Hobby Master HA3203 US Air Force Douglas B-26B Invader Light Attack Bomber - "Brown Nose", 731st Bomb Squadron, 452nd Bomb Wing, Iwakuni Air Base, Korea, Early 1951 (1:72 Scale)
"Although separated by miles and communities, we are one in purpose and policy ... To build the largest number possible of the best airplanes in the shortest possible time."
- Donald Douglas Sr., founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company
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 Air Force Douglas B-26B Invader light attack bomber was attached to the 731st Bomb Squadron, 452nd Bomb Wing, then deployed to Iwakuni Air Base, Korea, during early 1951.
Wingspan: 8-1/4 inches
Length: 11-3/4 inches
Release Date: November 2011
Historical Account: "Dark is the Night" - Established in mid-1943 as a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombardment squadron; assigned to II Bomber Command for training, primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) in January 1944, being assigned to Eighth Air Force in England. Engaged in strategic bombardment operations over Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany, becoming one of the most highly decorated squadron of the Air Offensive. Engaged in strategic bombardment operations until the German Capitulation in May 1945. Returned to the United States and prepared for B-29 transition training, however Japanese Capitulation in August led to unit's inactivation in November.
Reactivated in the reserves in 1947 as a B-26 Invader light bomber squadron, assigned to Long Beach AAF, California. Moved to George AFB in 1950 when Long Beach was closed. Wad deployed to Japan in August 1950 for combat duty during the Korean War, engaged in night bombardment missions over both North and South Korea. Inactivated in June 1951 with assets being reassigned to active-duty units.