A-26C Invader

Manufacturer: Douglas
Designation: A-26
Version: C
Nickname: Invader
Equivalent to: B-26C
Type: Attack Bomber (Light)
Crew: 3
Specifications
Length: 51' 3" 16.62 M
Height: 18' 6" 5.64 M
Wingspan: 70' 0" 21.34 M
Wingarea: 540.00 Sq Ft 50.17 Sq M
Empty Weight: 22850.0 lbs 10365.0 Kg
Gross Weight: 27600.0 lbs 12517.0 Kg
Max Weight: 35000.0lbs 15876.0 Kg
Propulsion
No. of Engines: 2
Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-79
Horsepower (each): 2000
Performance
Range: 1400 miles 2255.00 Km
Cruise Speed: 284.00 mph 457.00 Km/H 247.03 Kt
Max Speed: 355.00 Mph 571.00 Km/H 308.65 Kt
Ceiling: 22100.0 Ft 6735.00 M

 

One of the most successful U.S. twin-engine medium attack bombers of World
War II the Douglas A-26 Invader was originally designed as a replacement for the
B-25 Mitchell and Martin B-26 Marauder. First flown in 1942, the A-26 saw combat
in every theater of World War II before continuing in service through the first
three decades of the Cold War. In 1948, the A-26 was re-designated the B-26
after the Martin B-26 was retired from service. Armed with variations of up to
16 .50 caliber machine guns, air-to-ground rockets and a maximum of 12,000
pounds of bombs (4,000 internally and 8,000 on external wing racks) the
A-26/B-26 proved itself as a versatile multi-role combat aircraft.

 

In World War II, Korea and Vietnam, the Invader flew missions as a medium bomber, ground attack and night interdiction aircraft. Invaders served in the Air Forces of several U.S. allies including Thailand, France and in a covert role in the Congo and as a part of the Cuban anti-communist forces during the Bay of Pigs.

 

March Field Air Museum's A-26 is a C model serial number 44-35224. Built by Douglas Aircraft in Tulsa, Oklahoma and delivered to the Army Air Force on March 26, 1945 deploying overseas in April. Later it flew with the 4255th, 4160th and 4117th and the 107th and 122nd Bomb Squadrons. In 1952, the aircraft was assigned to USAF units operating from Japan and the 13th Bomb Squadron, 3rd Bomb Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Korea, where it flew combat missions. In 1954, the aircraft returned to Japan before being transferred to storage in  Arizona one year later where it was officially retired from the Air Force inventory in June 1958.

 

In 1981 A-26 44-35224 was flown to March Air Force Base for inclusion in the museum. In 1999, the aircraft was restored to its Korean War configuration. This aircraft is on loan from the USAF.

 

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According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA/RSA), Maxwell AFB, AL, the museum's A-26C has the following history:

 

A-26C-30, s/n 44-35224

Manufactured by Douglas Aircraft, Tulsa OK and delivered to the USAAF on 26
Mar 1945.

Mar 1945  - To Hunter AAF GA

Apr 1945 -  Departed US for Eighth Air Force, European Theater of Operations

Jul 1945  - To 4255th AAF Base Unit (Air Materiel Command), Grenada AAF MS
(storage)

Dec 1945  - To 4160th AAF Base Unit (AMC), Hobbs AAF NM (storage)

Feb 1947  - To 4117th AAF Base Unit (AMC), Robins AAF GA (storage)

Jan 1948  - To 107th Bombardment (Light) Squadron (Air National Guard),
Detroit-Wayne County AP MI (to B-26C)

Jan 1951 - To 112th Bombardment (L) Squadron (ANG), New Orleans AP LA

Apr 1951  - To 122nd Bombardment (L) Squadron (ANG), Langley AFB VA

Apr 1952 -  To Ogden Air Materiel Area, Hill AFB UT

Aug 1952 -  6400th Air Depot Wing (Far East Air Force), Tachikawa AB Japan

Oct 1952  - To 3rd Bombardment (L) Wing (FEAF), Kunsan AB Korea and Miho AB
Japan

Oct 1954  - Unit moved to Johnson AB Japan (deployments to Kunsan AB and
Futema AB Japan)

Dec 1955  - To Southern Air Materiel Center (AMC), Kisarazu AB Japan

Mar 1956  - To Sacramento Air Materiel Area, Clark AB Philippines

Apr 1956  - To 3040th Aircraft Storage Squadron (AMC), Davis-Monthan AFB AZ

Jul 1958 -    Dropped from inventory as surplus


The article below tells how the Douglas Aircraft Corporation's A-26 Invader was renamed to a B-26 Invader, forever after causing confusion with the Martn Aircraft Corporation's B-26 Marauder, a nearly the same size and shape medium bomber.  There is no such thing as a "Douglas B-26 Marauder."

