Douglas A-26 Invader war ein zweimotoriger leichter
Bomber, der in verschiedenen Versionen (u. a. A-26,
B-26, A-26A) gebaut, sowohl im zweiten Weltkrieg wie
auch im Korea- und im Vietnamkrieg eingesetzt wurde. Der
Erstflug der XA-26 fand am 10. Juli 1942 statt, die
letzte Maschine wurde 1972 ausgemustert. Ungewöhnlich
für die damalige Zeit war die Auslegung mit nur einem
Piloten (also keine der damals üblichen Doppelsteuerung)
und mit ferngesteuerten MG-Türmen.
Die Douglas Aircraft Company
stellte 2.503 Exemplare her. 1948 wurde die Bezeichnung
von A-26 (A wie Attack = Angriff) auf B-26
(B wie Bomber) umgestellt, nach dem die letzten Martin B-26 Marauder
ausgemustert wurden, mit denen dieses Flugzeug nichts zu
Prototyp mit der Seriennummer
Prototyp einer Nachtjäger-Variante
(Seriennummer 41-19505) mit zwei
Piloten und einem
Prototyp der Bomberversion mit
geschlossenem Bug (Seriennummer
41-19588) mit einem Piloten, einem
Navigator und einem Bordschützen.
Serienversion des leichten Bombers,
1150 A-26B wurden in Long Beach
(Kalifornien) gebaut (A-26B-1-DL bis
A-26B-66-DL) und 205 im Werk in
Tulsa (Oklahoma) (A-26B-5-DT bis
A-26B-25-DT). Im geschlossenen Bug
waren 6 oder 8 starr nach vorne
feuernde 12,7 mm MGs angebracht.
Serienversion des leichten Bombers
mit verglaster "Nase" und
Norden-Bombenzielgerät. Zwei starr
nach vorne feuernde 12,7 mm MGs
wurden an der rechten Rumpfseite
angebracht. Die Besatzung bestand
aus dem Piloten und einem Copiloten
(mit doppelter Steuerung), dem
Bordschützen und einem
konnte ein Flugingenieur mitfliegen.
1091 A-26C wurden gebaut, 1086 in
Tulsa (A-26C-16-DT bis A-26B-55-DT)
und fünf in Long Beach (A-26C-1-DL
Prototyp für die A-26D (Seriennummer
44-34776) mit acht starr nach vorne
feuernden 12,7 mm MGs im Rumpf und
weiteren sechs in den Flügeln. Nach
dem Kriegsende wurde eine Bestellung
von 750 Maschinen storniert.
Prototyp für die A-26E mit
verglastem Bug (Seriennummer
44-25563). Nach dem Kriegsende wurde
eine Bestellung von 2150 Maschinen
Prototyp für eine Variante mit zwei
2100 PS R-2800-83-Motoren mit
Vierblatt-Propellern und einem
General Electric J31-Triebwerk im
Heck (Seriennummer 44-34586).
Inoffizielle Bezeichnung einer
Variante mit Pratt & Whitney
R-2800-Motoren, verbessertem Cockpit
und Flügelspitzentanks. Die A-26G
hätte einen geschlossenen Bug
gehabt, die A-26H einen
verglasten. Im Oktober 1945 befand
die USAAF aber, dass genügend A-26
vorhanden waren und die Versionen
: Version der US Navy. Eine A-26B
(44-34217) und eine A-26C (44-35467)
wurden während des Zweiten
Weltkrieges an die US Navy
übergeben, 140 weitere nach dem
Krieg. Sie wurden als
Zielschleppflugzeuge (JD-1, nach
1962 UB-26J) oder
nach 1962 DB-26J) eingesetzt.
unbewaffnete Aufklärungsversion der
A-26C mit Kameras und Leuchtbomben.
Prototyp, Umbau der A-26 durch die
Firma On Mark Engineering:
die Maschine hatte
Flügel und ein vergrößertes
Heckleitwerk. Ferner wurde die
Avionik modernisiert sowie die
Bewaffnung. Im Mai 1966 wurde die
Maschine von der USAF als A-26K
Umbau von 40 B-26B oder TB-26B und
drei B-26C durch On Mark
Engineering mit 2500 PS
R-2800-52W-Motoren und der
Bewaffnung der YB-26K, Einsatz im
Umbau von zwei RB-26C (44-34718 und
44-35782) zur Nacht-Aufklärung.
