The USAAF issued a requirement for an attack aircraft in 1940, before it had information on World War II combat operations in Europe. Consequently, three prototypes were ordered in differing configurations: the Douglas XA-26 attack bomber with a bomb-aimer's position; the XA-26A heavily-armed night-fighter; and the XA-26B attack aircraft with a 75mm cannon. After flight testing and careful examination of reports from Europe and the Pacific, the A-26B Invader was ordered into production, and initial deliveries of the 1,355 built were made in April 1944.
The A-26B had six 12.7mm machine-guns in the nose, remotely controlled dorsal and ventral turrets each with two 12.7mm guns, and up to 10 more 12.7mm guns in underwing and underfuselage packs. Heavily armoured, and able to carry up to 1814kg of bombs, the A-26B was potentially a formidable weapon. Moreover, its two, 1491kW Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines conferred a maximum speed of 571km/h, making the A-26 the fastest US bomber of World War II. Invaders'remained in USAF service until well into the 1970s.
Missions with the 9th Air Force in Europe began in November 1944, and at the same time the type became operational in the Pacific. The A-26C with a bomb-aimer's position and only two guns in the nose entered service in 1945, but saw only limited use before World War II ended. A-26C production totalled 1,091. With little employment ahead of them, so far as anyone could see, one A-26B and one A-26C were converted to XJD-1 configuration, this pair being followed by 150 A-26Cs converted as target tugs for the US Navy with the designation JD-1; some were converted later to launch and control missile test vehicles and drones, under the designation JD-1D. These designations became UB-26J and DB-26J in 1962.
USAF A-26B and A-26C aircraft became B-26B and B-26C in 1948, and retained this designation until 1962. Both versions saw extensive service in the Korean War, and were again used in a counter-insurgency role in Vietnam. A special COIN version with very heavy armament and extra power was developed by On Mark Engineering in 1963, a prototype being designated YB-26K and named Counter Invader. Subsequently about 70 B-26s were converted to B-26K standard, 40 later being redesignated A-26A. Some were deployed in Vietnam, and others were supplied to friendly nations under the Military Assistance Program. B-26s were used also for training (TB-26B and TB-26C), transport (CB-26B freighter and VB-26B staff transport), RPV control (DB-26C), night reconnaissance. (FA-26C, from 1948 redesignated RB-26C) and missile guidance research (EB-26C). After the war, many A-26s were converted to executive, survey, photographic and even fire-fighting aircraft. Brief details of the two semi-production marks are given in the variants list.
| ENGINE||2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 or -79 Double Wasp, 1491kW|
| Take-off weight||15876 kg||35001 lb|
| Empty weight||10365 kg||22851 lb|
| Wingspan||21.34 m||70 ft 0 in|
| Length||15.24 m||50 ft 0 in|
| Height||5.64 m||19 ft 6 in|
| Wing area||50.17 m2||540.02 sq ft|
| Max. speed||571 km/h||355 mph|
| Cruise speed||457 km/h||284 mph|
| Ceiling||6735 m||22100 ft|
| Range||2253 km||1400 miles|
| ARMAMENT||10 x 12.7mm machine-guns, 1814kg of bombs|
|John Ball, 02.03.2017|
Calspan Corporation flew two specially modified, experimental B-26s from the mid-1950s until 1981. With computerized hydraulic flight controls added to the right side, they could mimic the handling qualities of other aircraft. In addition to many R&D projects, they were used to train test pilots at the USN & USAF Test Pilot Schools. Every student flew 3 or 4 flights in these aircraft. Many of these pilots went on to become astronauts and other famous test pilots.
I logged 800 hrs in these aircraft from 1978 until 1981 and flew the 10,000th hour on one of them. For planes, expected to last 6 months when built in 1943, certainly surpassed all expectations.
Sadly, in March of 1981, one of them crashed after a wing failure. The other one was placed in a museum at Edwards AFB where it probably remains. They were replaced by a similarly modified Learjet 24.
|Bob Kusterer, 02.03.2017|
A friend of mine flew a variable stability A-26 for CALSPAN to train test pilots. Hey, John, I hope you see this and leave a comment. Bob
|Jonna Smith, 29.01.2017|
I forgot to add Dad was in the Texas National Guard, then the 111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron assigned to the 68th Observational Group. He spent 2 weeks shy of 3 years over seas, from 1942 to 1945.
|Jonna Smith, 29.01.2017|
My dad was a rear gunner/radio operator on an A-26B/C during the EAME campaigns. Toward the end of WW2, his crew was flying anti-submarine missions out of North Africa. What was most interesting, due to the small crew size, everyone on the crew was cross-trained to fill in for any other position. Dad could fly, navigate, communicate and defend with the turret gun. He was hit by shrapnel at some point.
