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


Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft


United States | 1966



"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."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/29/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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Firepower
Performance
Survivability
Versatility
Impact
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".

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Cockpit
While traditional jobs involve workstations, office desks, or cubicles, aircraft provide operators with their own unique, ever-changing view of the world below.
Cockpit image
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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft.
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-52W water-injected radial piston engines developing 2,500 horsepower.
Propulsion
322 mph
519 kph | 280 kts
Max Speed
30,000 ft
9,144 m | 6 miles
Service Ceiling
2,700 miles
4,345 km | 2,346 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft.
3
(MANNED)
Crew
51.7 ft
15.76 m
O/A Length
71.5 ft
(21.80 m)
O/A Width
19.0 ft
(5.79 m)
O/A Height
38,312 lb
(17,378 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft .
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
Notable series variants as part of the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) family line.
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.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 40 Units

Contractor(s): Douglas Aircraft Company - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (retired) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (322mph).

Graph Average of 300 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
40
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
GROUND ATTACK
CLOSE-AIR SUPPORT
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Similar
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft.
Going Further...
The Douglas B-26K Counter Invader (A-26B) Tactical Support / Ground Attack Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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