B-26 Marauder

B-26 Marauder

:"See A-26 Invader for the plane known as the B-26 from 1948 to 1962." Infobox Aircraft
name= B-26 Marauder

caption= A US Army Air Forces B-26B with D-Day invasion stripes
type= Medium bomber
national origin = United States
manufacturer= Glenn L. Martin Company
first flight= 25 November 1940
introduced= 1941
status= Retired
primary user= United States Army Air Forces
more users= United States Army Air Corps
Royal Air Force
South African Air Force
produced= 1941–1945
number built= 5,288Mendenhall, Charles. "Deadly Duo". North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press Publishers & Wholesalers, 1981. ISBN 0-933424-22-1. Note: The 5,288 serial numbers published in this book effectively refutes the lesser count of the National Air & Space Museum.]
unit cost=$102,659.33/B-26A [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombers/b3-16.htm B-26A] ]
variants with their own articles=

The Martin B-26 Marauder was a World War II twin-engine medium bomber built by the Glenn L. Martin Company.

The first US medium bomber used in the Pacific Theater in early 1942, it was also used in the Mediterranean Theater and in Western Europe. The plane distinguished itself as "the chief bombardment weapon on the Western Front" according to an United States Army Air Forces dispatch from 1946,Fact|date=October 2008 and later variants maintained the lowest loss record of any combat aircraft during World War II. Its late-war loss record stands in sharp contrast to its unofficial nickname "The Widowmaker" — earned due to early models' high rate of accidents during takeoff.

A total of 5,288 were produced between February 1941 and March 1945; 522 of these were flown by the Royal Air Force and the South African Air Force.

Design and development

In March 1939, the United States Army Air Corps issued Circular Proposal 39-640, a specification for a twin-engined medium bomber. Six months later, Glenn L. Martin Company was awarded a contract for 201 planes. This design, Martin Model 179, was accepted for production before a prototype even flew. The B-26 went from paper concept to working plane in approximately two years. The lead designer was Peyton M. Magruder.

Once the first aircraft came off the production line in November 1940, Martin conducted tests, the results of which were promising. The first B-26, with Martin test pilot William K. "Ken" Ebel at the controls, flew on 25 November 1940 and was effectively the prototype. Deliveries to the U.S. Army Air Corps began in February 1941 with the second plane, 40-1362. In March 1941, the Army Air Corps started Accelerated Service Testing of the B-26 at Patterson Field, Ohio.

The Martin electric turret was retrofitted to some of the first B-26s. Martin began testing a taller vertical stabilizer and revised tail gunner's position in 1941.


While the B-26 was a fast plane with better performance than the contemporary B-25 Mitchell, its relatively small wing area and resulting high wing loading (the highest of any aircraft used at that time) required an unprecedented landing speed (120-135 mph indicated airspeed depending on load). At least two of the earliest B-26s suffered hard landings and damage to the main landing gear, engine mounts, propellers and fuselage. The type was grounded briefly in April 1941 to investigate the landing difficulties. Two causes were found: insufficient landing speed (producing a stall) and improper weight distribution. The latter was due to the lack of a dorsal turret; the Martin power turret was not ready yet.

Some of the very earliest B-26s suffered collapses of the nose landing gear. It is said that they were caused by improper weight distribution but that is probably not the only reason. They occurred during low-speed taxiing, takeoffs and landings. Occasionally the strut unlocked.

The Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines were reliable but the Curtiss electric pitch change mechanism in the propellers required impeccable maintenance. Human error and some failures of the mechanism occasionally placed the propeller blades in flat pitch and resulted in an overspeeding propeller, sometimes known as a "runaway prop". Due to its sound and the possibility that the propeller blades could disintegrate, this situation was particularly frightening for aircrews. More challenging was a loss of power in one engine during takeoff. These and other malfunctions, as well as human error, claimed a number of planes and the commanding officer of the 22nd Bombardment Group, Col. Mark Lewis.

