Pavla 1/72 P-26 'Peashooter'

KIT #: ?
PRICE: £9.99 
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Short run injection moulded kit with resin detail parts and decal option for four aircraft liveries.


Work on the company funded Boeing Model 248 prototype began in September 1931. Although the USAAC contracted to supply engines and instruments for three trials aircraft which were designated XP936, the first of them could pass its maiden flight on March 20th 1932. Destined to become the first all metal production fighter and the first monoplane to serv with the USAAC in the pursuit role the new fighter retained an open cockpit, fixed landing gear and externally braced wings were employed. The second airframe has been delivered for static tests. On the 25th the third was sent to Selfridge Field Michigan for tests with operational squadrons. Boeing subsequently received production order for 111 of Model 266 which was later increased to 136. The USAAC designated P-26A and incorporated some improvements including revised wing structure and the addition of floatation gear and radio, later aircraft had higher head rest to protect the pilot in the event of a roll over crash.

The first production P-26A made its maiden flight on 10th January 1934 and the last of the original 111 aircraft were delivered at the end of June 1934. he need to reduce the landing gear speed of the P-26 resulted in development of trailing-edge flaps which  were fitted retrospectively  to aircraft already in service and to those still in production line.. These included the additional order for 25 aircraft which consisted of two P-26B (model 266A) aircraft with the Pratt and Whitney R-1340-33 fuel injected engine, and 23 P-26C aircraft which had minor changes to the fuel system and carburetion. Many were later converted to P-26B standard.

Production was completed for 12 export examples of the Boeing Model 281, comprising 12 to China and one aircraft to Spain. Operators of the P-26 fighters, surplus to the US requirement included Guatemala and Panama. By the time the USA entered WWII Boeing’s diminutive fighter had been retired from front line service however the P-26 were among the aircraft ranged against the Japs in Pearl Harbour. Also, machines of the Philippines Army Air Force’s 6th Pursuit Squadron were in action as Japanese fought their way through the archipelago. Philippines Air Force got 12 P-26A and their pilots gained some air victories from Zablan and Batangas airfield in December. The P-26 had a maximum sped of 277Km/Hr, service ceiling of 8,350 m and a range of 929 Km.


The P-26A was a most welcome kit from Pavla Models. This is a limited edition kit moulded in light grey plastic. There are two vac form canopies from which I could extract four front wind screens, which means there are 3 spare ones. There are 30 injection moulded kit parts that includes the main fuselage, wing parts, propeller, wheel spats, tail wheel and other tiny parts. Contained in a sealed bag are the fine recessed resin parts which include a detailed radial engine, 7 exhaust stabs, a separate engine front, an additional tail wheel, cockpit instruments, wheels, and firewall and crew seat with cast on seat straps. Decals cater for two P-26s USAAC pursuit fighters, a Model 281 as supplied to the Chinese F and a P-26A of the Philippines Army Air Force.


Kit build starts with the cockpit interior sub-assembly which consists of a floor and a back plate onto which is cemented the control column and pilot seat. The assembly is painted as per instructions and cemented into the starboard fuselage half. The hand painted two part instrument panel is assembled in place, a firewall added and fuselage closed. The butt end of tail plane parts filed flat to make a good butt joint to the fuselage. The one piece wing was slotted into the lower fuselage. Two spatted wheel assemblies were then slotted to the underside of the wing.

Since I opted to build the Chinese AF model 281 this had the aerial mast omitted as also was the gun sight in front of the canopy. I assembled the two halves forming the front cowling and when set I fitted the resin engine inside which only needed a slight filing to the circumference to fit in snugly. The next step was adding the rigging. I often favoured invisible thread being a plain sailing job on this kit in particular. I drilled tiny holes at the forward fuselage and corresponding holes in the wings and wheel spats making frequent reference to the kit 9 page A5 size instructions which were accurate and useful.

To make the process easy I have left the front of the fuselage unplugged so that I could manipulate the thread easily using a steel wire bent in shape of a hook to draw out the thread from inside the fuselage. With the thread secured with tiny drop of super glue, I then fitted the resin wheel and the kit was almost complete. The only other addition I made to the kit was adding a small rectangular rudder trim tab which was missing from the kit. One should make a note here that while the assembly drawing shows the pitot tube to fit correctly on the starboard wing leading edge, the plan drawings showed this incorrectly fixed to the port wing leading edge.


All the painting unless noted was done with a Badger 100 internal mix double action spray gun fitted with a fine tip, 15-18 psi pressure. Paints used were mainly Humbrol enamel unless noted otherwise. When model was assembled and cockpit masked it was given a light ghost grey overall as a primer. When this was cured, some areas were given a light rub with a smooth wet and dry paper. Another coat of light ghost grey was air brushed. Areas in way of wing walk ways were then over sprayed with a mix of varnish with a few drops of engine grey and this produced a misty degree of greyish transparent thin coating to simulate exhaust residue to aft of engine exhaust stabs and around walk way areas.

Cockpit masking removed and the open side panel retouched with acrylic mix of chrome yellow/green to conform to the rest of cockpit interior chrome green. Head rest and edge of open cockpit was then painted leather brown. Vertical set of seat straps added to back of seat. Wind screen fixed in place. Kit was given a coat of Johnsons Klear, allowed to set for 4 hours and kit decals, trimmed from the transparent outside film, were applied on the kit. My impression was that the model was too small to apply any additional wash as the engraving was rather shallow. The louvers at the side of engine area were drawn using a technical pencil with its graphite end sanded to a chisel point. This was drawn over a matt coat. The propeller was hand painted silver and black and maker decal applied to the front of each blade while the red yellow and blue decal applied to the extreme tips.


This was a rather simple build and pleased with the final result especially to find the painting and decaling stages of the kit very rewarding. I also found I can use the spare decal with the kit an extra bonus and I made my old still unbuilt Revell P-26, of 30 years ago completed in the 2 tone green camouflage Philippines Army spare decal sheet. The only extra work that was needed with this version was that one side of the wheel spats had the wheel cover on one side removed so that the wheel on the outside is exposed. Well done Pavla, and more kits from this era will be welcomed for future releases.

Carmel J. Attard

February 2009

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page