Aviation of World War II
Designed to replace the A-20 Havok with a superior engineering team led by Edward H. Heinemann at El Segundo, California, the XA-26 prototype (42-19504) took off on July 10, 1942, piloted by Ben Howard. The appearance of the "Invader" (Invader - "invader") subsequently changed little, but the first machine differed in camouflage and large propeller cocks.
Heinemann began with three options: the XA-26 (later A-26C) - a bomber with a glazed bow for the navigator-bombardier, A-26A - a night fighter with a radar in the bow and four ventral 20-mm cannons, and XA-26V with an opaque nose, which housed small arms for an assault attack. The night fighter was in production for a short time, but the bombers were massively built on Douglas assembly lines in Long Beach, California, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The A-26B had six 12.7-mm machine guns in the bow (later their number was increased to eight), remote-controlled upper and lower turrets, each with two 12.7-mm machine guns, and up to 10 or more 12.7- mm machine guns in underwing and ventral containers. Heavily armored and capable of carrying up to 1,814 kg of bombs, the A-26B, with a maximum speed of 571 km / h at an altitude of 4,570 m, was the fastest bomber of the Allies in World War II.
Construction. Wing. For the first time on a medium bomber a wing with a laminar profile NAA-NACA was used (a similar profile has already been used on the P-51 Mustang). The shape of the wing is trapezoidal in plan. The main structural material is aluminum alloys. Fuel tanks were located in four sections of the two-spar wing. Oil coolers with frontal air intakes were located near the engine nacelles. The sturdy wing structure provided the Inveder with extraordinary survivability. There are cases when aircraft, which were destroyed up to 1/3 of the wing area, successfully returned from combat missions. The mechanization included four sections of double-slotted flaps that had three fixed positions: takeoff (15 o ), landing (45 o ) and retracted. Flap control is hydraulic.
The landing gear of the aircraft was tricycle with a nose wheel, it had air-oil depreciation. The nose wheel is self-orienting and equipped with a "shimmy" oscillation compensator. The landing gear could rotate around its axis by 360° and retrace with a turn of the wheel 90°.
The main landing gear was located behind the engines and retracted by turning back in flight. The landing gear niches were covered with fairings. The main harvesting and discharge system is hydraulic. Reserve - air.
The first production aircraft were powered by Pratt and Whitney or Ford R2800-71 engines with a capacity of 2000 hp. Starting with the "Inweider" N701, R2800-79 motors with a capacity of 2370 hp were installed on the aircraft. The engines were equipped with a fire-fighting system with fuel cut-off valves. The engine hoods, which are in two halves (upper and lower), are quick-release for easy maintenance. Field replacement of engines was carried out by three technicians in one hour, due to the fact that the engine was attached to the tubular frame at six points.
Approximately 1355 A-26B attack aircraft and 1091 A-26C bombers were built.
Armament. The defensive armament consisted of two General Electric remote-controlled turrets taken from a B-29 bomber, but with different profile limiters of fire. Each turret had two Browning M2 machine guns of 12.7 mm caliber, 500 rounds of ammunition per barrel. The upper turret rotated 360 0 and, if necessary, could fire forward, increasing the overall firepower of offensive weapons. The tower remote control system was developed by General Electric for the A-26 aircraft on a basis similar to the B-29 aircraft.
Combat use. Thrown into battle in September 1944 as part of the 553rd Bomber Squadron based in Great Dunmow, England, and soon also appeared in France and Italy, the Invader began to inflict air strikes against the Germans before the elimination of manufacturing defects. The pilots were delighted with the maneuverability and ease of control, but the A-26 had an unnecessarily complex and tiring instrument panel, as well as a weak, easily destroyed front landing gear. The cockpit canopy was difficult to open when leaving the vehicle in an emergency. Over time, these problems were resolved, and the A-26 pilots took pride in mastering an effective combat vehicle.
In the European theater of operations "Inveders" made 11,567 sorties and dropped 18,054 tons of bombs. The A-26 was also nimble enough to stand up for itself when faced with enemy fighters. Major Myron L. Durkee of the 386th Bomber Group in Bumont (France) chalked up a "likely victory" over the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter on February 19, 1945.
In Europe, for various reasons, about 67 "invaders" were lost, but the A-26 has seven confirmed victories in aerial battles.
In the Pacific, Invader has also progressed from a bad start to a high performance. Powered by Pratt-Whitney R-2800-27 Double Wasp engines, 2000 hp each. (1491 kW) and a speed at sea level of at least 600 km / h, the "Invader" was a powerful weapon for assault attacks on land and sea targets, but the crews did not immediately take up this. The A-20 pilots, who reigned supreme in their tall single-seater cockpits, now found themselves next to the navigator in the right-hand folding seat - essentially the co-pilot, but without controls. When missiles and bombs were used together during a low-altitude attack, shrapnel damaged the Inveder's belly. Convinced that the new machine is not suitable for work at low altitude, the commander of the 5th Air Force, George Keniyo, demanded not to rearm the units from the A-20 to the A-26. But after the appropriate modifications, the A-26 also began to replace the North American B-25 Mitchell in some parts. The A-26 aircraft were in service with the 3rd, 41st and 319th bombing groups of the US Air Force in operations against Formosa, Okinawa and the territory of Japan itself. The Iniders were active near Nagasaki before the second atomic bomb was dropped on that city.