Design & Development
The A-26 was an unusual design for an attack bomber of the early 1940s period, as it was designed as a single-pilot aircraft (sharing this characteristic with the British de Havilland Mosquito, among others). The aircraft was designed by Edward Heinemann, Robert Donovan, and Ted R. Smith. The project aerodynamicist on the program was A.M.O. Smith, who designed the wing making use of the then-new NACA 65-215 laminar flow airfoil.
The Douglas XA-26 prototype (AAC Ser. No. 41-19504) first flew on 10 July 1942 at Mines Field, El Segundo, with test pilot Benny Howard at the controls. Flight tests revealed excellent performance and handling, but there were problems with engine cooling which led to cowling changes and omission of the propeller spinners on production aircraft, plus modification of the nose landing gear after repeated collapses during testing.
Douglas XA-26B Invader 41-19588, 5 May 1943. The “solid” nose was intended to allow a combination of weapons, included a 75 mm cannon.
The A-26 was originally built in two different configurations. The A-26B had a “solid” nose, which originally could be equipped with a combination of armament including .50 caliber machine guns, 37mm auto cannon, 20mm or even a 75mm pack howitzer, but normally the solid nose version housed six (or later eight) .50 caliber machine guns, officially termed the “all-purpose nose”, later commonly known as the “six-gun nose” or “eight-gun nose”. The A-26C ’s “glass” nose, officially termed the “Bombardier nose”, contained a Norden bombsight for medium altitude precision bombing. The A-26C nose section included two fixed M-2 guns, later replaced by underwing gun packs or internal guns in the wings.
After about 1,570 production aircraft, three guns were installed in each wing, coinciding with the introduction of the “eight-gun nose” for A-26Bs, giving some configurations as many as 14 .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in a fixed forward mount. An A-26C nose section could be exchanged for an A-26B nose section, or vice versa, in a few man-hours, thus physically (and officially) changing the designation and operational role. The “flat-topped” canopywas changed in late 1944 after about 820 production aircraft, to a clamshell style with greatly improved visibility.
Alongside the pilot in an A-26B, a crew member typically served as navigator and gun loader for the pilot-operated nose guns. In an A-26C, that crew member served as navigator and bombardier, and relocated to the nose section for the bombing phase of an operation. A small number of A-26Cs were fitted with dual flight controls, some parts of which could be disabled in flight to allow limited access to the nose section. A tractor-style “jump seat” was located behind the “navigator’s seat.” In most missions, a third crew member in the rear gunner’s compartment operated the remotely controlled dorsal and ventral gun turrets, with access to and from the cockpit possible via the bomb bay only when that was empty.
The Douglas A-26 Invader (designated B-26 between 1948 and 1965) is a United States twin-engined light bomber and attack aircraftthat was built by Douglas Aircraft during World War II that also saw service during several of the Cold War’s major conflicts. A limited number of highly modified aircraft (designation A-26) served in combat until 1969.
It was found to be a fast aircraft capable of carrying twice its specified bomb load. A range of guns could be fitted to produce a formidable ground-attack aircraft.
The re-designation of the type from A-26 to B-26 has led to popular confusion with the Martin B-26 Marauder, a design that first flew in November 1940, some 16 months before the Douglas design’s maiden flight. Although both types utilized the much-used Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp eighteen-cylinder, double-row engine, they were completely different designs. The last A-26 in active US service was assigned to the Air National Guard; that aircraft being retired from military service in 1972 by the US Air Force and the National Guard Bureau and donated to the National Air and Space Museum.
|Length:||50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)|
|Wingspan:||70 ft 0 in (21.34 m)|
|Height:||18 ft 3 in (5.64 m)|
|Wing area:||540 ft² (50 m²)|
|Empty weight:||22,850 lb (10,365 kg)|
|Loaded weight:||27,600 lb (12,519 kg)|
|Max. takeoff weight:||35,000 lb (15,900 kg)|
|Powerplant:||2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 “Double Wasp” radial engine, 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) each|
|Maximum speed:||355 mph (308 kn, 570 km/h)|
|Range:||1,400 mi (1,200 nmi, 2,300 km)|
|Service ceiling:||22,000 ft (6,700 m)|
|Rate of climb:||1,250 ft/min (6.4 m/s)|
|Wing loading:||51 lb/ft² (250 kg/m²)|
|Power/mass:||0.145 hp/lb (108 W/kg)|
|Rockets:||Up to 10 5-inch (12.7 cm) HVAR rockets on “zero length” launch pylons, five under each outer wing panel|
|Bombs:||Up to 6,000 lb (2,700 kg) capacity – 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) in the bomb bay plus 2,000 lb (910 kg) carried externally on underwing hardpoints|