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|
|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?
|Jim Jorgensen, 27.07.2013|
Runway feet required to land a A26 ?
Runway feet required to take off ?
Need for a book about wwii in Europe
|B.F."FROGGY" WORDEN, 16.07.2013|
I was lucky enough to fly a B-26 equipped with air sampling computers for the EPA. Some missions I flew as technician and other as co-pilot. We flew over many sites in the Western US. When we arrived over a suspected violation, we would climb to 10,000 feet then spiral down through the plume of smoke. We would repeat three times and stored the data on a reel to reel recorder/computer. Ancient by todays standards. I really enjoyed my days as co-pilot, the airplane is a hoot to fly..and fast. Go Douglas!!
|PAT LONG, 18.06.2013|
I FLEW B-26 WITH 2ND AND 6TH TOW FROM 52 TO 55 AT NEWCASTLE, DEL AND JOHNSON JAPAN....ONE GREAT AIRPLANE....THEN WENT TO CALIFORNIA AND SERVED AS INSTRUCTOR IN RESERVES AT LONG BEACH, CA...
|W. Ed Norwood, 30.04.2013|
Correction to my original comment:
Lew with Pilot Jim Raffauf & Gunner Dave Benton.
This aircraft had often been subject to confusion with the Martin B-26 Marauder. During World War II the U.S. Army Air Air Force designated the Martin Marauder "B-26" (B for Bomber), and the Douglas Invader "A-26" (A for Attack). In 1947, when the U.S. Air Force was established as an independent branch of the service, one of the changes made was to abolish the old "A for Attack" designation. Since all the Martin Marauder bombers had been retired by that time, the designation for Douglas Invader was simply changed from "A-26" to "B-26". The Douglas Invader remained in service for many years thereafter, throughout the 1950s in fact, and even into the 1960s, referred to under the designation "B-26".
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|Henry George Butler, 27.11.2012|
It was a well built airplane. After 51 missions, it was very stable and it brought me home. Easy to fly.
|John Hannum, 27.10.2012|
I finished up WWII with the 3rd Attack Group 90th Sqd. at
Atsugi Air Base, Japan. Great aircraft and great people. The A-26 carried more Cal. 50's than the 17 ,24 or 29.
8 in the nose, 3 in each wing and 2 in each of the G.E.
remote turrets.A real peice of equipment.--Jack
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