The Douglas A-20 Havoc

 Introduction

The Douglas A-20 Havoc was World War II light bomber attack and recon aircraft. Its users, besides the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), were Soviet Air Forces, Soviet Naval Aviation and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) which called the A-20, Boston.

It was also used by air forces of Australia, South Africa, France and the Netherlands.  Brazil  obtained the Havoc and after the War.  There 7,478 Havocs built for all users .

Design and Development

Donald Douglas, in March of 1937, led a design team that included Ed Heinmann and Jack Northrop that designed a new light bomber that was to be powered by 2 Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp-Junior radial engines rated at 450 hp each.

However another design model very similar being used in the Spanish Civil War indicated the proposed aircraft  Model 7A as Douglas named it, was extremely underpowered and could carry very little if any ordnance.

Donald Douglas, in response to a USAAF request for a attack aircraft, placed Ed Heinmann as head of the design team replaced the R-985 with Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines and now called Model DB-7B for the USAAF proposal.  Competition for this bid was strong, with North American NA-40, Stearman X-100 and Martin 167F.  Although the DB-7B was very maneuverable and fast, the USAAF did not place any orders with Douglas.

However the French Purchasing Commission  who were in the country looking for American armament of various types, were attracted to the DB-7B.    The “Munich Crisis” was in progress and the French wanted new weapons to counter the German aggression and they  ordered 270 DB-7s.

Although DB-7 aircraft were not the fastest or as long-ranged as some other aircraft in this class (light bomber), it was rugged and dependable with good speed and maneuverability.

One of Britain’s RAF test pilots, said “The Boston has no vices, very easy to take off and land…The aeroplane represents a definite advantage in the design of flying controls, extremely pleasant to fly and maneuver.  Former Boston pilots found it their favorite aircraft of the war dut the ability to toss it around like a fighter.  The Boston bomber/night fighter was found to be extremely adaptable and found a role in every combat theater of the ar, and excelled as a true ‘ pilots aeroplane’.”

The DB-7 series ended on 20 September 1944 with a total of 7,098 had been built by Douglas and another 380 by Boeing.  The Douglas ability to mas produce aircraft, when the Havoc production was over, the Santa Monica, California plant was quickly re-designed and refurbished and immediately started producing the A-20 Havoc series for the USAAF.

The plant itself was only 700 feet long but by looping back this made the assembly a mile long.  Manhours were reduced 50% for some areas of operation and production efficiency was increased.

Operational History

France

The French had ordered 270 DB-7s (Douglas Bomber 7) variant as they wanted to modify the aircraft with their machine guns and instruments.  They started out with the Pratt and Whitney R-1830–SC3-G radial engine,  rated at 1,000 hp.  Later tt was changed to the Pratt and Whitney R-1830-S3C-G radial engine rated at 1,100 hp.  The fuselage was narrower and deeper.

The DB-7s were shipped to Casablanca in North Africa for asembly and sent to France.  When the germans attacked France in May of 1940,the 64 available of the DB-7s were used against the Germans.

After the fall of France, the remaining DB-7s went to North africa but fell under the control of the Vichy French.  They were used against the Allied invasion of French North Africa.  After French (Vichy) forces sided with the Allies, the remaining French DB-7s were used as trainers.

Great Britian (RAF)

The RAF bought the undeliverable DB-7s as France had fallen to the Germans.  The Bostons as the RAF renamed them saw action in the Mediterranean and North Africa.  During and after the “Battle of Britain” the Boston II were used as night fighters with 8 /30 cal machine guns in the wings..

Some were used as “Turinlite aircraft where the aircraft had been fitted with a powerful searchlight in the nose of the aircraft.  The Boston would be directed by a radar operator on the ground in the proximity of an enemy on a bombing or escort run at night.  The pilot of the Boston would turn on the searchlite on the enemy aircraft and the Boston’s escorting RAF aircraft would attack the blinded enemy.  This practice discontinued in early 1943.