 

"THE MARAUDER" VERSUS "THE INVADER"

By Major General John 0. Moench  (August 1993)

I think it's about time the truth is known.  I write this in appreciation of the fact most of the persons of the time of the decision to rename the A-26 as the B-26 have now "Gone west" or are disinclined to engage themselves in thoughtful process. In retrospect, it was a most unfortunate quirk of history that caused the A-26 "Invader" to become the B-26 "Invader".  How did this all happen?  Was there a sinister plan behind the renaming --- a plot?  Was it, as many have suggested, something "diabolical" --- or was it really an unfortunate event?


Here is the story. As I recall, the year was 1949. The new Air Force was still an organization not fettered with all the rules and regulations of the U.S. Army and the hierarchy was determined that it would never be so burdened.  For anyone serving in today's Air Force, this resolution supporting "simplicity" may fall on very deaf ears.   But, at the time, we operated mostly with blank sheets of paper to which, as needed, we applied a minimum of wordy, ironclad rules and regulations. Decisions were made by individuals --- many of them as junior as I --- and generally with minimum protocols, staff study and definition. Following World War II, at the ripe age of twenty-four, I went directly to the Air Material Command at Wright-Patterson and took over the production control of all the United States Depots in the Continental United States and more.  Then, after three years there, I found myself in charge of aircraft maintenance in Air Force Headquarters. Don't ask me how this all happened---it just did.

 

In any event, we were then trying to overcome many of the problems that faced our Air Force in the growing international arena.  As an example, our parachutes did not fit the Royal Air Force seats, our manufacturing systems were different, and in most cases we couldn't even service the aircraft of each other.  We knew that a system of international standardization had to come about and we undertook this in the American-British-Canadian framework --- a framework that would eventually involve Australia and New Zealand --- later NATO, SEATO and more. The focal point of this activity was the contemporaries and myself. I was a Major. One of the things that emerged in the national element of this larger standardization undertaking was a program to limit the number of aircraft designations in the United States Air Force, United States Navy and other systems. A reader might recall that we ended World War II with P=Pursuit; A=Attack; FI=Fighter Interceptor; and on and on.  The decision that came from the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCS)/Plans and Operations was, from then on, the Air Force would have F=Fighters; B=Bombers; etc.  And the result was that, among other things, the A=Attack designation had to fall out of the system.  The new Air Force was to be Fighters and Bombers. The A=Attack designation especially had to go as it implied a linking with the ground forces that had to be broken. The new Air Force was an independent arm. The powers-to-be had no trouble converting a P-51 to an F-51 or a P-80 to an F-80.  But, when it come to the A-26, there was a dilemma.  To preserve the Martin B-26 "Marauder" nomenclature, following my suggestion, the initial attempt by DCS/Material was to pick up a new number, e.g., the (Douglas) A-26 (Invader) might come out as the next numbered "B" in the sixty series. But DCS/Plans and Operations did not like this as it upset the progressive numbering attached to advancing design.  And the Air Material Command stated that the cost of conversion to a new number would be out of the question. As a result, with a lot of reluctance and since there was no Martin B-26 "Marauder" left in the inventory, the inexpensive solution was taken and the (Douglas) "A-26" became the B-26.  I resisted the idea as long as a Major could, but I never foresaw the extent to which later confusion would arise.

 

The B-26/A-26, Marauder/Invader confusion did not surface immediately.  But, as attention turned to the exploits of the "new" B-26 and inexperienced writers fed the media and public, one soon began to read about the "Douglas B-26 Marauder."  Eventually, some writers, discovering the issue, sought to set forth the confusion as being the result of a plot concocted by Douglas and its friends in concert with the established enemies of Martin and the Marauder to absorb the combat record of the Marauder into the framework of understanding surrounding the Invader.  In the case of the World War II operation of the Ninth Air Force where the B-26 and the A-26 flew side by side, the revised terminology now held it as only B-26's --- but which one? The B-26 "Marauder" or the B-26 "Invader?"

 

For now well over twenty years, I have been writing letters and talking to authors to try to correct the still growing view that B-26 Marauders, as an example, flew in the Korean Conflict, in Southeast Asia , and in other operations long after there was no B-26 "Marauder" in the United States Air Force inventory. Just this past month, a major author called to question a book on his desk recently written by a four-star United States Army Air Forces officer of World War II and the Korean Conflict that talked about the B-26 "Marauder" attacking the North Korean and Chinese Communist forces. Whether the A-26/B-26 nomenclature problem will be repeated again --- who knows? Historical considerations tend to rest on persons older than those often making the historical decisions. Certainly, at the ripe age of twenty-six I never thought about making a historical argument when the redesignation process was underway. And I never heard the historical argument raised by anyone else --- and I was surrounded by a lot of very senior and older Air Force officers. So now you know!

 

(Reprinted from "The Marauder Thunder," newsletter of the B-26 Marauder
Historical Society, August 1993.)

Editor: The four star officer mentioned was of course Jimmy Doolittle and if anyone in the World knew the difference, it was he! However, his story suffered a common fate when translated by others to book form.