Pratt & Whitney RR-2800-27 Double Wasp
Doppelsternmotoren mit je 2.000 PS
max. 15.900 kg
2265 kg Bombenlast und 14 Raketen
A-26 / B-26 Invader
The Invader proved an ultimate success and went on to fight through
World War 2, the Korean War and in the early years of the Vietnam
/ B-26 Invader
Light Bomber / Heavy Assault Aircraft
Douglas Aircraft Corporation - USA
Country of Origin: United States
Initial Year of Service: 1944
The Douglas A-26 Invader was a
distinguished twin-engine light bomber whose origins were well-placed in
the Second World War. The system proved adept at day and night flying,
attacking targets with a bevy of machine guns or drop bombs and
operating at low and medium altitudes with equal success. The type was
fielded throughout the conflict in both Pacific and European theaters
and went on to see action in the global wars to follow including Korea,
Indo-China and Vietnam. In the end, the Invader served American forces
for some twenty years before being officially retired and removed from
service - such was the reach of this magnificent airplane.
With design beginning as early as 1940, the Invader was first flown on
July 10th, 1942 as the XA-26 pre-production prototype. The XA-26
appeared as a successor to the Douglas A-20 Havoc, an aircraft of
similar role and design layout and featured a glass nose and 5,000 of
internal and external ordnance capability. Armament consisted of 2 x
12.7mm forward-mounted machine guns and a remote-control periscope-fired
dorsal and ventral barbette, each with 2 x 12.7mm machine guns (an
arrangement very similar to the production A-26C models). A mockup was
completed and showcased in early 1941 with the contract finalized in
June of that year. The contract originally called for just two prototype
aircraft types that included the XA-26 light attack bomber and the
XA-26A dedicated night attack fighter.
The resulting tests revealed some structural issues with the nose
landing gear - it proving prone to collapse - and, as such, the
component was redesigned. Other modifications centered on engine
overheating to which the original propeller spinners (intended to
promote streamlining of the aircraft) were removed for improved cooling
airflow and the engine cowlings were redesigned for better performance.
Overall, the tests proved the aircraft design sound and capable of great
speed. Handling was regarded as above average and very responsive. What
made the XA-26 unique was its single pilot cockpit, not requiring the
need for a dedicated co-pilot and thusly keeping the fuselage a slender
shape ala the Northrop P-61 Black Widow and Douglas A-20 Havoc. The
XA-26 was ordered by the USAAF with the series designation of A-26 and
consisted of several major variants, though no A-26A production model
existed. Production of the A-26 series progressed slowly as most of
Douglas' plants were tied to previous contract aircraft production. As
such, the A-26 would have to wait until 1944 to see any complete forms.
The XA-26A model was a prototype night-fighter and attack platform. This
model deserves mention for its dedicated role introducing the solid nose
covering the search radar system. A ventral gun tub was devised to
compensate for the aircrafts lack of forward armament and resulted in a
battery of 4 x 20mm cannon. Bombload was a diminutive 2,000lbs thanks to
the space committed to the radar system and cannon armament (and
ammunition). The dorsal remote-controlled barbette was retained with its
2 x 12.7mm machine guns. The Northrop P-61 Black Widow beat the XA-26A
to the night-fighter punch, being already in production and offering the
same performance specifications as the XA-26A. Power was to be from a
pair of Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 radial engines rated at 2,000
horsepower each. The XA-26A existed in just a single prototype offering.