United States Army Air Force

In the 1930s, the United States Army Air Corp (USAAC) was reluctant to pursue any purchases of the A-20.  When they saw the improved versions and variants sold to the French and RAF, they became more interested.  The USAAC was interested in two versions, the A-20 for high altitude bombing and the A-20A for medium and low level bombing.

Over all USAAC ordered over 1,000 A-20s of different models with about 600 going to the USSR in the lease-lend deal..  The USAAC received 356 A-20s that wereorginally bought by France but could no longer be delivered because the German take over of France.

Pacific 

In 1942 the first operational unit that saw combat was the 89th Bombardment Squadron that served in New Guinea.    It was found that Japanese air defenses in the South Pacific were not nearly as deadly as the German air defences in Europe.

There wasn’t any need for a Bombardier in the aircraft and extra machine guns were mounted on the nose  giving them devastating fire power at low altitude.  The low level attack would wipe out ground targets  like aircraft and hangers, and supply dumps.  On the ocean the forward gun power was so devastating against the bombs could be literally skipped against supply ships an destroyers.

Europe and Mediteranean 

In July of 1942, the first USAAF “Boston” squardonron manned RAF A-20s in the first combat by American forces in theat type of aircraft.  They saw service in North Africa, Italy and Corsica France.

It was found the the German air defenses were, especially flak, caused high loses at low altitude, thus medium level bombing was adopted.  In 1944 the Havoc begin recon sorties until the end of the war, as more advanced fighter bombers took over their manin chore.

Where you can see the Douglas A-20 Havoc

#41-19393 Wings Museum Balcombe, England

#43-21709  Lewis Air Legends San Antonio,

#43-22200 National Museum if the United State air Force Dayton, Ohio

#4321627 Pima Air and Space Museum Tucson, Arizona

Tech Specs for the A-20 Havoc

Wingspan: 61 ft 4 in

Length: 47 ft 8 in

Height: 17 ft 7 in

Weight: 16,693 lbs (empty) 24,127 lbs (MGTOW)

Max Speed: 317 mph

Ceiling: 23,700 ft

Range: 945mi (combat)

Engine: 2/Wright R-2600-23  Twin Cyclone radial rated 1,600 HP

Crew: 3

 

THANKS,  FOR READING! I HOPE THIS WAS INFORMATIVE!

The Grumman A-6 Intruder

Introduction

The Grumman A-6 Intruder was an all-weather medium attack aircraft used by the United States Marine Corp (USMC) and United States Navy (USN). The Intruder was a replacement for the piston driven Douglas A-1 Skyraideer.

When the A-6 was scheduled for replacement, the strike mission was taken over by the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The first A-6 flight was on 19 April 1960. The USN retired the last active Intruder on 28 February 1997. Grumman Aircraft built 693 A-6 Intruders.

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The Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger

 INTRODUCTION

The Grumman TBF or TBM Avenger is a torpedo bomber developed for the United States Navy (USN) in the early forties. It became one of the outstanding torpedo bombers of World War II.

First of all is it a TBF or a TBM? That depends on who built it? Grumman Aircraft Company initially produced the TBF. Grumman was unable to produce as many as the USN needed because of limited factory production and priorities. The government ask General Motors to help out, thus the TBM. “M” designed for General Motors The TBF and the TBM are the same only the last letter determined where and by whom it was manufactured

The TBF will identify the aircraft in this essay. The TBF had its combat debut in the “Battle of Midway” where 5 out 0f 6 were lost, but greatly improved with both in aircraft improvements and pilot skills

Future President George H.W. Bush as pilot in TBF

President-to-be George Bush Sr. flew a TBM in the South Pacific and was shot down near the Japanese held island of Chichi Jima as his final act before going into the ocean was to bomb the radio facilities on the island. He was rescued by the American submarine Finback. 

Hollywood Actor Paul Newman was a rear gunner on an TBF and was on the USS Hollandia which was about 500 miles from the Japanese city of Hiroshima when the first Atomic Bomb from the Enola Gay was dropped.

