12 Planes of Christmas – Douglas A-26 Invader

A-26 Sierra Hotel Sponsor Group_front three quarter with #2 buttoned up
The CAF’s A-26 Sierra Hotel Sponsor Group’s Douglas Invader outside the unit’s hangar. (photo via CAF)

As part of WarbirdsNews support for the Commemorative Air Force’s fund-raising campaign ’12 Planes of Christmas’ we will be highlighting each of the aircraft on their list. The fourth of these is the Sierra Hotel Sponsor Group’s Douglas A-26C Invader in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

About This Aircraft
Overcoming a broken spar, then major damage from a tornado, the Sierra Hotel Sponsor Group is nearing the end of an epic restoration of its A-26 Invader. The speedy Douglas A-26 Invader was a “three-war airplane,” proving to be a success day and night in World War II, the Korean War, and the early stages of the Viet Nam War. The Sierra Hotel Sponsor Group’s airplane has been in restoration since 1999, after grounding due to the discovery of a broken spar. In 2003, the project suffered an even more serious setback following a tornado which caused additional damage. The restoration is now in its final phase, and will see the Invader return to her late-WWII configuration. This will enable the aircraft to share the stories of low-level A-26 attack missions which helped cripple Axis infrastructure beginning in June, 1944.

Sierra Hotel’s Douglas A-26C Invader 44-35643 has an interesting combat record, actually having served with the French Air Force in Indochina during the mid-fifties. The French returned her to the US Air Force by 1955, and the she was on the civilian market by 1957.

a-26 monarch conversion-03_cr

The Invader served as the prototype Rock Island Monarch 26 conversion, turning it into a safe, high speed, high performance executive transport. The company brochure above shows the exterior reconfiguration of the Monarch Invader, which included the removal of all military equipment, a heavily modified nose, and large windows in the rear fuselage among other things. About 36 Invaders received the Monarch 26 conversion, with 44-35643 being the first to receive certification.

Support This Aircraft
The initial major challenge facing the volunteer team was repairing a damaged wing spar. This seemed insurmountable, until Boeing stepped forward and agreed to produce new spar caps free of charge. The tornado damage is now repaired and the airplane has also received new wiring. The Sierra Hotel Support Group has procured fresh engines, which are now mounted on the airframe. The propellers are also fully inspected and overhauled. In order to test all of the associated pumps and subsystems, the restoration team turned through the engines at the beginning of October. However, there are still some significant milestones remaining. A fresh paint job is probably the most expensive issue, likely costing tens of thousands of dollars, but as the aircraft is reassembled, minor technical discrepancies are expected and will need to be addressed. When the A-26 is returned to flying condition, the Sierra Hotel Sponsor Group plans to use this Tulsa-built airplane to remind audiences at air shows across the country of the impressive contributions Oklahoma’s aircraft factories made to the war effort.

To support this aircraft click HERE.


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