The A-26 was Douglas Aircraft's successor to the A-20 (DB-7) Havoc, also known as Douglas Boston, one of the most successful and widely operated types flown by Allied air forces in World War II. Designed by Ed Heinemann, Robert Donovan, and Ted R. Smith, the innovative NACA 65-215 laminar flow airfoil wing of the A-26 was the work of project aerodynamicist A.M.O. Smith.

The Douglas XA-26 prototype (AAC Ser. No. 41-19504) first flew on 10 July 1942 at Mines Field, El Segundo, with test pilot Benny Howard at the controls. Flight tests revealed excellent performance and handling, but engine cooling problems led to cowling changes and elimination of the propeller spinners on production aircraft. Repeated collapses during testing led to reinforcement of the nose landing gear.

The A-26 was originally built in two different configurations. The A-26B had a gun nose, which originally could be equipped with a combination of armament including .50 caliber machine guns, 20mm or 37mm auto cannon, or even a 75mm pack howitzer (which was never used operationally). Normally the gun nose version housed six (or later eight) .50 caliber machine guns, officially termed the "all-purpose nose", later commonly known as the "six-gun nose" or "eight-gun nose". The A-26C's "glass" nose, officially termed the "Bombardier nose", contained a Norden bombsight for medium altitude precision bombing. The A-26C nose section included two fixed M-2 guns, later replaced by underwing gun packs or internal guns in the wings.

After about 1,570 production aircraft, three guns were installed in each wing, coinciding with the introduction of the "eight-gun nose" for A-26Bs, giving some configurations as many as 14 .50 in machine guns in fixed forward mounts. An A-26C nose section could be replaced with an A-26B nose section, or vice versa, in a few man-hours, thus physically (and officially) changing the designation and operational role. The "flat-topped" canopy was changed in late 1944 after about 820 production aircraft, to a clam shell style with greatly improved visibility.

Alongside the pilot in an A-26B, a crew member typically served as navigator and gun loader for the pilot-operated nose guns. In an A-26C, that crew member served as navigator and bombardier, and relocated to the nose section for the bombing phase of an operation. A small number of A-26Cs were fitted with dual flight controls, some parts of which could be disabled in flight to allow limited access to the nose section. Access was through the lower section of the right-hand instrument panel, which was open to allow access to the nose for the bombardier, who would normally sit next to the pilot. This was similar to British designs like the Lancaster, Blenheim/Beaufort, Wellington, etc. A tractor-style "jump seat" was located behind the "navigator's seat." In most missions, a third crew member in the rear gunner's compartment operated the remotely controlled dorsal and ventral gun turrets, with access to and from the cockpit possible via the bomb bay only when that was empty. The gunner operated both dorsal and ventral turrets via a novel and complex (and problematic) dual-ended periscope sight, which was a vertical column running through the center of the rear compartment, with traversing and elevating/depressing periscope sights on each end. The gunner sat on a seat facing rearward, and looked into a binocular periscope sight mounted on the column, controlling the guns with a pair of handles on either side of the column. When aiming above the center line of the aircraft, the mirror in the center of the column would flip, showing the gunner what the upper periscope was seeing. When he pressed the handles downward, as the bead passed the center line the mirror would automatically flip, transferring the sight "seamlessly" to the lower periscope. The guns would aim wherever the periscope was aimed, automatically transferring between upper and lower turrets as required, and computing for parallax and other factors. While novel and theoretically effective, a great deal of time and trouble was spent trying to get the system to work effectively, which delayed production, and it was difficult to keep maintained in the field even once production started