There were 9,839 TBFs produced during the War. and used by USN, Royal Navy Royal Canadian Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force

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Douglas A-1 Skyraider

Introduction

The Douglas A-1 Skyraider is a single seat attack fighter that was called the AD at one time. It served in the military from the saw service in 1946 and was formerly retired in 1985. It saw service in the United States Navy (USN), United States Air Force (USAF), the British Royal Navy, the French Air Force and the Republic of Vietnam Air Force.

It remained in the United States service until the 1970s until replaced by the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

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PBY Catalina Flying Boat

The Consolidated PBY Flying Boat

Introduction

The PBY American flying boat built by Consolidated Aircraft company was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. The PBY nickname was the Catalina and the PBY was used by all branches of the United States armed forces.

During the Second World War, the Catalina was used for anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, air-sea rescue missions and cargo transport. The PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind and was not retired by the military users until 1979 by the Brazilian Air Force .

The United States Navy (USN) was the biggest user of the flying boat and the first. Thus, the USN designation system determined the name. “PB”was for Patrol Bomber, the third letter assigned by USN to the manufacturer of the aircraft was “Y”. In this case it was Consolidated Aircraft .

Since there were other manufacturers assigned to build the Catalina, different “names” such Canadian Vickers were PBV, Boeing Canada PB2B (Boeing in the U. S was already building Catalina with the code PBB).

The traditional names for the Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft were normally names of towns/cities in England. When the RAF purchased PBY’s, they broke tradition and named their aircraft Catalina, after Catalina Island in California which the USN adopted in 1942.

The PBY was originally designed to be a Patrol Bomber that would attack enemy supply ships. However, it soon became apparent that they were an ideal air-sea rescue for downed airmen.

In addition, they could be used as a recon aircraft as they could fly for many hours without the need for refueling. The Catalina first flight was on 28 March 1935. The primary users were USN, USAAF (United States Army Air Force),and RAF. The total production by Consolidated Aircraft, Canadian Manufacturers and Soviet Manufacture was 3,305 aircraft.

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Douglas TBD Devastator

 

TBD over Japanese Held Wake Island 1942

Introduction

The Douglas TBD Devastator was an American built torpedo bomber of the United States Navy (USN).  When it first flew in 1934  it was the Navy’s’ most advanced aircraft.  By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, it was outdated.

The Devastator did perform well in early battles.  The “Battle of Midway” was a total disaster for the TBD.  There were 41 TBD Devastators along with SBD Dauntless dive bombers with F4F Wildcat fighter support from the USS Enterprise, USS Hornet, and USS Yorktown sent to attack the 4 Japanese aircraft carriers and their support ships.

The outdated TBD’s were sitting ducks as the Japanese Zeros pounced on the from upon high and the ships from the Japanese task force made mincemeat of the Devastators with their anti-aircraft guns.

There were 41 TBDs sent out to attack the enemy carriers only 6 returned to their home ships.  Thirty-five aircraft and crews were lost.  The remaining Devastators in the USN inventory were taken out of service after the battle and replaced with the Grumman TBF Avengers.

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Douglas SBD Dive Bomber

Introduction

The Douglas built SBD (Scout Bomber Douglas) also called the “Dauntless”, was a World War II United States Navy (USN) Dive Bomber and  Scout plane.  The SBD was the USN main aircraft carrier bomber from 1940 through 1944.

It is remembered as the plane that devastated four Japanese aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway in June 1942.  The SBD also had a nickname of “Slow But Deadly” which was well deserved as it possessed long range, good handling characteristics , maneuverability,  potent bomb load, excellent diving characteristics, good defensive armament and ruggedness.

The SBD was also used by the United States Marine Corp (USMC) on land bases and Marine squadrons were also assigned on aircraft carriers.

One SBD variant, without the arrestor hook , was built for the United States Army Force  (USAAF) as the A-24 Banshee. The primary users of the SBD Dauntless/A-24 Banshee were The USN, The USAAF,  Free French Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force.   The SBD/Banshee were built between 1940-1944 and 5,936 of all variants were built.

