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Martin 250CE turret on B-26 Marauder

Martin 250CE turret on B-26 Marauder

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Martin 250CE turret on B-26 Marauder

This picture shows the Martin 250CE turret on a B-26 Marauder.

Victory Aircraft

Victory Aircraft Limited was a Canadian manufacturing company that, during the Second World War, built mainly British-designed aircraft under licence. It acted as a shadow factory, safe from the reach of German bombers.

Initially the major wartime contract to manufacture Avro Lancaster heavy bombers was to go to the National Steel Car Ltd. headquartered in Hamilton, utilizing the Malton factory (near today's Toronto Pearson International Airport). National Steel Car was already producing Westland Lysander aircraft and involved as a subcontractor in the manufacture of Hawker Hurricane fighters, Avro Anson trainers and Handley Page Hampden bombers. Questions arising as to the company's ability to manage the project led to the government's expropriation of the plant on 4 November 1942 and the setting up of the Crown Corporation, Victory Aircraft Limited, incorporated under the Department of Munitions and Supply Act, 1940 c.31. J.P. Bickell, one of C.D. Howe's "dollar-a-year men" headed Victory Aircraft Ltd. as president and chairman of the board.

Bell Type M-6 Turret

Starting with the B-26B-20-MA and B-26C-20-MO, the tail gun assembly was redesigned. The hand held "twin-fifties" were replaced by a power-operated twin .50 caliber electro-mechanical Bell Type M-6 turret. The now blunt, rounded-off installation visibly changed the Marauder's tail profile. The Bell type M-6 tail turret had a transparent Plexiglas cap through which the guns protruded. The guns were hydraulically-boosted and had a 90-degree cone of fire behind the aircraft. The gunner was protected by armor platting stationed between him and the guns. The turret was operated by a mechanical linkage which moved the N-8 gunsight and guns in tandem. The gun movement was very fast, up to 35-degrees per second.

Martin 250CE turret on B-26 Marauder - History

The B-26 Marauder

National origin:- United States
Role:- Medium bomber
Manufacturer:- Glenn L. Martin Company
Designer:- produced by a team led by Peyton M. Magruder
First flight:- 25th November 1940
Introduction:- 1941 Retired:- Status Retired
Primary users:- United States Army Air Forces, Free French Air Force, Royal Air Force, South African Air Force
Produced:- between 1941–1945
Number built:- 5,288 [1]
Unit cost:- $102,659.33/B-26A [2]
Development:- into XB-33 Super Marauder (Unbuilt)

Specifications Martin B-26 Marauder

Data from Quest for Performance [60] and Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II [61]

General characteristics
Crew: 7: (2 pilots, bombardier/radio operator, navigator/radio operator, 3 gunners)
Length: 58 ft 3 in (17.8 m)
Wingspan: 71 ft 0 in (21.65 m)
Height: 21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)
Wing area: 658 ft2 (61.1 m2)
Airfoil: NACA 2213 (root) NACA 2209.4 (tip)
Empty weight: 24,000 lb (11,000 kg)
Loaded weight: 37,000 lb (17,000 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-43 radial engines, 2,000–2,200 hp (1,491 kW) each
Maximum speed: 287 mph (250 knots, 460 km/h) at 5,000 feet (1,500 m)
Cruise speed: 216 mph (188 knots, 358 km/h)
Landing speed: 114 mph (90 knots, 167 km/h))
Combat radius: 1,150 mi (999 nmi, 1,850 km)
Ferry range: 2,850 mi (2,480 nmi, 4,590 km)
Service ceiling: 21,000 ft (6,400 m)
Wing loading: 46.4 lb/ft² (228 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.10 hp/lb (170 W/kg)
Armament Guns:
Guns: 12 × .50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine guns
Bombs: 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg)

Specification of Martin B-26B Marauder (B-10 to B-55):

Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-43 eighteen-cylinder air-cooled radial engines with two-speed superchargers, each rated at 1920 hp for takeoff and 1490 hp at 14,300 feet. Driving Curtiss 13 foot 6 inch four-bladed propellers. Performance (at 37,000 pounds weight): Maximum speed 270 mph at sea level, 282 mph at 15,000 feet. Initial climb rate 1200 feet per minute. Service ceiling 21,700 feet. Range 1150 miles at 214 mph with 3000 lbs of bombs and 962 gallons of fuel. Ferry range 2000 miles at 195 mph with 1462 gallons or (early blocks only) 2850 miles with 1962 gallons. Take off distance to 50 feet, 3500 feet. Landing distance from 50 feet, 2900 feet. Weights: 24,000 pounds empty, 37,000 pounds combat. Fuel: The main fuel tanks are carried in the wings. Three main self-sealing tanks are installed in the wing inboard of the nacelles. Two auxiliary tanks are installed in the wings outboard of the nacelles. Long-range ferry tanks can be carried in the bomb bay. Dimensions: Wingspan 71 feet 0 inches, length 58 feet 3 inches, height 21 feet 6 inches, wing area 658 square feet. Armament: Eleven 0.50-inch Colt-Browning machine guns. One in flexible nose position, four in blister packs on sides of fuselage, two in dorsal turret, two in tail turret, two in waist positions (one on each side of the fuselage aft of the turret). The internal bomb bay had maximum accommodation for two 2000-pound bombs or four 2000-pound bombs, the latter being carried in pairs one above each other on each side of the central catwalk.

The B-26 was initially deployed on combat missions in the South West 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.

By the end of World War II, it had flown more than 110,000 sorties, dropped 150,000 tons (136,078 tonnes) of bombs and had been used in combat by British, Free French and South African forces in addition to US units. In 1945, when B-26 production was halted, 5,266 had been built

Photo Data has been collected from many books and websites over the years. There are some fantastic WWII veteran websites out there and I have combined the information and matched the photos with the USAAF serial numbers. Because many aircraft served with several different Groups and Squadrons, during their service life.

Hence individual aircraft are often mentioned in several websites with different names and squadron and group codes. It’s often very hard to determine the order in which each aircraft served with which group and when. So what I have done, when an aircraft which severed with more than one group I used ‘+’ sign to indicate the additional units it served in. I have given preference to the last known Group to operate the aircraft or the Group which provided the most information about the particular aircraft.

With photos I have tried to identify as many planes as possible by their unique USAAF serial number then by Bombardment Group and Bombardment Squadron hence the BG & BS coding. Out of 5,266 aircraft produced I can only claim to have identified 155 aircraft by serial numbers so far. I you have any additional photo's or information of any of the aircraft featured here please email me a copy so I can make the photo and record list more complete. I am trying to create a photographic and historic database of US aircraft used during WWII. With combining the history of the various ‘veterans websites’ I hoped to get a better understanding of the unique history of each aircraft.

In doing this I hope I haven’t offended anyone. Since the USAAF records where destroyed we all need to try and combine all the information available so we can have a more accurate historical view point of each aircraft and the men who flew them. There courage and sacrifice made our world a better place and as the years roll on the historical accuracy and lack of records makes keeping track of the data harder and harder.

Martin B-26B Marauder

The Martin B-26 Marauder was an American World War II twin-engined medium bomber built by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Middle River, Maryland (just east of Baltimore) from 1941 to 1945. First used in the Pacific Theater in early 1942, it was also used in the Mediterranean Theater and in Western Europe.

After entering service with the United States Army aviation units, the aircraft received the reputation of a "Widowmaker" due to the early models' high accident rate during takeoffs and landings. The Marauder had to be flown at exact airspeeds, particularly on final runway approach and when one engine was out. The 150 mph (241 km/h) speed on short final runway approach was intimidating to pilots who were used to much slower speeds, and whenever they slowed down to speeds below what the manual stated, the aircraft would stall and crash. [3]

The B-26 became a safer aircraft once crews were re-trained, and after aerodynamics modifications (an increase of wingspan and wing angle-of-incidence to give better takeoff performance, and a larger vertical stabilizer and rudder). [4] After aerodynamic and design changes, the aircraft distinguished itself as "the chief bombardment weapon on the Western Front" according to a United States Army Air Forces dispatch from 1946. The Marauder ended World War II with the lowest loss rate of any USAAF bomber. [5]

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. By the time the United States Air Force was created as an independent military service separate from the United States Army in 1947, all Martin B-26s had been retired from U.S. service. The Douglas A-26 Invader then assumed the "B-26" designation — before officially returning to the earlier "A for Attack" designation in May 1966.

