April 18, 2024

The A-26 Invader was a versatile and fast twin-engined light bomber/ground attack aircraft that served with distinction during World War II and beyond. In 2024, MotoArt discovered a TB-26B, a non-armed training conversion of the historic A-26, and transformed it into PlaneTags, giving aviation enthusiasts a unique piece of history to own and cherish. Read more about it and add a Douglas Invader PlaneTag to your collection on April 18, 2024.

What is the A-26 Invader?



The A-26 Invader is an American twin-engine, light bomber and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1942 and was used extensively during World War II, the Korean War, and in several other conflicts. Designed by Douglas Aircraft Company, it was capable of fast, low-altitude operations, carrying a substantial bomb load, and was armed with multiple machine guns for defense. The aircraft was unique for its time due to its speed, range, and ability to carry a large bomb load compared to other bombers of its size. Over its operational lifetime, the A-26 was updated and modified for various roles and missions. 

The TB-26B variant was a specialized trainer version of the aircraft, converted from the B-26C. This unarmed variant was adapted for training purposes, stripping out combat equipment to accommodate instructional needs, thereby allowing pilots to train on the specific handling and operational characteristics of the Invader without the complexities of its combat systems.

Developing the A-26 Invader

The development of the A-26 Invader began in the early 1940s as a part of the United States' effort to build a versatile, high-performance, twin-engine bomber that could outperform existing aircraft in speed, range, and bomb load capacity. The Douglas Aircraft Company, under the leadership of chief engineer Ed Heinemann, took on this challenge. The goal was to create a bomber that was fast enough to outrun fighters of the era, yet capable of delivering significant ordnance. The A-26 was a response to a 1940 request by the United States Army Air Corps for a new generation of attack aircraft with exceptional versatility, including the ability to carry out bombing, ground attack, and reconnaissance missions. Ed Heinemann also designed the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Read more about it here: A-4 Skyhawk: A Small But Tough Fighter


Photo by redlegsfan21 - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Heinemann and his team designed the A-26 with several innovative features. It had a slim, aerodynamic profile, a tricycle landing gear for improved ground handling and takeoff, and it was one of the first bombers to make extensive use of flush-riveted, smooth skin to reduce aerodynamic drag. The aircraft was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engines, which were among the most powerful available at the time, allowing the A-26 to reach speeds in excess of 350 mph. The Invader could be configured with either a solid nose packed with up to eight .50 caliber machine guns for ground attack roles or a glass nose for bombing missions, making it adaptable to various tasks. Its internal bomb bay and underwing hardpoints could carry a wide range of ordnance, from conventional bombs to torpedoes.

The A-26's development faced challenges, including issues with engine cooling and the need for modifications to improve pilot visibility and control. However, rigorous testing and refinements eventually led to a highly effective aircraft. The Invader made its first flight on July 10, 1942, and after extensive testing and modifications to enhance its performance and reliability, it entered into service. The A-26 quickly proved itself to be a formidable aircraft in combat, appreciated by its crews for its speed, payload, and survivability. It served not only during World War II but was also called back into action during the Korean War and continued to serve in various capacities, including reconnaissance and counter-insurgency roles, into the 1960s, showcasing the enduring legacy of its design and development.


Use of the Invader

The A-26 Invader, developed by Douglas Aircraft Company, saw extensive use from its introduction in World War II through the Korean War and into the Cold War era, serving in various roles across multiple theaters of operation. Initially deployed in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, its versatility and performance made it a valuable asset for the Allied forces. The TB-26 variant, a training version of the A-26, was utilized primarily within the United States for preparing crews for operational deployment. Following World War II, both the A-26 and TB-26 saw action in the Korean War, where they were used for close air support, interdiction, and reconnaissance missions. The A-26's adaptability also led to its use in various counterinsurgency and support roles throughout the Cold War, including in Southeast Asia. The aircraft's robust design, powerful armament, and high speed for a bomber of its era allowed it to serve effectively across these diverse roles and regions, from the 1940s into the 1960s.

Douglas TB-26B Invader 

Several Invaders underwent conversions into training platforms, receiving the new designation of TB-26B. This transformation involved stripping away the aircraft's offensive and defensive armaments and installing dual control systems to facilitate aircrew training. Throughout the 1950s, the U.S. Air Force utilized these TB-26Bs for training purposes and as transport vehicles. Additionally, a number of these modified planes were allocated to the Air National Guard, where they continued to serve until the early 1970s.

Douglas TB-26B Invader Specifications 

  • Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company
  • Model: T-B26B
  • Serial #: 44-34156
  • Crew: 3 (1 Pilot, 1 Navigator, 1 Rear Gunner)
  • Wing Span: 70 Ft 0 In
  • Length: 50 Ft 0 In 
  • Height: 18 Ft 6 In

Douglas TB-26B Invader Performance

  • Combat Range: 700 Mi
  • Cruise Speed: 231 Kts
  • Ceiling: 22,100 Ft
  • Empty Weight: 22,370 Lb
  • Max Takeoff Weight: 35,000 Lb
  • Rate Of Climb: 1,250 Ft/Min
  • Engine: 2x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 Double Wasp Piston




Constructed in 1944 by Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California, the A-26 Invader with the serial number 44-34156 swiftly entered service with the United States Army Air Force. Its initial period of active duty concluded in 1947, at which point it transitioned to the Air National Guard. During its tenure there, the aircraft underwent conversion to a TB-26B, reflecting its adaptation to a training role. In May 1957, this storied Invader was officially retired and relocated to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, marking the end of its military journey. Following its decommission, the aircraft passed through various hands as surplus before it met an unfortunate fate in 1985; it crashed during a forced landing while en route to the U.S. Air Force Museum in Fargo, North Dakota. Fast forward to 2024, and the aircraft found a new lease on life through MotoArt, which transformed parts of the historic airframe into PlaneTags, keeping the legacy of 44-34156 alive in a uniquely tangible way.

MotoArt Finds an Invader



MotoArt PlaneTags owner Dave Hall was thrilled upon discovering the TB-26B aircraft, recognizing its rich historical value and potential for transformation into PlaneTags. Expressing his excitement, Hall stated, "Finding the TB-26B was like uncovering a hidden treasure. We could not believe that this piece of history had been sitting here for years." 












Douglas Invader PlaneTags


The Douglas TB-26B Invader PlaneTags will be available on Thursday, April 18, 2024 at 12 PM PDT at planetags.com. To secure the rare colors of this limited run of 3,000 PlaneTags, set a reminder and order yours right at noon Pacific time. Make sure you're on our mailing list and following us on social media to stay up to date on upcoming releases. 



Douglas Aircraft PlaneTags

Douglas Aircraft Company, established in 1921, was an influential American aerospace manufacturer known for producing some of the most iconic aircraft in aviation history, including the DC-3 and the A-26 Invader. MotoArt is honored to have created numerous memorable PlaneTags from various Douglas airplanes. These PlaneTags not only celebrate the rich legacy of Douglas Aircraft but also offer aviation enthusiasts a tangible piece of history to cherish.

Don’t miss these Douglas Aircraft PlaneTags before they’re gone for good.