|Boeing F2B-1 (BuNo A7432)|
|First flight||3 November 1926|
|Introduction||20 January 1928|
|Primary users||United States Navy|
Imperial Japanese Navy
|Number built||32 plus 1 prototype|
|Developed from||Boeing XP-8|
The Boeing F2B was a biplane fighter aircraft of the United States Navy in the 1920s, familiar to aviation enthusiasts of the era as the craft of the Three Sea Hawks aerobatic flying team, famous for its tied-together formation flying.
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.
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.
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.
Data from "The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft"