Oddly named company had an aviation division that in the
1960s produced the very attractive Monarch-26s. The company purchased several dozen surplus Invaders and moved them to their
aviation facility at Hutchinson, Kansas. A number of Rock Island aircraft were built up and they were basically stock looking
but had a lengthened nose, passengers cabin with extra windows, and upgrade cockpit and avionics.
Monarch 26 - 1960's, longer nose, systems
The Monarch 26 was a corporate aircraft conversion performed
by the Rock Island Oil and Refining Co of Wichita, Kansas. The company purchased six surplus Invaders (ex-French AF aircraft
that had served in Indochina) out of the Clark Field storage facility.
The original Invader airframe was extensively reconfigured
with re-contouring and extensive re-skinning. In order to provide for more interior cabin space, an new wing spar was designed
to replace the original straight-through configuration and new upper and lower fuselage structures were extended from the
rear spar to the fin root fillet. The new cabin could accommodate up to six passengers in a low-density arrangement, and featured
floor heating, a restroom, catering facilities, and panoramic windows. There was an airstair door on the rear starboard side.
The extended nose was 30 inches longer than the original. Because of a fear of wing failures, the Rock Island engineers decided
not to add wingtip fuel tanks, but added additional fuel cells in the outer wing panels, which raised the total fuel capacity
to 1012 US gallons. The cockpit was fitted with dual controls, new instrument and overhead panels, and "metalized" double-paned
Anticipating more orders, Rock Island acquired 30 more surplus Invader airframes, this time from storage
at Davis Monthan AFB. However, the Monarch had only limited success in the corporate aircraft marketplace, with only 4 being
completed, including three in-house.
In addition, the Monarch found itself in competition with the first generation of corporate jets such as
the Sabreliner, Jetstar, and Learjet. The majority of excess airframes that had been acquired were sold to parts brokers in
1969 but several examples went on to serve as aerial tankers in the USA and Canada. Some also ended up as flying warbirds,
museum exhibits, and potential restoration projects.
Rock Island capitalized on its experience with Invader conversions by creating the Consort 26, which was
designed for research and development purposes. All military equipment was removed, the bomb bay was sealed up, and a reinforced
floor was added. Three Invader airframes were modified in this way and were sold or leased to aerospace companies as platforms
for system development programs.