The Martin B-26 suffered only two fatal accidents during its first year of flights, November 1940-November 1941: a crash shortly after takeoff near Martin's Middle River plant (cause unknown but engine malfunction strongly suggested) and the loss of a 38th Bombardment Group plane when its vertical stabilizer and rudder separated from the plane at altitude (cause unknown, but accident report discussed the possibility that a canopy hatch broke off and struck the vertical stabilizer).

The B-26 was not an airplane for novices. Unfortunately, due to the need to quickly train many pilots for the war, a number of relatively inexperienced pilots got into the cockpit and the accident rate increased accordingly. This occurred at the same time as more experienced B-26 pilots of the 22nd, 38th and 42nd Bombardment Groups were proving the merits of the airplane.

For a time in 1942, pilots in training believed that the B-26 could not be flown on one engine. This was disproved by a number of experienced pilots, including Jimmy Doolittle.

In 1942, Senator Harry Truman was a leading member of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program (the so-called Truman Committee), which was investigating defense contracting abuses. When Truman and other committee members arrived at the Avon Park Army Air Field, they were greeted by the still-burning wreckage of "two" crashed B-26s. Truman criticized both Glenn L. Martin and the B-26. Indeed, the regularity of crashes by pilots training at MacDill Field—up to fifteen in one 30-day period—led to the only mildly exaggerated catchphrase, "One a day in Tampa Bay."

The B-26 received the nickname "Widowmaker". Other colorful nicknames included "Martin Murderer", "Flying Coffin", "B-Dash-Crash", "Flying Prostitute" (so-named because it had no visible means of support, referring to its small wings) and "Baltimore Whore" (a reference to the city where Martin was based). [Higham, Roy and Williams Carol (eds.). "Flying Combat Aircraft of USAAF-USAF (Vol. 1)". Andrews AFB, MD: Air Force Historical Foundation, 1975. ISBN 0-8138-0325-X.]

The B-26 is saidWho|date=October 2008 to have had the lowest combat loss rate of any U.S. aircraft used during the war. Nevertheless, it remained a challenging plane to fly and continued to be unpopular with some pilots throughout its military career.

Operational history

The B-26 Marauder was used mostly in Europe but also saw action in the Mediterranean and the Pacific. In early combat the aircraft took heavy losses but was still one of the most successful medium-range bombers used by the U.S. Army Air Forces. [http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/PopTopics/AAFaircraft.htm Army Air Forces Aircraft: A Definitive Moment]

In September 1940, the Army Air Corps ordered 1,131 B-26s. The airplane began flying combat missions in the Southwest Pacific in the spring of 1942, but most of the B-26s subsequently assigned to operational theaters were sent to England and the Mediterranean area.

Bombing from medium altitudes of 10,000 to 15,000 feet, the Marauder had the lowest loss rate of any Allied bomber - less than one-half of one percent. By the end of World War II, it had flown more than 110,000 sorties and had dropped 150,000 tons of bombs, and had been used in combat by British, Free French, Australian, South African and Canadian forces in addition to U.S. units. In 1945, when B-26 production was halted, 5,266 had been built. [ [http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/planes/b26.html B-26G Marauder ] ]

The B-26 was phased out of US Army Air Forces service before the end of the war. Its last mission was flown in May 1945. According to an article in the April edition of "AOPA Pilot" on Kermit Weeks's "Fantasy of Flight", the Marauder had a tendency to "hunt" in yaw. This instability is similar to "Dutch roll". This would make for a very uncomfortable ride, especially for the tail gunner.


