In the early 1950s, Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale,
California, was a hot-bed of ex-military aircraft conversion and modification.
This historic airport (which exists almost completely intact
but is in threat of demolition by the Disney Corporation which now owns the property) was America's first west coast transcontinental
terminal and over the years (it closed in 1959) had seen numerous historic aviation firsts.
Grand Central Aircraft Company executives came up with the
idea to modify an Invader to carry passengers. Several Invaders were completed when the employees split off and established
On Mark Engineering at nearby Van Nuys Airport. The company obtained a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) and began to produce
a number of conversions. With conversion production getting underway in the late 1950s, the company created first the
Executive, becoming the Marketeer in 1957, which were the unpressurized variants. Most had the rear spar
carry-through (which limited cabin access) replaced by a strong and efficient circumferential "ring" spar of On Mark's patented
design. By removing most of the original interior bulkheads and adding the ring spar, provided
additional room for passengers in the new cabin space of the aircraft. The forward wing spar was not changed because of the
magnitude of the re-engineering that would have been required, and would have altered the aircraft's design geometry and excellent
flying qualities. With the wings mounted as with the original design, meant that crew members were left with the inconvenience
of mounting the flight deck through a crawlway along the right side of the cabin beneath the forward spar. The
customer would supply or either purchase a standard Invader which would be restructured in On Mark's spacious hangar.
The cockpit would be removed and rebuilt to include dual controls, upgraded instruments and radios, a lengthened
fiberglass nose for baggage and radar added, and, more importantly, the cabin was built to customer specifications, and added
a number of large windows. The standard A-26 curved windshield design would be retained, with the upper canopy clamshells
either painted or skinned over. Air stair doors were installed into the belly, or right side of the fuselage. Also offered,
were distinctive 165 gallon wing tip fuel tanks added to increase range, and upgraded P&W R-2800's.
Next came, perhaps
the best-known of the civilian Invader conversions, the On Mark Marksman series in
1961. The Marksman was the pressurized variant and required a special Supplemental Type Certificate (STC). The airframes were restructured
with a greatly altered fuselage, DC-6 / -7 canopy structure with heated windshields, radio/navigation/radar improvements,
ring spar, lavatory and food service consoles, soundproofing, air conditioning, increased area vertical tail, long nose, wingtip
fuel tanks, improved anti-skid brakes, deicing, and numerous other upgrades and systems included as standard. The pressurized Marksman
series were offered in three versions; Marksman A, B, and C. The Marksman A
had 2100 hp R-2800-83AM3 engines; the Marksman B had 2100 hp R-2800-83AM4A engines; whereas the premier Marksman
C had a raised cabin top that provided a 6 foot walk-through full length cabin, 2500 hp R-2800-CB-16 / -17s
and added internal wing auxiliary fuel tanks. Only 15 percent of the original fuselage remained, and dependant on customer
options, were designed to carry from 6 to 8 passengers.
The base price of the Marksman A was $257,430,
up to $361,492 for the Marksman C. The On Mark Marksman was regarded as the best
of the A-26 Invader conversions, providing up to eight business executives and a crew of two, an all-weather aircraft
that was able to cruise up to 25,000 feet at 325 - 365 miles per hour with a range of between 1200 and 2500
miles with normal reserves. At 20,000 feet, the pressurized, air-conditioned cabin was at a comfortable 7,500 feet.
On Mark also built a model and partial mock-up of the Model
450 which was a greatly modified pressurized aircraft fitted with Allison 501 D turboprops but, after a lot of deliberation,
the project was shut down. Oddly, there is no exact record of the number of converted Invaders built by On Mark but its thought
to be up to 50 aircraft. Also, the reign of the On Mark aircraft was short - a new generation of business jets led by the
Lockheed JetStar and Lear Jet quickly dominated the market and the On Marks were purchased in the late 1960s and 1970s by
drug runners who respected the type's long range and load carrying abilities. The following is a quick look at On Mark Invader
On Mark Marketeer - unpressurized.
Mark Marksman A - pressurized.
On Mark Marksman B - pressurized.
On Mark Marksman
C - pressurized.