Due to an accident while off duty, Dad had to go to sick bay. When he returned, his flight had taken off on a mission. They never came back. The weather was poor and the pilot was not skilled at bad-weather flying. The plane crashed into a mountain, killing all three on board.
Dad is gone now, and I'm trying to find more information about this event. However, I don't have any details on the specific plane or the date of the crash. Would like to hear from anyone who might have heard of the crash. Thanks.
Over the years the re-designation of the Invader by the Air Force has led to some confusion over the identity of this aircraft. During WW-II this aircraft was developed as a "ground attack" aircraft to replace the Douglas A-20 "Havoc". Consequently, the Army Air Force designated it "A-26". After the new U.S. Air Force was established in 1947, the "A" for "Attack" designation was dropped, the A-26 became reclassified as a "light bomber" and was re-designated "B-26". There had already been a "B-26", the Army Air Force's well-known Martin B-26 "Marauder" of WW-II. However, that aircraft had been phased out of service by 1947, and the Air Force apparently did not consider there to be any chance of confusing the two types.
|Michael topp, 19.07.2016|
My father Lee Topp flew a b-26 in Korea probably about 1952 and 1953. He did at least some of his training at Langley Air Force base. If anyone remembers him or has any information about him, especially about what squadron he was in, I'd be grateful.
So cool to read about this great plane and the men who flew in it. America at it's very best. God bless you all.
|Ted Statler, 22.10.2015|
I first flew a Douglas B-26 at Perrin AFB November 1952. From the went to Langley to pickup a Bombardier and Gunner. Then to Korea K-8 90th Bomb Squadron for 47 missions, most with an engineer and gunner. Was reassigned to the 1st Tow Target Squadron at Biggs AFB in El Paso. Loved that plane and had no desire to get into jets so left USAF when they were upgrading.
|Jim Reynolds, 15.04.2015|
Interesting stories and comments here. I currently fly an A-26B for the CAF Invader Squadron in Ft Worth, Tx. Also restoring the last flying K model for Greatest Generation Aircraft in the same hangar. AF64-17679 was its number with the tailcode of "IF" for England AFB, LA from the mid 1960's. As a kid, I missed many a fish bite out on Lake Texoma back in the 50's watching all of the Perrin AFB T-33's and F-86's in the pattern. I don't remember the A-26 that trained there back in '52 and '53, but I have made up for lost time. It is fun to outrun P-51's at airshows now. Down low, the A-26 is quite the serious hauler. The B model is painted in Korea era paint. The K will be in SEA camo with a black bottom and jungle on top. Come see us at the Vintage Flying Museum at Meacham Field in Ft Worth.
A squadron was stationed at Nakhom Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand 1967-1969 while I was station there.
They were used to interdict trails in Laos and other areas of Southeast Asia. Always enjoyed watching them takeoff and land while setting in the weather observer van at the end of the runway. One of my favorite aircrafts because of it's beautiful silhouette. It just looked fast!
|Pat Daily, 11.02.2015|
My Post: Pat Daily, 11.02.2015. Not sure if I posted correct email address. Correct email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I would appreciate hearing from any reliable source on this subject. C.V.D.
|Pat Daily, 11.02.2015|
I have the same question which I have not heard or seen an explanation. I was a Flight Engineer on Lt. John Wright's crew. I do remember we having to take a "little detour" around something in the middle of the taxiway on the 95th.st. side of K-9 before the conflict ended. Don't remember what the object was but I do know we done a little "dip" off the taxiway through what I remember was a drainage ditch running along side the taxiway. We learned after the mission that night when we were leaving debriefing that all six blades were slightly bent back. I am not sure at this time who was responsible for this incident? I have heard over the past 60 years a couple different stories. Who did it? Was it our crew, John Wright, Dick Uyehara and me, Clarence Daily, (A3C Clarence Daily) C.V.D.
|Arthur L. Haarmeyer, 23.01.2015|
I had the privilege and honor of flying 50 combat missions as a bombardier-navigator in Douglas 26s with Col Delwin Bentley or Capt Robert Crow with the 95th BS, 17th BG at K-9 AFB, Pusan, throughout the last seven months of the Korean War ending on 7/27/53. Most of our missions were to destroy, damage and delay the flow of trains and trucks carrying men and materiel to the front lines alone the mountainous eastern half of the peninsula during the night at low levels and airspeeds. The B-26C was the perfect aircraft for this mission profile! I recently finished and published a book (INTO THE LAND OF DARKNESS) comprised of fifty non-fiction short stories/related photography that describe our combat experiences.
