The Douglas A-26 Invader was the last aircraft designated as an “attack bomber”. It was a successor of the Douglas A-20 Havoc design. This WW2 aircraft design was one of the very few systems to be entirely developed, designed and produced in large quantity and used in during the duration of the war. The A-26 Invader, over the earlier Douglas designs, incorporated many improvements. The first three A-26 prototypes were configured differently: as a daylight bomber, a night fighter, and a ground-attack platform. In 1944 the A-26 Invader became the fastest US bomber of World War Two, upon its delivery to the 9th Air Force in Europe.
The final variant of the A-26 called A-26B was chosen for mass production because it was much faster than the other tactical bombers of its time and it was capable of carrying twice the specified bomb load. Also, on its first combat mission on November 1944, the A-26B dropped over 18,000 tons of bombs on European targets. Because of this, there were a total of 1,355 A-26B planes that were produced and delivered during WW2. The other variant of the Douglas A-26 was introduced in 1945, and it was called the A-26C. It had a transparent nose, often fitted with H2S panoramic radar, and had lead-ship navigational equipments. The A-26s career was cut short by the end of the war because no other use could be found for them. In 1948, the Douglas A-26 Invader was redesignated as the new B-26, as a strange aircraft-designation swap occured. The B-26 became the primary light bomber in postwar service. With the Vietnam and Korean wars, the B-26s went on to serve the air force extensively. In Vietnam, the B-26s were one of the most favored aircrafts for night attacks because of their very heavy armaments. In Korea over 450 of these aircraft were used.
The Douglas A-26/B-26 lived a very long and productive life during its heyday in World War Two. In 1976 a fitting tribute to a truly remarkable aircraft was held, eight air forces around the world still retained Invader squadrons.
|3-man crew light bomber
|Douglas Aircraft Company
|2 x 2,000-HP Pratt & Whitney R-200-27 18-cylinder radial engines
|1,300 nautical miles
|6 or 8 12.7mm machine guns in forward-fixed nose assembly
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in remote-controlled dorsal barbette
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in remote-controlled ventral barbette
up to 4,000 lbs of internal ordinance
up to 8,000 of under wing ordinance