Periodically, we highlight vintage military aircraft listed for sale with Platinum Fighters, one of our sponsors, and have decided to feature Douglas A-26B Invader 44-34778.
44-34778 was one of the very last B-model Invaders ordered by the U.S. Army Air Forces, being part of batch 44-34777 – 35197. This contract ended up being cancelled, but not before Douglas had completed a good number of airframes. According to Joe Baugher, many of these Invaders were indeed delivered, but not officially taken on USAAF charge. Instead they passed to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. 44-34778 went into storage at the massive boneyard in Kingman, Arizona; arriving in October, 1945.
There has been a suggestion that this Invader once operated in the U.S. Navy as a JD-1D drone director, but this seems unlikely, as of the 141 Douglas Invaders which are known to have seen naval service, only one was a B-model. This was XJD-1 prototype Bu.57990, which had previously been A-26B-45-DL 44-34217 in the USAAF. The other 140 JD-1s were all surplus USAAF A-26Cs.
The Charles H. Babb Company of Glendale, California acquired our subject aircraft from the War Assets Corporation on February 6th, 1946 alongside 21 additional brand new Invaders for the princely sum of $2,000 each. Babb had 44-34778, by now civil-registered as NX67943, ferried to the company’s facility at the Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale, California by April, 1946. They planned to resell the fleet for profit. Quite where ‘778 ended up afterwards is unknown at present, but she was next listed on the civil registry as N67493 in 1954 with the Raytheon Manufacturing Company in Bedford, Massachusetts. Here she took on the role of a test airframe, helping the company develop various avionics and radar systems. She flew with Raytheon for the next two decades, before they exported her to Canada to join Air Spray (1967) Ltd. in Red Deer, Alberta. Air Spray registered the Invader as C-GWLT, and had the aircraft converted in Chico, California for fire-fighting duties during 1974. The company became famous for their extensive fleet of Invaders, having 22 of the type on their books during 30 seasons fighting forest fires. Naturally there were losses during this time, but sixteen of the roughly 130 currently extant Douglas Invaders owe their survival to Air Spray Ltd.
The company retired their Invader fleet in 2004, and have gradually sold on most of the aircraft in the succeeding 15 years. Ross Robinson bought 44-34778 in 2007, and based her with the Western Canada Aviation Museum (since renamed as the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has occasionally participated on the air show circuit in the years since. Robinson had the aircraft painted with a retro Royal Canadian Air Force scheme strongly reminiscent of those worn by RCAF CF-86 Sabres of 439 ‘Sabretooth Tiger’ Squadron during the 1950s. While the RCAF never operated Invaders, and some may not approve of this scheme, it would be hard to dispute that she looks magnificent in this livery… an RCAF what-if, as it were. The aircraft number ‘098’ painted on her fuselage is in deference to the last Tanker Number she wore with Air Spray Ltd.; Tanker #98. For a more comprehensive review of this aircraft, complete with a plethora of fascinating images, please do take a look at Dave O’Malley’s marvelous article titled Badass Invader From the Republic of Manitoba for Vintage Wings of Canada.
After more than a decade of ownership, the owner has decided to part with this magnificent A-26. She is currently offered for sale at US$350,000 with Platinum Fighter Sales. Additional details for the aircraft are as follows…
4438.2 Total Time Since New
Engine #1: Pratt & Whitney R-2800 – 0 hours Since Major Overhaul (SMOH)
Engine #2: Pratt & Whitney R-2800 – 1059.5 hours SMOH
Propeller #1: Hamilton Standard – 40 SMOH
Propeller #2: Hamilton Standard – 40 SMOH
Garmin 430 Nav/Com/GPS
Other: Dual Controls