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Douglas B-26 Invader in Vietnam

Douglas B-26 Invader in Vietnam

Douglas B-26 Invader in Vietnam

The Douglas B-26 Invader was involved in the fighting in Vietnam for nearly twenty years, from 1951 when they were used by the French, until 1969 when the last aircraft in American service were withdrawn.

The first aircraft to go to Vietnam were five RB-26s and twenty four B-26s provided to the French during 1951. These aircraft were taken by aircraft carrier to Hawaii and then flown to the French at Tourane, and were followed by another nine that flew directly from the United States. The supply of surplus B-26s then dried up as they became increasingly in demand for service on Korea, and the aircraft didn't reach the French until 1954, when sixteen B-26s from the Far East Asian Air Forces were loaned to the French, before being replaced by sixteen normal bombers and three more RB-26s under the Mutual Defence Assistance Program. A final batch of twenty five B-26s were provided before the end of 1951.

The French used their aircraft to drop Lazy Dog finned bullets against Viet Minh anti aircraft guns, but they were unable to save the garrison at Dien Bien Phu, and the French use of the B-26 ended in May 1954. The Geneva Accords, which ended the French involvement in Vietnam included a provision banning the introduction of jet powered combat aircraft in the area.

This provision played a part in the reappearance of the B-26 in the skies over Vietnam towards the end of 1961. It was one of a number of piston driven aircraft used to equip the new 4400th Combat Crew Training Squadron, which was created at Elgin Air Force Base Florida as the first step towards creating a counterinsurgency force.

In late December 1961 four RB-26s from the 4400th were amongst the first American combat aircraft to go to Vietnam, under the Farm Gate program. In theory these aircraft were to be used to train South Vietnamese Air Force crews, but in fact they were used in combat by their American crews, something that became public knowledge when on 3 February 1963 one aircraft was shot down, with the loss of Captains John F. Shaughnessy Jr and John P. Bartley. The Farm Gate program became the First Air Commando Squadron on 8 July 1963, by which time it had 10 B-26s and 2 RB-26s at Bien Hoa and eight B-26s on detachment at Soc Trang and Pleiku.

Problems soon developed with the increasingly elderly B-26s. During 1963 two aircraft were lost when their wings failed, and the cause was eventually traced to failure of their wing spars. In the spring of 1964 the basic B-26 Invader was withdrawn from service.

Two years earlier the Air Force had asked On Mark Engineering to produce an updated version of the B-26, with the designation B-26K. When these aircraft appeared they had reinforced wings, more powerful engines, and eight hard points under the wings which could be used to carry 8,000lb of ordnance, doubling the payload of the B-26. These rebuilt aircraft were used to equip the 609th Special Operations Squadron, which operated them from Nakhom Phanom Air Base in Thailand. This eventually forced a final change of designation, when the Thai government objected to the use of bombers from their air bases. The Air Force responded by re-designating the B-26K and the A-26A, apparently to the satisfaction of the Thais.

The B-26K/ A-26A was used against he Ho Chi Minh trail, often repeating the night attacks carried out with some success by the B-26 in Korea. Operations began in 1966 and continued until November 1969, when a combination of losses and a shortage of spare parts forced the Air Force to withdraw the remaining aircraft from combat, ending a service career than had lasted for 24 years.


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.

I went to Biggs 1st Tow in 1951, then went to Perrin on March 2nd 1952. Was put in the right seat ferrying 26`s into Perrin. Crewed and flew at Perrin and at Vance. I`m 85 now but I still remember the wonderful feeling of taking the controls(44-35466 was duel controlled.) Gosh I loved that Aircraft.

I am looking for any relatives of a Lt. Harald W. Gilbert or Cpl. Anthony Simnowski. I located the wreckage of an A26-B in the mountains of Ellijay Georgia and have written an article concerning the crash in the local paper. Please contact me if you know of any relatives related to these two men. The crash happened on Feb. 13th 1945 on Stover Mountain in Gilmer county.

Hi Ray, we have a cabin in ellijay and somewhat familiar with Stover mountain and have a good friend that lives on it. Oddly very few locals know this story. Can you email the article you wrote about it? I believe they were on a teai ing mission from Pensacola and got lost? Thank you.
Brian Wallace
404-626-3596

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Michael, our Dads might have flown together both in B-26 school at Langley AFB, VA. and then at a base in South Korea in the 1952-53 time period. If you haven't yet seen your Dad's military personnel information, do order a set of your dad's Air Force personnel records. I have a set of my Dad's records and it has helped me to understand all our military moves while I was growing up (1944-1962). It shows that Dad attended B-26 Invader flight training at at bases in Texas and Virginia before going over to South Korea and flying in the 37th Bomb Sqdn, 17th Bomb Wing. Send me an email and we can work on our Dad's B-26 experiences. I'm retired from Boeing and live up in washington State.

