Douglas A/B-26 Invader


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Conair Group Inc. of Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, formerly known as Conair Aviation Ltd., is a company specializing in retrofitting firefighting aircraft and maintaining customer and company-owned aircraft. Conair has a fleet of aircraft that are broken down into two categories — air attack, and airtankers.

Conair's air attack aircraft, more commonly known as "Bird Dogs", are aircraft that contain the pilot and Air Attack Officer. The birddogs ensure the runs to be made by the laden airtankers are safe and free of obstructions. The crew inside the birddog determine the run locations and drop types to be made, coordinate the aerial action with the ground crews if present and control the airspace around the fire. The attack aircraft are Piper PA-60 Aerostars, Rockwell Turbo Commanders, and Cessna 208 Caravans. These aircraft are always used in conjunction with the airtankers.

Conair's tankers include Air Tractor AT-802F, and AT-802F Amphibious "Fireboss" variants, Convair CV580s, Convair CV580As, Convair CV5800s, Conair Firecats (retrofitted S-2 Trackers), Douglas DC-6s, Canadair CL-215s and up untill a few years ago, the Douglas A-26 Invader.

Conair's headquarters are in Abbotsford at the Abbotsford International Airport which also is where their maintenance and retrofitting facility is located. Conair bases their aircraft under contract to fire control agencies throughout western Canada and the US. Currently, Conair airtanker groups (a group consists of one birddog and from one to four airtankers) are contracted to agencies in BC, Alberta, Yukon and Alaska. Conair serves as the Canadian dealer for Olney, Texas-based Air Tractor, which produces the AT-802F, one of only three types of aircraft specifically designed for aerial firefighting (the others being the Canadair CL-215 and 415 models).

Accumulating some 6.000 hours of aerial fire control experience each year, the professionals at Conair operate and service a fleet of 51 fixed-wing aircraft for fire protection agencies in multiple jurisdictions, including:

  • British Columbia
  • Alberta
  • Yukon
  • Alaska

Associated reading

Linc Alexander - Fire Bomber into hell





Conair No.20 - C-FKBM

Conair No.21 - C-FBMR

Conair No.22 - C-FBMS

Conair No.23 - CF-FBV

Conair No.24 - CF-DFC

Conair No.25 - C-FMSB

Conair No.26 - C-FAGO

Conair No.27 - C-FKBZ

Conair No.28 - C-GHCF

Conair No.29 - C-GHLI

Conair No.30 - C-GHCE

Conair No.31 - C-GHCC

Conair No.32 - C-GHLX

Profile: Barry Marsden
One of the founding principals of Conair Aviation 30 years ago, Barry Marsden is now its President and CEO. His aviation career began in 1954 with Skyway Air Services of Langley, BC. At Skyway and later at Conair, he was one of the key industry personnel contributing to the development of aerial fire control methods and procedures for British Columbia's Initial Attack Fire Control System. At Conair, to further develop the potential for aerial fire control, he assumed successive positions as Chief Pilot, Superintendent of Flight Operations and Director of Operations. During this period he flew over 3,500 hours on fire control and other specialty operations. In 1980 he became Vice President and General Manager, and in 1991 he became President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Marsden attended the Banff School of Advanced Management and holds an Airline Transport Pilot License and an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer License.
Barry Marsden launched his aviation career in 1954 fighting forest fires, and with his guidance Conair (a spin-off from Skyway Air Services of Langley) became a world leader in aerial firefighting equipment in two areas; as an operator and a builder. The aircraft maintenance end of the business grew out of a need for maintenance of its own fleet of 53 aircraft and helicopters. The fixed-wing fleet is used primarily in the area of fire management services, while the rotary wing aircraft, which are operated under the name of Frontier Helicopters, are used for a range of services in Canada and beyond.

Conair Air Tanker Bird Dog pilot

Life of an Air Tanker Bird Dog Pilot.....Basically, we work from May through to Sept, with a little lee way either side for training in the Spring, and extra days on(sometimes) for fire hazard in the fall. The up side of this kind of schedule is getting all of your work and pay for the year over with in 6 months, and having the rest of the year to pursue other interests. The down side is you're away from home for pretty much the entire duration. We have contracts with the governments of BC, Alberta, and the Yukon. All three have essentially the same Fire Alert system in place.


