Douglas A-26 / B-26 Invader
1940
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Douglas A-26 / B-26 Invader

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.

Douglas A-26 / B-26 Invader


Specification 
 MODELB-26B
 CREW3
 ENGINE2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 or -79 Double Wasp, 1491kW
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight15876 kg35001 lb
    Empty weight10365 kg22851 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan21.34 m70 ft 0 in
    Length15.24 m50 ft 0 in
    Height5.64 m19 ft 6 in
    Wing area50.17 m2540.02 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed571 km/h355 mph
    Cruise speed457 km/h284 mph
    Ceiling6735 m22100 ft
    Range2253 km1400 miles
 ARMAMENT10 x 12.7mm machine-guns, 1814kg of bombs

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100 101-120
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.

Ken, 22.02.2015

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 n2dkb@comcast.net. 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.

Lynn, 10.11.2014

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.

Ronald Woodhull, 21.01.2014

To Eddie Stough:
I finally heard from someone who was in B'ham in the early 50's. I was in the AF across the field from the NG. We were training the AF reserves with10 B-26's. I was a radio Mech. They activated the reserves in 1951 and sent them to korea.

Tom Allen, 19.01.2014

I worked on this aircraft as a Weapons Mechanic with the 850th MMS, 1st Air Commando Wing at England AFB, LA from 1966 to 1968. This was a formidable bird for the various operations in Southeast Asia.

Don Garrison, 17.01.2014

I was assigned to the 2nd tow target at Mitchel AFB,Long Island. I was there in late 1957 to Dec.1959 when the squadron disbanded. I was an aircraft electrician. It was a great aircraft. I use too love to go out on compass swings. Would like to here from anyone who was in 2nd tow.

Wendy M, 14.12.2013

I saw one of the fire fighter conversions flying out of Blue River BC back in 1972. The strip was a mile-long length of highway, abandoned after a realignment, and the only facilities a pink mud plant. I walked over for a look on an off day from my summer job. The Invader had just been loaded, and the pilot taxied to the far end, turned and stood on the brakes, and revved up. The plane bucked as the props became glossy discs edged in yellow and the radials howled. Then: go! The plane tore toward me and in moments passed in a blur of pure power, the pilot's white-helmeted head cocked rigid in concentration. It reached the end of the runway and lifted in a left bank. I stood there, feeling the vibration of pure thrill; so THIS was what airplane buffs were talking about!
Still visible from my viewpoint, withIn minutes pilot and plane had lined up on a small white smoke plume on the mountainside. A pink cloud erupted under the fuselage and neatly enveloped the fire. And then they were gone, whether for fuel or because the job was done, I don't know. I do know I'll never forget that experience.

Fred watkins, 01.11.2013

n 1956/1958 Worked the ground crew and on occasion would fly right seat in the 4th Tow Sqdn. at George AFB Calif. We had missions for air to air tow for the F100 at GAFB but also Luke. In Alaska we towed for the Army Anti aircraft troops to shoot at. The SQDN was deactivated while I was there.

Roger Trudeau, 01.10.2013

I was the Aviation Log Yeoman (ADR-3) for the U.S. Navy Aviation Squadron VU-2, Detachment Alpha, N.A.S Quonset Point, R.I., from 1960-1963. I flew many missions in the after-station of the JD-1 (i.e., Navy version of the U.S.A.F. A-26) on target-towing missions. The JD-1 was an outstanding aircraft, and I enjoyed every flight!

Dan Orr, 11.09.2013

Flew Co-pilot/Crewchief on EPA's B26 out of Las Vegas 1973-75. Flown from coast to coast with the Remote Sensing. Carried several large cameras. All white with UE and gold trim. Nacelles later paint all blue because of Olympia, Oregon newsletter saying "EPA flying dirty bird" yep we must come down flying about a week since Lea IMG Las Vegas. Great bird one of my favorites.

Bill Arehart, 01.08.2013

Used to be one of these just sitting out by the fence at the Douglas plant at Tulsa.The story I was told it was never flown.Does anyone remember this and know what ever happened to it?

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