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.

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.

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!

My Post: Pat Daily, 11.02.2015. Not sure if I posted correct email address. Correct email address is [email protected] I would appreciate hearing from any reliable source on this subject. C.V.D.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.


B-26 Invader

N.B. The B-26 Invader is not to be confused with the B-26 Marauder. After the Marauder was retired from service in June 1948, the A-26 Invader was redesignated B-26. The attack designation was dropped in 1947, and the attack mission was absorbed by other aircraft classes, primarily fighters and bombers, only to be revived during the Vietnam War. Confusion over the distinction between the two aircraft persists today. While both are twin engine aircraft using the same Pratt & Whitney R-2800-5 Double Wasp radial engines and having a roughly 70 foot wingspan, they are otherwise un-related and dis-similar aircraft. The Invader fuselage is shorter with a lean and hungry look, while the Marauder's fuselage is decidedly husky and muscular, if not quite plump.

Despite its designation, the A-26 (Invader), which first appeared in combat in 1944, was the most advanced medium bomber used by the AAF during the war. Douglas began designing the plane in January 1941, building the new model on the best features of the DB-7 and the A-20 but with plans for a much greater range and bomb load. Flown first in July 1942, the A-26 went into production in September 1943. By May 1945 six A-26 groups had been committed in overseas theaters. Acceptances of the plane reached almost 2,500 by August 1945.

The Invader was an all-metal midwing monoplane powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines, the same power plant used in the un-related B-26. With a combat weight of 35,000 pounds, the A-26 could fly at 360 miles per hour, more than 60 miles faster than the other medium bombers. Its combat range reached i,ooo miles, with a bomb load of 4,000 pounds and a three-man crew. Formi- dably armed with eighteen .50-caliber machine guns and fourteen 5 -inch rockets, the plane had a maximum bomb load of 6,000 pounds, two-thirds of it carried intemally.

As early as 1942 the AAF planned to replace all other mediums with the A-26. But production delays, for which AAF Headquarters was inclined to blame the Douglas Company, kept acceptances to a total of only twenty-one planes by 01 March 1944. Arnold's insistence that he wanted the plane "for use in this war and not for the next war" helped to overcome certain shortages of machine tools, and after July 1944 production mounted steadily. Though a late comer, the A-26 compiled a distinguished combat record and, after a period of uncertainty in 1944, won ready acceptance from the crews who flew it. In the postwar period, the A-26 became the Air Force's standard tactical bomber.

Development of the B-26 Invader, initially known as the A-26, originated in November 1940, when the Army Air Corps's Experimental Engineering Section at Wright Field, Ohio, gave first priority to the Douglas Airplane Company for designing and developing a new plane. But, as evidenced by official requirements, the so called new design drew a great deal from the A-20 Havoc. The A-20 was a Douglas production, developed in 1937 from Model A-7: a 1936 original design for a high performance attack bomber.

Official Army requirements, as spelled out by the Air Corps, called for a new plane that would be faster and structurally stronger than the A-20. Additional defensive armament over the A-20 and shorter takeoff and landing distances, were also part of the requirements. The Air Corps wanted the new plane eventually to replace the A-20, the Martin B-26 Marauder, and the North American B-25 Mitchell.

The first of the 3 XA-26s, ordered in the summer of 1941, was not initially flown until 10 July 1942. The other 2 experimental planes were flown on the heels of the first one.

Testing of the 3 XA-26s, as well as the experience already gained from combat in Europe and the Pacific area, prompted the Army Air Forces to decide that the 500 aircraft, covered by the production contract of June 1941, would be patterned on the third experimental plane: the XB-26B ground attack configuration that featured a 75-mm cannon nose, primarily intended to destroy tanks. In short, a heretofore uncertain Army Air Forces gave priority to ground attack over the multi-purpose light bomber requirements of 1940. Yet, the aircraft's versatility was not overlooked. Two hundred additional noses, each with six .50 caliber guns, would also be procured. Each of the latter noses could be installed in about 24 hours by field personnel.

