Douglas A/B-26 Invader

Operation Haik

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Operation "Haik"

Officially, this operation was never undertaken by the CIA. Until today the Agency never admitted it took place. The background of the operation might look strange at the first view: it was that the CIA obviously "felt", that President Sukarno's Indonesia was turning communist, and that something had to be done about that, with the best apparent solution being to bring him to fight the communists.

For the operation the CIA decided to use some existing oppositional forces - of which there was a plethora in Indonesia - as a front for the activity. In late 1956, for example, two Army colonels - founders of the organization later better known under the name PERMESTA - declared that they now control the central and northern Sumatra. While central Indonesian authorities did almost nothing against them – at least not immediately – the officers were swift to contact the USA and ask for help. Washington was not interested to do anything or to get involved, however, until additional problems with Dutch were caused by Sukarno, because of which the Indonesian communists sided with him. After this development, some military supplies were shipped, and the CIA - after a considerable amount of research and planning - decided to use PERMESTA - which, under the aegis of PRRI controlled also the northern Sulawesi - as a front. A decision was taken to organize an air arm, and in February 1958, the first three B-26s were taken out of a bone yard at Clark Field AB, Philippines, and prepared for combat operations and delivery to Sulawesi, while several American pilots were recruited to fly them, together with a number of Polish pilots and navigators (most of which soon left, however).

In March 1958 also three F-51Ds were taken from the Philippine Air Force, together with some pilots, recruited for the oncoming operation against Indonesia. Addtional B-26s and F-51s were to follow as becoming available after a complete refurbishment. So came into being the Angkatan Udara Revolusioner - AUREV - which was to act as a kind of PERMESTA Air Force, officially comanded by Col. Muharto. Actually, the AUREV was under the control of the CAT - Civilian Air Transport (a CIA front company) – had a full CIA-backing, and could count also on some support from the ROCAF C-46’s for transport duties, as well as PBY Catalinas of the Philippine Air Force.

B-26 Invaders known to have been taken by CIA for the operation Haik
The first two B-26s, formerly TB-26Bs, were painted overall black:
- B-26B 44-34268, delivered 12 Apr 1958, fate unknown
- B-26B 44-34376, delivered 12 Apr 1958, survived and used for Project Farm Gate in 1963

The following four aircraft, formerly two RB-26Cs and two WB-26Cs, were left in “bare metal” overall, but had a black anti-glare pannel in front of the cockpit:
- B-26B 44-34690, delivered 12 Apr 1958, fate unknown
- B-26B 44-35221, delivered 17 May 1958, probably aircraft in which Allen Pope was shot down
- B-26B 44-35441, delivered 17 May 1958, probably aircraft damaged and abandoned at Mapengat
- B-26B ? delivered 18 May 1958, fate unknown

Of the following aircraft from the third batch four were used as bombers, while two (44-34643 and 44-35968) – although camouflaged in black and green overall – were intended to be used as sources of spares.
- B-26C 44-34643, delivered 26 May 1958, as spare parts source, probably abandoned in Indonesia
- B-26C 44-35968, delivered 26 May 1958, as spare parts source, probably abandoned in Indonesia
- B-26B 44-35242, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field
- B-26B 44-34346, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field (previously in service with AdA in Indochina, and later used for Project Farm Gate, in 1963
- B-26B 44-34391, used solely as source for spares at Clark Field
- B-26B 44-34539, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field and used for Project Farm Gate in 1963
- B-26B 44-34620, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field and used for Project Farm Gate in 1963
- B-26B 44-34682, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field and used for Project Farm Gate in 1963

F-51D Mustangs known to have been used for Operation Haik (all exPhAF)
All aircraft were in “bare metal” overall, sanitized for any kind of serials or other markings: only a few wore small black codes on the fin:
- 44-73514, ‘3514’ or ‘I’?
- 44-74030, ‘II’
- 44-73562, ‘III’
- 44-72917
- 45-11369
- 4511590

On the other side, the Indonesian Air Force (Angatan Udara Republik Indonesia or AURI) was at a time a small asset with only three small squadrons of combat aircraft, including the 1st Skadron, equipped with 13 operational B-25Js, for which there were only five qualified crews, and the 3rd Skadron, equipped with 13 operational F-51Ds, for which there were only ten qualified pilots (only three of which have ever got any air-to-air combat training). Ready or not, both the AUREV and the AURI were soon to clash in a series of sharp attacks and counterattacks.

