The Boeing 218 shown here is a model of X66W, only example of the type, which was factory testbed for the new all-metal fuselage P-12E/F-4B-3 series.
Designated XP-925/925A in trials, it was then sold to L.E. Gale, distributor of US planes in China. Many new advances in fighter design were tried on it. It was flown by Robert McCawley Short, (1904-32) a US Army trained pilot from Washington State, introduced by Gale and hired as an advisor by T.V. Soong. This was during the January 28th Incident of 1932, when Japanese marines clashed with the Chinese 19th Army in the greater Shanghai area.
On February 19th, 1932, Short engaged a flight of Japanese aircraft and they engaged him, but despite his lack of experience in air fighting was able to at least fight them to a draw and disengage. A Japanese account I have read says that Short killed one Lt Kidokoro then, (referred to as "Tokoro" in martin Cole's account), and I think that Short didn't see him go down, thus thinking it had been a draw. I'm trying to find out more about this. He may also have shot down a lone Japanese plane over Wusong on the 20th. (Yang Kelin, "Sino-Japanese Wars", a recent mainland Chinese source.)
What is known for sure is that on Feb 22nd, 1932, he took off from a small military field near Suzhou where the 218 was hidden and engaged three Mitsubishi Type 13 bombers. He intercepted them as they were about to bomb Suzhou Station, crowded with refugees from Shanghai, mortally wounding the commander of one and shooting another airman in the leg, when three escorting Nakajima-Gloster Type III (A1N2) fighters caught up with him from a mile or so behind. Short pressed on the attack like Jack Powell and David Armstrong in "Wings", ignoring (or not seeing) Lt Ikuta on his tail who shot him down in flames, becoming the first Japanese airman to score a kill in aerial combat.
The 1/24 scale model of X66W is my design from Maj Cox's Aeromodeller drawings and is on the general lines of Dave Diels' P-12C, with monocoque fuselage. It is painted partially with Gunze spray over thinned butyrate clear. Diels Hawk III KMT roundels, Boeing emblem reduced from Air Wars article.
It weighs 34 grams all up with 6" Peck prop and 4 strands of FAI tan, and flies VERY well, right-right, just a tad of washout in top plane only. Tail surfaces are scale size; that fin is one that was on it in China. No ballast needed.
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Copyright 1998, Thayer Syme. All rights reserved