Delay of the XA-26's first flight clearly indicated that, at best, mass production would not begin before July 1943, a significant slippage from the original time estimate. Lack of tooling was a primary factor, but shortages of engineers were equally damaging. Hence, the Wright Field Production Division directed Douglas to transfer at least two thirds of the personnel listed on the C 742 project to the A-26. Also, no engineers were to be utilized for the improvement of crew comfort, or any other endeavors, unless specifically authorized by Wright Field. Finally, no other armament studies were to be made until the A-26 production's stage was more advanced. In January 1943, despite these stringent directives, Douglas informed the Army Air Forces that the new production schedule would not be met. The contractor indicated that October appeared to be a more likely date for production to begin.

In March 1944, when only 21 A-26s had been delivered, General Arnold bluntly expressed his increasing dissatisfaction. "One thing is sure" said General Arnold, "I want the A-26s for use in this war and not the next war." Maj. Gen. Oliver P Echols, Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Materiel, Maintenance, and Distribution, blamed the continuing delays on Douglas's apparent lack of interest or "little desire to manufacture the plane' and explained that the Materiel Command all along had urged the contractor to place orders for tools and to find qualified subcontractors. In defense of Douglas, the Western Procurement District, Los Angeles, California, stressed that the A-26 wing was entirely different from that of any other airplane that delivery schedules were set before design and tooling problems were solved and that there had been on occasions as many as 35 change orders a day on the A-26.

Existing production problems were not allowed to affect the programmed procurement of additional A-26s. On 29 March 1944, the Under Secretary of War approved 2 supplemental agreements to the production contracts already in force. The extra A-26s, 2,700 of them, were expected to cost about $300 million.

The A-26 had a 70 foot wing span, compared to the 61 foot span of the 30-percent-lighter A-20. Greater care had been applied to simplify the manufacturing and maintenance of the A-26 structure. Moreover, the fuselage of the all metal, semi monocoque A-26 allowed the 3 crewmen to exchange positions, an advantage the A-20 did not offer.

A most unusual feature of the A-26 was the aluminum alloy monocoque engine mount, which was a combination of structure and cowling, thereby reducing weight and easing engine installation. Another special feature was the Douglas devised slotted wing flap, which had a lower pitching movement for a given lift coefficient than the Fowler flap. Finally, the engines were cooled with a new type of high entrance velocity cowling. This cowl induced less aerodynamic resistance and lowered the temperatures of the engines.

The A-26 entered combat testing in mid 1944, when 4 of the aircraft assigned to the Fifth Air Force began operating in the Southwest Pacific. Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, Commanding General of the Far East Air Forces, grounded the planes after less than 175 hours of total flying time and stated shortly afterwards, "We do not want the A-26 under any circumstances as a replacement for anything." Ironically, about 4 years before, as a colonel in charge of the Wright Field Production Division and a strong proponent of attack aviation, Kenney had strongly urged the aircraft's development. General Kenney's statement and his mid 1944 decision to ground the planes appeared justified. A-26 production had slipped badly the B-25s and A-20s that the A-26s would replace had proven satisfactory and the canopy of available A-26s was poorly designed. A new canopy was needed to improve visibility. Without it, pilots could not safely fly the formations required for low level tactics. While the Wright Field Production Division agreed that the A-26 could not replace current types of light and medium bombers, Maj. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Commanding General of the Ninth Air Force, was much less critical than General Kenney. The few A-26s introduced in the European theater towards the end of the summer were performing well. Undoubtedly, the aircraft's marginal visibility needed attention. But new productions were seldom free of problems, and General Vandenberg thought the A-26 was a satisfactory replacement for the B-26s and A-20s in Europe.

Regardless of the mixed reports generated by the performance of the early A-26 (A-26As or A-26Bs), the Army Air Forces' plans to re-equip all B-25, B-26, and A-20 units with A-26s were reaffirmed in November 1944. In December, 2 more contracts were approved, and in April 1945 both of the new agreements were supplemented, bringing to 4,000 the total of new A-26s ordered since mid 1944. However, the German surrender on 8 May 1945 prompted a re evaluation of military requirements. Production which had been scheduled to increase to 400 A-26s per month was cut to 150. The procurement orders of 1944 and 1945 were canceled.

