A-26B SN# 43-7140 was built in 1943 it was the 328th A26B built at the Douglas plant in Long Beach, Calif. It was delivered to the USAAF on December 8, 1944 and given the USAAF serial number of 41-39427. It served with the following military units listed below:
On March 13, 1950, the aircraft was stricken from the USAF inventory and sold on the civilian market.
The aircraft spent 2 years in storage until Alex Oser, a scrap dealer bought it and 13 other A26's in January of 1952. On March 19, 1952, the aircraft was sold to Texas Railway Equipment Co. of Houston; this aircraft being one of nine sold to this company. Later, seven of the aircraft ended up going to the French Air Force.
The aircraft went through major modifications in April of 1953 when the aircraft was completely disassembled and all systems inspected and repaired or overhauled. It was at this time the aircraft was converted to an executive transport with many luxuries and modifications being done to the aircraft by Grand Central Aircraft Co. of Glendale, California.
Barnwell Drilling Company of Shreveport, LA bought the A-26 on December 30, 1961 and made further modifications to enhance the executive transport role. During this time period, 1952-1967, the A-26 received best of care and maintenance from Barnwell and Texas Railway Equip Co. It is said that former Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson had flown on the aircraft as well as Jack Kennedy. John Barnwell traded the A-26 on February 7, 1967 for a larger Corvair 240 with Omni Investments. The registration N-numbers were also swapped in the trade and Invader N75Y became Invader N240P.
Flight Test Research, Inc. of Long Beach, California purchased the aircraft on April 19, 1967 for $15,000.00 and the aircraft went home to where it was built 25 years earlier.
Ownership history and uses are a little sketchy from 1972 to 1977. But they must have been interesting since the aircraft was seized from drug-runners by T.L. Baker of the Potter Co. Sheriffs Dept in Amarillo on January 10, 1977. This occurred after a pilot had landed the aircraft on one engine and walked away from the airplane. This clearly made the authorities suspicious. A testament to this story is that at a particular air show a few years ago, two gentlemen in dark sunglasses seemed rather intrigued by the airplane; finally one of the gentlemen approached a crew member and asked what color the aircraft had been before Ranger Wing acquired it. When told it was white with grey trim he exclaimed:
"My God it's the "Grey Ghost! We chased that sucker up and down the Gulf Coast! Never could catch him. He'd drop down on the deck and throttle the engines up and leave us standing there!"
The two gentlemen were DEA agents.
The A-26 was purchased by the Commemorative Air Force on December 21, 1977from the Amarillo Sheriff’s Dept. After numerous weekend trips to Amarillo to prepare her for the flight to her new home, the A-26 was ferried to Waco on September 11, 1980. Quite a feat since the Ranger Squadron had only held its first meeting as a CAF unit on June 23, 1980 and only had 15 very dedicated members when assigned the A-26 by the Commemorative Air Force.
Initial restoration was completed in August of 1982 and soon after the airplane headed for Redbird Airport near Dallas for a new paint job, that's after members had removed four coats of paint. When the aircraft emerged from the paint shop, it sported the colors of the Grim Reapers of the 13th Bomb Squadron - Korea. The aircraft was jet black, with red wingtips and cowlings. Ranger Member Col. Gene Deveney painted the nose art of a Hauco Indian Princess on the nose and the members voted and finally named the airplane the "Spirit of Waco" narrowly defeating the name "Tee-Pee Time Gal".
The aircraft remained on the ground for a two year period when it lost its number one engine due to a master rod failed on takeoff at Las Vegas McCarran Airport in 1986 after a CAF "Gathering of Eagles" show. Col Wayne Shookman, who was at the controls at the time, managed to get the aircraft back safely on the ground. The Ranger Squadron found many eager volunteer CAF Colonels in the Las Vegas area to help get "Spirit of Waco" back in the air. It was from these volunteers that the Nevada Wing was born. The CAF honored these volunteers by assigning them the "Vegas Vixen" an A-26C model (glass nose) to also don in the 13th Bomb Squadrons colors. Thanks to their help, "Spirit of Waco" and "Vegas Vixen" continue to spark the imagination and thrill air show spectators with their low level strafing attacks and bomb runs.
As a Commemorative Air Force unit we are proud to maintain and safeguard the A-26B, a graceful and beautiful example of the aircraft that defended our nation and other allied countries in such a desperate and dramatic period in our nation's history. We are proud to be "Ghost Squadron" members.