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 with a maximum speed of 350 mph (560 km/h), a range of 3,000 mi (4,800 km) and a bomb load of 2,000 lb (910 kg). On 5 July 1939, the Glenn L. Martin Company submitted its design, produced by a team led by Peyton M. Magruder, to meet the requirement, the Martin Model 179. Martin's design was evaluated as superior to the other proposals and was awarded a contract for 201 aircraft, to be designated B-26. [6] The B-26 went from paper concept to an operational bomber in approximately two years. [7] Additional orders for a further 930 B-26s followed in September 1940, still prior to the first flight of the type. [8]

The B-26 was a shoulder-winged monoplane of all-metal construction, fitted with a tricycle landing gear. It had a streamlined, circular section fuselage housing the crew, consisting of a bombardier in the nose, armed with a .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun, a pilot and co-pilot sitting side by side, with positions for the radio operator and navigator behind the pilots. A gunner manned a dorsal turret armed with two .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns (the first powered dorsal turret to be fitted to a U.S. bomber), while an additional .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun was fitted in the tail.

Two bomb bays were fitted mid-fuselage, capable of carrying 5,800 lb (2,600 kg) of bombs, although in practice such a bomb load reduced range too much, and the aft bomb bay was usually fitted with additional fuel tanks instead of bombs. The aircraft was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engines in nacelles slung under the wing, driving four-bladed propellers. The engines were manufactured at the Ford Dearborn Engine plant in Dearborn, Michigan, USA. The wings were of low aspect ratio and relatively small in area for an aircraft of its weight, giving the required high performance, but also resulting in a wing loading of 53 lb/sq ft (259 kg/m²) for the initial versions, which at the time was the highest of any aircraft accepted for service by the Army Air Corps. [10]

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 aircraft, 40-1362. [8] In March 1941, the Army Air Corps started Accelerated Service Testing of the B-26 at Patterson Field, near Dayton, Ohio.


The B-26 relatively small wing area and resulting high wing loading required a high landing speed of 120 to 135 mph (193 to 217 km/h) 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 [11] 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 yet ready.

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 not likely to have been the only reason. The incidents occurred during low-speed taxiing, takeoffs and landings, and occasionally the strut unlocked. Later the Martin electric dorsal turret was retrofitted to some of the first B-26s. Martin also began testing a taller vertical stabilizer and revised tail gunner's position in 1941.

The Pratt & Whitney R-2800-5 engines were reliable, but the Curtiss electric pitch change mechanism in the propellers required impeccable maintenance, not always attainable in the field. Human error and some failures of the mechanism occasionally placed the propeller blades in flat pitch resulting 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 aircraft and the commanding officer of the 22nd Bombardment Group, Colonel Mark Lewis.

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

Due to the need for training many pilots quickly for the war, a number of relatively inexperienced pilots entered 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 bomber.

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 Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, who flew demonstration flights at MacDill Army Air Field, which featured take offs and landings with only one engine.

In 1942, aviation pioneer and company founder Glenn L. Martin was called before the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, (or also known as the "Truman Committee"), which was investigating defense contracting abuses. Senator Harry S Truman of Missouri, the committee chairman (and future Vice President and 33rd President of the United States in 1945-1952), asked Martin why the B-26 had issues. Martin responded that the wings were too short. Senator Truman curtly asked why the wings were not changed?. When Martin replied that the plans were too far along and besides, his company already had the contract, Truman's testy response was quick and to the point: In that case, the contract would be canceled. Martin quickly said corrections to the wings would be made immediately. [12] (By February 1943, the newest model aircraft, the B-26B-10, had an additional 6 feet (1.8 m) of wingspan, plus uprated engines, more armor and larger guns.) [13]

Indeed, the regularity of crashes by pilots training at MacDill Field — up to 15 in one 30-day period — led to the exaggerated catchphrase, "One a day in Tampa Bay." [14] Apart from accidents occurring over land, 13 Marauders ditched in Tampa Bay in the 14 months between the first airplane on 5 August 1942 to the final one on 8 October 1943. [14]

B-26 crews gave the aircraft the nickname "Widowmaker". [7] Other colorful nicknames included "Martin Murderer", "Flying Coffin", "B-Dash-Crash", "Flying Prostitute" (so-named because it was so fast and had "no visible means of support," referring to its small wings) and "Baltimore Whore" (a reference to the city where Martin was based). [15]

According to an article in the April 2009 edition of AOPA Pilot on Kermit Weeks' "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.

