Douglas B-26 Invader

Distinkhorn, Darvel, E Ayrshire

 
     
 
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Aircraft Type Photo

 

BELOW: A  USAF Douglas B-26 (A-26B) Invader, similar to the type featured on this page.

 

Douglas B-26 Invader in flight 

 

Photo: U. S. Air Force. As a work of the U. S. Federal Government, this image is now in the public domain.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Type and Background

 

USAF Douglas B-26 (A-26) Invader / 8811B 

 


 

(A distinct aircraft from the Martin B-26 Marauder)

 

 

In 1948, all Douglas A-26 Invaders were reclassified as B-26 Invaders.

 

Equipped with two Pratt and Whitney R2800-27 Double Wasp radial piston engines, the A-26 / B-26 Invader was, at the time, the fastest attack aircraft in the USAAF / USAF. It had a top speed of 355mph.

 

First flown in 1942, the original A-26 Invader was armed with 6 machine guns in the solid nose and up to fourteen more in the remotely-operated turrets. The A-26 Invader could also carry a substantial bomb load (up to 4,000lbs), in addition to rocket projectiles. Although used for other purposes, the A-26 Invader was an attack aircraft primarily.

 

In later variants, four of the six nose guns were deleted to allow for a bomb-aimer's position in the now-glazed nose.

 

Shortly after the end of WWII in the Pacific, the USAF (formerly, USAAF) re-designated the A-26 Invader as B-26's. It is one of these re-designated aircraft that is featured on this page.

 

The Douglas Invader saw service with the USAAF in WWII (as A-26's) and with the USAF in Korea and Vietnam (as B-26's). The B-26 was used also by France.

 


 

BELOW: The cockpit and instrument panel of a Douglas A-26 Invader light bomber.

 

cockpit instrument panel of douglas a-26 invader 

 

Photo: U. S. Air Force. As a work of the U. S. Federal Government, this image is now in the public domain.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Accident Details

 

At the time of the accident, B-26 Invader 8811B was on a ferry flight from the USA via Reykjavik, Iceland and Prestwick, Scotland to France. The aircraft was intended for use by Free French Air Force in Indo-China1 in their war against the Viet Minh. This B-26, therefore, was bearing French roundels.

 

This B-26 Invader was being flown by two US civilian crew employed by Fleetways Incorporated2 of Burbank, California. This company had been retained by the US Government to operate ferry flights on behalf of the USAF.

 

After refuelling at Meeks Field / Patterson Field (Reykjavik-Keflavik Airport) Iceland, the B-26 was scheduled to make a stopover at Prestwick Airport. When Prestwick ATC had provided clearance to land, the pilot began his descent toward the airport. However, while still a few miles distant from the airport, Air Traffic Control lost contact with the B-26, both from their radio transmissions and also on their radar screens.

 

As soon as it was realised that the aircraft had crashed, Prestwick ATC issued an alert to the search and rescue services. Teams were assembled from Catrine, Sorn, and Darvel to join in the search. USAF personnel based at Prestwick were advised of the situation and joined in the search for the missing aircraft.

 

Mr. J. Anderson and his wife, the owners of Weitshaw Farm, Sorn, had seen a glare in the sky and then heard reports of a missing aircraft. Shortly afterward, police and rescue services arrived in their farmyard. Mr. Anderson was able to tell them what he had seen. Then, the local police and the USAF rescue teams proceeded to that area a few miles away over rough and boggy moorland.

 

After searching in the darkness for about 5 hours, the wreckage was found eventually, partially buried in very boggy ground at Avon Head near Distinkhorn. The search parties soon discovered that fire had engulfed the B-26 shortly after impact. There were no survivors.

 

Due to the boggy ground and inaccessibly of the site for road vehicles, it was not possible to recover the bodies except by using the accompanying search and rescue helicopter.  However, high winds prevented the helicopter from making an immediate recovery, and this had to be postponed until the winds had abated.

 

 

Possible Cause

 

Unconfirmed reports state that 'instrument failure' was the primary cause of this accident.

