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Thursday, April 14, 2016

BOOK OF STONE: The Lincoln's Daughter

For April, Stone Soldiers.info is celebrating the A to Z Blog Challenge with daily letter-themed entries detailing the people, places and things of the Stone Soldiers universe.





Lincoln's Daughter (A-26C Invader)

First Appearance: Shadow Detachment

Description:  Modified A-26C Invader

Current Status:  Unknown

Summary: Designated the B-26 between 1948 and 1965, the A-26 Invader was an extremely versatile twin-engined Attack Bomber that saw use by the United States from World War II, up through the Vietnam War. The USAAF began receiving the A-26 in 1943. IN 1947, the USAF was formed, and the plane was re-designated B-26. The plane saw extensive use during the Korean Conflict, where Detachment 1039 selected a B-26 as their primary airlift transportation. 

The Lincoln's Daughter moniker came from the nose art painted on the selected craft, chosen for the President's known interactions with the supernatural. 

Sporting a clear Bombardier's nose rather than a solid, gun-bearing nose, the plane operated with a two-man crew, the co-pilot/navigator filling the role of navigator and jumpmaster. The plane was retrofitted with bench seats in the main bomb bay, the Lincoln's Daughter could easily accommodate eight soldiers. The rear gunner's position was modified as well, the ventral and dorsal guns removed to make room for two additional soldiers, with a final eleventh position available in the cramped glass bombardier's nose. 

Painted black, the plane primarily operated at night, and relied on its speed (355 mph) and six M2 .50 caliber machine guns, mounted three in each wing, for protection during missions. Hardpoints under each wing, originally intended for rocket pods or bombs, enabled the plane to carry an additional 2000 lbs of fuel for particularly long flights. 

Following Korea, the Lincoln's Daughter continued to serve as an insertion aircraft, with avionics and engine upgrades throughout its lifetime. Modifications included converting the wings to folding variant as used by the US Navy, with a tail hook arrestor device installed so that the plane could be operated from aircraft carriers.

In 1979, the Lincoln's Daughter was finally retired from service. The airplane was sold to private bidder and its current whereabouts are unknown.

SPECIFICATIONS

Crew: 2
Length: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
Wingspan: 70 ft 0 in (21.34 m)
Height: 18 ft 3 in (5.64 m)
Wing area: 540 ft² (50 m²)
Empty weight: 22,850 lb (10,365 kg)
Loaded weight: 27,600 lb (12,519 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 35,000 lb (15,900 kg)
Maximum speed: 355 mph (308 kn, 570 km/h)
Range: 1,400+ mi (2,300+ km) extendable with jettisonable wing tanks
Service ceiling: 22,000 ft (6,700 m)
Rate of climb: 1,250 ft/min (6.4 m/s)



Author's Notes: Once upon a time, I was a huge aviation nerd and desperately wanted to be a pilot. Being 6'5" and having a case of fairly severe nearsightedness put the kibosh on that, but my love of planes remained in the back of my head. Throughout the Stone Soldiers series, I've tried to work many aircraft into what is basically a soldier-level story, modifying the A-12, B-1B, C-135, and even the AH-64. For Shadow Detachment, I sat back and tried to come up with a suitably-cool plane for the team to have. After much research, I stumbled across the Invader, a plane I wasn't all that familiar with. After reading up on it and even emailing some folks who operate restored B-26s, I knew I had found a winner. Unfortunately, the plane really isn't in Shadow Detachment that long. Fortunately, an upcoming story will feature the Lincoln's Daughter.
Which brings up another point--Lincoln didn't have a daughter. World War II planes had a custom of adding nose art. It often featured women, scantily dressed (like the Strawberry Bitch on display at the USAF museum in Dayton, OH). Probably because the guys couldn't get wait to get back home to their gals. The problem for fiction though, is there were so many different names out there.... how was I to choose? While Lincoln didn't have a daughter, he did have a wife very into the supernatural (seances, etc.). And in the Stone Soldiers universe, Lincoln is the one who ordered the military to seek out and destroy the dark forces of the world. A long-legged gal in Lincoln's traditional coat and stovepipe hat seemed like a fitting nose art for the plane. And at one point, I even contemplated having one done. In the end, it became just a minor footnote in the story. 

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