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Douglas A-26B Invader

Douglas A-26B Invader

Douglas A-26B Invader

The Douglas A-26B was the gun-nosed version of the Invader medium bomber, and was designed to carry out both bombing and low level strafing attacks, a combination of functions that was seen as the most effective way to attack the many Japanese island bases scattered across the Pacific. It was, by a narrow margin, the most common version of the A-26, with a total of 1,355 being built.

The A-26B was tested with a wide variety of different gun noses, including ones carrying a 75mm cannon and two .50in machine guns, a 75mm and a 35mm cannon, two 35mm cannons or one 35mm cannon and two or four .50in machine guns, but none of these options were adopted. Instead the AAF decided to use a nose that could carry six .50in calibre machine guns, arranged horizontally across the front of the aircraft (with four on the right and two on the left). This six gun nose was later replaced by an eight gun nose, which carried its guns in four rows of two vertically down the centre line of the aircraft.

The A-26B could also carry as many as four twin .50in gun pods, two under each wing, giving early aircraft up to 14 guns. When the first A-26Bs were tested in combat in the Pacific these pods were unpopular, because they added greatly to drag and slowed the aircraft down by 25mph. They were later replaced by three .50in calibre machine guns mounted internally within the wings, which when combined with the eight gun nose retained the total of 14 guns.

Defensive firepower was proved by two remote controlled General Electric turrets, one upper turret mounted just above the rear of the bomb bay and one lower turret mounted just behind the bomb doors. Both turrets were controlled by a single gunner using periscopes mounted in his compartment between the turrets.

The A-26B carried a crew of three – the gunner in his rear compartment and a pilot/ radio operator and gun loader/ navigator in the pilot's compartment. The navigator lost most of his gun loading duties after plans to use he 75mm guns were abandoned.

The A-26B could carry 4,000lb of bombs internally and another 2,000lb under the wings. Later aircraft could also carry 5 inch HVAR rockets under the wings. Fuel capacity began at 1,600 gallons, rising to 1,900 gallons at the same time as the eight gun nose was introduced, and eventually reaching 2,025 gallons when an auxiliary tank was installed at the rear of the bomb bay.

A total of 1,355 A-26Bs were built, 1,150 at Douglas's Long Beach plant and 205 at their factory in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the European theatre the gun-nosed A-26B was often used alongside the B-26 Marauder or glass-nosed A-26Cs, with the glass nosed aircraft being used as pathfinders to lead the A-26Bs to their targets.

Engine: Two x Pratt & Whitney R-2800
Power: 2,000hp each
Crew: Three
Wing span: 70ft
Length: 50ft 8in
Height: 18ft 6in
Empty Weight: 22,362lb
Maximum Weight: 41,800lb
Max Speed: 322mph
Service Ceiling: 24,500ft
Range: 2,914 miles
Early Armament: six .50in guns in nose and up to eight under the wings
Late Armament: eight .50in guns in nose and six in the wings
All: Two twin gun remote controlled turrets
Bomb-load: 6,000lb


Douglas A-26B Invader

Specifications:
Caliber 12.7
Muzzle Velocity , m/s 1120
Damage 45
Rate of Fire , rounds/min 750
Weight , kg 60
Specifications:
Caliber 12.7
Muzzle Velocity , m/s 1120
Damage 45
Rate of Fire , rounds/min 750
Weight , kg 60
Price:
Purchase price 16400

Modules

Tier Engine Engine Power, hp / Thrust Type Weight, kg Price,
VII Pratt Whitney R-2800-27 2000 air-cooled 2200 54000

Tier Machine gun Caliber Muzzle Velocity, m/s Damage Rate of Fire, rounds/min Weight, kg Price,
VII 12.7 1120 45 750 60 16400

Tier Turret Caliber Machine gun Damage Rate of Fire, rounds/min Weight, kg Price,
VII 12.7 mm M2 13.2 2 128 30 5 90000


Douglas A-26B Invader "Solid" Nose

The Douglas A-26 Invader (designated B-26 between 1948-1965) was a single-pilot, twin-engine light bomber and attack aircraft built by Douglas Aircraft during World War II that also saw service during several of the Cold War's major conflicts. It was found to be a fast aircraft capable of carrying twice its specified bomb load. The "solid" nose could be equipped with a combination of anything from .50 caliber machine guns, 37mm auto cannon, 20mm or even a 75mm pack Howitzer, but normally housed six (or later eight) .50 caliber machine guns. The A-26C's "Glass" nose, officially termed the "Bombardier Nose", contained a Norden Bombsight for medium altitude precision bombing. The Louisiana Air National Guard flew the A-26/B-26 from 1946-1958.

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space &bull War, Cold &bull War, World II.

