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Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B)

United States (1966)
Picture of Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft
Picture of Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft Picture of Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft
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The Douglas B-26K Counter Invader was born from the World War 2-era B-26 Invader, highly modified for the counter-insurgency role in Southeast Asia during the 1960s.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/19/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The B-26K/A-26B "Counter Invader" was based on a highly-modified airframe of the World War 2-era Douglas A-26 "Invader" twin-engined attack aircraft. By 1948, the A-26 had been redesignated as the "B-26" and the B-26K was developed for counter-insurgency work in Southeast Asia. On Mark Engineering converted forty B-26B/TB-26B airframes, along with a pair of B.26C and a single JB-26C - for the role and changes included 2 x R-2800-103W radial engines of 2,500 horsepower, dual-control schemes in the cockpit, wingtip fuel tanks, and modernized avionics. The ordnance load was increased from the wartime model and all turreted armament removed in favor of fixed, forward-firing weapons. Different engine cowls were also added as were cropped propeller units.

The original designation for this aircraft was known in the United States inventory as "B-26B" but became "A-26K" when the units were stationed overseas in countries such as Thailand for local authorities refused to allow "bombers" on home soil during the war in Southeast Asia - hence the designation changes in the Counter Invader's short history. As such, it is often referred rather interchangeably as the "B-26K" or "A-26B" ("B" meaning "Bomber" and "A" meaning "Attack").

Externally, the Counter Invader retained much of the form of its World War 2 counterpart. The aircraft utilized shoulder-mounted monoplane wings which were reinforced for its new mission role and showcased dihedral. The engine nacelles were fitted to the leading wing edges in the typical way with each powerplant driving three-bladed (reversible) propellers. The undercarriage was of a conventional tricycle arrangement with two main members and a noseleg for ground-running. The stepped cockpit was positioned just aft of the nose assembly with the nose housing the aircraft's primary armament. The fuselage incorporated rounded edges and was slab-sided, tapering off to form the empennage. The all-new tail unit relied on a single (clipped) vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes (also displaying dihredral).

The forward, fixed armament consisted of 8 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns stacked as two columns of four guns each. Up to 8,000lb of mixed ordnance (rocket pods, conventional drop bombs, gun pods, cannon pods) could be carried externally at multiple underwing hardpoints (four to a wing). Internally, an additional 4,000lb of drop stores could be hauled giving the B-26K quite the potent punch.

As modified, the aircraft could reach speeds of 323 miles per hour out to a range of 2,700 miles and up to a ceiling of 30,000 feet. Dimensions included a wingspan of 71.5 feet, a length of 51.6 feet, and a height of 19 feet. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) became 38,314lb.

While the original Douglas A-26 Invaders saw combat actions throughout World War 2 (1939-1945) and the upcoming Korean War (1950-1953) (as the B-26), the revised B-26K "Counter Invader" would be sent to Southeast Asia in 1966.

The series was actually retired from frontline service in 1958 but brought back online in 1961 when the USAF saw a need for tactical bombers over the region. Wear-and-tear eventually forced their removal once more in 1964 but as soon as 1966, the revitalized series returned to service in their new Counter Invader guises. These aircraft would serve in the region up until 1969 by which time they were finally removed from frontline service - again simply due to the stress and rigors of war placed on the decades-old airframes.

Counter Invader pilots were known as "Nimrods".


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



Any available statistics for the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).




Cockpit picture from the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft
Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Cockpit Picture
General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
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Performance  
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Survivability  
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Versatility  
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Impact  
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Rating: 72 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (322mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
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  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
40
40


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1966
Type: Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Douglas Aircraft Company - USA
Production: 40
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
United States (retired)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
3


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
51.71 ft


Meters
15.76 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
71.52 ft


Meters
21.8 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
19.00 ft


Meters
5.79 m


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
38,312 lb


Kilograms
17,378 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-52W water-injected radial piston engines developing 2,500 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
322 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
519 kph


Knots
280 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
2,700 mi


Kilometers
4,345 km


Nautical Miles
2,346 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
30,000 ft


Meters
9,144 m


Miles
5.68 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft machine gun pod
Graphical image of an aircraft cannon pod
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (8):

STANDARD:
8 x 0.50 caliber fixed, forward-firing heavy machine guns in nose.

OPTIONAL:
8 x External Hardpoints capable of up to 8,000lb of mixed ordnance (to include gun pods, cannon pods, bombs, rocket pods). An additional 4,000lb carried in an internal bomb bay.
Variants: 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.