The B-26 is stated by the 9th Air Force to have had the lowest combat loss rate of any US aircraft used during the war. Nevertheless, it remained a challenging aircraft to fly and continued to be unpopular with some pilots throughout its military career. In 1944, in answer to many pilots complaining to the press and their relatives back home, the USAAF and Martin took the unusual step during war, of commissioning large articles to be placed in various popular publications, "educating" and defending the so-called flying/accident record of the B-26 against "slanders". One of the largest of these articles was in the May 1944 issue of Popular Mechanics. [9]

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 US Army Air Forces. [16] The B-26 was initially deployed on combat missions in the South West 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.

By the end of World War II, it had flown more than 110,000 sorties, dropped 150,000 tons (136,078 tonnes) of bombs and had been used in combat by British, Free French and South African forces in addition to US units. In 1945, when B-26 production was halted, 5,266 had been built. [17]

Pacific Theatre

The B-26 began to equip the 22nd Bombardment Group at Langley Field, Virginia, in February 1941, replacing the Douglas B-18 Bolo, with a further two groups, the 38th and 28th, beginning to equip with the B-26 by December 1941. [8] [18] Immediately following the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, the 22nd BG was deployed to the South West Pacific, [19] [20] first by ship to Hawaii, then its air echelon flew the planes to Australia. The 22nd BG flew its first combat mission, an attack on Rabaul which required an intermediate stop at Port Moresby, New Guinea, on 5 April 1942. [18]

A second group, the 38th, began receiving B-26s in November 1941 and began transitioning into them at Patterson Field, Ohio. There, the 38th continued the testing of the B-26, including its range and fuel efficiency. Immediately after the entry of the United States into World War II, plans were tentatively developed to send the 38th BG to the South West Pacific and to equip it with B-26Bs fitted with more auxiliary fuel tanks and provisions for carrying aerial torpedoes. [18] Three 38th BG B-26Bs [21] were detached to Midway Island in the buildup to that battle, and two of them, along with two B-26s detached from the 22nd BG, carried out torpedo attacks against the Japanese Fleet on 4 June 1942. Two were shot down and the other two were so badly damaged that they were written off after the mission. Their torpedoes failed to hit any Japanese ships, although they did shoot down one Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter and killed two seamen aboard the aircraft carrier Akagi with machine-gun fire. [18] [22] Notably, one of them, Susie Q, after dropping its single torpedo and searching for a safer escape route, flew directly down the length of the Akagi while being chased by interceptors and anti-aircraft fire, which had to hold their fire to avoid hitting their own flagship.

From approximately June 1942, B-26 squadrons of the 38th BG were based in New Caledonia and Fiji. From New Caledonia, missions were flown against Japanese bases in the Solomon Islands. On one occasion, a B-26 was credited with shooting down a Kawanishi H6K flying boat. In 1943, it was decided that the B-26 would be phased out of operations in the South West Pacific Theatre in favor of the North American B-25 Mitchell. Nevertheless, the 19th Bombardment Squadron of the 22nd BG continued to fly missions in the B-26. The B-26 flew its last combat mission in the theatre on 9 January 1944. [18]

Two more squadrons of torpedo armed B-26s equipped the 28th Composite Group and were used for anti-shipping operations in the Aleutian Islands Campaign, but there are no records of any successful torpedo attack by a USAAF B-26. [18]

Comedian George Gobel famously joked about being a trainer for this aircraft at Frederick Army Airfield [23] (now Frederick Regional Airport) during the Pacific battles, boasting that "not one Japanese aircraft got past Tulsa".

Mediterranean Theatre

Three Bombardment Groups were allocated to support the Allied invasion of French North Africa in November 1942. They were initially used to carry out low-level attacks against heavily defended targets, incurring heavy losses with poor results, before switching to medium level attacks. By the end of the North African Campaign, the three B-26 groups had flown 1,587 sorties, losing 80 aircraft. This was double the loss rate of the B-25, which also flew 70% more sorties with fewer aircraft. [24] Despite this, the B-26 continued in service with the Twelfth Air Force, supporting the Allied advance through Sicily, Italy and southern France. [25] [26] Air Marshal Sir John Slessor, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, wrote of "the astonishing accuracy of the experienced medium bomber groups – particularly the Marauders I think that the 42nd Bombardment Group in Sardinia is probably the best day-bomber unit in the world." [27] Slessor in fact meant the 42nd Bomb Wing—17th, 319th and 320th Bomb Groups—but a US 'wing' equated roughly to a British 'group', and vice versa.

