Boeing History: Metal Monoplanes

Boeing P26 Formation

After Charles “Lucky” Lindbergh made the first solo nonstop trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris in a Ryan monoplane in 1927, there was a tremendous surge of interest in aviation.

Boeing expanded his concerns to include the Stearman Aircraft Co. in Wichita, Kansas, Boeing Aircraft of Canada, engine manufacturers, propeller manufacturers, and several airlines, as well as the Boeing School of Aeronautics in Oakland, Calif., where pilots and mechanics were trained. On Feb. 1, 1929, Boeing changed the name of the Boeing Airplane and Transport Corporation to the United Aircraft and Transportation Corporation. It built airplanes, engines and propellers; delivered mail; maintained airports; and ran airlines across the country.

As the aviation industry advanced, biplanes became obsolete. The first monoplanes rolled out of Boeing manufacturing facilities in 1930: the all-metal Monomail, designed to carry cargo and mail, and the single XP-9, the company’s first monoplane fighter. The XP-9 led to the plucky P-26 “Peashooter” monoplane fighter that flew 27 mph faster than its biplane counterparts.

The Monomail was the most revolutionary commercial airplane of its time. Its sleek, low-wing design was the basis for the Boeing Model 247 airliner, introduced into service with United Airlines in 1933. Sales of the 247 ran into competition from the Douglas DC-2. Even so, it paved the way for the company’s development of large, multiengine aircraft, as did the first Boeing monoplane bomber, the B-9 bomber, shaped like a cigar and nicknamed the “Flying Panatela.”

Photo on right: P-26s in formation