Location. 29° 57.577′ N, 90° 0.369′ W. Marker is in New Orleans, Louisiana, in Orleans Parish. Marker is on Angela Street 0.3 miles south of North Claiborne Avenue (State Highway 39), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4209 Chenault Boulevard, New Orleans LA 70117, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. M20 Scout Car "Greyhound" (a few steps from this marker) M161A "Half Track" (a few steps

from this marker) M4A3 "Sherman Tank" (within shouting distance of this marker) M75 Armored Personnel Carrier (within shouting distance of this marker) M19A1 "Duster" (within shouting distance of this marker) North American F-100D "Super Sabre" (within shouting distance of this marker) M59 Armored Personnel Carrier (within shouting distance of this marker) M42A1 "Duster" (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Orleans.

More about this marker. Located on the grounds of the Louisiana National Guard, Jackson Barracks base. The Ansel M. Stroud Jr. Military History & Weapons Museum is located on site. Museum is opened M-Sat 10-4. Highly recommend checking before a visit to make sure base/museum is opened and accessible to civilians.

Also see . . . Geaux Guard Museum website. (Submitted on November 20, 2020, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana.)


A-26C [ edit | edit source ]

Douglas A-26C "Invader"
General Historical Information
Place of origin USA
Speed 587 km/h
Category Heavy Bomber
General Ingame Information
Debut Debut in Forgotten Hope mod
Used by USA
Bombs 8x 250kg
Seatق 1x 12.7 mm Twin .50 M2HB Browning
900 rounds
Seatك 1x 12.7 mm Twin .50 M2HB Browning
900 rounds
Historical Picture

A-26B models were eventually followed by an A-26C model with a glassed-in nose and bombardier-manned Norden bombsight, which means that you can use new improved bombing system, introduce in 0.55. These were more in line with the dedicated light attack bomber role than the preceding A-26B models, whose forte was generally strafing with machine guns. A-26C models were built concurrently alongside A-26B systems. 1,091 A-26C models were delivered.


A-26C Invader

The A-26 Invader was first flown in July 1942 but design problems and equipment shortages delayed introduction to combat until 1944. It was built in 2 models, the “B” with a solid nose and the “C” with a glass nose. The Invader was the first bomber to incorporate laminar flow airfoils, slotted flaps and remote control gun turrets. Production ended in 1945 with approximately 2450 aircraft completed.

In 1950 with the onset of the Korean war the Invader was one of the first aircraft to be brought to bear on the enemy. Now designated the B-26, it continued to see action until the end of hostilities in 1953. It was used almost exclusively on night missions. In 1954 it was phased out of the active Air Force inventory.

Starting in late 1961, small numbers of Invaders began arriving in Vietnam, eventually reaching 12 aircraft. The official mission was training Vietnamese pilots but in actuality some combat missions were flown. In 1963 the US Air Force decided to use the B-26 as a counter-insurgency aircraft as there were still many in storage. A contract was let for major rework and modification of 40 aircraft. In April 1965, the last Invader, now designated B-26K, was delivered. It soon was re-designated A-26A for political reasons. Its most distinguishing feature was the addition of 2 165 gallon tip tanks. Dual controls were also added for a copilot. Attrition and a shortage of parts forced the stand down of the last special operation squadron in November 1969.

In addition to the Invaders primary roles of bombing and interdiction, it was modified to accomplish a wide array of other missions. These included reconnaissance, combat insertion, target drone launcher, personnel transport, and weather research. After being declared surplus, many entered civilian service as executive transports and fighting forest fires. Throughout the years, Invaders were used by over 20 foreign governments.


Douglas A-26 Invader

XA-26 41-19504, the Invader prototype, first took to the air on 10 July 1942. This aircraft had the glazed nose of the projected A-26C bomber variant. The A-26A night fighter would have had a radar set in the nose, with four 20 mm cannon in a ventral pack.

For attack missions, the A-26B had six 12.7 mm (0.50 cal) machine guns in its nose, remotely controlled dorsal and ventral turrets, each with two 12.7 mm machine guns, and up to 10 more in underwing and under fuselage packs.

The night fighter was cancelled, but the A-26B and A-26C models were rushed into production. The first Invaders in combat were four A-26Bs used in New Guinea, where the aircraft proved unpopular on low level sorties. Clearly, all the type's 'bugs' had yet to be ironed out.

In September 1944 the 553rd Bomb Squadron at Great Dunmow, England received 18 machines. Their results were more promising. Eventually, 11,567 missions were flown, delivering 18,344 tonnes (18,054 tons) of bombs. One aircraft was even credited with a probable 'kill' of an Me 262 jet fighter.

In the Pacific, air to ground and anti shipping strikes were typical. Three USAAF bomb groups used A-26s against targets in Okinawa, Formosa and mainland Japan A-26s were active near Nagasaki when the second A-bomb was dropped on 9 August 1945.

Perhaps better known for its post war exploits, the Douglas A-26 Invader first served in the European and Pacific theatres of World War II from September 1944. Designed by ED Heinemann to replace the A-20 Havoc, the A-26 was very similar to the Havoc in configuration. The roles of bomber, night fighter and ground attack aircraft were envisaged for the type, but it was for air to ground roles that production aircraft were ordered.


