The A-12 was derived from advancements made in the A-8 and the experimental YA-10. However, it quickly became outdated due to rapid advancements in aviation technology and the USAAC’s preference for multi-engined attack aircraft. One notable distinction between the A-12 and the A-8 is the type of engine used. The A-12 featured an air-cooled, radial engine, which replaced the A-8’s inline, water-cooled engine. This change was in response to the USAAC’s inclination towards radial engines, particularly in attack aircraft. The rationale behind this preference was that radial engines had a lower profile, making them less susceptible to ground fire. Additionally, they had a simpler cooling mechanism, which reduced the risk of ground fire and overall maintenance issues. Both aircraft maintained the open cockpit design introduced in the A-8 production batch and carried the same weapons load. To enhance pilot and observer cooperation, the rear cockpit was moved forward to align its glazed covering with the fuselage decking behind the pilot’s cockpit.
In the year 1936, the China Aviation Commission placed an order for 10 A-12 attack aircraft. Each aircraft had a unit price of US$24,328.45. These aircraft were transported in May of the same year and were assembled at the Jianqiao Central Aircraft Manufacturing Plant in Hangzhou. They were then showcased in flight demonstrations held in Nanjing and Hangzhou. The good performance of these aircraft led to an additional order of 10 more units.
During the initial stages of the Sino-Japanese War, the 26th and 27th Squadrons of the Chinese Air Force’s 9th Group were responsible for operating the aircraft. On August 15, 1937, a force of over 60 Japanese aircraft launched an assault on various airports including Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Jiaxing. In response, the 20 A-12 aircraft from the 9th Group swiftly took off to intercept the enemy, successfully shooting down 4 Japanese aircraft. Following rearmament, these aircraft later played a role in the offensive against Japanese ground infantry in the Shanghai region. Nevertheless, as a result of strategic missteps and inadequate provision of ammunition, the impact was minimal while the casualties incurred were substantial. Subsequently, in mid-September, the directive was issued to disband the 9th Group, leading to the integration of the 26th Squadron into the 27th Squadron. The A-12 Shrikes were subsequently relocated to the northern detachment and deployed to Shanxi in order to provide assistance to army operations. After the army’s withdrawal from Taiyuan on November 2nd, the northern frontal detachment relocated from Fenyang to the southern region in order to join the battle and provide assistance to Anyang. Subsequently, they received orders to proceed to Anhui and aid in the defense of Nanjing, while continuing their operations in the Su and Jiao areas. The challenging aspect of their mission was the scarcity of spare parts, which made maintenance a highly arduous task.
In June of 1938, the 12th Squadron received the Bellanca light bombers from the United States, replacing the A-12 attack aircraft previously assigned to them. Tragically, during a land and air liaison training mission, Cui Wenshu, piloting an A-12, was unexpectedly attacked by an enemy plane and lost his life. following that, the A-12 was retired from service.
Length - 9.82 m
Height - 2.74 m
Wingspan - 13.41 m
Empty Weight - 1,768 kg
Gross Weight - 2,611 kg
Engine - 1 x Wright R-1820-21 Cyclone engine (510 kW)
Crew - 1 Pilot, 1 Gunner
Max Speed - 285 km/h
Service Ceiling - 4,618 m
Range - 838 km
Rate of Climb - 5.9 m/s
4 x 7.62mm Browning M1919 machine guns
1 x 7.62mm Browning M1919 Machine gun in dorsal turret
4 x 122 lb bombs carried under wings.
10 x 30 lb bombs carried in fuselage chutes.
(Book) Encyclopedia of Chinese Aircraft, Vol 1. - Page 89 & 90
(Book) A History of Chinese Aviation - Page 259