*B-26 - The first produced model of the B-26, ordered based upon design alone. [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombers/b3-15.htm B-26] ] The armament on this model consisted of two .30 calibre (7.62 mm) and two .50 calibre (12.7 mm) machine guns. (The last model was armed with nearly three times that number.) Approximate cost then: $80,226.80/plane.
*B-26A - Incorporated changes made on the production line to the B-26, including upgrading the two .30 calibre (7.62 mm) machine guns in the nose and tail to .50 calibre (12.7 mm). [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombers/b3-16.htm B-26A] ] A total of 52 B-26As were sent to the United Kingdom, which were used as the Marauder Mk I. Approximate cost then: $102,659.33/aircraft (×139)
*B-26B - Model with further improvements on the B-26A. [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombers/b3-17.htm B-26B] ] Nineteen were sent to the United Kingdom, which were used as the Marauder Mk.IA. Production blocks of the 1883 planes built:
**AT-23A or TB-26B - 208 B-26Bs converted into target tugs and gunnery trainers designated JM-1 by the Navy.
**B-26B—Single tail gun replaced with twin gun; belly-mounted "tunnel-gun" added. (×81)
**B-26B-1 - Improved B-26B. (×225)
**B-26B-2 - Pratt & Whitney R-2800-41 radials. (×96)
**B-26B-3 - Larger carburetor intakes; upgrade to R-2800-43 radials. (×28)
**B-26B-4 - Improved B-26B-3. (×211)
**B-26B-10 through B-26B-55 - Beginning with block 10, the wingspan was increased from 65 ft to 71 ft (19.8 m to 21.6 m), to improve handling problems during landing caused by a high wing load; flaps were added outboard of the engine nacelles for this purpose also. The vertical stabiliser was heightened from 19 ft 10 in to 21 ft 6 in (6 m to 6.6 m). The armament was increased from six to twelve .50 calibre (12.7 mm) machine guns; this was done in the forward section so that the B-26 could perform strafing missions. The tail gun was upgraded from manual to power operated. Armour was added to protect the pilot and copilot. (×1242)
**CB-26B - 12 B-26Bs were converted into transport aircraft (all were delivered to the US Marine Corps for use in the Philippines).
*B-26C - Designation assigned to those B-26Bs built in Omaha, Nebraska instead of Baltimore, Maryland. [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombers/b3-19.htm B-26C] ] Although nominally the B-26B-10 was the first variant to receive the longer wing, it was actually installed on B-26Cs before the B-26B-10, both being in production simultaneously. 123 B-26Cs were used by the RAF as the Marauder Mk II. Approximate cost then: $138,551.27/plane (×1210)
**TB-26C—Originally designated AT-23B. Trainer modification of B-26C. (×>300)
*XB-26D - Modified B-26 used to test hot air de-icing equipment, in which heat exchangers transferred heat from engine exhaust to air circulated to the leading and trailing edges of the wing and empennage surfaces. [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombers/b3-20.htm XB-26D] ] This system, while promising, was not incorporated into any production aircraft made during World War II. (×1, converted)
*B-26E - Modified B-26B constructed to test the effectiveness of moving the dorsal gun turret from the aft fuselage to just behind the cockpit. [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombers/b3-21.htm] ] The offensive and defensive abilities of the B-26E was tested against in combat simulations against normal aircraft. Although test showed that gains were made with the new arrangement, the gain was insignificant. After a cost analysis, it was concluded that the effort needed to convert production lines to the B-26E arrangement was not worth the effort. (×1, converted)
*B-26F - Angle of incidence of wings increased by 3.5º; fixed .50 calibre (12.7 mm) machine gun in nose removed; tail turret and armour around the turret improved. [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombers/b3-22.htm B-26F] ] The first B-26F was produced in February 1944. One hundred of these were B-26F-1-MAs. Starting with 42-96231, a revised oil cooler was added, along with wing bottom panels redesigned for easier removal. A total of 200 of the 300 planes were B-26F-2s and F-6s, all of which were used by the RAF as the Marauder Mk III. The Marauder III carried the RAF serials HD402 through HD601 (ex-USAAF serials "42-96329" through "96528"). The F-2 had the Bell M-6 power turret replaced by an M-6A with a flexible canvas cover over the guns. The T-1 bombsight was installed instead of the M-series sight. British bomb fusing and radio equipment were provided. (×300)
*B-26G - B-26F with standardised interior equipment. [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombers/b3-23.htm B-26G] ] A total of 150 bombers were used by the RAF as the Marauder Mk III. (×893)
**TB-26G - B-26G converted for crew training. Most, possibly all, were delivered to the United States Navy as the JM-2. (×57)
*XB-26H - Test aircraft for tandem landing gear, to see if it could be used on the Martin XB-48. [ [http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/fta/fta0898.htm XB-26H] ] (×1, converted)
*JM-1P - A small number of JM-1s were converted into photo-reconnaissance aircraft.