Douglas A-26 / B-26 Invader vs North American B-25 Mitchell

B-26B:
6 OR 8 x 12.7mm machine guns in forward-fixed nose assembly
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in remote-controlled dorsal barbette.
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in remote-controlled ventral barbette.

B-26C:
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in nose position
6 x 12.7mm machine guns in wings
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in remote-controlled dorsal barbette.
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in remote-controlled ventral barbette.

Up to 4,000lb of internal ordnance with a further 8,000lb of under wing ordnance held externally.

Additional:
4 x dual 12.7mm machine gun "packs" underwing (two-guns per pack for a total of eight possible underwing gun positions).
8 OR 14 x 5" rockets
2 x bombs held under wing
2 x fuel tanks held under wing

Model-specific armament included:

8 x 12.7mm M2 Browning Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) OR 1 x 75mm Automatic cannon in fixed, forward-firing mounting(s) in nose assembly.

2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in fixed, forward-firing gun pack at lower fuselage left.
2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in fixed, forward-firing gun pack at lower fuselage- right.
2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in dorsal turret (power-assisted in some models).
2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in ventral turret (power-assisted in some models).
1 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in left beam position.
1 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in right beam position.
2 x 12.7mm M2 Browning HMGs in tail gun position (deleted in some models).

OPTIONAL:
1 x Torpedo carried under fuselage (model-specific).
8 x 250lb Conventional drop bombs carried on 8 x External hardpoints (model-specific).


Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/29/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The B-26K/A-26B "Counter Invader" was based on a highly-modified airframe of the World War 2-era Douglas A-26 "Invader" twin-engined attack aircraft. By 1948, the A-26 had been redesignated as the "B-26" and the B-26K was developed for counter-insurgency work in Southeast Asia. On Mark Engineering converted forty B-26B/TB-26B airframes, along with a pair of B.26C and a single JB-26C - for the role and changes included 2 x R-2800-103W radial engines of 2,500 horsepower, dual-control schemes in the cockpit, wingtip fuel tanks, and modernized avionics. The ordnance load was increased from the wartime model and all turreted armament removed in favor of fixed, forward-firing weapons. Different engine cowls were also added as were cropped propeller units.

The original designation for this aircraft was known in the United States inventory as "B-26B" but became "A-26K" when the units were stationed overseas in countries such as Thailand for local authorities refused to allow "bombers" on home soil during the war in Southeast Asia - hence the designation changes in the Counter Invader's short history. As such, it is often referred rather interchangeably as the "B-26K" or "A-26B" ("B" meaning "Bomber" and "A" meaning "Attack").

Externally, the Counter Invader retained much of the form of its World War 2 counterpart. The aircraft utilized shoulder-mounted monoplane wings which were reinforced for its new mission role and showcased dihedral. The engine nacelles were fitted to the leading wing edges in the typical way with each powerplant driving three-bladed (reversible) propellers. The undercarriage was of a conventional tricycle arrangement with two main members and a noseleg for ground-running. The stepped cockpit was positioned just aft of the nose assembly with the nose housing the aircraft's primary armament. The fuselage incorporated rounded edges and was slab-sided, tapering off to form the empennage. The all-new tail unit relied on a single (clipped) vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes (also displaying dihredral).

The forward, fixed armament consisted of 8 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns stacked as two columns of four guns each. Up to 8,000lb of mixed ordnance (rocket pods, conventional drop bombs, gun pods, cannon pods) could be carried externally at multiple underwing hardpoints (four to a wing). Internally, an additional 4,000lb of drop stores could be hauled giving the B-26K quite the potent punch.

As modified, the aircraft could reach speeds of 323 miles per hour out to a range of 2,700 miles and up to a ceiling of 30,000 feet. Dimensions included a wingspan of 71.5 feet, a length of 51.6 feet, and a height of 19 feet. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) became 38,314lb.

While the original Douglas A-26 Invaders saw combat actions throughout World War 2 (1939-1945) and the upcoming Korean War (1950-1953) (as the B-26), the revised B-26K "Counter Invader" would be sent to Southeast Asia in 1966.

The series was actually retired from frontline service in 1958 but brought back online in 1961 when the USAF saw a need for tactical bombers over the region. Wear-and-tear eventually forced their removal once more in 1964 but as soon as 1966, the revitalized series returned to service in their new Counter Invader guises. These aircraft would serve in the region up until 1969 by which time they were finally removed from frontline service - again simply due to the stress and rigors of war placed on the decades-old airframes.


Douglas A-26B Invader - History



























Douglas A-26B Invader
WWII Twin-engine 3-crew Mid-wing Light Attack Bomber, U.S.A.