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The Douglas A-26 Invader

Introduction

The Douglas A-26 Invader is a twin-engined light bomber, with tricycle landing gear wich was built by the Douglas Aircraft corp in Long Beach  California  during the Second World War  It was a fast aircraft capable of carrying a large bomb load.

It had an ample of various of armament  to make a formidable ground attack aircraft.   It had 6 to 8 50 cal browning machine guns in the nose and 8 .50 Cal Browning M2 machine guns in the wing.  Low flight and strafing ground targets was it’s speciality.

The primary users of the A-26 (in 1948 the designation was changed to B-26) was the United states Army Air Force, United States Navy and French Air Force.  The B-26 was retired military service in 1980 by the last user, Colombian Air Force.

The XA-26 prototype

Design and Development

The A-26 was the successor to the Douglas A-20 Havoc also know as the Douglas Boston.  The A-20 was one of the most successful and widely used aircraft by the Allies of World War II.

Chief aerodynamicist A.M.O. Smith was the head of the project to design the  XA-26 that was ready for flight in July 1942  from Mines Field in El Segundo, California (future home of LAX).

The test flight conducted by Benny Howard, proved to be highly successful.  The aircraft handled well but engine overheat  problem needed correction thru modifying the engine cowl flaps.

The nose wheel assembly need to be reinforced as during the testing, it collapsed several times.  The A-26 was built with two different configurations.  The A-26B had gun nose that could house .50 cal machine guns or 37mm auto cannon or even a pack howitzer (which was never used operationally).

The A-26C had a glass nose to house the Norden bombsight for precision bombing.  The firs models had two M-2 machine guns in the nose, but later upgrades of the A-26C had underwing gun packs or internal guns in the wing.

 

Other modifications and refinement  are :  The A-26B could house up to 14 .50 cal machine guns in forward fixed mounts.  The A-26B nose could be replaced on the A-26C and vice versa in a matter of a few hours.

In some of the final versions , both A-26B and A-26C “flat top”canopies were replaced by a clamshell style which greatly improved visibility.

The interior of the A-26 cockpit

Along side of the pilot on the A-26B a crew member sat as the Navigator and Gun Loader .  In the A-26C the crew member serviced as the Navigator and Bombardier .

Like the RAF bombers Lancaster, Blenheim/Beaufort and Wellington, most of the time the A-26 had only one set of controls for the pilot only.  A small number of aircraft did have dual controls mainly for training purposes.

Operational History

The first A-26B was delivered to United States Army Air Force in August 1943.  The Fifth Air Force had to train the crews then they were deployed to the Southwest Pacific for combat evaluation  with attacks on Manokwari a Japanese island in the South Pacific.

The repot back was not good, the evaluating pilots found the cockpit view to be restricted because of the location of the engines.  This they said prevented low-level attack.

General George Kenney Commander of the Far EAst Air Force said “We do not want the A-26 under any circumstances to be a replacement for anything”.

The A-26 was used only sparingly in the Pacific for the remainder of the War.  However  things looked better for the A-26 and Douglas Aircraft when A-26s stared arriving in Europe  in late September 1944 for their assignment to the Ninth Air Force.

There were 8 “test missions” that the A-26 was sent on.  This time the type of mission was more suitable, as a bomber which was the original mission for the A-26 Invader.

Soon the Ninth Air Force announced that they would replace all of their A-20 Havoc and B-26 Marauder aircraft with the Douglas A-26 Invader.

Besides bombing and strafing, tactical recon and night interdiction missions were all  undertaken successfully .  In a contrast to the Pacific based crews, the European crews received the A-26 with a very positive attitude.

In the European Theater the Invader flen 11,567 sorties, dropped 18,054 tons of bombs and recorded 7 victories (remember this was a bomber) while losing 67 aircraft.

With the establishment of the United States Air Force in 1947, the A-26 was redesignated the B-26 and used as an recon aircraft by USAF   The USN obtained the Invader from the USAF for target towing and other utility functions.

