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.
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Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.
McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume I, Rene J. Francillon,
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