Archive Photos [1]

[Douglas A-26B-20-DL &ldquoInvader&rdquo (AF 41-39221, c/n 6934, N9636C/N3035S/N256H/N26GT, On Mark Marksman) on display (11/22/2011) at South Mountain Hight School, Phoenix, Arizona (11/22/2011 photos by Lt. Col. Dr. Marc Matthews, M.D., USAF (retired))]

[Douglas A-26B-66-DL &ldquoInvader&rdquo (AF 44-34722, c/n 28001, NX3222T) on display (4/14/2004) at the Tillamook Air Museum, Tillamook, Oregon (Photos by John Shupek copyright © 2004 Skytamer Images)]

[Douglas A-26B &ldquoInvader &ldquoGrim Reaper&rdquo&rdquo (AF 44-35617, c/n 28896) on display (11/20/2001) at the Hill Aerospace Museum, Hill Air Force Base, Roy, Utah (Photo by John Shupek copyright © 2001 Skytamer Images)]

[Douglas A-26B-61-DL &ldquoInvader &ldquoLuLu&rdquo&rdquo (AF 44-34520, c/n 27799, N126HP, 1944) on display (11/20/2011) at the Lauridsen Aviation Museum, Buckeye, Arizona (Photos by Lt. Col. Dr. Marc Matthews, M.D., USAF (retired))]

The Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo (B-26 between 1948-1965) was a United States twin-engined light attack bomber built by the Douglas Aircraft Co. during World War II that also saw service during several of the Cold War's major conflicts. A limited number of highly modified aircraft (designation A-26 restored) served in combat until 1969. The redesignation of the type from A-26 to B-26 has led to popular confusion with the Martin B-26 Marauder. Although both types used the R-2800 engine, they are completely different designs. The last Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo in active United States service was assigned to the Air National Guard. That aircraft was retired from military service in 1972 by the US Air Force and the National Guard Bureau and donated to the National Air and Space Museum.

Design and Development ³

The Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo was an unusual design for an attack bomber of the early 1940s period, as it was designed as a single-pilot aircraft (sharing this characteristic with the RAF's de Havilland Mosquito, among others). The aircraft was designed by Edward Heinemann, Robert Donovan, and Ted R. Smith. The project aerodynamicist on the program was A.M.O. Smith, who designed the wing making use of the then-new NACA 65-215 laminar flow airfoil.

The Douglas XA-26 prototype (41-19504) first flew on 10 July 1942 at Mines Field, El Segundo, with test pilot Benny Howard at the controls. Flight tests revealed excellent performance and handling, but there were problems with engine cooling which led to cowling changes and omission of the propeller spinners on production aircraft, plus modification of the nose landing gear after repeated collapses during testing.

The Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo was originally built in two different configurations. The Douglas A-26B had a "solid" nose, which originally could be equipped with a combination of anything from .50 caliber machine guns, 37-mm auto cannon, 20-mm or even a 75-mm pack howitzer, but normally the solid nose version housed six (or later eight) .50 caliber machine guns, officially termed the "all-purpose nose", later commonly known as the "six-gun nose" or "eight-gun nose". The Douglas A-26C's "glass" nose, officially termed the "Bombardier nose", contained a Norden bombsight for medium altitude precision bombing. The Douglas A-26C nose section included two fixed M-2 guns, later replaced by underwing gun packs or internal guns in the wings.

After about 1,570 production aircraft, three guns were installed in each wing, coinciding with the introduction of the "eight-gun nose" for Douglas A-26B's, giving some configurations as many as 14 .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in a fixed forward mount. An A-26C nose section could be exchanged for an A-26B nose section, or vice versa, in a few man-hours, thus physically (and officially) changing the designation and operational role. The "flat-topped" canopy was changed in late 1944 after about 820 production aircraft, to a clamshell style with greatly improved visibility.

Alongside the pilot in an Douglas A-26B &ldquoInvader&rdquo, a crew member typically served as navigator and gun loader for the pilot-operated nose guns. In the Douglas A-26C &ldquoInvader&rdquo, that crew member served as navigator and bombardier, and relocated to the nose section for the bombing phase of an operation. A small number of Douglas A-26C &ldquoInvaders&rdquo were fitted with dual flight controls, some parts of which could be disabled in flight to allow limited access to the nose section. A tractor-style "jump seat" was located behind the "navigator's seat." In most missions, a third crew member in the rear gunner's compartment operated the remotely-controlled dorsal and ventral gun turrets, with access to and from the cockpit only possible via the bomb bay when that was empty.

Operational History ³

World War II &mdash The Douglas company began delivering the production model Douglas A-26B &ldquoInvader&rdquo in August 1943 with the new bomber first seeing action with the Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific theater on 23 June 1944, when they bombed Japanese-held islands near Manokwari. The pilots in the 3rd Bomb Group's 13th Squadron, "The Grim Reapers", who received the first four Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo for evaluation, found the view from the cockpit to be poor for low level attack. General George Kenney, commander of the Far East Air Forces stated that, "We do not want the A-26 under any circumstances as a replacement for anything." Until changes could be made, the 3rd Bomb Group requested additional Douglas A-20 &ldquoHavocs&rdquo, although both types were used in composite flights. The 319th Bomb Group worked up on the Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo in March 1945, joining the initial 3rd BG, with the 319th flying until 12 August 1945. The Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo operations wound down in mid-August 1945 with only a few dozen missions flown.

Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo began arriving in Europe in late September 1944 for assignment to the Ninth Air Force. The initial deployment involved 18 aircraft and crews assigned to the 553d Squadron of the 386th Bomb Group. This unit flew its first mission on 6 September 1944. The first group to fully convert to the Douglas A-26B &ldquoInvader&rdquo was 416th Bombardment Group with which it entered combat on 17 November, and the 409th Bombardment Group, whose Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo became operational in late November. Due to a shortage of Douglas A-26C &ldquoInvader&rdquo variants, the groups flew a combined Douglas A-20 Havoc/Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo unit until deliveries of the glass-nose version caught up. Besides bombing and strafing, tactical reconnaissance and night interdiction missions were undertaken successfully. In contrast to the Pacific-based units, the Douglas A-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo was well received by pilots and crew alike, and by 1945, the 9th AF had flown 11,567 missions, dropping 18,054 tons of bombs, recording seven confirmed kills while losing 67 aircraft.

Postwar Era &mdash The USAF Strategic Air Command had the renamed Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo (RB-26) in service from 1949 through 1950, the Tactical Air Command through the late 1960's, and the last examples in service with the Air National Guard through 1972. The US Navy also used a small number of these aircraft in their utility squadrons for target towing and general utility use until superseded by the DC-130A variant of the Lockheed C-130 &ldquoHercules&rdquo. The Navy designation was JD-1 and JD-1D until 1962, when the JD-1 was redesignated UB-26J and the JD-1D was redesignated DB-26J.

Korean War &mdash Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo of the 3rd Bombardment Group, operating from bases in Southern Japan, were some of the first USAF aircraft engaged in the Korean War, carrying out missions over South Korea on 27 and 28 June, before carrying out the first USAF bombing mission on North Korea on 29 June 1950 when they bombed an airfield outside of Pyongyang.

On 10 August 1950, the 452nd Reserve Bomb Wing was activated for Korean Service. This was the first time that an entire air force unit had ever been activated. It flew its first missions in November 1950 from Itazuke Japan doing daylight support with the 3rd Bomb Wing flying night missions. Because of the Chinese intervention it was forced to find another base and moved to Miho Air base on the west coast of Honshu. In early 1951 it moved to East Pusan Air Base and continued its daylight as well as night intruder missions. In June 1951, it joined the 3rd Bomb Wing in night activity only, dividing the target areas with the 452nd taking the eastern half and the 3rd the western. For its efforts in the Korean War, it was awarded 2 Unit Citations and the Korean Presidential Citation. It also received credit for eight Campaign Operations. In May 1952 it was inactivated and all of its aircraft and equipment along with its regular air force personnel were absorbed by the 17th Bomb Wing. During its time as an active unit, the 452nd flew 15,000 sorties (7000 at night) with a loss of 85 crewmen.

Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo were credited with the destruction of 38,500 vehicles, 406 locomotives, 3,700 railway trucks, and seven enemy aircraft on the ground. On 14 September 1951, Captain John S. Walmsley, Jr. attacked a supply train. When his guns jammed, he illuminated the target with his searchlight to enable his wingmen to destroy the train. Walmsley was shot down and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Invaders carried out the last USAF bombing mission of the war 24 minutes before the Armistice Agreement was signed on 27 June 1953.

In addition to the standard attack versions of the Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo which flew night interdiction missions, a small number of modified WB-26s and RB-26s of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing flew critical weather observation and reconnaissance missions in supporting roles.

First Indochina War &mdash In the 1950s, the French Air Force's (Armée de l'air) Bombing Groups (Groupe de bombardement) including GB 1/19 Gascogne and GB 1/25 Tunisia used USAF-lent Douglas B-26 during the First Indochina War. Cat Bi (Haiphong) based Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo operated over Dien Bien Phu in March and April 1954 during the siege of Dien Bien Phu. In this period, a massive use of Philippines based USAF Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo against the Viet Minh heavy artillery was planned by the U.S. and French Joint Chief of Staff as Operation Vulture, but was eventually canceled by the respective governments.

Indonesia &mdash In 1958, the CIA started Operation Haik in Indonesia, concerned about the Sukarno regime's communist leanings. At least a dozen Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo were committed in support of rebel forces. On 18 May 1958, American contract pilot Allen Pope's Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo was initially hit by anti-aircraft ground fire and then brought down by a North American P-51 &ldquoMustang&rdquo flown by Capt. Ignatius Dewanto (the only known air-to-air kill in the history of the Indonesian Air Force). The capture and trial of Lieutenant Pope brought a quick end to Operation Haik, but the capabilities of the &ldquoInvader&rdquo were not lost on the Indonesian government. In 1959, the government purchased six aircraft at Davis-Monthan AFB and these were ferried to Indonesia in full military markings during mid-1960. These aircraft would have a long career and were utilized in a number of actions against rebels in various areas. The last operational flights of the three survivors was in 1976 supporting the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. In 1977, the last two flyers were retired.

