Douglas A/B-26 Invader

A-26 Invader aircraft downed during the cold war

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Corridor missions begin

The first American aerial reconnaissance efforts in the Berlin Air Corridors were active at least by summer 1946. United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE) had the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, based at Furth near Nuremburg with a complement of F-6 Mustangs, the recon version of the P-51. Within the squadron USAFE set up a secret flight, which received several A-26 Invader light bombers, and then covertly equipped them with cameras. They began corridor flights not long after, disguising themselves as VIP transport and liaison aircraft. They of course used Tempelhof as a turnaround airfield, and photography of Soviet installations began to flow to intelligence consumers. The saga of the 'Berlin for Lunch Bunch' had begun. This name would for the next 44 years symbolize the morning flights to Berlin, lunch at Tempelhof, and afternoon flights back to the West (most often by a different corridor).

  • 1st or 2nd December 1946 A US Army Air Force A-26 Invader piloted by George A. Curry of the US Army Air Force 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, Furth, Germany, became lost in heavy, unfavorable weather while on a mission to Amsterdam, Netherlands, and eventually landed near the village of Egyek, northeast of Budapest, Hungary.  The other crewman on board was Donald G. Gelnett.  The landed safely and the aircraft was flyable, but very low on fuel.  The local townspeople welcomed the Americans.  Soviet Air Force officers questioned the crew and were satisfied once Curry let them develop the on-board film and they saw nothing of consequence (he had kept his classified maps and town plans hidden).  On 6 December an American officer arrived from Budapest with enough fuel to get the A-26 out of the field, and on the 7th they flew over to the regular Budapest airfield. After an adequate refueling there, but hampered by weather delays, the crew and aircraft returned to their home base on 12 December via Vienna, Austria.
  • April 1950 Soviet pilot P. Dushin claimed to have shot down a US Air Force B-26 Invader.
  • April 1950 Soviet pilot V. Sidorov claimed to have shot down a US Air Force B-26 Invader.
  • 5 November 1957 A Republic of China Air Force B-26 Invader was shot down over the People's Republic of China and the crew of three was captured. The crew was released eight months later.
  • 18 May 1958 Indonesian Air Force (Angatan Udara Republik Indonesia or AURI) F-51D Mustang pilot Ignatius Dewanto shot down a Civil Air Transport B-26B Invader (44-35221) that had already been damaged by anti-aircraft fire. The B-26 had just bombed the Ambon Island airstrip in the Moluccas, in support of a revolt in Sulawesi aimed at overthrowing the President Sukarno. The CIA pilot, Allen Pope and his navigator Harry Rantung, were captured by Indonesian forces. Pope was held captive for nineteen months before being brought to trial in a military court. He was accused of six bombing raids that killed twenty-three Indonesians, including seventeen members of the Indonesian armed forces. Pope was found to be guilty and sentenced to death. The death penalty was not carried out and he was released in 1962.