Military Wiki
Boeing F2B-1; photo by U.S. Navy
Role Carrier-based Fighter
Manufacturer Boeing
First flight 3 November 1926
Introduction 20 January 1928
Primary users U.S. Navy
Japan, Brazil
Number built 32 plus 1 prototype
Developed from Boeing XP-8

The Boeing F2B was an biplane fighter aircraft of the United States Navy of the 1920s, familiar to aviation fans of the era as the craft of the Three Sea Hawks aerobatic flying team, famous for its tied-together formation flying.[1]

Design and development

Initially the Boeing Model 69, it was inspired by the results of tests on the FB-6, which was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1340B Wasp radial engine. Boeing set out to use this engine in a fighter designed specifically for carrier operations, using the same welded-tubing fuselage and wooden-frame wings as for the Model 15, and adding a large spinner to reduce air drag around the engine (this was dropped in production). Armament was either two .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns, or one .30 in and one .50 in (12.7 mm); the lower wing had attachments for up to four 25 lb (11 kg) bombs, plus a fifth could be hung from the fuselage.[2]

Operational history

First flight of the F2B prototype was November 3, 1926. The Navy acquired the prototype as XF2B-1, which was capable of reaching speeds of 154 mph (248 km/h), and was sufficiently impressed to order 32 F2B-1s. In addition to omission of the large streamlined spinner cap, the production versions also had a balanced rudder. Delivery began on January 20, 1928, with some assigned to fighter squadron VF-1B and others to bomber squadron VF-2B, both operating from the carrier Saratoga. Although the Navy did not order any more F2Bs, Boeing built two more, as Model 69Bs, exporting one to Brazil and the other to Japan.[2]

U.S. Navy flight demonstration team

In 1927, Lt. D. W. "Tommy" Tomlinson CO of VF-2B, created the first U.S. Naval aerobatic team. Drawing from VB-2B squadron at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, the team used three Boeing F2B-1 fighters. Its first unofficial demonstration in January 1928 at San Francisco gave rise to a popular nickname: "Suicide Trio" although officially the team was called "Three Sea Hawks". The first public performance as an official team representing the Navy was between September 8 and 16, during National Air Races week at Mines Field (now Los Angeles International Airport). The Boeing F2B-1 was unable to fly inverted without the engine quitting; consequently, Lt. Tomlinson modified the carburetors to permit brief inverted flight. At the end of 1929, the Three Sea Hawks team is disbanded when its VB-2B pilots were reassigned.[3]


(Model 69) One prototype serial number A7385[1]
(Model 69) Single-seat fighter biplane for the U.S. Navy, serial numbers A7424 to A7455[1]
Model 69B
Two aircraft, generally similar to the F2B-1, one each to Brazil and Japan.[4]


 United States

Specifications (F2B-1)

Data from "The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft" [4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 22 ft 11 in (6.98 m)
  • Wingspan: 30 ft 1 in (9.17 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 2.25 in (2.81 m)
  • Wing area: 243 ft² (22.57 m²)
  • Empty weight: 1,989 lb (902 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 2,805 lb (1,272 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-1340-8 Wasp Radial, 425 hp (317 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 158 mph (137 knots, 254 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 132 mph (115 knots, 212 km/h)
  • Range: 315 mi (274 nmi, 507 km)
  • Service ceiling: 21,500 ft (6,555 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,890 ft/min (9.6 m/s)


  • Guns: 1 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning and 1 × .30 in (7.62 mm) forward firing M1919 Browning machine guns or 2 × 0.30 in machine guns in the forward fuselage
  • Bombs: 5 × 25 lb (11 kg) bombs carried under the fuselage and lower wing

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Swanborough, and Bowers 1976 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "eleven" defined multiple times with different content
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jones 1977, pp. 47–49.
  3. van Beverhoudt, Arnold E. Jr. "U.S. Navy Blue Angels Team History.", 28 June 2008. Retrieved: 19 June 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Eden and Moeng 2002, p. 319.


  • Eden, Paul and Sophn Moeng. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. London: Amber Books Ltd., 2002. ISBN 0-7607-3432-1.
  • Jones, Lloyd S. U.S. Naval Fighters. Fallbrook CA: Aero Publishers, 1977. ISBN 0-8168-9254-7.
  • Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1976. ISBN 0-87021-968-5.

External links

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