Service with the USAF in Southeast Asia &mdash The first Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo to arrive in Southeast Asia were deployed to Takhli RTAFB, Thailand in December 1960. These unmarked aircraft, operated under the auspices of the U.S. CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), were soon augmented by an additional 16 aircraft, 12 Douglas B-26B &ldquoInvaders&rdquo and Douglas B-26C &ldquoInvaders&rdquo plus four Douglas RB-26C &ldquoInvaders&rdquo under &ldquoOperation Mill Pond&rdquo. The mission of all of these aircraft was to assist the Royal Lao Government in fighting the Pathet Lao. The repercussions from the Bay of Pigs invasion meant that no combat missions are known to have been flown, although Douglas RB-26C &ldquoInvaders&rdquo operated over Laos until the end of 1961. The aircraft were subsequently operated in South Vietnam under Project "Farm Gate". The only other deployment of Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo aircraft to Laos prior to the introduction of the Douglas B-26K/A-26A &ldquoCounter Invader&rdquo, was the deployment of two Douglas RB-26C &ldquoInvader&rdquo aircraft, specifically modified for night reconnaissance, deployed to Laos between May and July 1962 under &ldquoProject Black Watch&rdquo. These aircraft, initially drawn from &ldquoFarm Gate&rdquo stocks, were returned upon the end of these missions.

The aircraft from Laos participated in the early phase of the Vietnam War with the USAF, but with Vietnamese markings as part of &ldquoProject Farm Gate&rdquo. Though &ldquoFarm Gate&rdquo operated Douglas B-26B &ldquoInvaders&rdquo, Douglas B-26C &ldquoInvaders&rdquo, and genuine Douglas RB-26C &ldquoInvaders&rdquo, many of these aircraft were operated under the designation Douglas RB-26C &ldquoInvader&rdquo, though they were used in a combat capacity. During 1963, two Douglas RB-26C &ldquoInvaders&rdquo were sent to Clark AB in the Philippines for modifications, though not with night systems as with those modified for &ldquoBlack Watch&rdquo. The two aircraft returned from &ldquoBlack Watch&rdquo to &ldquoFarm Gate&rdquo were subsequently given the designation RB-26L to distinguish them from other modified RB-26C, and were assigned to &ldquoProject Sweet Sue&rdquo. &ldquoFarm Gate's&rdquo B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo operated alongside the other primary strike aircraft of the time, the North American T-28 &ldquoTrojan&rdquo, before both aircraft types were replaced by the Douglas A-1 &ldquoSkyraider&rdquo. The Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo were withdrawn from service in February 1964 after two accidents related to wing spar fatigue, one during combat in Southeast Asia in August 1963 and one during an airpower demonstration at Eglin AFB, Florida in February 1964.

On 11 February 1964, two pilots from the 1st Air Commando Wing stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida, died in the crash of a Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo on Range 52 at Eglin AFB when it lost a wing during pull-out from a strafing pass. The aircraft was participating in a demonstration of the Special Air Warfare Center's counter insurgency capabilities and had completed a strafing run when the accident occurred. SAWC had presented the demonstration on an average of twice each month for the previous 21 months. Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo aircraft used by USAF Commandos in Vietnam were grounded 8 April 1964, following an official investigation into the 11 February accident. Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo aircraft in use by the Vietnamese Air Force were also grounded in accordance with the U.S. ruling.

In response to this, the On Mark Engineering Company of Van Nuys, California was selected by the Air Force to extensively upgrade the Invader for a counter-insurgency role. The first production flight of the On Mark B-26K &ldquoCounter-Invader&rdquo was on 30 May 1964 at the Van Nuys Airport. On Mark converted 40 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo to the new B-26K &ldquoCounter-Invader&rdquo standard, which included upgraded engines, propellers, and brakes, re-manufactured wings, and wing tip fuel tanks, for use by the 609th Special Operations Squadron. In May 1966, the On Mark B-26K &ldquoCounter-Invader&rdquo was re-designated A-26A/K for political reasons (Thailand did not allow the U.S. to have bombers stationed in country, so the Invaders were redesignated with an "A", for attack aircraft) and deployed in Thailand to help disrupt supplies moving along the Ho Chi Minh trail. Two of these aircraft were further modified with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR system) under project &ldquoLonesome Tiger&rdquo, as a part of &ldquoOperation Shed Light&rdquo.

