The B-26B in Aces High II
The B-26 is an aircraft often overshadowed by its heavier counterparts but still retains a reasonable following and is fairly common. Where many other bombers trade off some aspect of overall performance for another, the B-26 sits right in the middle, giving good all-round performance without too much sacrifice, all packaged in a relatively small airframe. If you are looking for a bomber with ultimate payload, then this is not it, but what the B-26 can deliver is a decent level of ability to break into a heavily defended area and drop a reasonable quantity of ordinance with a good opportunity to survive.
Don't climb too high. The B-26 is somewhat unusual that it performs best at low to medium altitudes. Sea-level speed is 270mph while the best possible speed is only 278mph at 15K. You can see why climbing excessively is not really favored, in fact the B-26 gets worse over 15K. The climb rate is also not stellar, only 1,000ft/minute, about the same as a heavy bomber. Range is excellent though, 141 minutes on internal fuel, so taking less, often much less, is not a problem for most sorties.
Aces High II Performance Charts
It depends on how you look at it, but the B-26 is an excellent balance in firepower. Offensively it can carry up to 4,000lbs of bombs, all internally, with a bombsight. There are several options for bomb size, giving an ability to customize the load to suit your target. While not as much load as some bombers, it is still often enough once you learn to not always just take the largest bombs which are overkill, but to use smaller bombs to blanket larger areas of targets. Defensively, the B-26 really is outstanding, repackaging the B-17 style loadout a bit. To the most threatened areas, the rear and top, there are two twin .50 cal turrets with excellent arcs of fire. To the nose and lower sides, there are 3 individual .50 cal mounts, each of which is fairly capable when compared to less calibre mounts in lighter bombers like the Ju-88. Blind spots are very few and only in the most difficult of attacking angles, so coverage overall tends to be good. There is also lots of ammunition, to liberal use to keep enemies at range is fairly typical. One final nasty surprise for anyone who thinks the nose is a good area to Head-On attack are six .50 cal cheek mounted weapons, enough to ensure anyone dumb enough to attack directly into the nose is all but dead.
Flying the B-26B
It is unfortunate that more people don't consider balanced bombers and either tend to sway towards ultimate bombload or ultimate survivability, with no consideration of anything in between. The B-26 really can be a solid choice for almost any mission and is likely to bring you home afterwards without the need to climb to unreal altitudes or fend off swarms of enemy fighters with only a token gun defense. The B-26 can slug it out a bit and get dirty to get the job done. Formations of B-26 tend to have a more rigid defense, sticking to guns, but if you are in a single B-26 then some maneuvering can be very useful in avoiding an attacker. A maneuvering B-26 with a gunner in the rear can be very dangerous to attack as it can constantly place you in the view of many guns and avoid any close in attacks you may try.
Offensively, pick smart targets. Plunking hangers is not the purpose of the B-26 but there are lots of situations where the B-26 can be highly effective where there are fewer targets you are tying to hit. The 1,000lb bombs are not always the best selection as the 250lb or 500lb bombs will give you more coverage and are more than enough to destroy most targets with even a near miss. Make only 1 pass and drop all of your bombs, heading for safety in a shallow dive. Man the rear and top guns as this is the most obvious area for enemy attack. Remember, the B-26 can dive quite well and is a smaller target to hit so enemy fighters tend to have to get a little closer to you before they can inflict hits. Use short bursts to keep them honest or spoil their attacks at ranges out to D1.4.
Fighting against the B-26B
No fun. It's like attacking a smaller and faster B-17 most of the time so attacks tend to be highly dangerous. The best bet is to try and come from the sides, low and out of top or rear turret arcs. Most gunners will stay in a twin turret and may not jump to the waist-gun positions to shoot back. You certainly don't want to get hung to the rear quarters though, it will take only seconds for the tail or top turret to turn you into a flaming wreck. Nose on attacks are OK, though try not to come in from a completely level attitude in case the pilot decides to take a shot at you with his cheek guns, running into that hail of fire will spell doom. Come in low, zooming up and firing at the belly as you pass, then extend by the B-26 to safety before the tail gunner has a shot.
If you encounter a single B-26, be careful if you suspect he may manuever or may have a gunner aboard. Sometimes they will do/have both, making for a medium bomber sized target that dances around like a fighter while shooting back wildly from all angles. The B-26 handles much better than a larger bomber in this role and can almost be like a large fighter if it has already dropped it's bombs and is escaping with some speed. I've seen B-26s flown in this fashion successfully. To counter it, keep up the offensive pressure but don't stumble into the defensive guns. Keep the battle vertical and let the B-26 run out of energy since it doesn't climb well. Once low, then you can jump on it from other angles to help avoid the defensive guns.
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