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Douglas B-26K/A-26B Counter Invader

United States (1961)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Douglas B-26K/A-26B Counter Invader Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 1/2/2018; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Douglas B-26K/A-26B Counter Invader  
Picture of Douglas B-26K/A-26B Counter Invader Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft

The Douglas B-26K Counter Invader, a highly modified version of the World War 2-era A-26 Invader, was used in the ground attack and Close-Air Support roles.

The B-26K/A-26B "Counter Invader" was based on a highly modified airframe of the World War 2-era Douglas A-26 Invader attack aircraft. What set the "Counter Invader" visibly apart from its predecessor was its lack of turreted gun systems as found in the original wartime Invader, having them removed in favor of a heavier-class, forward-firing armament as well as a greater internal/external ordnance load. Different engine cowls with cropped propeller assemblies were also implemented as was a revised cockpit.

Externally, the Counter Invader retained much of the same appearance of her World War 2 counterpart. She sported high-mounted monoplane wing assemblies with noticeable dihedral. The engines were fitted to the leading wing edge and each system sported three-bladed propellers. Her undercarriage was of a conventional tricycle arrangement that featuring two single-wheeled main landing gear legs and a single wheeled nose landing gear. The cockpit remained just aft of the elongated nose assembly and the nose assembly itself housed the aircraft's primary armament. The fuselage was slab-sided and tapered off into a streamlined empennage. The tail section was made up of a single squared-off vertical tail fin and two horizontal planes, these with dihedral angles.

The B-26K/A-26B Counter Invader was fitted with an impressive forward-fixed nose armament mounting 8 x 12.7mm (.50 caliber) machine guns. Provisions for underwing stores were also featured to make the Counter Invader a true attack aircraft. These hardpoints could field a mixed ordnance load of up to 8,000lbs. Internal bomb load capacity added another 4,000lbs of available stores. Modifications to the aircraft were completed by On Mark Engineering and included wing-tip mounted fuel tanks, reversible propellers, reinforced wing structures, refined airframe improvements, new tail sections and improved powerplants.
Picture of the Douglas B-26K/A-26B Counter Invader Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft
Picture of the Douglas B-26K/A-26B Counter Invader Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft

While the original Douglas A-26 Invaders saw combat actions throughout World War 2 (1939-1945) and the upcoming Korean War (1950-1953), the revised B-26K/A-26B "Counter Invader" would see action beginning in 1966 over Southeast Asia. These aircraft would serve in the region up until 1969 by which time they were removed from frontline service due to the stress and rigors of war against these decades-old airframes. The designation of "Counter Invader" was related directly to the "counter insurgency" role that the aircraft would be called upon to play in the Vietnam War.

As per authoritative notes regarding the fine B-26K/A-26B, the pilots of Counter Invader aircraft were known as "Nimrods" and the alternating designation changes are as such - the original designation for the aircraft, known in the United States as the "B-26B", became the "A-26K" when stationed overseas in countries such as Thailand for Thai authorities would not allow "bombers" to be stationed on their soil during the war - hence the slight designation change in the aircraft's history and it often being referred interchangeably as the "B-26K" or "A-26B" ("B" for "Bomber" and "A" for "Attack").
Cockpit picture from the Douglas B-26K/A-26B Counter Invader Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft
Douglas B-26K/A-26B Counter Invader Cockpit Picture
Douglas B-26K Counter Invader Specifications
National Flag Graphic
United States
Year: 1961
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Type: Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Douglas Aircraft Company - USA
Production: 40
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 3
Length: 51.71 ft (15.76 m)
Width: 71.52 ft (21.80 m)
Height: 19.00 ft (5.79 m)
MTOW: 38,312 lb (17,378 kg)

Installed Power
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-52W water-injected radial piston engines developing 2,500 horsepower.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 322 mph (519 kph; 280 kts)
Maximum Range: 2,700 mi (4,345 km; 2,346 nm)
Service Ceiling: 30,000 ft (9,144 m; 5.68 mi)

8 x 12.7mm (.50 caliber) forward-fixed heavy machine guns in nose.

8 x External Hardpoints capable of up to 8,000lbs of mixed ordnance.

Up to 4,000lbs of mixed ordnance in internal bomb bay.

Operators List
United States

Series Model Variants
• B-26K "Counter Invader" - Original Designation; Tactical Strike Aircraft Model fitted with 8 x 12.7mm machine guns in nose assembly; turrets removed; provisions for external wing hardpoints (8x); reconfigured cockpit.
• VB-26B - US National Guard Model Designation
• A-26B "Counter Invader" - Vietnam Theater Designation.

Supported Weapon Systems
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

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