Bay of Pigs Invasion &mdash In early 1961, about 20 Douglas B-26B &ldquoInvaders&rdquo, most converted from B-26C configuration, were 'sanitized' at Duke Field (aka Auxiliary Field Three at Eglin AFB). They had defensive armament removed, and were fitted with the eight-gun nose, underwing drop tanks, and rocket racks. They were flown to a CIA-run base in Guatemala where training was underway of Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvader&rdquo, Douglas C-46 &ldquoCommando&rdquo and Douglas C-54 &ldquoSkymaster&rdquo Cuban exile air crews by personnel from the Alabama ANG (Air National Guard). After transfer to Nicaragua in early April 1961, they were painted in the markings of the FAR (Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria), the air force of the Cuban government. On 15 April 1961, crewed by Cuban exiles, eight Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo of the FAL (Fuerza Aérea de Liberación) attacked three Cuban airfields, in an attempt to destroy FAR combat aircraft on the ground. On 17 April 1961, FAL Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo supported the seaborne Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba. The conflict ended on 19 April, after the loss of nine FAL Douglas B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo, 10 Cuban exiles and 4 American aircrew in combat. The FAR flew Douglas B-26C &ldquoInvaders&rdquo in the conflict, one of which was shot down by a CIA 'command ship' with the loss of 4 Cuban aircrew.

Africa in the 1960's &mdash The CIA contracted pilots, some previously employed during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, flew On Mark B-26K &ldquoCounter-Invaders&rdquo for ground attack against Simba rebels in the Congo Crisis. New production On Mark B-26K &ldquoCounter-Invaders&rdquo were delivered to the Congo via Hurlburt Field in 1964.

The Portuguese Air Force purchased &ldquoInvaders&rdquo covertly for use in Portuguese Angola in 1965, during the Portuguese Colonial War.

Biafra used two provisionally armed B-26 &ldquoInvaders&rdquo in combat during Nigerian Civil War in 1967, flown among others by Jan Zumbach.

Variants &mdash Douglas/US Military Variants ³

  • The large majority of the A-26/B-26 Invader's production run of 2,452 were early A-26Bs and A-26Cs.
  • XA-26: Serial no. 41-19504 served as the prototype for the series initially flown with dummy armament.
  • XA-26A: Serial no. 41-19505 served as a prototype night fighter with a crew of two-pilot plus radar-operator/gunner
  • XA-26B: Serial no. 41-19588 was a prototype "solid-nosed" attack variant with crew of three: pilot, gun loader/navigator (in front cockpit) plus gunner in rear, and carrying a forward firing 75 mm (2.75 in) cannon.
  • A-26B: Attack bomber with solid nose carrying six or eight 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns. Production totals: 1,355 A-26Bs were built and delivered, 205 at Tulsa, Oklahoma (A-26B-5-DT to A-26B-25-DT) plus 1,150 at Long Beach, California (A-26B-1-DL to A-26B-66-DL). About 24 more airframes were built at Long Beach but not delivered to USAAF, some of those later sold to other civil and military customers. A-26B was redesignated B-26B with USAF in 1948.
  • TB-26B: Unarmed variant converted from B-26B for training purposes.
  • VB-26B: Unarmed variant converted from B-26B for administrative purposes.
  • A-26C: Attack bomber. Production totals: 1,091 A-26Cs were built and delivered, five at Long Beach, California (A-26C-1-DL and A-26C-2-DL) plus 1,086 at Tulsa, Oklahoma (A-26C-16-DT to A-26B-55-DT). About 53 more airframes were built at Tulsa but not delivered to USAAF, some of those later sold to other civil and military customers. A-26C was redesignated B-26C with USAF in 1948.
  • RB-26C: Unarmed photo reconnaissance variant converted from B-26C it carried cameras and flash flares for night photography. Designated FA-26C prior to 1962.
  • TB-26C: Unarmed variant converted from B-26C for training purposes.
  • XA-26D: Serial no. 44-34776 prototype for the proposed A-26D attack bomber with uprated Chevrolet manufactured R-2800-83 engines, and late model A-26B armament of eight 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in solid nose and six 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns in the wing series of 750 A-26Ds was canceled after V-J Day.
  • XA-26E: Serial no. 44-25563 prototype for the A-26E attack bomber. As with the XA-26D but with an A-26C-type glass nose a contract for 2,150 A-26E-DTs was canceled following V-J Day.
  • XA-26F: Serial no. 44-34586 prototype for a high-speed A-26F powered by two 2,100 hp (1,600 kW) R-2800-83 engines driving four-bladed propellers with a 1,600 lbf (7.1 kN) s.t. General Electric J31 turbojet installed in the rear fuselage. The prototype reached a top speed of 435 mph (700 km/h) but the series was canceled as performance gains were not sufficient.
  • A-26Z: Unofficial designation for a proposed postwar production version of the A-26. It was to have a more powerful version of the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine and was to be fitted with such features as a raised pilot's cockpit canopy, an improved cockpit arrangement and wingtip drop tanks. If produced, the unglazed nose version would have been designated A-26G and the glazed nose version A-26H. However, in October 1945, the USAAF concluded that there were enough A-26 aircraft to meet postwar needs, consequently, the "A-26Z" version was not produced.
  • JD-1: US Navy version with one A-26B (44-34217) and one A-26C (44-35467) redesignated during World War II, postwar, 150 surplus A-26s for use by land-based utility squadrons as target tugs and later, drone directors (designated JD-1D) and general utility aircraft. In 1962, the JD-1 and JD-1D were redesignated UB-26J and DB-26J respectively.
  • YB-26K: On Mark Engineering prototype for refurbished attack bomber modifications included rebuilt, strengthened wings, enlarged tail assembly, new R-2800-103W engines with reversible propellers/propeller spinners, dual controls, wingtip tanks, newer avionics and increased hardpoint/armament enhancements.
  • B-26K/A-26A: Counter Invader (64-17675) B-26K On Mark Engineering conversions of 40 B-26Bs or TB-26Bs with two B-26Cs and a single JB-26C changes included fitting of 2,500 hp (1,900 kW) R-2800-52W engines with no propeller spinners and the six wing guns deleted. During operations in Vietnam, in May 1966, the aircraft were reassigned the old attack designation of A-26A. The A-26As were retired in 1969 when they had reached the safe limits of allotted flying time.
  • RB-26L: Two RB-26Cs (44-34718 and 44-35782) modified for night photography missions.
  • B-26N: Unofficial designation applied to B-26s operated by the French Air Force (Armée de l'air) in Algeria as night fighters. These aircraft were modified B-26Cs fitted with AI Mk × radar taken from obsolete Meteor NF.11 night fighters, two underwing gun packs each with two 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns and SNEB rocket pods.

