Douglas A-26C Invader

Last revised December 31, 2000


The A-26C was essentially identical to the A-26B, but featured a transparent nose with two forward-firing 0.50-inch machine guns on the starboard side. The bombardier (who also handled the task of navigation) sitting in the transparent nose permitted more accurate bombing from medium altitudes. The airframe, powerplant installation, defensive armament and systems were otherwise identical.

The A-26C was originally put in production in parallel with the solid-nosed B in both the Long Beach and Tulsa plants. It was soon concluded that this was an inefficient arrangement, and at the end of 1944 the decision was made that the C-version would be built exclusively at Tulsa and the B-version exclusively at Long Beach. As it turned out, only five A-26Cs actually left the Long Beach production line before production of the C terminated there.

The modifications introduced on the A-26B production line were also introduced on the A-26C line. The clamshell canopy appeared beginning with the A-26C-30-DT block. The water-injected R-2800-79 engines wing panels with internally-mounted guns, increased tank capacity, and provision for underwing rockets were introduced on the production line with the A-26C-45-DT block.

A total of 1091 A-26Cs were built. 1086 of them were built by Tulsa (A-26C-16-DT to A-26B-55-DT) and only 5 by Long Beach (A-26C-1-DL and A-26C-2-DL). Invader production ended at Tulsa in August of 1945, when the end of the war brought the cancellation of all further A-26C contracts.

The A-26B and A-26C were essentially identical except for their noses. An A-26B could be fairly easily transformed in the field into an A-26C in a matter of a few hours, and vice versa. These conversions were actually quite common, and, for example, when an A-26B was refitted with a A-26C nose, it was officially redesignated as A-26C. A similar redesignation took place when A-26Cs were fitted with B-26B noses.

In June of 1948, the A-26C was redesignated B-26C. There was no danger of confusion with the Martin B-26 Marauder, since that aircraft was by that time out of service.

The entrance and exit from the A-26C were much the same as they were for the solid-nosed A-26B version, but the presence of the bombardier position in the transparent nose made for some differences. The navigator/bombardier could enter the nose via a door installed underneath the nose with a built-in pull-down ladder. However, there was a narrow tunnel that led from the nose to the right-hand side of the cockpit, and the bombardier/navigator could sit on a rudimentary seat to the right of the pilot, and could move in flight into the transparent nose when needed. In the event of an inflight emergency, the bombardier/navigator sitting in the nose could jettison the undernose hatch and simply drop out of the plane.

There were both single- and dual-control A-26Cs built. In the dual-control version, there were instruments and a set of flight controls installed in front of the right hand seat position, whereas in the single-control version there was only a seat present. The copilot seated in this position could do everything that the pilot could do, with the exception of bomb release (the bomb release switches were on the pilot's side and could be reached by the copilot only by unstrapping and reaching over the pilot). There was a problem in that the presence of the copilot's position in the dual-control A-26 generally made it impossible for the bombardier/navigator to move in or out of the nose while in flight. However, in an emergency, there was a pin that could be pulled out of the right-hand control column so that it could be pulled aside, freeing up entrance to the tunnel. In the single-control version, these same instruments were installed on a panel running at a right angle to the other instruments and jutting back a bit so that the pilot could see them and so that there was more room to get in and out of the tunnel. To the rear of the navigator/bombardier's seat was a jump seat that could be used by an extra crewman who was going along for a ride. Typically, the right-hand seat was occupied either by a co-pilot, a navigator, or a flight engineer, so transparent-nosed A-26Cs with dual controls usually carried four crew memembers.

Serials of Douglas A-26C Invader


41-39152			Douglas A-26C-1-DL Invader
				c/n 6865
41-39193			Douglas A-26C-2-DL Invader
				c/n 6906
41-39195			Douglas A-26C-2-DL Invader
				c/n 6908
41-39199/39200		Douglas A-26C-2-DL Invader
				c/n 6912/6913
43-22304			Douglas A-26C-16-DT Invader
				c/n 18451
43-22308/22312		Douglas A-26C-16-DT Invader
				c/n 18455/18459
43-22346/22349		Douglas A-26C-16-DT Invader
				c/n 18493/18496
43-22467/22493		Douglas A-26C-15-DT Invader
				c/n 18614/18640
43-22494/22564		Douglas A-26C-20-DT Invader
				c/n 18641/18711
43-22565/22751		Douglas A-26C-25-DT Invader
				c/n 18712/18898
44-35198/35357		Douglas A-26C-30-DT Invader
				c/n 28477/28636
44-35358/35557		Douglas A-26C-35-DT Invader
				c/n 28637/28836
44-35558/35562		Douglas A-26C-40-DT Invader
				c/n 28837/28841
44-35564/35655		Douglas A-26C-40-DT Invader
				c/n 28843/28934
44-35656/35782		Douglas A-26C-45-DT Invader
				c/n 28935/29061
44-35783/35937		Douglas A-26C-50-DT Invader
				c/n 29062/29216
44-35938/35947		Douglas A-26C-55-DT Invader
				c/n 29217/29226
44-35953			Douglas A-26C-55-DT Invader
				c/n 29232
44-35955			Douglas A-26C-55-DT Invader
				c/n 29234
44-35957/35996		Douglas A-26C-55-DT Invader
				c/n 29236/29275
				

Specification of Douglas A-26C-30-DT Invader:

Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 or -71 air-cooled radials, each rated at 2000 hp. Performance: Maximum speed 355 mph at 15,000 feet. Cruising speed 284 mph. An altitude of 10,000 feet could be attained in 8.0 minutes. Service ceiling 22,100 feet. Normal range 1400 miles, Maximum range 3200 miles. Dimensions: Wingspan 70 feet 0 inches, length 51 feet 3 inches, height 18 feet 6 inches, wing area 540 square feet. Weights: 22,850 pounds empty, 27,600 pounds loaded, 35,000 pounds maximum. Armament: Two forward-firing 0.50-inch machine guns in nose. Two 0.50-inch machine guns in remotely-controlled dorsal turret. Two 0.50-inch machine guns in remotely-controlled ventral turret. An internal bomb load of 4000 pounds could be carried Maximum total bomb load of 6000 pounds.

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. E-mail from Bob McFarland on crew entrance and exit to A-26C