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Curtiss A-12 Shrike

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Title: Curtiss A-12 Shrike  
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Curtiss A-12 Shrike

A-12 Shrike
Role Ground-attack aircraft
Manufacturer Curtiss
Introduction 1933
Retired 1942
Primary users United States Army Air Corps
Nationalist Chinese Air Force
Number built 46[1]
Developed from XA-8 Shrike
YA-10 Shrike

The Curtiss A-12 Shrike was the United States Army Air Corps' second monoplane ground-attack aircraft, and its main attack aircraft through most of the 1930s. It was based on the A-8, but had a radial engine instead of the A-8's inline, water-cooled engine, as well as other changes.


  • Design and development 1
  • Operational history 2
  • Operators 3
  • Specifications (A-12 Shrike) 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Design and development

Formation of Curtiss A-12 Shrikes during exercises near Wheeler Field, Oahu, Hawaii.

The Model 60 was developed from advancements of the A-8 and the experimental YA-10. However, it became obsolete after a short use period, mainly because of fast-improving aviation technology, as well as the USAAC's desire for multi-engined attack aircraft.[2]

The most obvious difference between the A-12 and the A-8 is the air-cooled, radial engine in the A-12, which replaced the A-8's inline, water-cooled engine. This was a response to the USAAC's move toward a preference for radial engines, especially in attack aircraft. The rationale behind this preference is that the radial engine has a lower profile, making it less vulnerable to ground fire, and a simpler cooling mechanism, which is also less prone to groundfire, as well as overall maintenance problems.[2]

These aircraft retained the open cockpit introduced in the A-8 production batch, and carried the same weapons load. In an attempt to improve pilot/observer co-operation, the rear cockpit was moved forward sufficiently for its glazed covering to form a continuation of the fuselage decking behind the pilot's cockpit.[3]

Nine USAAF A-12s were still in service at Hickam Field on 7 December 1941, but they saw no combat.[4]

Operational history

A-12s served with the 3rd Attack Group plus the 8th and 18th Pursuit Groups. Surviving Shrikes were grounded just after Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941.[5]


An A-12 awaiting delivery to the ROCAF
 Republic of China
  • Chinese Nationalist Air Force received 20 A-12 Shrikes in 1936, arming the 27th and the 28th Squadron of the 9th Group. When full-scale war broke out between Japan and China, they were used. The initial success including the downing of four Japanese Aichi D1A1 carrier-based dive bombers on 15 August 1937. However, after deploying in ground support missions in Shanxi, most did not survive and the few left were reassigned to training duties.[2]
 United States

Specifications (A-12 Shrike)

Data from The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft[4]

General characteristics


  • Guns:
  • 4 × forward-firing .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns
  • 1 × aft-firing .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun
  • Bombs:
  • 4 × 122 lb (55 kg) bombs on underwing racks or 10 × 30 lb (13.6 kg) fragmentation bombs in chutes on either side of the main fuel tank

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ Fahey, James C. U.S. Army Aircraft 1908-1946. New York: Ships and Aircraft, 1946.
  2. ^ a b c "Curtiss A-12." National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved: 27 August 2011.
  3. ^ Swanborough, F. G. and Peter M. Bowers. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909. New York: Putnam, 1964. ISBN 0-85177-816-X.
  4. ^ a b Eden and Moeng 2002, p. 514.
  5. ^ Fitzsimons 1969, p. 2324.
  • Eden, Paul and Soph Moeng, eds. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. London: Amber Books Ltd., 2002, ISBN 0-7607-3432-1.
  • Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the 20th Century Weapons and Warfare, Vol. 21 London: Purnell & Sons Ltd., 1969, First edition 1967. ISBN 0-8393-6175-0.

External links

  • USAF Museum:
    • Attack Aircraft Development in the 1930s
    • Curtiss A-12
    • Curtiss A-12 Special Projects
  • March 1934, 1930s era article on A-12 with a lot of misconceptionsPopular Mechanics,"Flying Fort Bristles With Guns And Bombs",
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