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The Douglas XA-26 was designed as an improved and updated successor to the Douglas A-20 Havoc. The aircraft was based on the common light attack/medium bomber configuration: twin-engine, shoulder-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear. Douglas engineers began work on the preliminary design study in late 1940. The mockup was completed in the spring of 1941 and the initial Air Corps prototype construction contracts were signed in June 1941. The Army wanted two prototypes built: a light bomber/attack version designated XA-26, and a night fighter/attack version designated XA-26A.
The aircraft was built in about one year at Douglas' El Segundo, Calif., plant under contract number AC-17946. It made its first flight on July 10, 1942. The XA-26 was primarily intended to be a pre-production light bomber prototype and featured a clear nose similar to the A-20J and A-20K. The XA-26 could carry a maximum bomb load of 5,000 pounds (3,000 pounds internal and 2,000 pounds external) and carried a bombardier as part of its three man crew. The defensive armament of the XA-26 was relatively light -- only two forward-firing .50-cal. machine guns and two aft barbettes (dorsal and ventral) fired by the gunner using remote control and periscope sighting. The propellers had large spinners installed designed to improve streamlining; however, the engines suffered from overheating because the spinners restricted the cooling airflow to the engine.
The XA-26 test program was successful but proceeded slowly. The problem was compounded by a lack of production capability at Douglas plants. The Air Corps, although anxious to get the production A-26, was unwilling to disrupt current production of other Douglas aircraft; notably the A-20 and C-47. As a result, the first combat operations using A-26s were delayed until mid-1944. There was no production variant designated A-26, but the A-26C closely resembled the XA-26.
||Twin-engine light attack bomber
Armament: Designed for two forward-firing .50-cal. machine guns in the right forward fuselage, two .50-cal. machine guns in a dorsal turret and two .50-cal. machine guns in a ventral turret, plus provisions for 5,000 lbs. of bombs (3,000 lbs. carried internally in two bomb bays and 2,000 lbs. carried externally on wing racks)
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 radials of 2,000 hp each
Maximum speed: 370 mph
Cruising speed: 212 mph
Range: 2,500 miles maximum ferry range
Service ceiling: 31,300 ft.
Span: 70 ft. 0 in.
Length: 51 ft. 2 in.
Height: 18 ft. 6 in.
Weight: Approx. 31,000 lbs. gross takeoff weight
Crew: Three (pilot, navigator/bombardier, gunner)
Serial number: 41-19504
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