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.
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.
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.
Nine USAAF A-12s were still in service at Hickam Field on 7 December 1941, but they saw no combat.
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.
Specifications: A-12 Shrike
Length: 9.83 m
Wingspan: 13.41 m
Height: 2.84 m
Wing area: 26.38 m²
Empty weight: 1,768 kg
Max. takeoff weight: 2,611 kg
Powerplant: 1 × Wright R-1820 "Cyclone" 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 690 hp (515 kW)
Maximum speed: 285 km/h
Range: 838 km
Service ceiling: 4,620 m
Armament: 4 × forward-firing 7.62 mm mg + 1 × aft-firing 7.62 mm mg
Bombs:4 × 55 kg bombs on underwing racks or 10 x 13.6 kg fragmentation bombs in chutes on either side of the main fuel tank