A Green Alert means you can do what ever you like that day just as long you can be airborne within 24 hours if there's a fire (don't get too many of these alerts). A Blue Alert - we have to be ready to be airborne within one hours notice of the fire callout, Yellow Alert - airborne within a 20 min period, and Red Alert - airborne as fast as you can. We are oncall seven days a week, and a Blue Alert day with no call out counts as a day off. So as you can see, there's no real chance of going home if you are working outside of your home province.

The flying is really FUN!! Around the fire the birddog is never more than a thousand feet up, and quite often only about 25' over the trees checking out the bombing runs for the tankers or leading them in towards the hotspots if they can't see where you (the forestry air attack officer) want them to drop their load. The crew of the Birddog consists of a pilot and a specially trained forest fire fighting person who is called an Air Attack Officer. Our job is to co-ordinate the Air part of the attack alongside the ground firefighting. In other words making sure the guys on the ground are out of the way when the tankers come in and acting as ATC for all the air traffic around the fire, which can be as little as a couple of helicopters and your one tanker, to a dozen or so helicopters and ten or fifteen tankers! Usually it's only a small number of aircraft.

The other main part of our job is to determine the best routes in and out of the fire area for the tankers. This is done by flying the routes we want at about 25 to 50' lower than the tankers will, while thinking of the different safety and turning/flying capability concerns of the various large tankers.


It's a fairly nomadic life. Last year we started out in Whitecourt and finished up in Calgary, and we were temp. based everywhere from High Level and Rainbow Lake in the north to Pincher Creek in the south. Accommodations are generally the best hotels the smaller towns have to offer and upper mid range hotels in the bigger cities.

Eating out at restaurants can get a bit old after a while, especially in the smaller towns (what do you mean you don't want gravy on your fries?) so we usually try to get a food fund going with the group and do our own thing for meals.

The group you are assigned to in the spring is the group you stay with for the summer so they become a second family of sorts. Most of the people are great and the summers can be a blast

See original article

Air Enthusiast article by Robert Stitt

The Aviaton index for Robert Stitt reference 1

The Aviation index by Robert Stitt reference 2















Conair Douglas A-26 Fleet History

Fate/Disposal needs updating


Fleet No.

Final Reg.



[USAAF/USAF Overseas Service]





A-26B-45-DL 44-34136: del USAAF Feb 15, 1945; [8thAF, Europe Mar-Jul 1945]; also B-26B, TB-26B &TB-26C; stored AMC & SOC Jul 1958. N8017E: LB Smith Aircraft Corp, Miami, FL. Donaire Inc, Phoenix, AZ 1966-69 (‘C32’); TW Hammon, Phoenix, AZ. CF-KBM: Kenting Aircraft Ltd, Toronto, ON Aug 1972. Conair Aug 1973 (Natural).

To Air Spray (1967), Ltd, Red Deer, AB 1985.





A-26B-15-DL 41-39359: del USAAF Nov 14, 1944 [9thAF, Europe Nov 1944-Aug 1945; 3rd BG(L), Japan & Korea Nov 1953-Feb 1956]; also B-26B; stored AMC Feb 1956; SOC Nov 1957. N91281: Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA 1966-69. CF-BMR: Conair Mar 1970.

Departed for Victoria for Jerry C Janes, Jan 24, 1987, pilot Don Troutman. N26BP: Bob Pond, Eden Prairie, MN 1987.




A-26B-10-DT 43-22357: del USAAF Oct 3, 1944 [9thAF, Europe Oct 1944-Aug 1945]; also TA-26B & TB-26C; stored AMC Feb 1956; SOC Oct 1957. N91348: Hamilton Aircraft Inc, Tulsa, AZ 1966-69 (allocated to Força Aérea Portuguesa but not delivered); Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA. CF-BMS: Conair Apr 1970.

Departed for BC Aviation Museum, Sidney, BC Aug 28, 1989, pilot Rod Boles.




A-26B-61-DL 44-34607: del USAAF Jul 27, 1945; also TA-26B & TB-26B; stored AMC Jul 1957; SOC Jun 1958. N8395H: Stahmann Farms Inc, Las Cruces, NM 1966-69 (stored with Hamilton Aircraft at Tucson). CF-FBV: Conair Jun 71 (NM).

Lost Aug 7, 1974 near Clinton, based Smithers.