Northwest Europe

The B-26 entered service with the Eighth Air Force in England in early 1943, with the 322nd Bombardment Group flying its first missions in May 1943. Operations were similar to those flown in North Africa with B-26s flying at low level and were unsuccessful. The second mission, an unescorted attack on a power station at IJmuiden, Netherlands, resulted in the loss of the entire attacking force of 11 B-26s to anti-aircraft fire and Luftwaffe Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters. [28] Following this disaster, the UK-based B-26 force was switched to medium altitude operations, and transferred to the Ninth Air Force, set up to support the planned invasion of France. [28]

Bombing from medium altitudes of 10,000 to 15,000 feet (3,000 to 4,600 m) and with appropriate fighter escort, the Marauder proved far more successful, striking against a variety of targets, including bridges and V-1 launching sites in the buildup to D-Day, and moving to bases in France as they became available. The Marauder, operating from medium altitude, proved to be a highly accurate aircraft, with the 9th Air Force rating it the most accurate bomber available in the final month of the war in Europe. [29] Loss rates were far lower than in the early, low-level days, with the B-26 stated by the 9th Air Force as having the lowest loss rate in the European Theatre of Operations at less than 0.5%. [8]

The B-26 flew its last combat missions against the German garrison at the Île d'Oléron on 1 May 1945, with the last units disbanding in early 1946. [30]

British Commonwealth

In 1942, a batch of 52 B-26A Marauders (designated Marauder I by the RAF) were offered to the United Kingdom under Lend-Lease. Like the earlier Martin Maryland and Baltimore, these aircraft were sent to the Mediterranean, replacing the Bristol Blenheims of No. 14 Squadron in Egypt. The Squadron flew its first operational mission on 6 November 1942, being used for long range reconnaissance, mine-laying and anti-shipping strikes. [31] Unlike the USAAF, 14 Squadron made productive use of the equipment for carrying torpedoes, sinking several merchant ships with this weapon. The Marauder also proved useful in disrupting enemy air transport, shooting down considerable numbers of German and Italian transport aircraft flying between Italy and North Africa. [32]

In 1943, deliveries of 100 long-wingspan B-26C-30s (Marauder II) allowed two squadrons of the South African Air Force, 12 and 24 Squadron to be equipped, these being used for bombing missions over the Aegean Sea, Crete and Italy. A further 350 B-26Fs and Gs were supplied in 1944, with two more South African squadrons (21 and 30) joining No 12 and 24 in Italy to form an all-Marauder equipped wing, while one further SAAF squadron (25) and a new RAF squadron (39 Squadron), re-equipped with Marauders as part of the Balkan Air Force supporting Tito's Partisans in Yugoslavia. A Marauder of 25 Squadron SAAF, shot down on the unit's last mission of World War II on 4 May 1945, was the last Marauder lost in combat by any user. [33] The British and South African aircraft were quickly scrapped following the end of the war, the United States not wanting the return of the Lend-Lease aircraft. [31]


Following Operation Torch, (the Allied invasion of North Africa), the Free French Air Force re-equipped three squadrons with Marauders for medium-bombing operations in Italy and the Allied invasion of southern France. [34] These B-26s replaced Lioré et Olivier LeO 451s and Douglas DB-7s. [35] Toward the end of the war, seven of the nine French Groupes de Bombardement used the Marauder, taking part in 270 missions with 4,884 aircraft sorties in combat. [35] Free French B-26 groups were disbanded in June 1945. [36] Replaced in squadron service by 1947, two lingered on as testbeds for the Snecma Atar jet engine, one of these remaining in use until 1958. [34]

Corporate operations

In the immediate post-war years, a small number of Marauders were converted as high-speed executive transports, accommodating up to fifteen passengers. The specifications of the individual conversions differed considerably. [37] The example shown in the image was completed in 1948 and had streamlined nose and tail fairings and windows inserted in the rear fuselage. It served United Airlines before being sold to Mexico. It was purchased by the Confederate Air Force and restored to wartime markings for air display purposes before being lost in a fatal crash in 1995.