Douglas adopted several long standing suggestions by General Arnold: engineering personnel at Long Beach established closer liaison with the Tulsa plant extra well qualified personnel were placed in the 2 plants and the number of stations in the production lines was raised. These production changes facilitated modifications of the aircraft, which were designed to improve its effectiveness. An all purpose gun nose was devised and the faulty nose landing gear redesigned. A-26s (redesignated as A-26Cs) that came off the production lines after January 1945 featured an enlarged, raised canopy which provided increased visibility.

The Ninth Bombardment Division was first in pointing out that once pilots were familiar with the A-26, they liked it better than any other plane they had flown. Even General Kenney eventually agreed that improved A-26s particularly the A-26 with the 8 gun nose were proving to be highly satisfactory replacements for the A-20s and B-25s. Deficiencies such as canopy frosting, faulty brakes, and the like were still being corrected. However, substantial progress was achieved swiftly.

The A-26 production was completed in 1945, but the last aircraft was delivered in early 1946.

The Army Air Forces accepted a grand total of 2,451 A-26s. More than 4,000 A-26s, ordered before the end of World War 11, were canceled. The first 9 of the 2,451 produced by Douglas were built in El Segundo, California. The remainder, consisting of A-26Bs and A-26Cs, was manufactured in Long Beach and Tulsa. The Tulsa plant produced 1,086 of the 1,091 A-26Cs.

In June 1948, after the Martin B-26 Marauder was withdrawn from service, the Douglas A-26 dropped its prefix ("A" for attack) and became the B-26, a designation more representative of its actual role as a standard light bomber for the new United States Air Force and the Tactical Air Command in particular.

The outbreak of the Korean conflict on 25 June 1950 catapulted the Douglas B-26 back into combat. Initial targets, selected to prevent reinforcement of the enemy forces, included North Korean troop concentrations, tanks, guns, supply elements, railway yards and bridges south of the 38th parallel. Immediate results were disappointing because bad weather and darkness curtailed the B-26's effectiveness. Engine failures and various mechanical deficiencies were additional handicaps. Moreover, as the war continued, other problems became obvious.

The World War II B-26 was limited in radius of fire and its speed could no longer cope with the air and ground fire of the enemy's modern equipment. The B-26 had no electronic countermeasures capability and could not carry many types of new armament and control and guidance systems.

Almost from the very beginning of hostilities, the Far East Air Forces gained air superiority against an enemy offering little or no daylight air opposition to strategic or tactical operations. But the night hours presented a different situation. Commanders were forced to utilize a part of their available day force for night operations, and the 3d Bombardment Wing's B-26s, more readily usable for night duty, acquired new importance.

Refurbished B-26s sustained significant losses during the war as their tasks increased. Yet, despite their limitations, the obsolete B-26s compiled a distinguished combat record. The first combat strike into North Korea was flown in 1950 by a B-26 crew. On the evening of 26 July 1953, 1 day before the Korean armistice agreement was signed, a B-26 dropped the last Air Force bombs of the Korean conflict in a ground radar directed close support mission.

The B-26's ineffectiveness in Korea, especially during night attacks directed by radar, prompted special modifications. In 1952, the Air Staff decided that several B-26s of the Tactical Air Command would be fitted with more sophisticated electronic equipment. In 1953, some B-26s, already brought up to the reconnaissance configuration, were given additional components to perform electronic reconnaissance and weather reconnaissance missions. Nevertheless, the usefulness of the outmoded B-26 was declining. Too many configurations 16 different ones in the United States, and about 14 in the Far East and Europe had created supply and maintenance problems of terrific proportions. In mid-1953 the Air Staff approved a last modification to attempt standardizing most B-26s into a few basic configurations.

With the advent of the Martin B-57, B-26s began leaving the Air Force's active inventory in late 1954. The last of the B-26s were withdrawn from service in Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units in 1958.

President John F. Kennedy's policy that the major task of U.S. advisors in Southeast Asia was to prepare the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces for combat raised the tempo of training and resulted in the delivery of additional equipment to the South Vietnamese. Fixed wing aircraft were in short supply, so B-26s were taken out of storage and modified for special combat missions in Southeast Asia.

Reactivated B-26s began reaching South Vietnam in the fall of 1961. Once in the theater, they accomplished a variety of tasks ranging from standard bombing operations and close air support attacks to visual and photo reconnaissance missions. In mid 1962, the B-26's role in the conflict was further expanded. Several of the aircraft, already equipped for reconnaissance, received additional modifications in order to perform night photo operations and some intelligence gathering duties.

