Model Airplane News
October, 1955

Model Airplane News Cover for August, 1933 by Jo Kotula Boeing F4B4 (P12)    Model Airplane News Cover for August, 1954 by Jo Kotula Boeing F4B4 (P12)    Model Airplane News Cover for October, 1955 by Jo Kotula Boeing F4B4 (P12)    Model Airplane News Cover for January, 1960 by Jo Kotula Boeing F4B4 (P12)

Boeing F4B4 (P12)
Model Airplane News Cover Art for August, 1933, August, 1954, October, 1955 and January, 1960
by Jo Kotula
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The Boeing P-12 or F4B was an American pursuit aircraft that was operated by the United States Army Air Corps and United States Navy. It was also a popular subject for cover artist Jo Kotula, who depicted it on three covers. Before we get into the discussion of the actual Boeing plane, some artistic notes are in order.

Josef Kotula signature in 1933      Hypothetical enemy marking in 1933 depiction of combat cover of Model Airplane News

Artistic Notes
The insignia of the "Foe" could suggest a Swastika...
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First, looking in the lower right hand corner of the August, 1933 issue, we note that Kotula signs his name as "Josef Kotula" -- it did not become "Jo Kotula" until much later. Next, the 1933 cover shows the P-12 flying rings around a hypothetical "foe" with an obscure marking. We note that in 1933, the P-12 is flying rings around its opponent. The 1955 version shows a considerable amount of detail about the P-12, while the 1960 version shows the aircraft in what was known as "one of Kotula's psychedelic skies." Now, for the airplane, itself:

 The Boeing F4B4 (P12)    The Boeing F4B4 (P12)      The Boeing F4B4 (P12)

Boeing F4B4 (P12)
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Boeing developed the aircraft as a private venture to replace the Boeing F3B (as well as the Navy's F2B.) The new aircraft was smaller, lighter and more agile than the ones it replaced but still used the same engine of the F3B. This resulted in a higher top speed and overall better performance. As result of Navy evaluation 27 were ordered as the F4B-1, later evaluation by the United States Army Air Corps resulted in orders with the designation P-12. Boeing supplied the USAAC with 366 P-12's between 1929 and 1932. Production of all variants totalled 586.

 The Boeing F4B4s flying in formation     The Boeing F4B2 compared with the F4B4

Differences between the Boeing F4B2 and F4B4
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Kotula's drawing for the January, 1960 cover shows the plane equipped with flotation gear center of the upper wing, as illustrated in these scans from Popular Mechanics. The plane shown on this cover is an army plane, because it does not have an arresting hook.

 Wingtop Flotation Gear, Popular Mechanics February 1932     Wingtop Flotation Gear, Popular Mechanics April 1936

Wingtop Flotation Gear
(left) February, 1932 (right) April, 1936
Click here to download a ".pdf" with more information on wingtop flotation devices
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The particular variant shown on the October, 1955 cover is "probably" the F4B4 -- the principal distinuishing features being the design of the Fin and Rudder and the "Panama" headrest. As noted above, flotation gear was carried on top of the wing in early models. Service in hot climates (i.e.guarding the Panama Canal) required an open cockpit design that was faired into the fin giving the appearance of a "hump" -- the emergency flotation gear was then moved into the "Panama" headrest, cleaning the aeordynamics of the wing.

Jo Kotula revisited this airplane in the "Box Art" for the Aurora kit for the Boeing F4B2.

Aurora plastic model kit for the Boeing F4B4 box art by Jo Kotula

Aurora Plastic Model of the Boeing F4B2
Artwork by Jo Kotula
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Here is an animation of the Boeing F4B4 in action:

Click Here for more (very detailed) information about the Boeing F4B (P-12) and its variants.

The Boeing F4B/P12 was featured in several aviation-themed films and was about the last of the "real" fighters to use the same construction as a balsa model. The Cleveland kit for the P-12 (or its "Navalized" version the F-4B was a big seller. The plans allow the modeler to customize the design to create the F-3B, F-4B and the P-12.

 Cleveland Model of the Boeing F4B-P12

Cleveland Model of the Boeing F4B-P12

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You can buy the plans and patterns that will enable you to make this model right now. Click Here to go to the exact location on the Cleveland Website to get them.

Cleveland Site Location of the Boeing F4B-P12

Boeing F4B/P12 at the Cleveland Site
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