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United States' Douglas A-26 Invader light attack bomber

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Douglas A-26 Invader bomber:
United States' Douglas A-26 Invader bomber

Douglas A-26 Invader bomber:
United States' Douglas A-26 Invader bomber
Douglas A-26 Invader bomber:
United States' Douglas A-26 Invader bomber

Douglas A-26 Invader bomber:
United States' Douglas A-26 Invader bomber
Douglas A-26 Invader bomber:
United States' Douglas A-26 Invader bomber
Douglas A-26 Invader bomber:
United States' Douglas A-26 Invader bomber

Douglas A-26C Invader Mk I bomber:
United States' Douglas A-26C Invader Mk I bomber
Douglas A-26C Invader Mk I bomber:
United States' Douglas A-26C Invader Mk I bomber

Design

In 1940 the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) put out a request for a two engine high performance bomber.4

Edward Heinemann designed the A-26 Invader to replace the A-20 Boston, B-25 Mitchell, and B-26 Marauder in conjunction with the Air Corps' Experimental Engineering Section.1,2,5

The early models had poor visibility and later models had a clam shell canopy that improved visibility and opening in-flight for emergencies.1

There were initially two versions, one with a glass nose for bombing and the other with a solid nose for a night fighter.5

The A-26B had oil cooler air intakes that were redesigned and increased performance by 80%.1

The insides of the engine cowlings were painted to alleviate the glare that affected the pilots.1

The bomb bay was between the cockpit and the rear gunner and the doors were two pieces that stretched from the cockpit to the ventral turret.1

Prototype

In June 1941 three prototypes were ordered.3,4,5 One the XA-26 bomber, one the XA-26A night fighter, and the last the XA-26B ground attack bomber.5

The prototype was the XA-26 #41-19504 and flew July 10, 1942.1,2,3,4,5

Production

The A-26A night fighter version was cancelled as the Army was more interested in the P-61 Black Widow.1,5 The A-26B and A-26C were moved into production in October 1941 even before the prototypes were completed.1,5 The initial order was for 500 A-26s.5

Events in the war drove the Materials Division to order that the first 500 would be the ground attack version with solid noses.5 Another 500 were ordered in March 1943.5 Delays caused production to not start until July 1943.5 In March 1944 an order for 5,000 more was placed.5

By late 1944 A-26Bs were manufactured at Long Beach and A-26Cs at Tulsa.5

  • Douglas XA-26: 13,5
  • Douglas XA-26A: 13,5
  • Douglas XA-26B: 13,5
  • Douglas A-26B: 1,3552,3,4,5
    • Long Beach: 1,1505
    • Tulsa: 2055
  • Douglas A-26C: 1,0912,3,4,5
    • Tulsa: 1,0915
  • Douglas XA-26D: 13
  • Total: 2,4464, 2,4503, 2,4515, 2,4521
    • Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company4,5
    • Manufactured at: El Segundo, California5; Long Beach, California5; Tulsa, Oklahoma5
    • Production: July 1943 - September 19455

At the end of the war over 5,250 / 5,2544, that were ordered, were cancelled after VJ Day.2,3,4

Variants

  • Douglas XA-26: Bomber prototype.2,3,5 Had a glazed nose section.2
  • Douglas XA-26A: Night fighter prototype.2,3,4,5 Four 20 mm guns under fuselage.2,3,4 Four 12.7 mm machine guns in a dorsal turret that was remotely controlled.2,4
  • Douglas XA-26B: Ground attack prototype.2,3,4,5 Had 75 mm gun in the nose.2,3,4,5
  • Douglas XA-26D: Had 14 0.5" machine guns in nose and wings.3 Flew in 1945.3
  • Douglas XA-26F: Converted an A-26B to be used as a test bed for the GE J31 jet engine.3,5 Had Pratt & Whitney R-2800-83 engines.5 Used four blade propeller.5
  • Douglas A-26:
  • Douglas A-26A: Night fighter with a radar set and 4: 20 mm cannons in a ventral pack.1
  • Douglas A-26B: Had ten 12.7 mm machine guns in under wing and under fuselage packs.1 Delivered to United States Air Force in November 1944.2,3 Had a solid nose.3 Top turret was fixed forward to be used against ground targets.3
  • Douglas A-26C: Bomber version.1,3,4 Only two 12.7 mm machine guns in nose.2 Transparent bombardier station.2,3 Most saw action in the Pacific.2 A few had bombing radar installed.3 Sometimes were used as lead ships in bombing formations.3
  • Douglas A-26D: Solid nose.5 To replace the A-26B.5 Model cancelled at end of war.5
  • Douglas A-26E: Glass nose.5 To replace the A-26C.5 Model cancelled at end of war.5
  • Douglas A-26F: Had four blade propeller.5 J31 turbo jet to boost speed.5 Was found to be not sufficient and was cancelled.5
  • Douglas A-26G: Solid nose.5 Not ordered.5
  • Douglas A-26H: Glass nose.5 More powerful engine.5 Revised canopy.5 Not ordered.5
  • Douglas RB-26C: 30 B-26Cs modified in late the late 1940s and used for reconnaissance.5

Usage

United States

In September 1943 the first A-26Bs were delivered.5

Used towards the end in World War II, but also used in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.1,3,4

Sixty seven were lost in European operations and seven enemy planes were shot down by the A-26 Invaders.1

New Guinea

The first four A-26Bs used in combat were in New Guinea with the 13th Bombardment Squadron.1,5 Low-level sorties were unpopular.1