The lone XB-26H, used for testing "bicycle" landing gear

B-26G "Shootin' In" at Wright-Patterson National Air Force Museum
B-26 — The first 201 planes were ordered based upon design alone. Prototypes were not characterized with the usual "X" or "Y" designations. They had Pratt & Whitney R-2800-5 engines. Armament consisted of two .30 caliber and two .50 caliber machine guns. [38] (The last model was armed with nearly three times that number.) Approximate cost then: $80,226.80/aircraft (201 built).
B-26A — Incorporated changes made on the production line to the B-26, including upgrading the two .30 caliber machine guns in the nose and tail to .50 caliber. A total of 52 B-26As were delivered to the Royal Air Force, which were used as the Marauder Mk I. [2] Approximate cost then: $102,659.33/aircraft (139 built)
B-26B — Model with further improvements on the B-26A, including revised tail gunner's glazing. Nineteen were delivered to the Royal Air Forces as the Marauder Mk.IA. Production blocks of the 1,883 aircraft built: [39]
AT-23A or TB-26B—208 B-26Bs converted into target tugs and gunnery trainers designated JM-1 by the US Navy.
B-26B—Single tail gun replaced with twin guns belly-mounted "tunnel gun" added. (81-built) [39]
B-26B-1—Improved B-26B. (225 built) [39]
B-26B-2—Pratt & Whitney R-2800-41 radials. (96 built) [39]
B-26B-3—Larger carburetor intakes upgrade to R-2800-43 radials. (28 built) [39]
B-26B-4—Improved B-26B-3. (211 built) [39]
B-26B-10 through B-26B-55 — Beginning with block 10, the wingspan was increased from 65 feet (20 m) to 71 feet (22 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 stabilizer height was increased from 19 feet 10 inches (6.05 m) to 21 feet 6 inches (6.55 m). Armament was increased from six to twelve .50 caliber 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. Armor was added to protect the pilot and copilot. (1,242-built) [40]
CB-26B—12 B-26Bs were converted into transport aircraft (all were delivered to the US Marine Corps for use in the Philippines). [41]
B-26C—Designation assigned to those B-26Bs built in Omaha, Nebraska instead of Baltimore, Maryland. 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. A total of 123 B-26Cs were used by the RAF and SAAF as the Marauder Mk II. Approximate cost then: $138,551.27/aircraft (1,210 built)
TB-26C—Originally designated AT-23B. Trainer modification of B-26C. (Approximately 300 modified)
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. [42] This system, while promising, was not incorporated into any production aircraft made during World War II. (One 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. [43] The offensive and defensive abilities of the B-26E was tested in combat simulations against normal aircraft. Although the tests showed that gains were made with the new arrangement, it 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. (one converted)
B-26F—Angle-of-incidence of wings increased by 3.5º fixed .50 caliber machine gun in nose removed tail turret and associated armor improved. [44] 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 aircraft were B-26F-2s and F-6s, all of which were used by the RAF and SAAF as the Marauder Mk III. 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 built)
B-26G—B-26F with standardized interior equipment. [45] A total of 150 bombers were used by the RAF as the Marauder Mk III. (893-built)
TB-26G—B-26G converted for crew training. Most, possibly all, were delivered to the United States Navy as the JM-2. (57 converted)
XB-26H—Test aircraft for tandem landing gear, and nicknamed the "Middle River Stump Jumper" from its "bicycle" gear configuration, to see if it could be used on the Martin XB-48. [46] (One converted)
JM-1P—A small number of JM-1s were converted into photo-reconnaissance aircraft for the US Navy. [41]
Marauder I
British designation for 52 B-26As for the Royal Air Force.
Marauder IA
British designation for 19 B-26Bs for the Royal Air Force.
Marauder II
British designation for 123 B-26Cs for the Royal Air Force and South African Air Force.
Marauder III
British designation for 350 B-26F and B-26Gs for the Royal Air Force and South African Air Force.
With the exception of the B-26C, all models and variants of the B-26 were produced at Martin's Middle River, Maryland manufacturing plant. The B-26C was built at the Martin plant in Omaha, Nebraska [47]



France: Free France

South Africa: South African Air Force

United Kingdom: Royal Air Force

United States:
United States Army Air Corps
United States Army Air Forces
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
Women Airforce Service Pilots

