A-26 / B-26 Invader in Action

Published: November 7th, 2016     
Product Image
Book cover
Author: David Doyle
Reviewed by: Frank Landrus - IPMS# 35035
ISBN #: 13: 978-0-89747-818-2
Other Publication Information: In Action Series, soft Bound (Squared), 8.5” x 11”, 80 pages, Color Art: Don Greer, Line Drawings: Todd Sturgell
Price: $19.95
Product / Stock #: 10242
Product provided by: David Doyle Books

David Doyle's latest book continues to expand on Squadron Signal's long standing In Action series that initiated back in 1971. This is actually the third book to cover the A-26/B-26 Invader in the In Action series. Jim Mesko authored the first in 1984 (1037) followed by Jim Mesko in 1993 (1134), both of which are out of print. This edition by David Doyle adds considerably to the material provided in the first two. Veteran illustrator Don Greer provides the color artwork for the full page length color profiles within this tome. Todd Sturgell provides the line illustrations that depict the differences between variants.

After many years of being published in enthusiast publications focused on military vehicle restorations, David Doyle 'graduated' to full-fledged books in 2003. His first book was a hefty 512 page history of US military vehicles. He has now had more than 100 books published in military vehicles, aviation and naval topics. David and his wife Denise have amassed a collection of ten Vietnam era military vehicles that they still display at shows. In June 2015, David was honored with the Military Vehicle Preservation Association's Bart Vanderveen Award, given in recognition of "...the individual who has contributed the most to the historic preservation of military vehicles worldwide."

This book follows the normal format of the In Action series, detailing the development and service history of the Douglas A-26/B-26 Invader. This is expanded from Squadron's standard 60 page version of their In Action format and it runs 80 pages packed with large, clear photographs. The front cover color photo depicts an A-26A/B-26K 'Counter-Invader' on the tarmac. The back cover shows a a Douglas A-26B-50 assigned to the 13th Bombardment Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Group in Korea painted in overall black with a six gun nose complementing the three guns in each wing. I counted 180 well-captioned photographs; 37 in color and 143 in black and white. There were 38 black and white drawings along with two color profiles.

The Douglas A-26 / B-26 Invader was originally a company-sponsored project led by Ed Heinemann to succeed their A-20 Havoc and their competition's North American B-25 and Martin B-26. Design work on the Invader initiated just one month after the first flight of the Douglas A-20 resulting in a wooden mockup shown to the US Army Air Corps in early April 1941. A development contract followed, but several delays prevented the first production aircraft from taking flight until September 1943. The Invader did see combat in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam before being retired in 1969.

David Doyle starts with an introduction to the Invader development, and goes through the three XA-26 prototypes to the XA-26F. The US Navy's version, the JD-1 / UB-26J, is also covered. The next sections cover the Invaders' use in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The Vietnam chapter includes the conversion by On Mark Engineering to produce the B-26K / A-26A Counter Invader. Each variant includes well-captioned photographs to continue the text storyline, enhanced with drawings and profiles to highlight the developmental changes for each variant. I especially enjoyed the photographs and captions on the XA-26B, with the exceptionally clear photographs on the 75mm cannon installation with its clamshell cover. Another interesting development was the XA-26F, with its General Electric J31 turbojet installed in the aft fuselage. David Doyle also includes color photographs of a top secret A-26B that was modified for Project Redbird. This distinctive A-26B housed Airborne Infrared Search and Detection equipment to locate ground targets (like locomotives) for targeting by its accompanying 'killer' Invaders.

The Table of Contents includes the following:

  • Introduction
  • XA-26 [Page 6]
  • XA-26A
  • XA-26B [Page 12]
  • A-26B [Page 20]
  • Invader Serial Numbers and Production Blocks (Table)
  • A-26C [Page 34]
  • XA-26F
  • JD-1
  • World War II [Page 52]
  • Korea
  • Vietnam [Page 65]
  • B-26K [Page 72]

This is a gorgeous soft-bound book and is well worth the money. David Doyle provides lots of detailed photographs with the majority in color. I've always enjoyed Squadron's In Action format as their line drawings focus on the differences from variant to variant, making it easy to spot the different versions in the period black and white or color photographs.

Highly recommended!

My thanks to David Doyle Books and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

  • Front cover
    Front cover
  • Page 06: XA-26DE test flight
    Page 06: XA-26DE test flight
  • Page 12: 75MM cannon and its clamshell cover
    Page 12: 75MM cannon and its clamshell cover
  • Page 20: Comparison of nose-mounted machine gun configurations
    Page 20: Comparison of nose-mounted machine gun configurations
  • Page 34: A-26C-20-DT - Dihedral and skin analysis
    Page 34: A-26C-20-DT - Dihedral and skin analysis
  • Page 52: Contrast of views of several different aircraft, two in color, two in b+w
    Page 52: Contrast of views of several different aircraft, two in color, two in b+w
  • Page 65: Three pictures of different B-26B aircraft
    Page 65: Three pictures of different B-26B aircraft
  • Page 72: Conversion of B-26Bs to B-26K Counter Invaders
    Page 72: Conversion of B-26Bs to B-26K Counter Invaders
  • Back cover
    Back cover

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