A powerful and much modified version of the Martin Maryland light bomber, the Martin Model 187 Baltimore was produced specifically to RAF orders, the first of 50 Baltimore Mk I aircraft (AG685) was shipped to the UK in October 1941 to commence trials at Burtonwood, near Liverpool. The first 150 Baltimore Mk I and Baltimore Mk II bombers were delivered without power-operated dorsal turrets, the single 7.7-mm (0.303-in) Vickers K machinegun in the Baltimore Mk Is dorsal position being replaced by a twin mount in the Baltimore Mk II. Because of the shortage of RAF medium and light bombers in RAF Middle East Command, the first Baltimores were delivered to No. 223 Squadron based at Shandur, Egypt, in January 1942, and were initially used for conversion training. The next squadron to reequip was No. 55, which took its new Baltimore Mk III bombers into action during the Battle of Gazala and the fall of Tobruk in May 1942: a poweroperated Boulton-Paul turret was installed in this version with either two or four 7,7-mm (0.303-in) Browning machine-guns. Both Nos 55 and 223 Squadrons continued to operate over Cyrenaica, being based under No. 211 Wing at Aminya along with the Douglas Boston Mk Ills of Nos 12 and 24 (SAAF) Squadrons as part of the Desert Air Force's light bomber force. Baltimores were issued to No. 21 (SAAF) Squadron and No. 1437 Flight, and for maritime reconnaissance duties to No. 69 Squadron and No, 203 Squadron. Operations by day and by night were mounted against Benghazi and Tobruk, against military camps of the Afrika Korps and on many desert airfields. After the 2nd Battle of El Alamem Baltimores continued to operate over Libya and Tunisia, before turning to the pre-mvasion bombing offensive on Luftwaffe airfields in Sicily, Pantellana and Sardinia. The type proved to be sturdy and easy to handle. In 1943, the RAF took charge of the first Baltimore Mk IIIA aircraft on Lend-Lease and produced to an USAAF order for the A-30: the mam difference was the inclusion of a Martin 250CE turret with twin 12.7-mm (0.5-m) Brownings in place of the Boulton-Paul turret. The Baltimore Mk IV (A-30A) was similar to the Baltimore Mk IIIA, while the final version, the Baltimore Mk V, had uprated Wright GR-2600 engines, and wing-mounted 12.7-mm (0.5-in) guns. Baltimores served with the RAF over Sicily and Italy until May 1945, with the Free French air force and the Italian co-belligerent air forces, while a number were sent to Turkey under LendLease, Production totalled 1,575, the last being FW880 (a Baltimore Mk V) that was issued to the RAF in May 1944.
Specification Martin Baltimore Mk III Type: four-seat light/medium bomber Powerplant: two 1,660-hp (1238-kW) Wright Cyclone GR-2600-19 radial piston engines Performance: maximum speed 486 km/h (302 mph) at 3355 m (11,000 ft); climb to 4570 m (15,000 ft) in 12 minutes 0 seconds; service ceiling 7315 m (24,000 ft); normal range 1530 km (950 miles) Weights: empty 6895 kg (15,200 lb); maximum take-off 10433 kg (23,000 lb) Dimensions:span 18.69 m (61 ft 4 in); length 14.77 m (48 ft 5% in) height 5.41 m (17 ft 9 in); wing area 50.03 m2 (538,5 sq ft) Armament: four 7.7-mm (0,303-in) wing-mounted Browning machineguns, two (or four) 7.7-mm (0.303-in) Brownings in dorsal turret and two 7.7-mm (0,303-in) Brownings in ventral position, plus a maximum bombload of 907 kg (2,000 lb)