|REVIEWER:||Carmel J Attard|
The A-26 Invader was right from the start, so good in the right hands that there was no sense in tempering with its perfections. The plain fact is that the A-26 fought in many wars than any other aircraft type. Americans flew it in WWII, Korea, Vietnam; others flew it in Indo-China, Algeria, Biafra, Cuba and Congo plus another dozen of other dirty little conflicts. Being a potent light-bomber and remarkably durable the A-26 lasted beyond four decades.
The A-26B with a solid gun-nose was designed for ground attack role. It had six 0.5 machine guns in the nose which were later on increased to eight, and remotely controlled dorsal and ventral turrets each with two 0.5” guns and up to 10 more 0.5” guns in under wing and under-fuselage packs. Heavily armoured and able to carry up to 4,000 lb bombs, the A-26B with a maximum speed of 355 mph at 15,000 ft was the fastest allied bomber in WWII. Some 1,355 A-26Bs were built which were followed by 1,091 A-26C, these having a bomb-aimer’s glazed nose.
The A-26 was rushed into combat with 553rd Bomb Squadron at Great Dunmow in England in September 1944 and soon it was operating in France and Italy. It was flying air to ground missions against the Germans and the pilots were delighted with its manoeuvrability and ease of handling. Still not all the early days were rosy, it had a weak nose gear that collapsed easily and an early cockpit canopy that was difficult to hold in the ‘open’ position for baling out. Time and attention resolved these problems and A-26 pilots took pride in mastering a demanding but effective bombing machine.
In the European theatre the Invader flew 11,567 sorties and dropped 18,054 Tons of bombs. The A-26 was nimble enough to hold its own when intercepted by fighters. Major Myron L Durkes of the 386th Bomb Group at Beaumont in France was credited with the probable kill of an Me-262 jet fighter on 19th February 1945. Some 67 Invaders were lost to all causes but the A-26 also chalked up 7 confirmed air-to-air kills.
Molded in silver plastic the A-26 was a very welcome kit when it was released some years ago, having so many detail parts and options that one could build from the kit. It had very clear cockpit and nose transparencies. The fully detailed bomb bay was another feature that attracted much attention and which could be completed with a full bomb load only seen previously on the Marauder released earlier.
Considering the time on the kit since its release, no particular hitches were encountered during building of the model. One alteration that I had to do to satisfy the version I decided to build was the rearrangement of the 8-gun layout. I made reference to ‘A-26 in action’, series of books and there I found the proper nose gun arrangement. I also replaced the guns with hypodermic needles, which were cut to size and inserted in place. One other extra work I did was sanding most of the surface rived detail. Engraved panel lines at appropriate places replaced these.
This was practically a straightforward job since the aircraft on the outside was an overall coat of silver mixed with a few drops of gloss white. Interior was cockpit green and inside of engine cowlings and wheel wells were painted in zinc chromate. I used Micro scale decal sheet No 72-281 that had an Invader A-26B in the markings of one that was nicknamed ‘Stinky’ of 386 BG at Beaumont-Sur-Oise, France on 20th April 1945. The aircraft was assigned to 552nd BS and carried codes RG-A. Stinky was salvaged in Germany after the war ended. The Micro Scale decal indicates the type to be overall light grey but pictures I have seen shows it otherwise and hence it was metal finish. Wing walkways came from another Micro Decal sheet.
This was my second Invader version I have built recently. Another enjoyable build and I also found it to be a very photogenic type of aircraft.
Ref: Airplane Encyclopaedia.
Carmel J Attard
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