Everything needs to be carefully trimmed and dry-fitted, and a small amount of putty was required.
After basic assembly,  I filled in the seams and made corrections.  the major error is the shape of the rudder,  which needs to be more rounded.  This involves a small piece of card plastic and some putty,  no serious problem.  The cowling needs to be smoothed out to the proper aerodynamic contours, and most parts need careful trimming.  The makers have attempted to help the builder rig the airplane with flying wires, but all of the holes in the wing and landing gear aren't there,  so they will have to be drilled out.  The engine is fairly well detailed, but needs a lot of trimming.  These engines require careful detailing, and not as well done as the contemporary Monogram F11C-2 and F4B-4 kits.  The propeller is useful, but I would rather have replaced it with a better unit, but I didn't have one in the spares box, so I had to make do with the one included in the kit.
The major problem was the exhaust system,  which is very intricate.  I used the insulation from electronic wire, cut at suitable angles and glued to the engine cylinders with super-glue.  It was a relatively simple task,  and the result was satisfactory. Another problem was the wire rigging.  I used electronic wire rolled out and glued with white glue, and the result is impressive. The radio antennas were done the same way.  The  low frequency transmitter and receiver each had a separate wire antenna, so there are a lot of wires. It must have had a serious effect on the airplane's maximum speed.


I used standard Testor's Model Master Olive Drab and Neutral Gray,  with an overcoat of Glosscote and later Dullcote.  This was a simple model to paint.


If you have the time,  this model is cheap entertainment. I probably spent about 6 hours total time in assembly and painting, as the airplane is VERY small in 1/72 scale.  from the tone of the instructions, it is obvious that the kit was intended for kids, but to make a really good model,  some serious adult level skills are required.  Although decal trim is provided,  if I were doing one of the highly decorated versions, I would mask and paint the trim rather than use kit decals. 



Many publications provide useful information on the P-26 series, but the best I have found are the Aerofax Minigraph 8 publication on the Boeing P-26 Variants by  the late great aviation historian Peter Bowers, a former Boeing engineer who had access to as much information on Boeing aircraft  as anyone.  This was published in 1964.  Another more recent publication is the  Squadron In-Action Mini Series Number 2 on the P-26, by  Larry Davis,  published in 1994.  The Bowers Book has extensive information, including detailed interior photos,  while the Squadron book has more color information.  Both are worth having. Dan Hagedorn's book,  Wings Over The Canal, a history or the 6th Air Force defending the Panama Canal, has some interesting information on P-26's, and this is well worth getting. 

Brian Baker

April 2004

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