The Boeing-funded project to produce the Boeing Model 248 began in September 1931, with the Army Air Corps supplying engines and instruments. The design included an open cockpit, fixed landing gear, and externally-braced wings. The AAC contracted for three prototypes, designated XP-936, with the first flight on 20 March 1932.
Boeing then received an order for 111 of the production version (Model 266), officially designated P-26A, which included an improved wing structure and a radio. The first production P-26A flew on 10 January 1934, and the last of the production run was delivered in June.
An additional 25 aircraft were completed as P-26B with Pratt & Whitney Wasp R-1340-33 engines, and 23 P-26C had minor changes to carburation and the fuel system.