Surviving aircraft

Martin B-26B s/n 40-1459 on display at MAPS Air Museum in North Canton, Ohio
B-26G 44-68219 Dinah Might [48] - Utah Beach Museum (Musée du Débarquement Utah Beach) on loan from the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace in Le Bourget. [49] It was previously recovered from the Air France training school. [50]
United States
B-26 40-1464 – part of the Fantasy of Flight collection in Polk City, Florida. [51] [52]
On display
B-26 40-1459 Charley's Jewel – MAPS Air Museum in Akron, Ohio. [53]
B-26G 43-34581 Shootin In – National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. This aircraft was flown in combat by the Free French Air Force during the final months of World War II. It was obtained from the mechanics' training school of French airline Air France near Paris in June 1965. It is painted as a 9th Air Force B-26B assigned to the 387th Bombardment Group in 1945. [54] [55]
Under restoration
40-1370 – for display by Hill Aerospace Museum, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. [56]
40-1501 – for display by David Tallichet's Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation of Anaheim, California at the Pima Air & Space Museum, adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona. [57] [58]
41-31773 Flak Bait – for display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia. This aircraft survived 207 operational missions over Europe, more than any other American aircraft during World War II. [59]
Specifications (B-26G)

The B-26B was the version of the Marauder that was built in the greatest quantity. It first appeared in May of 1942.

The B-26B differed from earlier Marauder versions in having two 0.50-inch machine guns with 1500 rpg installed in a stepped- down tail position, replacing the single hand-held gun of the earlier B-26 and B-26A. The guns were operated manually by the gunner by means of a ring and bead sight. The gunner had no seat, and usually knelt to track his targets and fire his weapons. Ammunition was fed from cartridge belts held upright on a pair of roller tracks in the aft bomb bay. Each gun was equipped with 800 rounds. The new tail position increased the overall length to 58 feet 3 inches.

The B version introduced self-sealing fuel lines and a rearrangement of various internal equipment items. The engines were switched back to R-2800-5s. The large propeller spinners were deleted. The oil cooler air scoop under the engine cowling was enlarged. Torpedo racks underneath the fuselage were fitted as factory-installed equipment. Fuel supply included two 350-gallon main fuel tanks in the wings, two 121-gallon auxiliary tanks, and up to four 250-gallon bomb bay ferry tanks, for a total capacity of 1962 gallons. Normal bomb load consisted of two 2000 lb or 1600 lb bombs, eight 500-pound, sixteen 250 lb, or thirty 100-lb bombs. Maximum short-range bombload was 5200 pounds, which was seldom carried. This could be two 1600-lb bombs plus a 2000-pound torpedo on the external rack.

Provisions were made for up to seven crew members. The bombardier sat in the transparent nose cone and operated a flexible 0.50-inch machine gun with 270 rounds. The pilot and copilot sat side by side in armored seats behind an armored front bulkhead. The navigator/radio operator sat in a compartment behind the pilots. In an emergency, these four crewmen could escape through the forward bomb bay, although the pilot and copilot had escape hatches in the upper cockpit that could be opened outward. The beam gunner manned a single gun that fired through a hatch cut into the floor of the rear fuselage. A Martin 250CE dorsal power turret was mounted on the top of the fuselage behind the bomb bay. It was equipped with two guns and 400 rpg. The turret could turn through a full 360 degrees and the elevation could be as much as 70 degrees. The tail gunner operated two 0.50-inch guns. The main entrance to the fuselage was through the nose wheel well, but pilot's escape hatches were available in the roof of the canopy.

Atarting in July of 1942, 207 factory-fresh B-26Bs (41-17645/17851) were sent to Martin's Omaha Modification Center for modifications to make them more combat-suitable. The nose Plexiglas was modified to carry a centerline-mounted flexible 0.50-inch machine gun. A fixed forward-firing 0.50-inch machine gun was installed in the lower right-hand side of the nose. The two 0.30-inch waist guns and the 0.30-inch tunnel gun were replaced by 0.50-inch guns. Provisions were made for two more 250-gallon ferry tanks in the rear bomb bay, increasing total fuel capacity to 1962 gallons and raising the ferry range to 2850 miles. The pair of air intakes located above the engine cowling were increased in size so that they could accommodate sand filters for operation in desert conditions when required. The windows on both side of the fuselage next to the radio operator were replaced by bulged windows to improve the downward view.

In August, the production block system was introduced with the advent of the B-26B-2. Unlike most other aircraft, the production block numbers on the B-26B Marauder were initially not in multiples of five. This model had the more powerful R-2800-41 engine, yielding 2000 hp for takeoff and 1600 hp at 13,500 feet. Maximum speed was up from 311 mph to 317 mph at 14,500 feet. However, weight was increased to 22,380 pounds empty, 34,000 pounds gross. A "whip" antenna for the new VHF radio was fitted on the underside of the fuselage. This antenna was fitted on all subsequent Marauder models.

