Douglas A/B-26 Invader

Prototypes - Slick Airways

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Slick Airways

Slick Airways was founded in January 1946 by Earl F. Slick. It began operations on 4th March 1946. At that time Slick operated a fleet of ten Curtiss C-46E aircarft purchased from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. During the first few years, the airline was the first U.S. freight carrier and was selected as one of the scheduled freight carriers in 1949. The DC-6B passenger aircaft entered service with United Air Lines on April 11th 1951, and Slick Airways was the first airline to operate the DC-6A freighter on April 16th 1951.

By 1951-52 Slick Airways was the largest all-cargo commercial operator, as Flying Tigers supported their operations mainly with financially interesting military contracts. With the everincreasing competition of passenger airlines trying to sell their excessive freight capacities, Slick was forced to enter into merger negotiations with Flying Tigers. The two airlines agreed to merge on March 26th 1953. Approvel of their respective shareholders was obtained on August 6th 1953. Against the protests of the passenger airline competition, the CAB approved the merger on January 7th 1954. But then the CAB own lawyers objected the deal, and finally labour problems in both companies became very acute. Therefore, the companies decided reluctantly to drop the merger proposals on September 20th 1954.

With the financial situation degrading constantly on its scheduled services, Slick decided to abandon all scheduled commitments as from February 24th 1958. The airline managed to survive financially and decided to diversify by buying the Illinois Shade Cloth Company in July 1960 for $6.350.000. Simultaneously it ordered six Lockheed GL 207 Super Hercules freighter aircrafts, but this deal never materialized. Instead four Canadair CL-44D4-6 were ordered on October 16th 1959. First commercial flight of this aircraft for Slick Airlines was made on February 11th 1962 on a military contract flight from San Francisco to Manila. On October 1st 1962 the airline's route 101, a transcontinental scheduled service was reinstated.

However the airline's fortunes declined once again and on August 27th 1965, the CAB authorized suspension of scheduled services. Airlift International acquired the assets being used on Slick's military operations on July 1st 1966 and route 101 on July 22nd 1968. Slick became a financial holding company called Slick Corporation owning beside the Illinois Shade business also the Drew Chemical Company, which was purchased on February 19th 1968, and a Pulverising Machinery Plant. Slick Corporation was also a minority shareholder in Airlift International.


Prototype serial number: 44-34759
NX67834, N67834, N28W, N956, N956R
This A-26 was one of the brand new, never AAF accepted Invaders that went direct from Douglas to Kingman, to the RFC for disposal. There is no AAF record card for the airplane since it was never accepted. Charles Babb purchased a bunch of them for $2000 each...brand new airplanes with the cushions still wrapped in plastic, or so I've heard. This A-26 went to Milton Reynolds and registered with his company then, the Printasign Corp. of America. After his round-the-world 1947 flights with Bill Odom at the controls, it went to Phillips Drilling in 1948. They had a large window installed in the aft fuselage and a cabin door installed.

In 1954 it went to Earl Slick of Slick Airways, of Burbank, CA. Aviation Power Supply of Burbank installed the tip tanks in January 1956, and also did some other fuel system work and other modifications. In July 1956 On Mark at Glendale installed a weather radar unit with the radome on the nose. In October 1956, a company in Denver replaced the Bendix brakes with new Goodyear brakes. In August 1957, On Mark did some aft fuselage mods, including lowering the aft floor. In July 1961, On Mark did some more fuel tank work. In March 1967, the airplane went to the Ventura Division of Northrop, and pylons were installed to handle "Horkey Moore launcher" rails to mount RP-78 targets. Not sure about these items but it appears the Invader was used as a launcher of new target drones. Shortly afterwards, or maybe when the wing racks were added, the airplane went to On Mark again to have fatigue straps added to the front wing spars and shear plates added to the rear spars, and the wing structure and attach points were also inspected with the wings and engines off the fuselage.