The Douglas A-26 Invader

United States of America
United States of America

side view front view under view

Experiences with the Douglas A-20 in War conditions sparked the Douglas company to develop an even better attack aircraft. It was meant not only to replace the DB-7/A-20, but also the North American B-25 Mitchell and Martin B-26 Marauder light bombers. Helped with a USAAF memorandum in which the shortcomings of the A-20 were nicely summed up, the Douglas designers team, headed by mr. E. Heinemann and Robert Donovan, started to work on the (A-26) Invader. At first 2 possible versions were contemplated, one light attack bomber, one night-fighter. One of the shortcomings of the A-20 Havoc was the fact that it needed quite a lengthy runway for take-off and landing, so the wings were redesigned and two of the most powerfull engines available were to be used. After the USAAF saw their mock up, an order for 3 prototypes was placed. The program was beset with problems and delays, however, not in the least by the USAAF requirements who were demanding an impossible combination of offensive armament to be fitted in the nose, at least 5 combinations of guns and cannons varying wildly in size (75 mm cannons, 37 mm cannons, 0.5 in/12,7 mm guns) in almost any possible setup. Because of the delays the night-fighter variant never saw the light, because the Northrop P-61 Black Widow was already in production by the time that further development on the A-26A Night-fighter was on its way.

Invaders saw a lot of action all over the world, even long after World War 2. Some of the wars and conflicts in which the Invader was used are: Korean War (1950-1953), Vietnam War (1961-1973), Indo-Chinese War (1950-1954), Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), Congolese Civil War (1960-1971), Bay of Pigs (1962), African wars of Independence from Portugal (1961-1975) and , finally, the Biafran War (1967-1970)

Versions:

Further pictures:

Douglas A-26 Invader in full flight
Douglas A-26 Invader in full flight

 

Technical data on the Douglas A-26B-15
Powerplant 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27, -71 or -79 Double Wasp radials, rated at 2000 hp (1490.98 kW) each Role during war
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Close Support Attack Fighter
  • Light Bomber
Length 50 ft 0 inch Height 18 ft 6 inch
Empty weight 22370 lb Operational weight 35000 lb max
Wing Span 60 ft 0 inch Wing Aspect ratio 9.07
Wing Area 540 sq ft Service ceiling 22100 ft
Maximum speed 355 mph at 15000 ft Cruising speed 284 mph at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 10,000 ft in 8 min 6 sec Range 1400 miles typical,
3200 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 1,332.1 Imp gal (1,600 US gal), plus provision for 258.1 Imp gal (310 US gal) if the ventral barbette was omitted (mostly the Pacific theatre) Fuel capacity external 383 Imp gal (460 US gal) in two drop tanks
Machine guns 10 × 0.50 inch Browning M2 guns:
  • 6 × fixed forward firing in the nose, 400 rounds each
  • 2 × trainable in dorsal barbette that could be locked forward and operated by the pilot, 500 rounds each
  • 2 × trainable in ventral barbette (optional), 500 rounds each
  • An additional 4 packs of 2 × 0.50 inch Browning M2's could be installed under the outboard wing panels
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 6,000 lb, consisting of 2 × 2,000 lb max in 2 internal bays, plus 4 underwing hardpoints rated at 500 lb each. Loadout was generally:
  • 4 × 1,000 lb, or
  • 8 × 500 lb, or
  • 8 × 250 lb, or
  • 12 × 100 lb internal
  • 4 × 500 lb or 4 × 250 lb under the wings additional
Torpedoes/rockets 14 × 5 inch rockets under the wings in stead of bombs
Crew 3: pilot, navigator/bombardier, gunner Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 10 July 1942 Operational Service November 1944 - 1980's
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company Number produced 2.448 total, 1.357 this version (all blocks)
Metric system
Length 15.24 m Height 5.64 m
Empty weight 10147 kg Operational weight 15876 kg max
Wing Span 18.29 m Wing Aspect ratio 9.07
Wing Area 50.17 m² Service ceiling 6736 m
Maximum speed 571 km/h at 4572 m Cruising speed 457 km/h at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 3050 m in 8 min 6 sec Range 2253 km typical,
5150 km max
Fuel capacity internal 6.056 l, plus provision for 1.173 l if the ventral barbette was omitted (mostly the Pacific theatre) Fuel capacity external 1.741 l in two drop tanks
Machine guns 10 × 12,7 mm Browning M2 guns:
  • 6 × fixed forward firing in the nose, 400 rounds each
  • 2 × trainable in dorsal barbette that could be locked forward and operated by the pilot, 500 rounds each
  • 2 × trainable in ventral barbette (optional), 500 rounds each
  • An additional 4 packs of 2 × 12,7 mm Browning M2's could be installed under the outboard wing panels
Cannons -
Bomb load Up to 2.722 kg, consisting of 2 × 907 kg max in 2 internal bays, plus 4 underwing hardpoints rated at 227 kg each. Loadout was generally:
  • 4 × 454 kg, or
  • 8 × 227 kg, or
  • 8 × 113 kg, or
  • 12 × 45 kg internal
  • 4 × 227 kg or 4 × 113 kg under the wings additional
Torpedoes/rockets 14 × 12,7 mm rockets under the wings in stead of bombs

