Invaders for Saudi Arabia

Last revised August 26, 2000


The government of Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, with a legitimacy based on a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law. The king is both head of state and head of government, and there is no written constitution or elected legislature. Royal family members head important ministries and agencies. Political parties, labor unions, and professional associations are banned

In the early 1930s, massive amounts of oil had been discovered in Saudi Arabia. British and United States companies competed for the rights to develop that oil.  Standard Oil of California (Socal), won out in the competition and struck small pockets of oil fairly quickly. By the end of the decade, Socal discovered enormous deposits that were close to the surface and thus inexpensive to extract.  Shortly after the end of the Second World War, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was beginning to obtain increased revenues from the expansion of its oil business and was well on its way to becoming the wealthy oil producer it is today.

By the early 1950s, Saudi Arabia was sufficiently wealthy that it began to think about building up the Al Quwwat Al Jawwiya Assa'Udiaya (Royal Saudi Air Force). The RSAF was established in 1950 during the reign of Abd al Aziz. Initially it had been under the control of the army, and was a fairly small unit made up of foreign (mainly British) advisers, plus a few Saudi pilots and maintenance personnel. This time, the Kingdom wanted to field an up-to-date air force staffed with indigenous personnel rather than by foreigners.

In 1953, Saudi Arabia requested 18 B-26s from the United States. However, the Korean War was still raging at that time, and the USAF had none to spare. When the Korean War ended, the USAF agreed to transfer some B-26Bs to the RSAF. A total of 9 were delivered, the RSAF receiving its first B-26B in February 1954, and the last being delivered in June of 1955.

The RSAF B-26Bs were based at Jeddah. They were assigned RSAF serials 301 through 309, which were not allocated in order of delivery. Unfortunately, the RSAF B-26Bs never became truly operational. The planes were not supported under MAP, and the RSAF initially had trouble in getting enough qualified pilots to operate their B-26Bs. Consequently, the RSAF B-26Bs ended up flying only very rarely if at all. In addition, the civilian contractors who did the maintenance at Jeddah were not well trained or equipped, and spare parts and general serviceability were severe problems from 1957 onward. The RSAF B-26Bs were effectively grounded after that time.

Shortly thereafter, Saudi Arabia acquired jet aircraft, and a new treaty was signed, greatly expanding the US Military Training Mission in Saudi Arabia. Since the B-26Bs were not MAP supported, they rapidly fell into disuse and ended up more-or-less derelict at Jeddah. Although some attempts were made to sell them to overseas buyers, no customers were ever found. One Invader, 43-22679, ended up as a gate guardian at the King Faisal Air Academy near Riyadh. The others were presumably scrapped.

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.

  5. US Libray of Congress Country Study--Saudi Arabia