One of the
most famous of Boeing's biplane fighters of the inter-war years, the F4B originated as a private venture to develop a replacement for the US Navy's F2B/F3B carrier-based fighters, which had first entered service in 1928. Although they had only been in service for a very short period, Boeing believed it was possible to refine the design to give improved performance without additional power.
Two very similar prototypes were built: Boeing Models 83 and 89. The former had a spreader-bar axle landing gear and an arrester hook; the latter a split-axle landing gear so that a bomb could be carried beneath the fuselage. In other respects they were virtually identical. Following Navy evaluation in the summer of 1928, 27 were ordered as F4B-1, these combining the split-axle landing gear, bomb carrying provisions and arrester hook. Forty-six F4B-2, delivered in early 1931, had the spreader-bar axle, a tailwheel, Frise ailerons and a neat ring cowling for the engine. They were followed by 21 F4B-3 with a semi-monocoque metal fuselage and 92 F4B-4 which differed by having a larger fin and rudder.
The USAAC ordered ten aircraft similar to the F4B-1 in late 1928, accepting the naval evaluation as being correct. Designated P-12, these differed only by having the arrester hook and other specifically naval equipment deleted. P-12B, of which 90 were built with 317kW Wasp engines, differed very slightly and were followed by 96 P-12C, which were similar to the Navy's F4B-2. P-12D, of which 35 were built, had a more powerful 391kW Wasp engine. Most extensively built of the Army versions was the P-12E. This had a monocoque fuselage, pilot's headrest faired by a turtleback and the more powerful engine of the P-12D. A total of 135 were ordered in 1931, many remaining in service until replaced by P-26A in 1935. The last few of the order were given 447kW Pratt & Whitney R-1340-19 engines and the designation P-12F.
Total production for the Army and Navy amounted to 586 aircraft representing a production record for a basic military design which remained unequalled until the attainment of long production runs during World War II.
|A three-view drawing of F4B-2 (1653 x 1173)|
| ENGINE||1 x P+W R-1340-16, 370kW|
| Take-off weight||1551 kg||3419 lb|
| Empty weight||1017 kg||2242 lb|
| Wingspan||9.1 m||30 ft 10 in|
| Length||6.2 m||20 ft 4 in|
| Height||3.0 m||10 ft 10 in|
| Wing area||21.1 m2||227.12 sq ft|
| Max. speed||301 km/h||187 mph|
| Cruise speed||257 km/h||160 mph|
| Ceiling||8380 m||27500 ft|
| Range w/max.fuel||1335 km||830 miles|
| Range w/max.payload||645 km||401 miles|
| ARMAMENT||2 machine-guns, 210kg of bombs|
@John: according to the instructions of the Hasegawa 1/32 kit, the bulge is a fuel tank.
What is the large bulge under the fuselage?
|Jim Rhoades, 05.09.2010|
My father (W.E "Dusty" Rhoades) flew these in Hawaii with the Army Air Corps during the 1930's. The aircraft had a nasty habit of losing it's tailplane during high speed dives & pullouts. This happened to dad during a practice dogfight resulting in him bailing out at low altitude over a cane field.
|Bob Tufo, 02.08.2010|
I always admired the f4b2, and/or the P-12, and since I flew a Stearman with the P&W1340 can imagine myself at the controls; sweet dreams.
I wanted to know the registration number of any F4B that took its first flight on or around 05Nov1929, or was completed on 05Nov1929
|Frank Hannegan, 25.05.2008|
Very informative. My father earned his Navy Wings in '31 and flew the F-4B-4 from the USS LEXINGTON for two years. He said it was a very good aircraft, but when he flew the New Grumman F-3F in the late 30s the new aircraft stole his allegiance.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?