When he finally decided to do something against the PERMESTA&PRRI, on 21 March 1958 Sukarno first ordered the AURI to attack the radio stations at Padang and Bukittiniggi - on Sumatra. The attack prompted the CIA to move its aircraft into the area as well, and on 12 April first three B-26s were flown to Sulawesi. Hardly 24 hours later, one of them flew the first combat mission of the AUREV, attacking the AURI Makassar air base, on southern Sulawesi. On 17th April another strike followed, in which an oil tanker was sunk near Balikpapan, and oil storage tanks of Royal Dutch/Shell damaged. Three days later the AUREV flew also its first counter-air missions, starting a series of strikes against AURI air base at Halmahera.

However, most of the AURI was not to be found there any way, as the Indonesian Air Force was away, fighting rebels at Sumatra, and supporting a successful operation, initiated on 18 April, which was to force the rebels away from Sumatra.

The AUREV thus used the time to fly the first two F-51Ds to Sulawesi as well. The AURI returned to the area only in mid-May, and on 16th of the month three B-25s, escorted by two F-51s, attacked Manado airfield, claiming a destruction of three AUREV Mustangs and one Catalina. While the AUREV certainly haven't had as many F-51Ds on Sulavesi, at least that part of Indonesian claims remains disputable, but the story of the Catalina very likely destroyed in that attack is highly probable, as it is known that the Philippine AF used Catalinas to fly supplies and spare parts to AUREV.

The CIA now had to reinforce not only because of losses suffered during the AURI strikes to its airfields. Namely, it was known that the Indonesians were short of getting the first batches of MiG-17s, MiG-19s, MiG-21s, as well as a small number of Tu-16 bombers from the USSR (not a single AURI unit became operational on the Soviet jets in 1958, however, as all were busy training additonal pilots and technicians). But, on 18 May a engagement developed, in which AUREV B-26 clashed with AURI F-51D, and which proved to be decisive for the future of the Operation Haik.

This short clash happened when the B-26 flown by US contract-pilot Alan Pope was tasked with a strike against convoy of Indonesian ships underway to attack PERMESTA on Morotai. Pope found his target near Ambon, flew between the convoy and the land, and turned to attack, expecting not to be detected until the last moment. However, he was detected early, and the Indonesians opened fierce fire at the low flying B-26, damaging it severely. Only moments later, the AURI F-51D flown by Capt. Dewanto appeared on the scene and attacked the crippled bomber. Pope and his navigator, Rantung, parachuted safely, but were immediately captured.
Shortly after, another B-26, flown by another US contract-pilot, Connie Seigrist, also clashed with Dewanto while underway to strike the AURI airfield at Ambon. Seigrist used his one chance as Dewanto passed in front of his bomber, and opened fire. Dewanto's Mustang was damaged, but Seigrist mounted no follow-up attack against the more nimble fighter.


A B-26B from the second batch of Invaders organized for the Operation Haik, and flown to Indonesia via Manado, on the Philippines. This B-26B was later captured by the Indonesians at Mapengat, on Sulawesi, in derelict condition, and looks very similar to the example flown by Alan Pope when he was shot down. Some of the aircraft used in this operation possibly carried the title "PERMESTA" under the wings, but nothing similar was ever confirmed for any of the involved B-26s. The only characteristic "marking" of this aircraft is the black anti-glare pannel in front of the cockpit, which is deeper than this was usually the case: Pope's aircraft should have had the "shallow" anti-glare pannel. (all artworks by Tom Cooper)


As the second batch of Invaders to be sent to Mindanao in mid-May 1958, two additional B-26Cs were prepared at Clark Airfield, on the Philippines, to be used as spare part sources. Unlike the two Invaders from the first batch, which were painted black overall, or those from the second batch, left "bare metall" overall, this and another B-26C (with their glass-noses plated over) had a unique colour scheme, with upper surfaces largely in black and the undersides in green. Neither example ever reached Manado.