United Kingdom / Europe

Eighteen A-26s were received by the 553rd Bomb Squadron in Great Dunmow, England.1

The first mission of the A-26s was on November 9, 1944, with the 9th Air Froce.4

11,567 missions were flown and 18,054 tons / 18,344 tonnes bombs dropped.1,3

One aircraft was credited with a probable kill of a Me 262 jet fighter.1

Pacific

There were three A-26 USAAF bomb groups that were used against the Japanese on Okinawa, Taiwan, and mainland Japan.1

88 A-26Cs were supplied to the United States Navy.2

Korean War

The A-26 was changed to the B-26 and was used in the Korean War with 60,096 sorties flown.2,4,5 There were 1,054 B-26s still available.5 Damage inflicted on the enemy was 38,500 vehicles, 3,700 railway cars, 406 train engines, and seven planes.5

Vietnam

B-26Bs and B-26Cs that were in Air National Guard units were used in Vietnam as night ground attackers.5 Additional models were used in counter-insurgency operations.5

Retirement

The final B-26 (a staff transport) was retired in 1972.5

Specifications

  Douglas A-26 Invader3
Type Attack bomber3
Crew 33
Engine (Type) 2: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27/79 Double Wasp3
Cylinders Radial 183
Cooling  
HP 2,000 each3
Propeller blades 3 each3
Dimensions  
Span 70'3
21.34 m3
Length 50' 9"3
15.47 m3
Height 18' 6"3
5.64 m3
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 6: Heavy MG4
Dorsal turret 2: MG4
Ventral position 2: MG4
Wings (special missions)4 8: MG4
Fuselage sides (special missions)4 2: MG4
Bombs - internal 4,000 lb4
Rockets 164
  Douglas A-26B Invader4, Douglas A-26B-1 Invader2
Type Bomber4, Light attack bomber2
Crew 32,3
Engine (Type) 2: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 Double Wasp4
2: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-79 piston2
Cylinders Radial2, Radial 184
Cooling Air4
HP 2,000 each2,4
Propeller blades 3 each2
Dimensions  
Span 70'2,4
21.35 m2
Length 50'4, 50' 9"2
15.47 m2
Height 18' 6"2,4
5.64 m2
Wing area 540 ft2 2
50.17 m2 2
Weight  
Empty 22,370 lb2,3
10,147 kg2,3
Loaded 35,000 lb2,3,4
15,876 kg3, 15,880 kg2
Performance  
Speed 355 mph4
Speed @ 15,000' /
4,572 m
355 mph3
571 kph3
Speed @ 16,000' /
4,875 m
355 mph2
572 kph2
Cruising speed 284 mph3
457 kph3
Climb 2,000'/minute3
610 m/minute3
Climb to 10,000' /
3,048 m
8.1 minutes3
Climb to 10,000' /
3,050 m
8.1 minutes2
Service ceiling 22,100'2,3,4
6,735 m2, 6,736 m3
Range 1,400 miles2,4
2,253 km2
Range with bomb load 1,400 miles3
2,253 km3
Armament 10: MG4
Nose 6: 12.7 mm MG2,3
Dorsal turret 2: 12.7 mm MG2,3
Ventral position 2: 12.7 mm MG2,3
Bombs 4,000 lb4, 6,000 lb2
2,722 kg2
Bombs - internal 4,000 lb3
1,814 kg3
Bombs - under wings 2,000 lb3
907 kg3
Rockets 8: 5"2
8: 127 mm2
  Douglas A-26B-60 Invader
Type Light bomber5
Crew  
Engine (Type) 2: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-795
Cylinders Radial 185
Cooling Air5
HP 2,350 each5
Propeller blades 3 constant speed5
Dimensions  
Span 70'5
Length 50' 8"5
Height  
Wing area 540'2 5
Weight  
Empty 22,362 lb5
Loaded 35,000 lb5
Performance  
Speed @ 15,000' 355 mph5
Cruising speed 284 mph5
Climb  
Service ceiling 22,000'5
Range 3,200 miles5
Range - Combat 1,400 miles5
Armament  
Nose 8: .50 cal MG5
Wings 6: .50 cal MG5
Dorsal turret 2: .50 cal MG5
Ventral turret 2: .50 cal MG5
Bombs - Total 6,000 lb5
Bombs - Internal 4,000 lb5
Bombs - Wings 2,000 lb5
  Douglas A-26C Invader1
Type Light attack bomber1
Crew 31
Pilot, bombardier/navigator, gunner1
Engine (Type) 2: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-79 Double Wasp piston1
Cylinders Radial-181
Cooling  
HP 2,000 each1
Propeller blades 3 each1
Dimensions  
Span 70'1
21.34 m1
Length 51' 3"1
15.62 m1
Height 18' 3"1
5.56 m1
Wing area 540 ft2 1
50.17 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 22,803 lb1
10,365 kg1
Loaded 34,927 lb1
15,876 kg1
Performance  
Speed 372 mph1
600 kph1
Cruising speed  
Climb 2,030'/minute1
619 m/minute1
Service ceiling 22,100'1
6,735 m1
Range 1,400 miles1
2,253 km1
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG1,3
Dorsal turret 2: 12.7 mm MG1,3
Ventral position 2: 12.7 mm MG1,3
Bombs 4,000 lb1
1,814 kg1
Bombs - internal 4,000 lb3
1,814 kg3
Bombs - under wings 2,000 lb3
907 kg3

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926, E. R. Johnson, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site

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