Martin B-26 Marauder
High wing-loadings, break-neck landing speeds and malicious singleengine flying characteristics nearly put paid to the career of the Martin B-26 Marauder in October 1942 when a US Army Air Force committee was called in to investigate its future. However, certain improvements were made and the B-26 went on to become one of the USAAF's medium bomber stalwarts. In the competition for medium and light bombers for the US Army Air Corps of January 1939, the Glenn L. Martin Company was awarded a contract for 200 B-26 aircraft, Going all out for speed, designer Peyton M. Magruder produced an aircraft with torpedo-like fuselage, two huge engines, tricycle landing gear and stubby wings. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-5 engines the prototype B-26 first flew on 25 November 1940, by which time orders for 1,131 B-26A and B-26B bombers had been received. The first B-26s and B26As were passed to the US 22nd Bombardment Group at Langley Field in February 1941. With the outbreak of war the 22nd BG was the only unit with B-26s and, after service at Muroc, California, the group was sent to Brisbane, Australia, to operate against the Japanese in the South West Pacific Area: the 22nd BG made its first raid on Rabaul on 5 April 1942, in addition to frequent attacks on Lae, Salamaua, and Buna. In the epic Battle of Midway four B-26As with torpedoes attacked the Japanese fleet, flown by pilots drawn from the 22nd and 38th Groups. The B-25 Mitchell was more successful than the B-26 in this theatre, and by early 1943 the 22nd BG had been reequipped. The B-26B came into the war in May 1942, powered by R-28005, R-2800-41 or R-2800-43 engines, without the spinners of the B-26A, with extra armour and guns, and with enlarged wing span on the 642nd and following production aircraft. Martin's Omaha subsidiary made the B-26C, which was identical with the increased-span B-26B.
The B-26 saw service in the Aleutians in 1942, and in the Western Desert under RAF Middle East Command as the Marauder Mk I (B-26A), Marauder Mk IA (B-26B), and Marauder Mk II (B-26C), No. 14 Squadron being the first recipient. The type was used by the Free French Air Force, the SAAF, and as AT-23A and JM-1 target tugs by the US Army and US Navy, Four groups of the US 8th Air Force arrived in England in March 1943, flew low-level attacks over heavily defended targets and paid the price: on 17 May 1943 the 322nd BG was wiped out on the Ijmuiden strike. Adopting medium-level pattern bombing, the B-26B and B-26C (with the US VIII Air Support Command, and later the US 9th Air Force) were the backbone of the Allied medium bomber forces to the end of the war in Europe, Total production was 4,708.
Specification Martin B-26B Marauder
Type: seven-seat medium bomber
Powerplant: two 2,000-hp (1491-kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-41 radial piston engines
Performance: maximum speed 510 km/h (317 mph) at 4420 m (14,500 ft); cruising speed 418 km/h (260 mph); climb to 4570 m (15,000 ft) in 12 minutes 0 seconds; service ceiling 7165 m (23,500 ft); range 1850 km (1,150 miles)
Weights: empty 10152 kg (22,380 lb); maximum take-off 15513 kg (34,200 lb)
Dimensions: span 19.81 m (65 ft 0 in); length 17,75 m (58 ft 3 in); height 6.04 m (19 ft 10 in); wing area 55,93 m2 (602 sq ft)
Armament: two 7.7-mm (0.3-in) Browning machine-guns (one each in nose and ventral stations) or two 12,7 mm (0,5-in) M2 machine-guns in beam positions instead of ventral gun, and four 12.7-mm (0.5-in) guns (two each in dorsal turret and in tail station), plus a maximum bombload of 2359 kg (5,200 lb)