A-26B-50-DL 44-34313: del USAAF Apr 9, 1945 [3rd BG(L) & 17th BW(L), Japan & Korea Jun 1951-Feb 1953]; also B-26B & B-26C; stored McClennan AFB Dec 1953; SOC Dec 1957. N5457V: Aero Atlas Inc, Red Bluff, CA 1959 (‘27’); Hillcrest Aircraft (Wilson Aviation Industries), Lewiston, ID 1963 (‘A20’); Butler Aviation, Redmond, OR 1966-69 (‘F16’). C-GHLK: Conair Apr 1975

Departed for Reynolds Aviation Museum, Wetaskawin, AB Apr 11, 1987, pilot Rod Boles. To Don Crowe, Victoria, BC. To Canadian Warplane Heritage, Mount Hope, ON.




A-26B-15-DL 41-39398: del USAAF Nov 27, 1944 [9thAF, Europe Dec 1944-Sep 1945; 3rd BG(L), Japan & Korea Nov 1952-Jul 1956]; also B-26B & B-26C; stored AMC Feb 1957; SOC Nov 1957. N91317: Allied Aircraft Sales, Phoenix, AZ 1966; Flight Enterprises Inc, Prescott, AZ 1969. CF-DFC: Conair Jun 1971 (NM).

Landed short and damaged Prince George Aug 10, 1971. Lost Aug 11, 1974 Stoyoma Mountain near Boston Bar returning to Williams Lake from Abbotsford, based Smithers.




A-26C-15-DT 43-22673: del USAAF Feb 27, 1944 [8thAF, Europe Mar 1944-Jul 1945]; also B-26C & TB-26C; stored AMC Jul 1956; SOC Apr 1958. N9159Z: Blue Mountain Air Services, La Grande, OR; Hillcrest Aircraft Company, La Grande, OR 1963 (‘F24’); Butler Aviation, Redmond, OR 1966-72 (‘F18’). C-GHLM: Conair Apr 1975 (NM).

Lost Jul 2, 1975 Gates Lake near Pemberton, BC.





A-26C-35-DT 44-35440: del USAAF May 9, 1945 [17th BW(L), Japan & Korea Apr 1953-Feb 1954]; also B-26C; ]. Armée de l’Air Feb1954-Oct 1955. Stored Clark Field, Philippines Oct 1955; SOC Dec 1956. N6838D (Consort 26): Rock Island Oil & Refining Co, Wichita, KA 1966-71; Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA 1971. CF-MSB: Conair Jun 1971.

Departed for USAF Museum, Travis AFB as A-26B of 9thAF Sep 27, 1988 pilot Rod Boles.





A-26C-35-DT 44-35456: del USAAF Apr 17, 1945 [12th AF, Mediterranean, Apr-Jul 1945; 67th TRW, Japan & Korea Jul 1951-Jun 1956, Dragon Lady]; also B-26C & RB-26C; stored AMC Jul 1956; SOC Apr 1958. N330WC: Western Contracting Corp, Sioux City, IA 1963-69; Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA 1972. CF-AGO: Conair Jul 1972 (NM).

Landed short and broke off left main gear Ft. St. John Apr 14, 1980. To Air Spray (1967), Ltd, Red Deer, AB 1984.




A-26C-45-DT 44-35752: del USAAF May 31, 1945; also B-26C & TB-26C; stored AMC Apr 1958; SOC Aug 1958. N8627E: The Rock Island Oil & Refining Co, Wichita, KA 1966; Donaire Inc, Phoenix, AZ 1969; TW Hammon, Phoenix, AZ 1970. CF-KBZ: Kenting Aircraft Ltd, Toronto, ON 1972. Conair Aug 1973.

Departed for Canadian Warplane Heritage, Mount Hope, ON Jan 15, 1988 pilot Rod Boles. N81797: Courtesy Aircraft, Rockford, IL. Vern Rayburn, Geneseo, NY.





A-26B-61-DL 44-34520: del USAAF Jun 22, 1945 [728th BS, 452nd BG & 17th BW(L), Japan & Korea Apr 1951-Jul 1952, Marion B and Margie II]; also B-26C; stored AMC Feb 1957; SOC Jul 1958. N9420Z: AS Wilstrom Inc, New York, NY 1963-72. C-GHCF: Conair Apr 1974.