The Kit

The ICM A-26B comes in a box that is appropriate for the size of the kit, there is a bit of free space but not as bad as some other current kits. The box follows along the line that ICM has been using for a while now on new kits. The box is a plain white hinge lid type box with a tab closure made from thin corrugated cardboard and this is covered by a thin card tray type lid with the box art on it. On most of these the lid fits so tight it's sometime difficult to remove. Inside the box one finds all but the clear parts enclosed in a large resealable cellophane bag. The clear parts are in a smaller bag which is inserted in the larger bag. I'm not a big fan of having all the sprues in one bag and in my case a number of the parts had come loose from the sprues during shipping. None of them had any serious damage to them.
The kit is molded in a medium gray color and has a matte finish. Surface detail consists of recessed panel line and fastener detail and raised or recessed detail as appropriate. The panel lines are quite fine, smaller than those found on many aircraft in smaller scales. Small enough that they may disappear under a heavy handed paint job. Except for some flow marks in the plastic which should not show when painted I found no other surface anomalies. Ejector pin marks have been kept away from visible areas. Mold alignment is good and the mold separation seams should be easy to clean up.
The kit provides all of the control surfaces and flaps as separate parts. The fabric detail on the elevators, rudder and ailerons is quite subtle. The rudder is a two piece assembly, the elevators and ailerons are all one piece moldings, the flaps are two part assemblies.
The wings are made up of upper and lower halves which then fit onto spars on the fuselage. There are a myriad of holes in the lower wing that need to be drilled out depending on which version of the kit you are building. They do tell you the size drill to use but it is metric so if you work in the English system you'll need to convert. The kit has been released in several variants and there are parts that won't be used on some variants.
The cockpit is reasonably well detailed and there are decals for the instrument panel and one other auxiliary panel. I fully expect the after market folks will provided us with ample extra details for those wanting more than the kit supplies. There is structure and detail molded inside the fuselage halves from the nose to the gunners position including the bomb bay and bombs and bomb racks are provided. There  are several bulkheads that divide this area, two of these have the wing spars which pass through the fuselage and provide mountings for the wings. The upper roof of the fuselage from in back of the cockpit to the gunners position is a separate piece which includes the upper turret. The lower turret is also on a separate panel that gets installed after the fuselage is closed. The gunners station has a reasonable level of detail considering how little of it will be visible after assembly. There are either separate bomb bay doors if you want them open or a single piece if you want them closed.
The main gear bays have a good amount of detail both molded in and added parts. The gear themselves are a one piece strut with add on torque scissors and other struts. The tires are in halves and not weighted. The wheels hubs are separate making painting easy. The engines are quite well detailed, the front and rear cylinder banks are in halves, there are push rod tube assemblies for the front and back, separate magnetos and prop controls, intake manifold and separate exhausts as well as ignition rings. An alignment tool has been included to make certain the individual exhaust stacks all line up as they should, nice touch ! The cowlings are one piece moldings and there are separate cowl flaps to add after the cowls are mounted.
OK, lets take a look at the sprues.
Sprue 'A' has the fuselage halves, the horizontal stabilizers, the cockpit floor and the bottom turret fairing.

A look at the structural detail molded on the inside of the fuselage.

Sprue 'B' has the starboard wing upper and lower halves, interior fuselage bulkheads, the main gear bay forward bulkheads. the closed bomb bay doors, the rudder halves and the elevators and the upper fuselage roof with the upper turret opening.

Sprue 'C' has the port wing halves, the engine nacelles, the gear bay rear bulkheads and the open bomb bay doors.

Sprue 'D' of which there are two, is quite busy. It contains the engines and all of their parts, propeller, main wheel hubs, upper and lower turret parts, under wing gun packs, bomb racks and bombs for the bomb bay, bombs that can be attached externally and most likely one or two items I missed. Note: both sprue 'D's' in my kit lost parts during transit, missing from this sprue is the cowling, half of one cylinder bank and the forward nose of the cowl to which the engine mounts.

Sprue 'E' is also very busy so I'm not going to name every part. There are also a number of parts on this sprue not used such as the drop tanks, guns for the eight gun nose, the wing guns and several other parts. The sprue does have the main gear and nose gear, cockpit and turret parts, interior parts for the wheel bays, landing gear doors, turret parts and numerous others.

The assortment shown below were all the parts that came loose during shipment

Sprues 'F' and 'H' are shown below, the two 'F' sprues are the tire halves, the tires have a nice tread pattern on them but you will need to deal with a seam. 'H' has the nose specific to this version (missing, shown in the above photo) along with the guns for it, DF loop, antenna mast and pitot tube.


The clear parts are nicely thin and clear, a bit of distortion can be seen in the curved portions. Also included are a window, a couple inspection windows, landing light lenses, navigation light lenses. The opening portion of the canopy used on this version is a separate piece should you want to display it open.

The decals have a glossy finish and are in register. I'm not sure some of the light colored markings are opaque enough, difficult to tell on the sheet. Most of the small printing is readable under magnification. The sheet provides marking for three aircraft, the first is from the 671st BS/416th BG at A55 Melun, France, early 1945. The second is from the 553rd BS386 BG A92 St. Trond, Belgium, April 1945. And the third 84th BS/47th BG, Grosseta Italy, early 1945. ICM decals seem to be of variable quality, I have used some that fine and others not so much.

The instructions are an A4 sized 24 page booklet in the portrait format and stapled at the spine. The cover pages are printed on glossy stock while the balance is printed on plain paper. The first page has a brief history and specifications printed in Russian and English, a color chart with Revell and Tamiya numbers and generic names in Russian and English and an icon chart. Pages two through four are parts maps, parts that are not to be used are shaded in color. Assembly diagrams start on page five and continue through page twenty-one. Page twenty-two has a gray scale isometric drawing of the completed kit and pages twenty-three and twenty-four have the painting and marking diagrams for the three options on the decal sheet. The assembly diagrams are all clear and easy to follow with color call outs.

After Market Goodies
This series of kits from ICM will most likely be very popular and I expect we will see a lot of after market from all the usual suspects. If I acquire any of it I will post it here.

ICM has really stepped up their game over the past couple of years and their kits have gone from being more like limited run kits to more like main stream. With the possible exception Tamiya this kit is equal to the likes of the newer Airfix and Revell kits. This one is simple enough assembly wise that even newbies should be able to build a presentable model from it. Highly recommended.

Links to kit build or reviews
An inbox and partial build review can be found here and another in box here that includes some nice period photos

A-26 Invader in Action by Jim Mesko

A-26 Invader Units of World War 2 by Jim Roeder

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Updated  4/10/20