Third Party Civil Variants ³

Since 1945, over 300 A-26s have been entered on to the FAA US Civil Aircraft Register. Perhaps up to a hundred of those were probably only registered for ferry flights from USAF bases such as Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ and Hill AFB, UT to civil airports and stored as candidates for sale on the civil or overseas military markets.

The initial main civil uses were as "executive" personnel transports with minimal modifications such as removal of military features, bomb bay doors sealed shut, passenger entry stairs in bomb bay, and the conversion of the fuselage to accept six to eight passengers. Improvements developed considerably until the early 1960s, when purpose-built executive types such as the (turboprop) Gulfstream started to become available.

During the mid-1950s, A-26s were tested and used as air tankers for suppression of forest and wildland fires, and may have briefly used borate-based retardants, hence the inaccurate and unofficial term "borate bombers." Borate was soon discontinued due to its undesirable ecologic effects, replaced with retardant mixtures of water, clays, fertilizers and red dyes. That use of A-26s on USDA contracts was discontinued in major regions by about 1973, when many of the A-26 air tankers then found willing purchasers in Canada.

Much early development of conversions was carried out by Grand Central Aircraft, whose drawings and personnel were taken up by the On Mark Engineering Company of Van Nuys, California from about 1955. By the 1960s, On Mark had obtained an exclusive licence from Douglas Aircraft Company for manufacture and sale of parts for A-26s. The On Mark &ldquoExecutive&rdquo (1956), the On &ldquoMark Marketeer&rdquo (1957), and the more radical pressurized On Mark &ldquoMarksman&rdquo (1961) were products of this effort.

The next most significant conversion was the Rock Island &ldquoMonarch 26&rdquo, while less numerous and more basic conversions for executive operations were carried out by Wold Engineering, LB Smith Aircraft Corp., R. G. LeTourneau Inc, Rhodes-Berry Company and Lockheed Aircraft Service Inc.

Garrett AiResearch used two A-26 variants as testbeds for turbine engines see also XA-26F above.

Specifications (A-26B-15-DL Invader) ³

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
  • Wingspan: 70 ft 0 in (21.34 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 3 in (5.64 m)
  • Wing area: 540 ft² (50 m²)
  • Empty weight: 22,850 lb (10,365 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 27,600 lb (12,519 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 35,000 lb (15,900 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 "Double Wasp" radials, 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 355 mph (308 kn, 570 km/h)
  • Range: 1,400 mi (1,200 nm, 2,300 km)
  • Service ceiling: 22,000 ft (6,700 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,250 ft/min (6.4 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 51 lb/ft² (250 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.145 hp/lb (108 W/kg)
  • Guns: Up to 8 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in the nose (1,600 rpg) 8 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine guns paired in four optional underwing pods 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine guns in remote-controlled dorsal turret 2 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine guns in remote-controlled ventral turret.
  • Bombs: 6,000 lb (2,700 kg) capacity &mdash 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) in the bomb bay plus 2,000 lb (910 kg) carried externally on the wings
  1. Photos: Lt. Col. Dr. Marc Matthews, M.D., USAF (retired) 11/22/2011)
  2. Photos: John Shupek, Copyright © 2001, 2004 Skytamer Images. All Rights Reserved
  3. Wikipedia, Douglas A-26 Invader

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