U.S. Air Force Douglas RB-26C Invader of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing in Korea, ca. July 1951.
12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Night Photographic
RB-26C within mechanics shelter tents
The RB-26 designation was used beginning in 1948 after the USAF dropped both the attack (A) and reconnaissance (F) designations. All FA-26s still in service were re-designated as RB-26s. Limited numbers of B-26Bs and B-26Cs were converted for use as reconnaissance aircraft. The gun turrets were removed and the bomb bay adapted to carry additional equipment depending on the intended mission. For example, night reconnaissance aircraft were fitted with a photo flash "bombing" system. The converted aircraft generally used the simple RB-26 designation, although aircraft fitted with a bombardier's (clear) nose could be RB-26C, while the solid nose type was the RB-26B.
When the Korean War began in June 1950, the Air Force had an urgent need for tactical night reconnaissance aircraft. The 162d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, (NP) was moved from Langley Air Force Base, Va., to Japan and began flying missions in August 1950.
During the first year of the war, RB-26s flew 2,305 effective sorties. The RB-26 retained a limited offensive weapons capability when rockets or bombs were loaded on wing racks and during the first year of the war, 342 tons of bombs were dropped and 120 rockets were fired.
The RB-26 remained in service into the mid-1950s when it began to be
replaced by more advanced jet-powered reconnaissance aircraft like the
Armament: None, usually. Some aircraft were equipped with wing racks holding either rockets or bombs. The bomb bay could be loaded with photo flash bombs for night photography.
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800s of 2,000 hp each
Maximum speed (A-26C): 373 mph
Cruising speed (A-26C): 284 mph
Range (A-26C): 1,400 miles
Service ceiling (A-26C): 28,000 ft.
Span: 70 ft.
Length: 51 ft. 3 in.
Height: 18 ft. 3 in.
Weight: Approx. 35,000 lbs. loaded
Serial number (A-26C): 41-39152; 41-39193; 41-39195; 41-39199; 41-39200; 43-22304; 43-22308 to 43-22312; 43-22346 to 43-22349; 43-22467 to 43-22493; 43-22494 to 43-22564; 43-22565 to 43-22751; 44-35198 to 44-35357; 44-35996