Invaders for Chile

Last revised August 26, 2000


As a signatory to the postwar US-inspired Mutual Defense Assistance Pact (MDAP), Chile became eligible for American military aid. As part of this military aid package, B-26 Invaders were acquired to replace the Fuerza Aerea del Chile's (FACh) fleet of aging B-25 Mitchells.

The first ten Invaders were handed over to Chile in November of 1954. They had all been drawn from surplus stocks stored at McClellan AFB. Although they all bore USAF serial numbers from A-26B production blocks, they were in fact transparent-nosed B-26Cs, since they had all were converted from B-26B to B-26C standards before delivery. They bore the FACh serials 812 to 821 and were assigned to Grupo 8 based at Antofagasta. These planes were especially welcome in Chile because the B-25s were by this time very much "tired iron" and were becoming severe maintenance and spares problems.

Twelve more B-26Cs plus a pair of B-26Bs were delivered to Chile between September 1956 and March 1957, followed by nine B-26Cs and three B-26Bs in March of 1958, bringing the total received by Chile to 36.

By 1962, attrition had reduced the FACh Invader fleet to 22 B-26Cs and 2 B-26Bs. By this time, the usual problems with wing spar failures had begun to manifest themselves, and several FACh Invaders went through a wing spar upgrading and refurbishment process at Albrook AFB in the US Panama Canal Zone.

Chile was supplied with two more B-26Bs in 1963, followed by four more in 1965. This brought the total number of Invaders delivered to Chile to 40. Perhaps three more were supplied as replacements after this date, although this cannot be confirmed.

During the 1960s, some of the FACh B-26Cs were locally converted to a semi-hard six and sometimes eight-gun nose configuration and locally designated B-26D.

In 1965, the FACh's B-26s flew some limited border patrol activities during a period of increased tension with neighboring Argentina over border disputes. Fortunately, this crisis passed without any military action actually taking place.

Fatigue and attrition gradually took their toll, and only 16 B-26s were still operational by the middle of 1968. Strength was down to only ten by the early 1970s. Grupo 8 may have flown some sorties during the September 11, 1973 military coup against President Salvador Allende, but there is no evidence that they actually delivered any ordnance.

The last operational FACh B-26 was scrapped in 1979. However, several Invaders survive in Chile as gate guards or in museums.

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 Hagendorn and Leif Hellstrom, Midland Publishing, 1994.