by the University of Illinois in 1965.
Parked at Deurne
between 1969 and 1979.
Deurne between 1969 and 1979.
being dismantled and transported to the Museum in 1979 .
Invader that never went to war
Built towards the end of World War 2, this
Douglas A-26 Invader (Constructors Number 28044/ Serial Number
44-34765) was destined never to participate in any conflict.
Sold and modified for the civil market,
it was used by various companies as a business aircraft in both
the United States and Europe until finally impounded by the Belgian
It retained parked in the open at Deurne
(Antwerp) airport for several years before being donated to the
Air and Space Museum in Brussels.
Once at the Museum, volunteers started
work to restore the Invader back to its former military specification,
including armament. However, due to having spent many years outside
in all weathers, the A-26, despite being in good general condition
suffered from corrosion and treatment for removal and further
prevention was required.
of Invader 44-34765
Douglas A-26B Invader belonging to the Air and Space Museum in
Brussels came off the Douglas Aircraft Company production line
towards the end of the Second World War, following a manufacturing
contract for a batch of 21 attack aircraft of the A-26B-65-DL
was never to see use in U.S.A.A.F, service as the contract was
cancelled at the cessation of hosilities and all twenty one aircraft
a great number of A-26 Invaders were provided to the French Air
Force and other foreign operators, Serial No. 44-34765 was bought
in February 1946 by Charles H. Babb and allocated registration
number N67160. It was to retain this registration number throughout
its life up until its arrival at the Museum.
The B-26 arrives
at the "Cinquantenaire".
Inside the Great
Hall, still adorned with the mural painting of the Yser
battlefield scenes .
was dismantled and transported in the museum in 1979.
A few more picture
of the B-26 at the time
January 1947, the aircraft was acquired by the Hudson Engineering
Corporation, a Texas based petroleum company and transformed into
an executive aircraft.
Sperry Gyroscope Company, a division of the Sperry Corporation
bought the Invader in February 1951 and removed the last gun turret
bearings which had been left in place.
Sperry used the aircraft for six years
in its executive configuration which despite having a high cruising
speed (more than 500 km/hour) was to prove to be both noisy and
As an example, the toilet for the passengers
was situated between the main wing spars and was difficult to
reach and use .
In 1959, the Invader was flown to the On
Mark Engineering Company based at Van Nys airport in California
for a thorough inspection and overhaul that included having DC-6
wheels and wing tip fuel tanks fitted and being repainted.
After these modifications, the aircraft
was used carrying personnel and freight between the Sperry factory
on Long Island and the various other Company plants, as well as
flight evaluation of Sperry products.
During 1965, the F.A.A. (Federal Aviation
Administration) informed Sperry that the aircraft's Certificate
of Airworthiness would be withdrawn as cracks had been found in
one of the wing spars.
As N67160 was now grounded, Sperry decided
to donate it to the Institute of Aviation at the Illinois University.
The F.A.A. issued a limited Certificate of Airworthiness allowing
the aircraft to make a delivery flight to the University on September
necessary repairs were completed, the University received a new
Certificate of Airworthiness and used the Invader for several
months for transportation of staff members. Because of the high
operating costs and very limited passenger capacity, N67160 was
transferred to the University flight training fleet where it remained
untill March 1966.
was then acquired by Walston Aviation Inc. of Alton in Illinois,
who became one of several companies to own N67160. In 1969 the
aircraft was sold to a German citizen, Walter Rall and exported
to Germany. Although the German registration number D-CAFY was
allocated, it was never taken up.
The tip -wing
tanks were never reinstalled.
of cockpit before restoration.
re-installed in the nose.
A few years
after arrival, its civil colours have gone.
1969, N67160 flew to Deurne airport with an American crew charted
by an Antwerp based seafoods company for transport of shrimps
and lobsters from Turkey to Belgium and France.
one flight from Ankara with a full load, N67160 was refused landing
permission at Lyon by the French Civil Aviation authorities since
its owners had no valid Permit to fly in France.
the same year, the Invader was impounded by the Belgian Aviation
Administration authorities due to non-payments of parking fees
at Deurne Antwerp airport.
many years spent in the open, N67160 was donated by the Belgian
authorities in March 1976 to the Air and Space section of the
Army Museum in Brussels.
The " Invader
" arrives at the Museum
November 1979, the A-26 was dismantled at Deurne and transported
by road to the Museum for display inside the Great Hall.
From the onset, the Museum was determined
to present the Invader in its original military configuration
and work was started to remove remnants of its past civil career
All the electronic equipment
was removed from the nose section to allow eight .50 inch calibre
machine guns taken from an F-84 (and thus of slightly different
pattern to the original A-26's guns) to be installed. Two gun
turrets were discovered in Antwerp by Jean Booten and together
with some wing mounted machine guns were refitted in place.
During the restoration work, the civil
paint livery was removed entirely and replaced by a yellow zinc
chromate primer. It was to remain in this state for a long time
with a few Museum volunteers working on the Invader from time
to time but without any clearly defined goal. Some of the aircraft's
components were painted black with visibly the intention to finish
the Invader in a Korean War colour scheme.
The B-26 in his green-yellow livery.
Sub- assemblies being removed.
The nose, without the machine guns.
The back of the instrument panel.
Back on the bench
Towards 1997, a Belgian Air Force technician,
Jean Moulin took over the control of the A-26 project.
The list of outstanding tasks was considerable
since the prolonged stay in the open at Antwerp had caused a lot
Since the project had commenced with restoration
back to a military configuration, it was decided to display the
aircraft with the original serial number and in the colours of
the only A-26 Invader squadron that served in Belgium. The only
difference between the airplanes serving in this squadron and
N67160 is the disposition of the eight machine-guns in the nose.
To enable the aircraft to be displayed
without too much delay, priority was given to preparation of all
the sub-assemblies and the external surfaces before applying the
correct paint scheme.
As the Invader project was a considerable
undertaking, Museum volunteers working normally on other restorations
were transferred to help out.
All the sub-assemblies such as the nose,
fin, rudder, flaps, ailerons, bomb and undercarriage doors etc.
were stripped of paint, repaired, corrosion treated and repainted.
The skin of the aircraft had to be completely
sanded to eliminate the corrosion as well as "orange peel" present
since Museum volunteers working during the 1980's had applied
the zinc chromate primer using pieces of foam sponge which caused
a very thick and uneven layer.
Many hundreds of steel screws and other
fasteners used on the assemblies would be treated against corrosion
The pictures illustrate better than words
the tremendous task that has been accomplished.
Ready for painting operation.
Masking and preparation before spraying.
First application of zinc chromate primer coat.
Followed by a coat of aluminium paint.
By the end of 1999, all external painting completed.
Painting and markings
After the preparatory work was finished,
the Invader was repainted and all markings including squadron
codes, serial numbers and stencilled data applied.
Much needed Information for these tasks
was obtained after a visit to examine Historic Aircraft's B-26.
Although a major proportion of the Invader
restoration project work has been completed, there still remain
other details that require attention.
The undercarriages remain to be dismantled
for a thorough inspection and renewal of parts.
The undercarriage bays need to be treated
against corrosion, in particular the nose wheel bay which suffered
most from having mud and water thrown inside by the unbraked nose
wheel spinning on retraction.
This will involve removing all of the various
accessories inside the bays, uncoupling all the hydraulic, pneumatic
and electrical circuits, stripping all painted surfaces, treating
the corrosion, re-painting and finally re-installing everything
back together again.
Other tasks also ahead are restoration
work on both engines, the re-creation of the gun sighting system
and the re-installation of certain internal fuselage frames.