;FRA;flag|South Africa|1928
* South African Air Force;UK
* Royal Air Force;USA
* United States Army Air Corps
* United States Army Air Forces
* United States Marine Corps
* United States Navy
* Women Airforce Service Pilots

pecifications (B-26G)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
ref=Quest for Performance [ Loftin, L.K. Jr. [http://www.hq.nasa.gov/pao/History/SP-468/cover.htm "Quest for performance: The Evolution of Modern Aircraft."] NASA SP-468. Retrieved: 22 April 2006.] "and" Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War IIJane 1946, p. 245-246.]
crew=7: 2 pilots, bombardier, navigator/radio operator, 3 gunners
length main=58 ft 3 in
length alt=17.8 m
span main=71 ft 0 in
span alt=21.65 m
height main=21 ft 6 in
height alt=6.55 m
area main=658 ft²
area alt=61.1 m²
empty weight main=24,000 lb
empty weight alt=11,000 kg
loaded weight main=37,000 lb
loaded weight alt=17,000 kg
max takeoff weight main
max takeoff weight alt
more general=
engine (prop)=Pratt & Whitney R-2800-43
number of props=2
type of prop=radial engines
power main=1,900 hp
power alt=1,400 kW
max speed main=287 mph
max speed alt=250 knots, 460 km/h
max speed more=at 5,000 ft (1,500 m)
cruise speed main=216 mph
cruise speed alt=188 knots, 358 km/h)
* Landing speed: 104 mph (90 knots, 167 km/h)
combat radius main=999 nm
combat radius alt=1,150 mi, 1,850 km
combat radiums more=with 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) of bombs and 1,153 U.S. gal (4,367 L) of fuel
ferry range main=2,480 nm
ferry range alt=2,850 mi, 4,590 km
ceiling main=21,000 ft
ceiling alt=6,400 m
clim rate main=1,200 ft/min
climb rate alt=6.1 m/s
loading main=46.4 lb/ft²
loading alt=228 kg/m²
power/mass main=0.10 hp/lb
power/mass alt=170 W/kg
more performance=
guns=12× .50 in (12.7 mm) Colt-Browning machine guns
bombs=4,000 lb (1,800 kg)

ee also

* Martin XB-27
* Martin XB-33
similar aircraft=
* B-25 Mitchell
* A-26 Invader
* Vickers Wellington
* Mitsubishi G4M
* List of bomber aircraft
* List of military aircraft of the United States