On Mark Marketeer - Serial No's
number: 44-35326, N2889D, N40Y, N401Y
41-39161, N1470V, N317V, N317W, N26RP
41-39215, N5292V, N4000M, N200M, N142ER
43-22258, N1469V, (N36B?), N94445
44-34423, N9594Z, C-GHLI
44-34550, N7769C, CF-CCR, N355Q, HK-1247W,
44-34616, N2890D, N300V
44-34713, M5538V, N706ME, N36BB, N26MR, N26WB
44-34738, N9861C, N600D, N808D
44-34754, N66662, N666
44-34755, N67839, N256H, N3035S
44-34769, N67162, N500M, N29711, N500MR
44-35201, N8025E, N137WG, N437W
44-35326, N2889D, N40Y, N401Y
44-35562, N707TG, N7079S, N9176Z, N7079G
44-35681, N60Y, N160Y, N168Y, CF-VPR
44-35698, N5001X, N800V, N58071, N67623
44-35708, N5530V, C-GXGY
44-35710, N7705C, OO-INV
44-35913, N3522C, N303WC
44-35938, N4203A, N510X, N516X, D-BACA
number: 41-39467, N6844D
Serial number: 44-34765,
Serial number: 44-34766,
N67807, N1243, N910G, N9150, N26BK
Serial number: 44-35617,
Serial number: 44-34774,
N67163, N163Y, N917Y
On Mark Marksman - Serial No's
( See clarification below by Richard E. Fulwiler )
Prototype #1 (A) Serial
Number: 43-22416, N1394N, N100Y, N140Y, N40XY, N190Y
Serial number: 41-39221,
N9636C, N3035S, N256H, N26GT
Serial number: 43-22416,
N1394N, N100Y, N140Y, N40XY, N190Y
Serial number: 44-34415,
N60042, N5002X, N900V, N46358, N46598 " Blue Goose "
Serial number: 44-34526,
N9178Z, N827W, N551EH, N400V, N7977, N26AB
Serial number: 44-34567,
Prototype # 3 (C) Serial number:
44-34761, N67158, N400E, N60XY, N60XX
number: 44-35698, N5001X, N800V, N58071, N67623
Serial number: 44-35870,
N1471V, N320, N99426
Note 1. Bulkhead modifications
Note 2. Rudder
Note 3. Conventional
lateral wing spar versus ring spar
Note 1. Bulkhead modifications by Richard
(See photos below)
Looking into how the Invader airframe developed as various
companies undertook modifications to increase space and performance, I Checked several links and found data on the B.A.M.R.S.
A-26 restoration, information which can be found via this link : http://www.caea.info/en/coll/b26.html
I have accessed their photo files many times because,
during the restoration process, many photos were taken documenting the disassembly and exposure of internal components and
structure. To me this is important because it shows why certain skin seam lines overlap where they do because the underlying
structure provides a point of attachment, and what that structure looks like.
As an example, compare the aft bulkhead ( above two photos
) where the empennage attaches on the standard fuselage B.A.M.R.S. A-26 photo to Graham's N99426 ( post Andrew
) Marksman photo. It shows how much the standard fuselage was modified by On Mark to raise the cabin top and provide for pressurization
by the solid aft pressure bulkhead. It is fortunate for us that both photos were taken from close to exactly the same vantage
Note 2. Rudder modifications on On Mark Invaders
The actual difference in rudder design between the
A-26B/C models and the On Mark Invaders is in the chord of the rudder - it was widened about a foot, in an attempt to lower the VMC ( the minimum single engine control speed ) with one engine
operating at take-off power and the second engine windmilling - rather critical on any twin engine aircraft on take off, which
on the early model A/B 26s was 140 kts).
Air Spray looked into the possibility of adapting
the K model rudder to their B/C aircraft.
For the most part, it was a straight forward swap.
Simply remove the original B/C rudder, swap positions
on the rudder attachment brackets ( Top bracket moved to the lower position and bottom moved to the top position ) and bolt
on the K rudder. However, the FAA insisted that Air Spray also had to install the two rows of vortex generators
that had been installed vertically on the right side of the vertical stab in front of the rudder.
Unfortunately the vortex generators were not available
and they would have had to have them manufactured to match the original drawings, so it didn't go forward with the
The two shots above show the obvious difference in rudder
size, the top detail showing an A-26C and the lower shot an On Mark B-26K
Note 3. Wing spar modifications
The On-Mark Marksman had three major modifications from
the stock A/B-26 B/C
1. A "ring" spar installed
in bomb bay, replaced the original spar carry thru structure ( which was stronger than original and allowed more bombs to
be carried )
2. A wing spar reinforcing kit
which placed a 1/4" plate on the top and bottom of both spars, running from just inboard of each nacelle, running through
the nacelle to about 3' outboard of the nacelle The modification wasn't that noticeable and didn't cure the problem - it was
eventually discovered they were actually breaking just outboard of the fuselage, usually on the left side rear spar).
Note: On an similar note but not directly
associated with On Mark and as we're talking Wing spar mods
A short term modification and used on both Douglas and
On Mark Invaders, came in the form of a steel reinforcement cable which looped around a cleat fitted to a Titanium stress
plate modification on the inboard section of the wing ( as seen below ) and was fixed within the fuselage, inboard of the
Although a little rough around the edges, this short term solution
allowed Invaders that had suffered spar failure to undertake ferry flights in order to have the broken spar repaired or replaced.
Flight parameters were severly limited, but the mod was an FAA approved
device and helped companies to recover aircraft that would have otherwise been grounded.
This interim mod was designed by engineers at Air Spray and believed
used on N7079G when she suffered an in-flight spar failure.
Above, Air Spray Tanker 32 wing spar reinforcement for ferry flight
The most visible modification, was the installation of
300 gallon tip tanks, which effectively doubled on board fuel but aggravated the spar problem because of their extremely long
movement arm. If you had a surplus Marksman ( and not a civilianized version ) the only thing you had to do was remove the
tip tanks and install a set of the original wing tips to make it look like a B/C.
But the most noticeable differences in the K model is
the engine (higher horsepower -2500 vs 2000), the prop (still a Hamilton Standard but slightly broader and squared off tips
and the rudder - the chord is 1 ft wider and there are a couple of rows of vortex generators running up the right side of
the vertical stabilizer just in front of the rudder.