In June of 1942, the initial Army Air Corps contract was amended to and
added a third prototype aircraft in the form of a single XA-26B example
completed at the Douglas El Segundo plant. This aircraft model was to
fit the mold of low-altitude attacker platform with Pratt & Whitney
R-2800-27 engines of 2,000 horsepower each and an internal/external bomb
capacity of 6,000lbs with a crew of three. Visually, the XA-26B was
similar to the XA-26A model series and featured a similar solid nose
covering but this over an embedded 75mm cannon. In theory, the aircraft
proved a sound weapon but in practice, the cannon was slow to fire and
prone to jamming with a high level of required maintenance. This forced
the Douglas team to try a host of alternative armament combinations
including the use of 37mm cannon or heavy machine guns or both. Some
early production B-models were pulled off the line for testing various
armament load outs. Impressive ideas were covered but proved fleeting
such as mounting the 75mm cannon with two 12.7mm machine guns or twin
37mm cannons with 4 x 12.7mm machine guns. This developmental delay
eventually resulted in an early batch of production B-models fitted with
6 x 12.7mm machine guns and a later block of production B-models with 8
x 12.7mm machine guns as production of the type had already begun while
testing of the armament ensued. The USAAF accepted the design on June
The A-26B model series became the production version of the XA-26B, with
its mounted collection of heavy machine guns in a solid nose assembly
and a top speed of 350-355 miles per hour with her Pratt & Whitney
R-2800-27, -71 or -79 series engines of 2,000 horsepower. A crew of
three operated this type and consisted of a pilot, navigator/loader and
gunner. Some 1,355 B-26B model series aircraft were eventually produced
along with 25 other aircraft that were never delivered. Production was
handled at two Douglas plants - one in Long Beach, California and the
other in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
These Invader models were eventually
followed by an A-26C model with a glassed-in nose and bombardier-manned
Norden bombsight along with a top speed increase to 370 miles per hour.
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. Early A-26C's were seen with a framed cockpit but this was
later changed to the clamshell type glass cockpit, improving both range
and emergency exiting of the aircraft. C-models were fitted with more
powerful engines in the form of 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines of
2,000 horsepower each with water injection. Wings were also strengthened
to mount up to 14 x 5" rockets or 2,000lbs of bombs. The wings were
slightly altered to accommodate 6 x 12.7mm wing-mounted machine guns to
make up for the lack of punch caused by the removal of the nose-mounted
armament common to the B-models. 1,091 A-26C models were delivered.
A-26C models had a distinction in becoming "lead ships" for solid-nose
A-26B models. As lead ships, the A-26C would register its target and
drop her bombs, signaling the trailing A-26B's to do the same. This
method of bombing proved commonplace for aircraft in the light bombing
role such as the A-20 Havoc. A-26C models eventually replaced the
specially designed A-20 Havoc lead ships (A-20J's and A-20K's) in this
RB-26B and RB-26C represented unarmed photo reconnaissance models
modified from existing B-26B and B-26C models respectively whereas
trainer B-26's were designated as TB-26B and TB-26C based on their
respective letter models. VB-26B served in an administrative role.
Post-war production Invaders were to spawn from the proposed A-26Z
configuration which would have covered both a solid nose A-26G and glass
nose A-26H model. These were never produced. The US Navy utilized a few
Douglas Invaders in limited roles and designated them as a target tug
series JD-1. Drone directors were known as JD-1D with both redesignated
in 1962 as UB-26J and DB-26J respectively. The YB-26K was a
highly-modified B-26B model, becoming the B-26K "Counter Invader" and
ultimately redesignated back to the A-26A. These two-man aircraft flew
with Pratt & Whitney R-2800-103W engines of 2,500 horsepower with water
injection and operated in the Vietnam War.
Design of the A-26 Invader was typical of light attack bomber design in
the Second World War. The fuselage was streamlined and contained the
cockpit, bomb bay and gun positions. The nose on the B-26B was a "solid"
nose when utilizing the 6 or 8 x 12.7mm machine gun arrangement. The
glassed-in nose found on A-26C models indicated the use of a bombardier/navigator
and bombsight controls in place of the nose-mounted guns. An Invader
crew of three traditionally consisted of the pilot, navigator/radio
operator and gunner, the latter manning dorsal and ventral gun turrets.
The C-model featured a bombardier/navigator crewmember along with two
nose-mounted 12.7mm machine guns. The airframe proved a well-put
together structure as many an Invader was known to receive substantial
amounts of damage and still return her crews to home bases. Flying on a
single engine was possible, this occurring even with a full bombload.