During the Korean conflict the B-26 Invaders were among the first USAF aircraft to sent on missions in North and South Korea.  On 29 June 1950,  a squadron of Invaders bombed the first target in North Korea which was an airfield.

The B-26 continued  to fly missions through-out the Korean War, mostly night -time missions.

But land target was it’s speciality as it destroyed 38,500 vehicles, 406 locomotives and 3,700 railway cars.  The B-26 units received two unit citations and the Presidential Citation.  The Invader carried out the last USAF mission of the Korean War before the Armistice Agreement was signed.

During the Southeast Asian conflict a few years later, the B-26 Invader was used to fight the Pathet Lao invaders that were invading Laos.  The B-26 were used in the Southeast Asian theater for number of years for ground attack purposes.

They were replaced by the Douglas A-1 Skyraider.  In later years the CIA used B-26s for clandestine operations in Central and South America.

Other countries that used the B-26 Invader were France, Indonesia, Portugal and Biafra.

Where you can see the Douglas A-26 Invader

436874 Military Aviation Museum, Virginia Beach, Virginia 

446928 National Naval Aviation Museum Pensacola, Florida

Lady Liberty Commemorative Air Force Enid, Oklahoma

City of Santa Rosa Pacific Coast Air Museum Santa Rose, California

322494 Pima Air and Space Museum Tucson, Arizona

This is Just a Partial List of the Douglas A-26 Invader, Check With Your Local Air Museum for More Information 

 TECH SPECS ON THE A-26 INVADER

Wingspan:     70 ft 0 in 

Length:           50 ft 0 in 

Height:            18 ft 3 in 

Weight:           22,850 lbs (empty) 35,000 lbs (MGTOW*) (* Max Gross                                           Takeoff Weight)

Max Speed:     356 mph

Ceiling:            22,000 ft 

Range:            3,400  (combat)

Engine:           2/Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 Double Wasp radial                                                     engine rated at  2,000 hp                  

Crew:               3

THANKS FOR READING!  I HOPE THIS WAS INFORMATIVE!    

The British Lancaster Bomber

Introduction

TheBritish Avro Lancaster was a  4-engined  heavy bomber of World War II.  The “Lanc” was powered by 4 Rolls Royce Merlin piston engines and a 13 foot de Havilland Hydromatic propeller.

The Lancaster could carry  up to 12,000 lbs of various types of bombs.  It first saw service with the RAF (Royal Air Force) Bomber Command in 1942 as part of the Allied Strategic Bombing offensive.

It was used primarily for night time bombing campaigns over Europe and became one of the more famous and successful night-time bombers during World War II.

It delivered 608,612 tons of bombs to the enemy flying 156,000 sorites (missions).  Modified Lancasters  could carry the giant 22,000 lb Grand Slam earthquake bomb the largest of any conventional bomb in World War II.

Avro produced 7,377 “Lancs” for the RAF, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and Royal Australian Air Force.  It’s first flight was 09 January 1941 and was retired by the last user  theRCAF in 1965.

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The British Spitfire Fighter

Introduction

The British Supermarine Spitfire was a single seat fighter during World War II.  The primary user of the “Spit” was the Royal Air Force (RAF) along with many of their allies.  The Spitfire was designed to be a short-ranged interceptor aircraft that was designed by R.J. Mitchell. 

The public perceived that the Spitfire to be the the primary defender of Britain, however the Hawker Hurricane had the higher number of sorties and  more victories than the Spitfire.  The Spitfire had a lower attrition rate and a lower kill-to-loss rate. 

After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire became the backbone of the RAF Fighter command.  The Spitfire saw action in the European, Mediterranean, Pacific and Southeast Asian theatres of war. 

This aircraft was much loved by it’s pilots serving in roles of intercepter, photo-recon,  fighter-bomber, and training aircraft.  It served in these roles until the 1950s.  There were over 20,300 of the built of all models and variants.

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