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Douglas A-26 Invader

Specifications:
  • Length: 50.59 ft (15.42 m)
  • Width: 70.01 ft (21.34 m)
  • Height: 18.50 ft (5.64 m)
  • Weight (Empty): 22,370 lb (10,147 kg)
  • Weight (MTOW): 35,001 lb (15,876 kg)
  • Power: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 2,000 horsepower each and driving three-bladed propeller units.
  • Speed: 355 mph (571 kph; 308 kts)
  • Ceiling: 22,096 feet (6,735 m; 4.18 miles)
  • Range: 1,300 miles (2,092 km; 1,130 nm)
  • Rate-of-Climb: 1,250 ft/min (381 m/min)

Douglas A-26 Invader, the last aircraft designated as an “attack bomber,” was designed to replace the Douglas A-20 Havoc/Boston. It incorporated many improvements over the earlier Douglas designs. The first three XA-26 prototypes first flew in July 1942, and each was configured differently: Number One as a daylight bomber with a glass nose, Number Two as a gun-laden night-fighter, and Number Three as a ground-attack platform, with a 75-millimeter cannon in the nose. This final variant, eventually called the A-26B, was chosen for production.

Upon its delivery to the 9th Air Force in Europe in November 1944 (and the Pacific Theater shortly thereafter), the Douglas A-26 became the fastest US bomber of WWII. The A-26C, with slightly-modified armament, was introduced in 1945. The Douglas A-26 Invader combat career was cut short by the end of the war, and because no other use could be found for them, many A-26 Invaders were converted to JD-1 target tugs for the US Navy.

A strange aircraft-designation swap occurred in 1948, when the Martin B-26 Marauder was deactivated and the Douglas A-26 Invader was re-designated the B-26. (It kept this designation until 1962.) B-26 Invaders went on to serve extensively in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. In Vietnam, they were commonly used in the Counter-Insurgency (COIN) role, with very heavy armament and extra power. This version, the B-26K, was based in Thailand and was, to confuse things further, called the A-26 for political reasons. B-26s were also used for training, VIP transport, cargo, night reconnaissance, missile guidance and tracking, and as drone-control platforms.

Douglas A-26B Invader 44-34602