Douglas RB-26L Invader

Last revised August 26, 2000


The designation RB-26L was assigned to two RB-26Cs (serials 44-34718 and 44-35782) that were modified in 1962 for night photography missions. The two RB-26Ls had originally been built at the factory as B-26Bs, but were later changed to RB-26C by a switch of noses. These modifications were performed by General Dynamics at Fort Worth, with assistance from E-Systems at Greenville. The planes were equipped with state of the art reconnaissance systems such as cameras and associated equipment. One of them was equipped with a Reconofax Vi infrared aerial mapping system which could be used for nighttime surveillance.

The two RB-26Ls were assigned to the Farm Gate detachment that was operating in South Vietnam, arriving at Bien Hoa in March of 1963. They replaced the RB-26Cs that had previously been operating in the reconnaissance role, and were for a while the only aircraft in South Vietnam with any real night reconnaissance capability, aside from the single RC-97 that was operating with Project Brave Bull. Unfortunately, the infrared system of the RB-26L was difficult to maintain in the damp and dusty climate of South Vietnam, and did not work as well as had been hoped.

Sources:


  1. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.

  2. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume I, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1988.

  3. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  4. Foreign Invaders--The Douglas Invader in Foreign Military and US Clandestine Service, Dan Hagedorn and Leif Hellstrom, Midland Publishing, Ltd, 1994.