Douglas A-26B Invader

Douglas A-26B Invader

The A-26 Invader was an unusual design for an attack bomber of the early 1940s, as it was originally designed as a single-pilot aircraft.

The A-26 Invader was an unusual design for an attack bomber of the early 1940s, as it was originally designed as a single-pilot aircraft, sharing this characteristic with the RAF’s de Havilland Mosquito.  The Douglas XA-26 prototype first flew on 10 July 1942 and showed problems with the engine cooling, which led to cowling changes. Additional flight testing required a modification of the nose landing gear after repeated collapses during this testing.

The A-26 was originally built in two different configurations. The A-26-B had a solid nose which could be equipped with a combination of many gun types: 0.50 caliber machine guns, 37mm auto cannon or even a 75 mm howitzer cannon. Most were produced with six to eight 0.50 caliber machine guns. The A-26-C’s glass nose was officially termed the “Bombardier nose” and contained a Norden bombsight for medium altitude precision bombing. The A-26-C nose sections originally included two fixed M-2 guns but later were replaced by under wing gun packs or internal guns in the wings. During production, the flat-topped canopy was changed in late 1944 to a clamshell style, which greatly improved visibility.

Alongside the pilot in an A-26-B, a crew member typically served as navigator and gun loader for the pilot-operated nose guns. In an A-26-C, that additional crew member served as navigator and bombardier, and relocated to the nose section for the bombing phase of the flight operations. 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.

History of the LSFM Douglas A-26-C

Built in November of 1944, this A-26 saw service in Europe with the 9th Air Force during the Battle of the Bulge. During the Korean War, it saw combat with the 3rd Bomb Group flying out of Kusan airbase. Following its war time service it was stored at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona and was eventually sold as surplus. After passing through several owners, it found its way to Canada, where it was converted to a fire bomber and flew as tanker #21. In the 1980s it was acquired by the Palm Springs Air Museum and was flown as 39359/21 “Invader”. In 2008, it was purchased by the Marine Aviation Museum of Houston. It is on temporary loan to LSFM. The aircraft is airworthy.

Quick Facts

Manufacturer: 
Douglas Aircraft Company
Country: 
United States
Type: 
multi-engine trainer
Engine: 
Pratt & Whitney R-2800
Maximum Speed: 
355 mph
Armamament: 
4 to 10 .50 cal 4,000 pounds of internal; 2,000 pounds external wing racks
Ceiling: 
22,100 feet
Range: 
1400 miles
Crew: 
3.00
Length: 
50 feet
Wingspan: 
70 feet
Number built: 
2,452
Approximate Fuel Burn: 
150 gal/hr

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