Douglas A-26 Invader
Designed as a sucessor to the A-20 Havoc and B-25 and B-26 medium bombers. Invaders saw action at the end of the war. Because of production delays, a night-fighter variant was never implimented, as the P-61 Black Widow reached production first.
World War II Pacfic Usage
Douglas began delivery of A-26B Invaders to the U. S. Army Air Force during August 1943. First combat usage was with the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group on a four plane low level strike on June 23, 1944 åttacking Manokwari the South West Pacific Area. Afterwards, General George Kenney, commander of the Far East Air Forces (FEAF) stated that, "We do not want the A-26 under any circumstances as a replacement for anything." Regardless, A-26 were used in the last months of the war.
Until changes could be made, the 3d Bomb Group requested additional Douglas A-20 Havocs, although both types were used in composite flights. The 319th Bomb Group worked up on the A-26 in March 1945, joining the initial 3rd BG, with the 319th flying until 12 August 1945. The A-26 operations wound down in mid-August 1945 with only a few dozen missions flown. Several of the A-20 and B-25 AAF units in the Pacific received the A-26 for trials, in limited quantities.
Korean War Usage
After the U. S. Air Force (USAF) was formed, this aircraft was redesigned the B-26 Invader (not to be confused with the B-26 Marauder). During the Korean War, used by the 3rd Bombardment Group on the first missions from Japan against Korea and the first USAF bombing mission on North Korea on June 29, 1950, when B-26s bombed an airfield outside Pyongyang.
On 10 August 1950, the Air Force Reserve's 452d Bombardment Wing was activated for Korean service. It flew its first missions in November 1950 from Itazuke, Japan, providing daylight support, with the 3rd Bomb Wing, consisting of the 8th, 13th and 90th Bomb Squadrons, flying night missions. Because of the Chinese intervention, it was forced to find another base and moved to Miho Air Base on the west coast of Honshū. In early 1951 it moved to Pusan East (K-9) Air Base and continued its daylight as well as night intruder missions. In June 1951, it joined the 3rd Bomb Wing (Kunsan K-8) in night activity only, dividing the target areas, with the 452nd taking the eastern half and the 3rd the western. For its efforts in the Korean War, it was awarded two unit citations and the Korean Presidential Citation. It also received credit for eight campaign operations. In May 1952 it was inactivated and all of its aircraft and equipment along with its regular air force personnel were absorbed by the 17th Bomb Wing. During its time as an active unit, the 452nd flew 15,000 sorties (7000 at night) with a loss of 85 crewmen.
B-26s were credited with the destruction of 38,500 vehicles, 406 locomotives, 3,700 railway trucks, and seven enemy aircraft on the ground. On 14 September 1951, Captain John S. Walmsley, Jr. attacked a supply train. When his guns jammed, he illuminated the target with his searchlight to enable his wingmen to destroy the train. Walmsley was shot down and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Invaders carried out the last USAF bombing mission of the war 24 minutes before the Armistice Agreement was signed on 27 June 1953.
In addition to the standard attack versions of the B-26 which flew night interdiction missions, a small number of modified WB-26s and RB-26s of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing flew critical weather observation and reconnaissance missions in supporting roles.
Role in Indonesia
Concerned about Indonesian President Sukarno's communist leanings, the CIA started Operation Haik in 1958 to overthrow his Guided Democracy in Indonesia regime. The covert op committed at least a dozen B-26 Invaders in support of rebel forces. On 18 May 1958, American contract pilot Allen Pope's blacked-out B-26 was initially hit by anti-aircraft ground fire and then brought down by a North American P-51 Mustang flown by Capt. Ignatius Dewanto (the only known air-to-air kill in the history of the Indonesian Air Force). The capture and trial of Lieutenant Pope brought a quick end to Operation Haik, but the capabilities of the Invader were not lost on the Indonesian government. In 1959, the government purchased six aircraft at Davis-Monthan AFB, which were ferried to Indonesia in full military markings[which?] during mid-1960. Utilized in a number of actions against rebels in various areas, these aircraft would go on to long follow-up careers. The last operational flights of three final survivors was in 1976, supporting the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. In 1977, the last two flying aircraft were retired