Keeping the weary B/RB-26s flying was a challenge. Despite changes and improvements, the aircraft actually belonged to a type that had been declared obsolete during the Korean War, 10 years earlier. The combination of old age, hard usage, and the operating conditions of Southeast Asia made maintenance of the B-26 force increasingly difficult. The aircraft were becoming more vulnerable to enemy ground fire, and most B/RB-26s were subject to flight restrictions to avoid undue wing stress. Just the same, losses occurred that were directly attributable to structural fatigue. In August 1963, a B-26 crashed after 1 of its wings broke off. Then, a B-26 wing failed during a combat flight in February 1964. All B/RB-26s were immediately grounded and withdrawn from Southeast Asia soon afterwards. Yet, this action did not end the aircraft's war involvement.

Forty B-26s returned to the war zone in mid 1966 as B-26Ks. The modifications for the K model, accomplished by the On Mark Engineering Company, Van Nuys, California, were extensive. The $16 million On Mark contract, initiated in 1962, involved much more than a facelifting of the old aircraft nearly a complete transformation. The B-26K differed from the basic aircraft in that both turrets had been removed R-2800 52W engines replaced the B-26's R-2800 79s the wings had been reinforced by the addition of steel straps both on the top and bottom of the spars the propellers, wheels, brakes, and rudder had been changed permanent wing tip tanks had been added instrument panel and electronics were new 8 wing pylons had been included and a myriad of minor changes incorporated.

In short, the B-26K was a tactical bomber for special environments, mounted with rocket pods, guns pods, or bomblet dispensers, and capable of being readily fitted with photographic reconnaissance components and other sensors. The B-26K was redesignated A-26A soon after it reached the war theater. The rejuvenated aircraft promptly proved to be an effective hunter and destroyer of trucks and other vehicles, its loitering capability enabling it to locate and attack an enemy often concealed by jungle or weather. Most A-26As stayed in Southeast Asia for nearly 3 years, the last combat mission being flown in November 1969.

In 1970, regardless of designations, none of the old B-26s remained in the Air Force's active inventory and none remained with the Air National Guard after 1972.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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?

Runway feet required to land a A26 ?
Runway feet required to take off ?
Need for a book about wwii in Europe

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!!

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.

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".

It was a well built airplane. After 51 missions, it was very stable and it brought me home. Easy to fly.

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

Flew 32 low level night interdiction missions in korea. The only parachute that didn't hang up on somthing in the gunners compartment was a chest pack which I stowed in a corner. I figured if we got hit at our low level it was all over anyway. the primary exit was the bomb bay.

I had the great priviledge of working on this great aircraft as crew chief and occassionly flying on it. I was a proud member of the 603 Air Commando Sq with this aircraft at England AFB from 65-69 and moved with them to Hurlburt Field in 1969 with them. Soon after we sent them off to the bone yard and other countries. I have pictures if it everywhere. Definitely the best Acft I've ever worked on.

Had the privlage of working on this FINE aircraft on two different occasions. The 1st was 1944-45 at Douglas Long Beach. After the 1st flight, we were issued "squawk-sheets" for problems encountered on the that flight. This sheet handled by a 16 year old fresh out of the "ozarks". The 2nd was in 1950 when they were being taken out of "mothballs", and prepared for the Korean Police Action. I know of one that is located in the "Lyon Air Museum" at the Orange County Airport in California. It is still Flyable.


Recovery of RB26L (44-35782) that was lost December 6, 1963

Credit Photographs to Joseph W. Brown Jr.

All crewmembers perished in the crash

Capt Gary W. Bitton - Pilot Capt. Thomas F. Gorton - Instructor Navigator Capt. Norman R. Davison - Navigator Airman 2nd Class Richard D. Hill -Photographer Unidentified SVAF Crewman

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Guatemala donates Douglas B-26 Invader to new Brigade 2506 museum

HIALEAH GARDENS, Fla. – For decades, Félix Rodríguez has been determined to leave as much evidence behind about the many sacrifices fighters made in their attempts to have a free and Democratic Cuba.

The 77-year-old former Central Intelligence Agency operative, also known as Max Gomez, co-founded the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library in Miami's Little Havana. He is also the co-founder of the new Brigade 2506 museum in Hialeah Gardens.

With the help of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and his Defense Minister Gen. Luis Miguel Ralda, a Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca's Douglas B-26 Invader that was at Guatemala City's La Aurora Airport is now in Hialeah Gardens.