|Leo F Kimminau, 21.01.2015|
God Bless, et al. I was an Arcft Electrician, (made buck Sgt in 20 months), on B-26's at Perrin AFB, TX in 1952. Was selected to Pilot Training as an Aviation Cadet in Dec 52 and ended up reporting for Basic Training in the B-25 at Vance AFB, TX in Sep 1953. The B-26 Sqdn have moved to Vance during the spring/summer of '53. The B-26 studs would 'jump' a B-25, with ONE ENGINE FEATHERED. Frank Mangini, a good friend with the B-26 Sqdn, in the Admin section got 'my silver dollar' for my first salute - and - then he and I got some 'serious pay back'!! We went to the Maintenance office after my graduation on Mar 15, 1954 and he got to call the office to 'ATTEN-SHUN' as we walked in. Some 'pay back' is just a whole better than others!! Our Pilot Class had several classmates who stayed at Vance and went to the B-26's there - I'll check if anyone of them would have something to add.
|Jim Gammon, 21.12.2014|
My Dad, Howard Gammon was navigator for Col Randy Holtzapple in the 319th Bomb group in the Pacific. He recalls the names Hugh Dunwoodie, Robert Wieman and Rex Whitney but thinks they were in another squadron. He's 92 and still plugging along. He also recalls Deke Slayton who went on to Nasa but was in another squadron of the 319th than my Dad.
|Larry Leiper AM 2, USN, 09.12.2014|
I flew in the JD 1, with UTRON 7, out of Brown Field, Chula Vista, California from March 58 to October 59. I was an AM 2 and flew as an observer next to the pilot. I flew three times a week, and took flights for married guys that didn't want to fly. Sometimes two flights a day. I went to survival school and have many hours in the JD 1. My only complaint is that my Navy personnel records only shows 31 hours of flight training. No mention of aircrewman wings being awarded, which still smarts to this day. Thanks Navy.
Lt Sparling, thanks for the memories of you puking in the sectional map that collapsed after it became saturated, then was thrown into the bomb bay tunnel for the guys in the aft station to get splattered on.
My dad Hugh Dunwoodie was a gunner on the A26 with Robert Wieman ( pilot) and Rex Whitney ( navigator ) in 1945 in the pacific. He flew from Tarawa to Enewetak in August . Is there any other crew members from this fleet of aircraft that is around?
|DALLAS SIMPSON, 05.08.2014|
CREWED AND FLEW AS ENGINEER ON THE B26 FROM 1953 TO 1956. IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE. IN THE SUMMER OF 1953 WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 17TH BOMB WING 34TH BOMB SQUADRON AS A VERY YOUNG MECH. WAS SOON MADE CREW CHIEF ON AC 4435404. IN FEB 1954 THE SQUADRON NEEDED ENGINEERS I WAS ONLY TO EAGER TO GET TO FLY. IN MARCH OF 1954 I WAS ASSIGNED TO FERRY AIRPLANES TO THE FRENCH IN VIETNAM THIS WAS AN INTERESTING TRIP. WE RETURNED TO JAPAN WITH A WELL WORN AIRCRAFT. THESE PLANES HAD VERY POOR MAINTENANCE. THE ONE I FLEW IN HAD 2500 HOURS ON ONE ENGINE. BUT THE ENGINE STAYED TOGETHER FOR THE FLIGHT.I WAS THEN ASSIGNED TO THE 1ST TOW TARGET SQUADRON AT BIGGS AFB TEX. IN EARLY 1956 I WAS ASSIGNED TO A CREW TO RETURN TO JAPAN AND RETURN WITH THE B26 A/C THAT WERE BEING REPLACED. THIS TRIP RESULTED IN MANY FLIGHT HOURS WITH NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER. THE B26 HAS BEEN MY ONLY EXPERIENCE WITH AIRPLANES. I LOVE THIS AIRPLANE. AS OTHERS HAVE SAID IT WAS FAST AND WAS EASY TO MAINTAIN. I WILL NEVER FORGET MY TIMES WITH THIS AIRCRAFT.
|Ben H., 19.04.2014|
I was a pilot in VU-10 at Guantanamo from 1958 to 1960 flying the JD-1. I very much enjoyed flying the aircraft and felt secure with it. Ours were set up as single pilot. I good weather, I never had a problem but in heavy rain the engines would backfire and frequently lose power. When the engine backfired you would have to return the throttle and mixture to the desired positions. I have a number of interesting stories flying through the Caribbean before it was taken over by the tourist trade.
|Perry Nuhn, 03.02.2014|
1954-55, 13th Bomb Sqd., K-8,Kunsan, Korea, and Johnson AB, Japan. As a Navigator-Bombardier amassed around 600 hours in the B26 B and C. Our airlpanes were from WW!!, went through the Korean War and then the few remaining were worn out during Vietnam.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?