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What was the black twin-engine WWII aircraft I saw at the airport?

Ken Little

Q. It looked like there was a black twin-engine World War II aircraft at Wilmington as I was passing through this week.  From a distance, it looked like an old A-26 or something like that.  What aircraft is that?

A. Gary Broughton, deputy director of Wilmington International Airport, confirms it is an A-26.

The Douglas A-26 Invader is actually based at ILM and is owned by George Lancaster, a retired Piedmont Airlines pilot, Broughton said.

Lancaster maintains the aircraft with the help of several volunteers.   It has flown in past air shows but none recently, Broughton said.

The A-26 is a World War II-era twin-engine light bomber and ground attack aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Co. The A-26 saw service in the Pacific, Mediterranean and Western Europe theaters in World War II.

The Douglas Invader also saw service during Cold War conflicts after World War II and remained in use until 1969, where a limited number of highly modified A-26 models served with the U.S. Air Force in Southeast Asia.

The specific aircraft owned by Lancaster was built in 1944.

It was loaned to the French Air Force in 1950 and sent to French Indochina, where it participated in more than 300 documented bombing missions from 1951-55. It was based in Da Nang, Saigon and Hanoi in present-day Vietnam. The A-26 was returned to the U.S. Air Force in 1956 and later had a number of civilian owners before it was acquired by Lancaster in 2001.

Broughton said he believes the aircraft based at ILM is for sale.

A video of the black-painted aircraft in flight can be viewed on YouTube under the title “1946 Douglas A-26 For Sale In Wilmington, NC.” It can also be seen on Facebook under the page name “A-26 Spirit of N.C.”

A more extensive history of the A-26 is available at http://napoleon130.tripod.com/id315.html.


What type of fighter jets do we see flying around ILM airport?

What are the big Xs at the end of the runway at ILM airport?

Is there a secret underground military base at Wilmington International Airport?

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