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Douglas A-26  Invader
Douglas A-26B Invader Initial production version of the Invader. The A26-A Night-fighter only reached the design phase, for Northrop beat Douglas with the P-61 Black Widow. Production was divided in several blocks:
  • XA-26B: (1 aircraft): Prototype for the Attack bomber
  • XA-26F: (1 aircraft), Prototype with a hybrid powerplant of two R-2800-83 radial engines (each driving a standard three-blade propeller, later replaced by a four-blade unit with a large spinner) and one General Electric J31 turbojet rated at 1,600 lb st (7.12 kN). The turbojet was installed in the rear fuselage to exhaust at the extreme tail, and drew its air through a dorsally mounted inlet. With both elements of its powerplant in full operation the XA-26F recorded a maximum level speed of only 435 mph (700 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4.570 m) and was not considered for production.
  • A-26B-1: (5 aircraft), Similar to the prototype, except for more bombload (6,000 lb/2.722 kg), more fuel capacity (1,332 Imp gal/1,600 US gal/6.057 l). Powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 Double Wasp radials, rated at 2,000 hp (1.491 kW) each
  • A-26B-5: (30 aircraft), without the camouflage, and with 1 × 75 mm cannon in the nose plus 2 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) machine guns on the left.
  • A-26B-10: (55 aircraft), 6 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) guns in the nose, and 2 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) in each of the barbettes.
  • A-26B-15: (142 aircraft), 8 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) guns in the nose, and 2 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) in each of the barbettes, plus 4 additional gun packs mounted on the underwing hardpoints, each with 2 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) guns.
  • A-26B-16: (2 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26B-20: (153 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26B-25: (63 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26B-30: (75 aircraft), new devised cockpit canopy, to improve sideview from the cockpit.
  • A-26B-35: (75 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26B-40: (100 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26B-45: (120 aircraft), Powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-79 Double Wasp water injected radials, rated at 2,000 hp (1.491 kW) each, with war emergency power of 2,350 hp (1.752 kW).
  • A-26B-50: (109 aircraft), Gun armament revised to 8 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) fixed forward firing in the nose, and 6 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) in the leading edges of the wings in stead of gun packs. Because the nose and outer wing panels were interchangeable with the original units, upgrades were simple. Therefor a lot of older versions could easily and were upgraded to the A-26B-50 armament standard.
  • A-26B-51: (6 aircraft), no further specific information, except that the ventral barbette was dropped for an additional fuel tank with 258.1 Imp gal (310 US gal/1.173 l)
  • A-26B-55: (121 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26B-56: (19 aircraft), no further specific information, except that the ventral barbette was dropped for an additional fuel tank with 258.1 Imp gal (310 US gal/1.173 l)
  • A-26B-60: (34 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26B-61: (110 aircraft), no further specific information, except that the ventral barbette was dropped for an additional fuel tank with 258.1 Imp gal (310 US gal/1.173 l)
  • A-26B-66: (136 aircraft), no further specific information, except that the ventral barbette was dropped for an additional fuel tank with 258.1 Imp gal (310 US gal/1.173 l)


XA-26B (1 aircraft): Prototype for the Attack bomber
XA-26F (1 aircraft), Prototype with a hybrid powerplant of two R-2800-83 radial engines (each driving a standard three-blade propeller, later replaced by a four-blade unit with a large spinner) and one General Electric J31 turbojet rated at 1,600 lb st (7.12 kN). The turbojet was installed in the rear fuselage to exhaust at the extreme tail, and drew its air through a dorsally mounted inlet. With both elements of its powerplant in full operation the XA-26F recorded a maximum level speed of only 435 mph (700 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4.570 m) and was not considered for production.
A-26B-1 (5 aircraft), Similar to the prototype, except for more bombload (6,000 lb/2.722 kg), more fuel capacity (1,332 Imp gal/1,600 US gal/6.057 liters). Powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 Double Wasp radials, rated at 2,000 hp (1.491 kW) each
A-26B-5 (30 aircraft), without the camouflage, and with 1 × 75 mm cannon in the nose plus 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) machine guns on the left.
A-26B-10 (55 aircraft), 6 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) guns in the nose, and 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) in each of the barbettes.
A-26B-15 (142 aircraft), 8 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) guns in the nose, and 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) in each of the barbettes, plus 4 additional gun packs mounted on the underwing hardpoints, each with 2 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) guns.
A-26B-16 (2 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26B-20 (153 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26B-25 (63 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26B-30 (75 aircraft), new devised cockpit canopy, to improve sideview from the cockpit
A-26B-35 (75 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26B-40 (100 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26B-45 (120 aircraft), Powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-79 Double Wasp water injected radials, rated at 2,000 hp (1.491 kW) each, with war emergency power of 2,350 hp (1.752 kW).
A-26B-51 (6 aircraft), no further specific information, except that the ventral barbette was dropped for an additional fuel tank with 258.1 Imp gal (310 US gal/1.173 liters)
A-26B-55 (121 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26B-56 (19 aircraft), no further specific information, except that the ventral barbette was dropped for an additional fuel tank with 258.1 Imp gal (310 US gal/1.173 liters)
A-26B-60 (34 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26B-61 (110 aircraft), no further specific information, except that the ventral barbette was dropped for an additional fuel tank with 258.1 Imp gal (310 US gal/1.173 liters)
A-26B-66 (136 aircraft), no further specific information, except that the ventral barbette was dropped for an additional fuel tank with 258.1 Imp gal (310 US gal/1.173 liters)


