The Douglas A-26 Invader was an American twin-engined light bomber and ground attack. Her remarkable design, was so astonishingly strong and versatile that it had been adapted to every mission conceivable from bomber to tug. She was known for its speed and maneuverability.
- The Douglas A-26 Invader, designated B-26 between 1948 and 1965, is confunded many times with the Douglas A-26 Invader, which first flew in November 1940, about 16 months before the Douglas design's maiden flight. Douglas A-26 Invader and Martin B-26 Marauder whether had some stuff in common, both were powered by the widely used Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp eighteen-cylinder, double-row radial engine.
- The Douglas A-26 Invader was Douglas Aircraft's successor to the A-20 Havoc/Boston. She was a larger, more ruggedly built version, with more powerful engines, longer range, and heavier armament with remote power-driven gun turrets. She earned a reputation for its durability under fire.
- The Douglas A-26 Invader was originally built in two different configurations: A-26B and A-26C. The A-26B had a gun nose, officially termed the "all-purpose nose", later commonly known as the "six-gun nose" or "eight-gun nose", which originally could be equipped with a combination of armament. And the A-26C had a "glass" nose, officially termed the "Bombardier nose", contained a Norden bombsight for medium altitude precision bombing. An A-26C nose section could be exchanged for an A-26B nose section, or vice versa. This changed his designation, his operational role and role of his crew member. Each nose could be changed in about 24 hours by field personnel.
- Another prototype of Douglas A-26 Invader added Airborne Interception (AI) radar in the nose, four 0.50 caliber machine guns in the upper turret and four 20 mm cannons in a ventral fairing. With the introduction of the Northrop P-61, the A-26 night fighter version was never put into production.
- The Douglas A-26 Invader required only two or three crewmembers and carried more ordnance than current bombers. The Douglas Invader's lethality was furthermore accented by the option of carrying 4,000 internally and 8,000lbs on external pylons, in the form of drop bombs or 8 to 14 x 5" rockets (the latter held externally on eight or fourteen underwing pylons - the full 16 rocket deployment was achievable in lieu of the drop tanks and wing mounted bombs). In fact, Invaders were known to be able to carry greater bombloads than that as found on the larger Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses. Even she was capable of carrying two torpedoes internally but was never used as such in combat.
- Unlike the B-17, B-25 and B-24 bombers, the Douglas A-26 Invader used remote controlled gun turrets above and below the airframe. The remote turrets solved the problem of wind buffet and also allowed the guns to swing faster than possible with hand held guns.
- The Douglas A-26 Invader saw the action for the first time, with the Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific theater on 23 June 1944. In this occasion, the pilots made a very poor evaluation of it: "We do not want the A-26 under any circumstances as a replacement for anything."
- On the other hand, in Europe, the Douglas A-26 Invader saw its first war action on 6 September 1944. In this occasion, the Ninth Air Force announced that it was happy to replace all of its A-20s and B-26s with the A-26 Invader.
- In the European Theater, bombing, ground strafing, naval and rocket attacks, tactical reconnaissance and night interdiction missions were undertaken successfully. In contrast to the Pacific-based units, the Douglas A-26 Invader was well received by pilots and crew alike.
- The Douglas A-26 Invader gained experience and respect including the praises of General George S. Patton as she bombed and strafed Hitler’s despicable German War Machine and the Axis Powers on notable battlefields such as “The Bulge”.
- The Douglas A-26 Invader became the fastest US bomber of WWII. The A-26s combat career was cut short by the end of the war, and because no other use could be found for them, many A-26s were converted to JD-1 target tugs for the US Navy.
- Production deliveries of Douglas A-26 Invader began in August 1943. By the time production halted after VJ-Day, 2,502 Invaders had been built. In 1941 the cost of an A-26 was $224,498, by 1945 the cost had dropped to $175,892. The Douglas A-26/B-26 bomber had one of the longest service lives of any American warplane. She was the only American bomber to fly missions in three wars. After World War II, it served as a first-line bomber during the Korean War and during the Vietnam War.