 


 

Footnotes:

 

1 French Indo-China: Strictly, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. More widely, Malay Peninsula, Myanmar (Burma), Singapore, and Thailand (Siam). 

 

2 Fleetways Incorporated: Specialising in aircraft ferry flights, Fleetways Inc. was a distinct company from the present-day and similarly named Fleetway Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

Aircraft Crew Casualties

 

The crew who died in this accident were:

 

  • Edgar Joseph Flanagan (38) Collingswood, NJ (Pilot)

  •  

  • Wayne Archer Taylor (32) Lamissa, CA (Navigator)

 

 

 

 

 

Crash Site Photos   (Page 1-A)

 

BELOW: Ammunition chutes from the Douglas B-26 Invader.

 

The ammunition chutes from the Douglas B-26 Invader.

 

Photo © 2014-2015 Gary Nelson

 


 

BELOW: An engine from the B-26.

 

An engine from the B-26.

 

Photo © 2014-2015 Gary Nelson

 


 

BELOW: An overview of the remaining wreckage. Smaller pieces in the background are indicated by red arrows.

 

An overview of the remaining wreckage.

 

Photo © 2014-2015 Gary Nelson

 


 

BELOW: Other wreckage at the crash site.

 

Other wreckage still at the crash site.

 

Photo © 2014-2015 Gary Nelson

 


 

BELOW: One of the mainwheel tyres.

 

One of the mainwheel tyres.

 

Photo © 2014-2015 Gary Nelson

 

 

More photos from Gary Nelson's 2014 collection on

 

Pages 1-B and 1-C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other photos below

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

BELOW: A tyre from one of the B-26's wheels.

 

Over the years, this tyre had become completely buried. However, by using 25-year-old photos of the crash site, where part of the tyre was still just visible, it was possible to locate the burial location and dig up the tyre. This explains why it was not seen at the crash site until more recently.

 

(Many thanks to Steven Williamson for providing this information.)

 

Part of debris field. Tyre not part of aircraft debris

 

Photo: © 2008 Ross Purfit

 


 

BELOW: One of the two Twin Wasp radial engines from the B-26 Invader.

 

one of the two rotary engines from the b-26 invader

 

Photo: © 2008 Ross Purfit

 


 

BELOW: Another section of wreckage from the light bomber.

 

section of wreckage from the light bomber

 

Photo: © 2008 Ross Purfit

 


 

BELOW: The above section view from another angle.

 

The above section viewed from another angle

 

Photo: © 2008 Ross Purfit

 

 

FORWARD TO PAGE 1-B

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Crash Date / Site

 

 

Pages last updated: 1 Apr 2015

 



 

Accident Date: 13 Aug 1956

 

Accident Site:

Avon Head near Distinkhorn (386m / 1259ft)

(Hill W of Laird Knowe)

 

(Suggested Approach Route: From Blacksidend / Glen Garr (Sheet 71: 592 310) then head for Distinkhorn. Wreck is about Avon Head NS 590 322.) [William Clark]

 

Region: East Ayrshire

 

Nearest town or village:

Darvel or Sorn.

 

Nearest large town:

Newmilns (NW)

 (Kilmarnock)

 

OS Grid Ref. N/A

 

GPS Ref: NS 59287 32138

 

Present Condition:

Some wreckage still at this site, but lying in boggy ground.

 


 

Other air crash in this vicinity:

 

RAF Hawker Typhoon MN532, Stony Hill, Muirkirk / Sorn.

 

 

 

Aircraft Details

 

 

Registration or Serial: 8811B

 

Operator: USAF (on ferry flight to France for Free Forces use in Indo-China)

 

Operating Base: Unknown.

 

Base Location: Unknown.

 

 

 

Related Links

 

Accident Specific Links

Accident Photos at Ayrshire History.com (Includes contemporary newspaper articles)

Sorn Aircraft Crash Site, Summer 2001 (Photos by Kenny Baird)

 

Other Links

Douglas A-26 / B-26 Invader at Military Factory.com

Douglas A-26 Invader at Warbird Alley

Douglas A-26 (B-26) Invader at Wikipedia

 


 

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