Departed for Hawkins & Powers Aviation Inc, Greybull, WY Oct 22, 1988, pilot Rod Boles. N94207, rereg. N126HP.




A-26B-61-DL 44-34592: del USAAF Jul 28, 1945; also TA-26B & TB-26B; stored AMC Dec 1957; SOC Jul 1958. N8631E: Rock Island Oil & Refining Co, Wichita, Kansas 1966; Consolidated Aircraft Parts Corp, Los Angeles, CA 1969; DA/Pro Rubber Inc, Van Nuys, CA 1972. CF-FJG: Mercury Flights, Edmonton, AB Apr 1973. Conair Jun 1974 (NM).

Lost Sep 29, 1974 at Abbotsford Airport, BC. Fire in port engine after take-off.




A-26B-56-DL 44-34423: del. USAAF Jun 4, 1945 [3rd BG(L) & 17th BW(L), Japan & Korea May 1951-May 1953]; also B-26B, B-26C & B-26B; stored AMC Jul 1957; SOC Jan 1958. N9594Z: Stahmann Farms Inc., Las Cruces, NM 1960-72; Victor W Newman 1972-75. C-GHLI: Conair Mar 1975.

Lost Jul 1, 1984 to fire at Williams Lake airport. To local scrap yard. To Aero Nostalgia in 1990 for static rebuild as B-26C for Fairchild AFB, WA.




A-26C-25-DT 43-22652: del. USAAF Feb 12, 1944 [9thAF, Europe Feb 1944-Aug 1945]; also B-26C & TB-26C; stored AMC Feb 1958; SOC Jul 1958. N8018E: LB Smith Aircraft Corp, Miami, FL; Aerojet General Corp, Azusa, CA 1967-72. C-GHCE: Conair Jun 1974 (NM).

Landed gear up Williams Lake Aug 7, 1974 after actioning fire caused by loss of tanker ‘323’. Departed for USAF Museum, Travis AFB as A-26A Jul 18, 1988, pilot Rod Boles.




A-26C-50-DT 44-35893: del. USAAF Jun 27, 1945 [3rd BG(L) & 17th BW(L), Japan & Korea Aug 1952-Nov 1956]; also B-26C; stored AMC Nov 1956; SOC Mar 1958. N4812E: Rock Island Oil & Refining Co, Wichita, KA; Consolidated Aero Export Corp, Los Angeles, CA 1969-72; Wells Aircraft. C-GHCC: Conair May 1974 (NM).

To Air Spray (1967), Ltd, Red Deer, AB 1984.






A-26C-55-DT 44-35948: del direct to Reconstruction Finance Corp, Kingman, AZ Oct 26, 1945; disposed Dec 1945. N67164: Stanolind Oil & Gas Co, OK 1954. N1244: Pan American Petroleum Corp, Tulsa, OK 1961-63. N910H: Nine-Ten Corp, Chicago, IL. N161H: Motorola Inc, Scottsdale, AZ 1969. Grumman Ecosystems Corp, Bethpage, NY Aug 5, 1970-Sep 5, 1974. Associated Products, Cape May, NJ 1974-75. C-GHLX: Conair Jul 1975.

To Air Spray (1967), Ltd, Red Deer, AB 1987




A-26C-30-DT 44-35323: del USAAF Mar 30, 1945 [8thAF, Europe Apr-Jul 1945; 67th TRS, Japan & Korea Jun 1951-Dec 1954]; also RB-26C; stored AMC Dec 1957; SOC Jul 1958. N8026E: LB Smith Aircraft Corp, Miami, FL. Kreitzberg Aviation Inc, Salem, OR 1966. Aeroflite Inc, Troutdale, OR 1969. Aero Union Corp, Chico, CA 1969. CF-CDD: Conair May 1970 (leased).

N8026E Aero Union 1970-72. William Dempsey, East Wanatchee, WA 1975-77. Don Goodman, Missoula, MN 1977. Lester Risley, Anchorage AK 1978. Don Rogers 1979. Air Museum, Chino, CA




A-26B-15-DL 41-39190. N9404Z: Moseley Aviation Inc.

Reported as spares airframe but no record of being received



A.      Aircraft indicated as issued to 8thAF, Europe more likely served with the 9thAF.

B.       AMC: Arizona Aircraft Storage Branch (Air Materiel Command), Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.

C.       NM: aircraft remained in natural metal finish throughout Conair service.