The empennage was traditional and featured the identifiable rounded
vertical fin extending from the upper aft fuselage.
The A-26B Invader shined when it came to its armament loadout. More
noticeable was the battery of 6 x 12.7mm (.50 caliber) heavy machine
guns (early block A-26B models ) all allocated in the nose housing.
Later block B-26Bs featured a total of 8 x 12.7mm nose-mounted machine
guns. This assembly allowed the Invader to make devastating strafing
sweeps on enemy ground targets with usually destructive results,
combining the concentrated power of six to eight heavy caliber machine
guns into one focal burst of hot lead. In addition to the nose armament,
two 12.7mm machine guns were held in a dorsal barbette while another two
were featured in a ventral barbette. The ventral barbette was sometimes
removed in favor of an additional fuel cell. Invaders could also sport 8
x underwing gun pods and 6 x 12.7mm machine guns mounted in each wing
leading edge (three guns to a side) along with blister mounts on the
fuselage sides - all concentrated in a forward-firing position. With a
single burst of the all machine guns, the entire aircraft would buffet
violently rearward, a consideration for the crew to keep in mind in
terms of their own safety. In total, a given A-26 could sport as many as
22 x 12.7mm machine guns with up to 6,000 rounds of ammunition.
The Douglas Invader's lethality was furthermore accented by the option
of carrying between 4,000 and 8,000lbs of internal and external ordnance
in the form of drop bombs or 8 to 14 x 5" rockets (the latter held
externally on eight or fourteen underwing pylons - the full 16 rocket
deployment was achievable in lieu of the drop tanks and wing mounted
bombs). In fact, Invaders were known to be able to carry greater
bombloads than that as found on the larger Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses.
Endurance could be extended with the addition of 165-gallon underwing
drop tanks, increasing the aircraft's range by up to 300 miles. C-model
Invaders with the glassed-in nose were fitted with 2 x 12.7mm machine
guns in the nose along with the 2 x 12.7mm gun systems in each turret
but forward firepower was augmented with the addition of the 6 x
wing-mounted machine guns.
Deliveries of the A-26 in the B-26B model form began in August of 1943
and the system instantly became the fastest American bomber of World War
2. The system saw extensive action in varying roles throughout the
conflict both in the European Front and along the Pacific Front. A-26's
were put into action with the Fifth Air Force in the Pacific Theater and
flew their first sortie on June 23rd, 1944. European deliveries occurred
in September of 1944 and were stationed with the Ninth Air Force, seeing
their first combat sorties just two months later. Invaders served
through to the end of the war to which many served in the post-war world
with the United States Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command.
The USAF dropped the "attack" designation of the aircraft in 1948 and
officially redesignated the Invader as the B-26 (not to be confused with
the World War 2-era Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombers).
The A-26B and A-26C saw extended use in the upcoming Korean War with at
least 37 aircraft in hand on June 25, 1950. Elements of the 3rd
Bombardment Group (8th, 13th and 90th Squadrons) were some of the first
units put into action in the conflict, launching from Japanese bases to
strike targets on the peninsula. Later that year, group strength
increased to 90 aircraft. These Invaders could be counted on to operate
at low levels in the dark of night, maneuvering over and around the
dangerous mountain terrain in Korea. Invaders would be credited with
thousands of enemy vehicles destroyed by the end of the war, totaling
some 232,000 flight hours and close to 20 million rounds of 12.7mm
ammunition fired. Initially, Invaders stationed in Japan were intended
to provide cover fire for US citizens evacuating the South Korean
capital of Seoul. But by June 29, 1950, the aircraft was directly
hitting North Korea targets as required. The B-26 proved an invaluable
asset in the disruption of supply lines running along known roads where
the Invader could bring the brunt of its firepower to bear on unarmored
targets. Tactics changed with operational experience and Invader crews
learned to bomb with precision those moving targets that they may have -
in past sorties - attempted to strafe with their guns. Invaders targeted
airfields with equal fervor, utilizing their formidable bombloads (including
napalm) along with their machine guns and rockets against targets of
opportunity. The A-26 itself proved a success in its night missions
though the foe proved undoubtedly resilient, able to change their
routing patterns on the ground in reaction to American attack patterns.