"It's unbelievable to be able to have that," Rodríguez said.

The plane was disassembled for the delivery to Miami-Dade County. It must be assembled to be on exhibit at the city's new botanical garden and museum to honor the 1,414 men who participated in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

The city received $3.2 million from the state to turn a former landfill into a botanical garden, and Rodríguez worked to get the approval needed from federal authorities to be able to bring the plane that Guatemala donated to the city.

Rodríguez remembers when the CIA chose the Douglas B-26 Invader because Castro's Air Force had B-26C bombers. Two B-26 bombers were shot down during the April 17-19, 1961 invasion. Four CIA pilots -- Pete Ray, Leo Baker, Riley Shamburger and Wade Gray -- were killed.

Rodríguez, who was a CIA pilot during the Vietnam War and is most known for participating in the operation resulting in the execution of Ernesto "El Che" Guevara in Bolivia, will be thinking about them on Memorial Day.

"I can now rest in peace," Rodríguez said. "That our history will not be forgotten."

The city's Park and Recreation Department has yet to announce when the museum will open at the Westland Gardens Park at 13501 NW 107 Avenue.


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Douglas B-26K Invader

The B-26K is a modified and remanufactured A-26B originally built during World War II. Aging Douglas B-26Bs were rebuilt by On Mark Engineering of California during 1964 and 1965 for use in the Vietnam War. Due to political considerations the aircraft were called A-26A during their deployment to Thailand with the 609 th Special Operations Squadron. Their duties in Vietnam primarily consisted of interdicting the flow of North Vietnamese supplies and troops down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Invaders served until 1969 when the last of them were returned to the United States.

Maximum Speed

Service Ceiling

Manufacturer
Douglas

Markings
56 th Special Operations Wing, Nakhon Phanom Air Base, Thailand, 1968-69

Serial Number
64-17653

Designation
B-26K

Creating unlimited horizons in aerospace education through the preservation and presentation of the history of flight.

Operating Hours:
Open 9 AM – 3 PM Daily
Last Admittance at 1:30 PM


Douglas B-26 Invader in Vietnam - History

Constructed as an A-26B-61-DL by Douglas at Long Beach, Califoria, USA.

Taken on Strength/Charge with the United States Army Air Force with s/n 44-34526.

To unknown owner with c/r N9178Z.

To A. M. Wheaton Glass Corp with new c/r N827W.

To unknown owner with c/r CF-OFO.

To E. T. S. Hokin Corp, San Francisco, CA with new c/r N551EH.

Converted to a Marksman by On Mark Engineering at Van Nuys, Califoria, USA.

Certificate of airworthiness for NL26AB (A-26, 27805) issued.

To CWC Air Inc, Flushing, MI with new c/r N400V.

To Certified Check (and) Title Corp, Wilkesboro, NY with new c/r N7977.

To Twin Cities Aviation, Inc, Edina, MN keeping c/r N7977.

To Dennis M. Sherman, West Palm Beach, FL, with new c/r N26AB.
Operated with markings: Intimate Invader

Markings Applied: Intimate Invader


Photographer: Geoff Goodall
Notes: The ultimate A-26 corporate aircraft was the high performance On Mark Marksman with pressurised passenger cabin.This A-26 N26AB seen at Fort Lauderdale in October 1977 had some Marksman modifications, but not the deepened fuselage.Privately owned, it was painted in glossy grey pseudo USAF markings as Intimate Invader

To Charles Bella, Chaparral, NM keeping c/r N26AB.


Photographer: Tom Tessier
Notes: At El Paso International Airport, TX.


Photographer: Tom Tessier
Notes: At El Paso International Airport, TX.

To Santa Teresa Airport/Dona Ana County Airport, El Paso, NM.
View the Location Dossier


Photographer: John Meneely


Photographer: Zane Adams
Notes: Santa Teresa, NM


Photographer: Zane Adams
Notes: Santa Teresa, NM


After military service, many B-26 aircraft were converted for use as "executive" personnel transports. From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, a similar number of B-26s were converted for use as "airtankers" and used to fight forest fires in the United States and subsequently in Canada into the late 1990s.

B-26 airtanker C-FAGO operated by Air Spray (1967) Ltd, at Red Deer, Alberta, 2000

B-26 airtanker CF-BMS Conair fleet no. 322, at the British Columbia Aviation Museum, Sidney, Canada


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