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A-26B Invader - Castle Air Museum

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Douglas A-26B Invader Attack Bomber

A-26-c invader-castle

A-26B invader This A-26 has the solid nose, making it the "B" version, which was equipped with six to eight machine guns in the nose, had a remotely controlled upper and lower turret (two guns in each) and could carry 4,000 – 6,000 pounds of bombs. It could also carry eight .5 inch rockets, and some were equipped with four blister-mount guns (two on each side of the fuselage). The nose section of an A-26 could be changed fairly easily to convert from a solid to a glass version to become a Bombardier nose ("C" version) when necessary.

A-26C top turret - Castle Air Museum

Faster and more powerful than the A-20 Havoc and B-25 Mitchell, (whose production ended in 1944), the A-26 also had greater range. It carried a three-man crew including one pilot, a navigator/radioman (in the cockpit) and a gunner manning the upper and lower turrets. Photo to the right shows upper turret and observation canopy.

Tests conducted by combat crews evoked strong criticism regarding aircraft's reduced visibility. "[W]hen four of the new planes were tried out by the Grim Reapers in July 1944 the pilots found that the long, broad nose, and the placement of the engines in particular, reduced visibility enough to restrict the use of the aircraft at low levels... [In] July 1945, ...[General Kenny] would be satisfied with the modified version of the A-26." Steve Birdsall, Flying Buccaneers, p.204. This modified A-26 had a raised cockpit canopy (clamshell) to replace the flatter version, improving visibility.

During World War II, the A-26 first saw combat in Europe, during November 1944 and in the Pacific Theater in January 1945, where it was used in greater numbers. Proving to be a highly effective attack bomber, it went on to serve in the the Korean War and the early part of the Vietnam War.