B-26 aircraft would also be the last USAF aircraft to drop ordnance in
the conflict before the cessation of hostilities. After the war, a North
Korean general would admit that the B-26 was one of the most feared
weapons of the conflict - such was its terrorizing reach on ground
targets at night. At least 7 B-26 squadrons were stationed for action in
the Korean War including one RB-26 element. American B-26 models were
temporarily removed from service in 1958 and served in strictly liaison
mission and staff transportation roles.
France became another Invader operator, utilizing the USAF on lease in
their Indo-China conflict of the 1950's. These carried the unofficial
designation of B-26N and were based on B-26C models with AI Mk X radar
systems from old Meteor NF.11 jet-powered night-fighters. French systems
operated their Invaders with gun pods and underwing rockets.
American B-26B systems were called to action once again, this time in
1961 with the USAF as tactical bombers in the early years of the Vietnam
War. President John F. Kennedy's assistance initiative called the
aircraft back into action from storage and the Invader was brought
online in reconnaissance and attack roles. This action was short-lived,
however, as the systems fought from 1961 through 1964. Aircraft taking
part in this early action actually fought with South Vietnamese markings
and under RB-26 reconnaissance designations but were fully combat ready.
Missions of the aircraft soon grew to include escort and close air
support along with traditional attack roles. By this time, the war-weary
B-26's began to show their age. Years of operational use began to take
their toll on airframes as constant operation decreased the overall
safety of the type. The B-26B was soon withdrawn from service for
safety's sake, as the crash of at least two such aircraft from
structural failure necessitated the move.
In 1963, at least 40 B-26 aircraft became the two-seat B-26K "Counter
Invader" model for the USAF following the successful trials of the
YB-26K program. The YB-26 featured water injection Pratt & Whitney
R-2800-103W engines of 2,500 horsepower, 8x 12.7mm nose machine guns, 6
x 12.7mm wing machine guns with external pylons for up to 8,000lbs of
ordnance, an internal capacity of 4,000lbs and dual cockpit controls
with updated avionics.
With modification handled by On Mark Engineering Company, these aircraft
appeared in production form with Pratt & Whitney R-2800-52W engines with
water injection, reversible propellers, reinforced wings with modified
wing flaps, rebuilt tail section with larger rudder and wingtip fuel
tanks for increased endurance. Additionally, these B-26K models had
their 6 x 12.7mm wing-mounted machine guns removed but retained the
formidable 8 x 12.7mm formation in the solid nose assembly. These
Invaders, like their Korean brethren, were charged with disruption of
enemy supply lines. In 1966, these B-26K models were now officially
redesignated as A-26A. in Counter Invaders operated in Southeast Asia up
until 1969 before retirement from the USAF. By this time, the role of
the A-26A was overtaken by the cannon-laden Lockheed AC-130 Hercules
gunships among other more capable aircraft. Production of the
B-26K/A-26A occurred between 1963 and 1964 at a unit cost of $577,000.
The final A-26 was retired from service in 1969 and the entire line was
removed from service by 1972. Some 2,452 Invaders were produced. In all,
18 different countries operated the Invader at one time in civilian and
A-26's also served with US Air National Guard units, becoming some of
the final American users of the aircraft. ANG units received their
Invaders in the post-war years. This was abruptly abandoned at the start
of the Korea Conflict as B-26's were earmarked for war once again. With
the jet age progressing and the Korean War drawing to a close, A-26
deliveries continued to the ANG which operated the type throughout the
1950's. The B-26 would see its last noticeable ANG occurrence in early
1970 as a converted staff transport.
The Douglas A-26/B-26 lived a very long and productive operational life
considering her origins in a World War 2 requirement. Not only taking
part in that conflict, the Invader saw prolonged use and unnatural long
life for a bomber in the ensuing Korean and Vietnam Wars. In any case,
the Invader retained many of the qualities that her crews admired -
speed, survivability and offensive firepower. The system endured for
decades since its inception and went on to prove her mettle in conflicts
that tested most any other machine in the skies - leaving the fabled
Invader to pass with flying colors.