* Birdsall, Steve. "B-26 Marauder in Action (Aircraft number 50)". Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1981. ISBN 0-89747-119-9.
* Brown, Kenneth. "Marauder Man: World War II in the Crucial but Little Known B-26 Marauder Medium Bomber". Pacifica, CA: Pacifica Press, 2001. ISBN 0-93555-353-3.
* Ehrhardt, Patrick. "Les Marauders Français". Ostwald, France: Editions du Polygone, 2006. ISBN 2-913832-05-9.
* Forsyth, Robert and Scutts, Jerry. "Battle over Bavaria: The B-26 Marauder versus the German Jets, April 1945". Crowborough, UK: Classic Publications, 2000.
* Freeman, Roger A. "B-26 Marauder at War". London: Ian Allan Ltd., 1977. ISBN 0-7110-0823-X.
* Green, William. "Famous Bombers of the Second World War (2nd ed.)". New York: Doubleday, 1975. ISBN 0-356-08333-0.
* Hall, Tom. "Breaking in the B-26". American Aviation Historical Society Journal, Spring 1992.
* Havener, Jack K. "The Martin B-26 Marauder". Murfreesboro, TN: Southern Heritage Press, 1997. ISBN 0-941072-27-4.
* Hunter, Lawrence Jack. "The Flying Prostitute". Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.com, 2000. ISBN 0-59500-048-7.
* Jane, Fred T. "The Martin Model 179 Marauder". "Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II". London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
* Johnsen, Frederick A. "Martin B-26 Marauder". North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 2000. ISBN 1-58007-029-9.
* Mendenhall, Charles. "Deadly Duo: The B-25 and B-26 in WWII". North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 1981. ISBN 0-933424-22-1.
* Moench, John O. "Marauder Men: An Account of the B-26 Marauder". Longwood, FL: Malia Enterprises, 1989. ISBN 1-877597-00-7.
* Moore, Carl H. "WWII: Flying the B-26 Marauder over Europe". Blue Ridge Summit, PA: McGraw-Hill/TAB Books, 1980. ISBN 0-83062-311-6.
* Nowicki, Jacek and Zbiegniewski, Andre R. "Martin B-26, Vol. 1 (Militaria 137)" (in Polish). Warszawa, Poland: Wydawnictwo Militaria, 2001. ISBN 83-7219-112-3.
* O'Mahony, Charles. "Me & My Gal: The Stormy Combat Romance Between a WWII Bomber Pilot and His Martin B-26." "Wings", December 1994.
* Rehr, Louis S. and Rehr, Carleton R. "Marauder: Memoir of a B-26 Pilot in Europe in World War II". Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2003.
* Scutts, Jerry. "B-26 Marauder Units of the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces". Botley, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1997. ISBN 1-85532-637-X.
* Swanborough, Gordon and Bowers, Peter M. "United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911". Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990. ISBN 0-87021-792-5.
* Tannehill, Victor C. "Boomerang, Story of the 320th Bombardment Group in World War II". Self published.
* Tannehill, Victor C. "The Martin Marauder B-26". Arvada, CO: Boomerang Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-9605900-6-4.
* Wagner, Ray. "The Martin B-26B & C Marauder (Aircraft in Profile No.112)". Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publcations Ltd., 1965. Reprinted 1971.

External links

* Baugher, Joe. [http://www.csd.uwo.ca/Elevon/baugher_us/b026-01.html "Martin B-26 Marauder."] "Encyclopedia of American Aircraft". Retrieved: 27 September 2007.
* Havener, Jack. [http://www.b26.com/page/historical_marauder_firsts.htm "Historical Marauder Firsts".] Retrieved: 12 August 2005.
* [http://www.b-26mhs.org/pdf/militaryreport/RP-2216.pdf "B-26 Purchase Orders from 9-20-1939 to 7-15-1943".] Retrieved: 15 October 2005.
* [http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=2551 USAF Museum]
* [http://www.b26.com/ B26.com (Online Memorial to Marauder Men)]
* [http://www.b-26marauderarchive.org/BK/BK2007/BK2007.htm B-26 Historical Society Bibliography Guide]
* [http://www.b-26mhs.org/ B-26 Martin Marauder Historical Society]
* [https://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/PopTopics/B26.htm B-26 Bomber, Martin or Douglas?]
* [http://www.warbirdalley.com/b26.htm Warbird Alley]
* [http://www.fantasyofflight.com/aircraftpages/b26.htm Fantasy of Flight's B-26 at Fantasy of Flight]
* [http://www.320thbg.org/ 320thbg.org (320th Bomb Group in WWII)]
* [http://www.geocities.com/pentagon/bunker/2801 The Marauder Men of the Metroplex (MMM)]
* [http://www.b26marauder.com Tribute to the B-26 Marauder]
* [http://www.geocities.com/b26carrozza The Shopworn Angel: B-26 Marauder]
* [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/photo_galleries/merhar/Personal_Collection_of_Capt_Joseph_J_Merhar_Jr.htm Personal Collection of Captain Joseph J. Merhar, Jr., c. 1943–1945 Aircraft Photos (contains several photos of B-26 variants)]
* [http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bild:AF_Martin_B-26_Franz%C3%B6sische_Luftwaffe_Paris_070303.jpgPhoto of a B-26 in a French museum (from German Wikipedia)]

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