The A-26 Invader was one of the most effective attack bombers to see action late in the War, and the aircraft, when fitted with eight .50 caliber machine guns in its nose, was an incredibly effective ground or surface ship attack aircraft. Douglas Aircraft developed the aircraft. The team of Edward Heinemann and Jack Northrop worked on the initial design of what would become the A-20 Havoc. Northrop then left Douglas to form his own company. Heinemenn and project engineer Robert Donovan began work on the A-26 project in 1941. It would incorporate several of the A-20s features yet it would be as advanced as possible with many state-of-the-art concepts. A mid-mounted, laminar-flow airfoil wing was utilized with double slotted electrically controlled flaps. Defensive armament was limited to remotely controlled dorsal and ventral turrets both under the control of a gunner located in the rear of the fuselage. Approval to develop prototypes was received from the Army in June of 1941. Three were built at Douglas' El Segundo, California plant and were designated the XA-26. Heinemann's design team had built in a lot of flexibility into the A-26's design. The aircraft could be easily modified to vary its role. A three-man attack bomber version with a Plexiglas nose could be modified into a two-man night fighter version with radar in the nose and four ventral-mounted 20mm cannons, or modified once again into a ground attack aircraft with a variety of nose-mounted armaments. Work on the three prototypes was slowed by the War, but the aircraft was ready to go into production by mid-1942. Errors within the Army and a lack of manufacturing equipment delayed the start of production until 1943. The Army decided to cancel the night fighter version of the A-26 and proceed with production of both a bomber and ground attack versions of the aircraft that would be named the "Invader." The A-26B with the nose-mounted armament generally was fitted with either six or eight machine guns. The B variant could carry a 6,000-pound bomb load powered by its twin 2000-HP Pratt and Whitney R-2800-27 engines. With a maximum speed of 322-MPH the aircraft had a service ceiling of 25,000 feet and a maximum range of approximately 3000 miles. The A-26C variant was the glass nosed bomber version. In total 1,355 'B' versions were built along with 1,336 'C' versions. After the War the A-26's designation changed to the B-26 leading to some confusion with the Martin-built B-26.
In Stan Stokes' painting entitled "No Trains Today", a pair of A-26Bs rips into an Axis freight train behind enemy lines in 1945.
The A-26 would go on to serve in the Korean War and several of these splendid aircraft remain airworthy to this day.