XA-26 - Prototype
XA-26A - Two-Seat Prototype Night-Fighter
XA-26B - Three-Seat Attack Variant with
solid nose assembly housing 1 x 75mm cannon.
A-26B - Attack Bomber Variant; two blocks
produced with 6 and 8 x 12.7mm machine guns in
TB-26B - Unarmed Conversion Trainer based
on A-26B models.
VB-26B - Staff Transport Conversion
Models of A-26B airframes.
A-26C - Attack Bomber Variant with
glassed-in nose for bombardier; 2 x 12.7mm
machine guns in nose position.
RB-26C - Unarmed Reconnaissance Model
based on A-26C models.
TB-26C - Unarmed Conversion Trainer based
on A-26C models.
XA-26D - Proposed Prototype Attack
Bomber; fitted with R-2800-83 produced at Chevy
plants; 8 x 12.7mm machine guns in solid nose; 6
x 12.7mm machine guns in wings (3 to a wing).
XA-26E - Prototype Attack Bomber; similar
to XA-26D prototype but with glassed0in nose ala
XA-26F - Proposed High-Speed Prototype;
four-bladed propellers; 2 x R-2800-83 engines of
2,100 horsepower; 1 x General Electric J-31
turbojet in rear fuselage.
A-26Z - Proposed Post-war Production
A-26's; unofficial designation; would have been
fitted with 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial
engines; redesigned cockpit canopy; wingtip
A-26G - Proposed Solid Nose Version of
A-26H - Proposed Glassed-in Version of
JD-1 - US Navy designation of A-26B and
A-26C models as target tugs; later redesignated
to UB-26J in 1962.
JD-1D - US Navy designation of A-26B and
A-26C models as drone directors; redesignated to
DB-26J in 1962.
YB-26K - Attack Bomber Prototype of
modified A-26 aircraft handled by On Mark
Engineering Company; dual cockpit controls;
wingtip fuel tanks; R-2800-103W series engines;
reversible propellers; reinforced wings and
fuselage; larger-surface vertical fin; improved
avionics; 6 x 12.7mm machine guns in wings (3 to
a wing); 8 x 12.7mm machine guns in solid nose.
B-26K "Counter Invader" - Production
YB-26K models by On Mark Engineering Company; 2
x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-52W engines of 2,500
horsepower; 6 x 12.7mm wing machine guns removed;
redesignated to A-26A.
RB-26L - Night Photo Reconnaissance
Models; 2 examples.
B-26N - Unofficial Designation of French
Air Force B-26C models; fitted with AI Mk X
radar and 2 x underwing gun pods with 2 x 12.7mm
machine guns to each pod (4x total); SNEB series
• Design of the aircraft is credited to Edward Heinemann, Robert Donovan
and Ted R. Smith.
• A-26/B-26 Invaders were operated by Cuban exiles during the failed Bay
of Pigs Invasion of 1961.
• The Invader fought on in varied forms through World War 2, the Korea
War and the Vietnam War.
• The A-26 Invader was redesignated to B-26 in 1948, then later back to
its original A-26 designation.
• Though designated the Douglas "B-26" - in much the same way as the
Martin "B-26" Marauder, this designation change occurred well after the
use of Martin's aircraft was discontinued so no apparent confusion
between the two types were made.
Specifications: Douglas A-26B
Width: 70.01ft (21.34m)
Height: 18.50ft (5.64m)
355mph (571kmh; 308kts)
Max Range: 1,300miles
Ceiling: 22,096ft (6,735m;
Empty Weight: 22,370lbs
MTOW: 35,001lbs (15,876kg)
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 18-cylinder
radial engines developing 2,000hp each.
6 OR 8 x 12.7mm machine guns in forward-fixed
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in remote-controlled dorsal
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in remote-controlled ventral
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
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in remote-controlled ventral
Up to 4,000lbs of internal ordnance with a further
8,000 of under wing ordnance held externally.
4 x dual 12.7mm machine gun "packs" underwing (two-guns
per pack for a total of eight possible underwing gun
8 OR 14 x 5" rockets
2 x bombs held under wing
2 x fuel tanks held under wing
By courtesy of Military Factory