Curtiss A-12 Shrike

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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

File:Curtiss A-12 Shrike Formation.jpg
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]


File:Curtiss A-12 ROCAF.jpg
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. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "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. 4.0 4.1 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