Number built: 1.357
Douglas A-26C Invader Glazed nose Invader, for bombing purposes. It had duplicate controls, and 2 × 0.50 in (12,7 mm) fixed forward firing guns. The production blocks for the A-26C are identical to the blocks of the A-26B:
  • A-26C-1: (1 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
  • A-26C-2: (4 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
  • A-26C-5: (30 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
  • A-26C-15: (27 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
  • A-26C-16: (10 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26C-20: (71 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26C-25: (187 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26C-30: (160 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
  • A-26C-35: (200 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26C-40: (97 aircraft), no further specific information
  • A-26C-45: (127 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
  • A-26C-50: (155 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
  • A-26C-55: (52 aircraft), no further specific information


A-26C-1 (1 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
A-26C-2 (4 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
A-26C-5 (30 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
A-26C-15 (27 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
A-26C-16 (10 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26C-20 (71 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26C-25 (187 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26C-30 (160 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
A-26C-35 (200 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26C-40 (97 aircraft), no further specific information
A-26C-45 (127 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
A-26C-50 (155 aircraft), for further specific info see the A-26B entry above
A-26C-55 (52 aircraft), no further specific information


Number built: 1.091
Douglas B-26B Invader The surviving A-26B Invaders were redesignated B-26B in 1948. The Martin B-26 Marauder was already out of service, so there was no danger for a mix-up in designations.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas B-26C Invader The surviving A-26C Invaders were redesignated B-26C in 1948
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas CB-26B Invader Converted B-26B Invader, for transport purposes.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas DB-26C Invader Converted B-26C Invader, a director for target drones.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas EB-26C Invader Converted B-26C Invader, used in missile guidance development.
Number converted: 1
Douglas FA-26C Invader Converted B-26C Invader, for nocturnal reconnaissance purposes.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas JD-1 150 A-26C's were transferred to the US Navy for high-speed target towing and other duties
Number transferred: 150
Douglas JD-1D Some JD-1's were converted drone directors with underwing racks for 2 drones
Number converted: unknown
Douglas RB-26B Invader Converted B-26B Invader, for Reconnaissance duties.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas RB-26C Invader Converted B-26C Invader, for reconnaissance purposes
Number converted: 41+
Douglas TB-26B Invader Converted B-26B Invader, for training purposes, fitted with dual controls.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas TB-26C Invader Converted B-26C Invader, for training purposes, fitted with dual controls.
Number converted: 8
Douglas UB-26J The surviving JD-1's were redesignated UB-26J in 1962
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas VB-26B Invader Converted B-26B Invader, for staff transport purposes (V stands for VIP?).
Number converted: unknown
On Mark B-26K Counter-Invader Civil converted Invaders to a high-speed transport of people.
Number converted: unknown
On Mark B-26K/A-26A Counter-Invader Now things get messy. While stated before that there was no A-26A version, there actually was one. The operational A-26A was a conversion of existing Invaders by the On Mark Engineering Company. It was powered by 2 × R-2800-52W radials, rated at 2,500 hp (1.864 kW) each. Length was 51 ft 7 in (15,73 m) and height was 19 ft 0 in (5,79 m). Wing span was 71 ft 6 in (21,79 m), aspect ratio of 9,45, area of 541 sq ft (50,26 mē).Empty, typical and max take-off weights were 25,130 lb (11.399 kg), 37,000 lb (16.783 kg) and 39,250 lb (17.804 kg) respectively. Max level speed was 327 Mph (526 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4.570 m) and cruising speed was 310 Mph (499 km/h). Range was typical and max 1,480 miles (2.382 km) and 2,700 miles (4.345 km) respectively. it possessed an initial climb rate of 2,050 ft/min (625 m/min) and a ceiling of 30,500 ft (9.295 m).
Number converted: 40

Remarks:

The A-26 was hampered by initial development problems, caused by indeciciveness of the USAAF about armament. Even so, when it finally started it's operational life it proved to be one outstanding aircraft, as testified by the huge operational life-span of the aircraft: a staggering 40 years.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/20/00