Hobby Master HA3205 US Army Air Force Douglas A-26B Invader Light Attack Bomber - 670th Bomb Squadron, 416th Bomb Group, France, 1945 (1:72 Scale)
"Too much credit cannot be given to these men of the 12th Army Group, Ninth Air Force tactical team who are relentlessly battering our foe on the ground and from the air. They beat him on the beachhead, drove him from the occupied nations, crushed him in his own Rhineland, and next will destroy him in the heart of his Fatherland. It is these fighting men who are responsible for our past successes, and it is their indomitable spirit which assures a speedy and crushing victory for our cooperating arms."
- Omar N. Bradley, Lt. General, U.S.A. Commanding, March 27th, 1945
The Douglas A-26 Invader (B-26 between 1948 - 1965) was a United States twin-engined light attack bomber built by the Douglas Aircraft Co. 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 restored) served in combat until 1969. The redesignation of the type from A-26 to B-26 has led to popular confusion with the Martin B-26. Although both types used the R-2800 engine, they are completely different designs. The last A-26 in active US service was assigned to the Air National Guard; that aircraft was 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.
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 RAF's de Havilland Mosquito, among others). The aircraft was designed by Edward Heinemann, Robert Donovan, and Ted R. Smith. The Douglas XA-26 prototype (41-19504) first flew on July 10th, 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.
The A-26B had a "solid" nose, which originally could be equipped with a combination of anything from .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" canopy was 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 only possible via the bomb bay when that was empty.
This particular 1:72 scale replica of a US Army Air Force Douglas A-26B Invader Light Attack Bomber was attached to the 670th Bomb Squadron, 416th Bomb Group, then deployed to France in 1945.
Wingspan: 8-1/4 inches
Length: 11-3/4 inches
Release Date: July 2011
Historical Account: "Causing Havoc" - Established in early 1943 as a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber Operational Training Squadron under Third Air Force. Received A-20 Havoc light attack bombers and trained in attack and light bombardment tactics; deployed to European Theater of Operations (ETO) in early 1944, assigned to Ninth Air Force in England.
From England, engaged in tactical bombardment of enemy targets mainly in coastal areas of France and the Low Countries. Attacked V-weapon sites in France. Flew a number of missions against airfields and coastal defenses to help prepare for the invasion of Normandy. Supported the invasion in June 1944 by striking road junctions, marshalling yards, bridges, and railway overpasses. Assisted ground forces at Caen and St Lo in Jul and at Brest later in the summer, by hitting transportation facilities, supply dumps, radar installations, and other targets. In spite of intense resistance, the group bombed bridges, railways, rolling stock, and a radar station to disrupt the enemy's retreat through the Falaise gap, August 6th-9th, 1944. Assisted the airborne attack on Holland in September. Supported the assault on the Siegfried Line by pounding transportation, warehouses, supply dumps, and defended villages in Germany.
Converted to A-26 Invader aircraft in November 1944. Attacked transportation facilities, strong points, communications centers, and troop concentrations during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 - January 1945. Aided the Allied thrust into Germany by continuing its strikes against transportation, communications, airfields, storage depots, and other objectives, February - May 1945. Bombed flak positions in support of the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945. Demobilized in France after the German Capitulation during the summer of 1945; squadron inactivated as a paper unit in November.