The B-26B-3 introduced the R-2800-43 engine of similar power. This engine was retained throughout the remainder of the Marauder production run. This model also introduced as standard factory-installed equipment the enlarged air intakes mounted on top of the engine cowling so that sand filters could be fitted when required in desert conditions. These intakes were retrofitted to many earlier Marauders, so the presence of engine cowling intakes could not always be used as a reliable indicator of a B-26B-3.

The B-26B-4 which appeared in October 1942 had a longer nosewheel strut to increase the wing incidence and lift during takeoff. This gave the plane a distinct "nose-up" attitude when on the ground. Minor equipment changes such as a new starter, new navigation instruments and winterization gear were introduced. The last 141 of the 211 B-4s built had the light tunnel gun replaced by a pair of 0.50-inch machine guns, one firing through each of two side hatches on the bottom of the rear fuselage. This arrangement had previously been used on modified aircraft in the field, and was found suitable for introduction on the production line. These guns were mounted on extending arms swiveling from positions on the fuselage floor and fired rearwards and downwards. Each gun had 240 rounds of ammunition. In addition, many of the B-4s were fitted at the Martin Omaha center with four forward-firing 0.50-inch machine guns in blisters mounted on each side of the fuselage. The B-4 also introduced slotted flaps and mechanically-operated main undercarriage doors.

In order to reduce the alarming rate of Stateside training accidents, a decision was made to increase the wing area in order to lower the wing loading, reducing the takeoff and landing speeds. The new wing was first introduced on the B-26C production block at Omaha, and did not appear on the B-26B line at Baltimore until the introduction of the B-26B-10-MA production block, which first appeared in January of 1943. The wing span increased from 65 to 71 feet and area increased from 602 to 658 square feet. A taller fin and rudder was introduced to maintain stability with the larger wing, increasing overall height from 19 feet 10 inches to 21 feet 6 inches.

However, the advantages of the reduced wing loading were partially offset by an increase in gross weight to 38,200 pounds as the result of the fitting of additional armament. A total of twelve 0.50-inch machine guns were now carried. These comprised a flexible 0.50-inch nose gun with 270 rounds, a single fixed gun on the starboard side of the nose with 200 rounds, two "package" guns on each side of the fuselage below the cockpit with 200-250 rpg, two 0.50-inch guns in the rear dorsal turret, two 0.50-inch guns in the beam, and two 0.50 inch guns in the tail. Nevertheless, at a takeoff weight of 36,000 pounds, the takeoff run was reduced from 3150 to 2850 feet. However, the larger wing area resulted in a decrease in maximum speed from from 289 to 282 mph.

The B-26B-15-MA differed only in having the fixed oxygen system Type A-9 regulator deleted. Improved IFF equipment (SCR-595A) was also fitted.

On the B-26B-20-MA and later blocks, the hand-held twin tail guns were replaced by a power-operated Martin-Bell M6 turret, also with two 0.50-inch guns with 400 rpg. The guns were positioned below the gunner and afforded a wider field of fire. The blunt tail cone of this installation markedly altered the contours of the rear fuselage. The guns were operated by a remotely-controlled linkage, but gunners usually preferred to swing the guns manually. Provisions were made for two more 250-US gallon tanks in the aft bomb bay, bringing total fuel capacity to 1964 US gallons. Another noticeable external change was the use of a shorter-chord rudder.

Early models of the B-26 had two separate bomb bays, but the rear one was only used infrequently for light loads in the South Pacific. Eventually, the rear bomb bay racks were discontinued altogether, followed by the deletion of the rear bomb bay doors and actuating mechanisms as well. The space and weight factors had become too critical, and the space was more valuable as a gunner's station after two flexible 0.50-inch machine guns were installed in the waist window area and ammunition storage boxes were installed for the tail and waist guns. Provisions for the two rear bay tanks were deleted from the B-26B-25-MA and later blocks.

An external curved armor plate was introduced on the B-26B-30-MA, along with additinal armor in certain critical locations.

The carburetor alcohol de-icing system was deleted on the B-26B-35-MA.

The B-26B-40-MA introduced a torpedo-firing switch on the pilot's control column. Shark-nosed ailerons were fitted in 42-43310 onward.

B-26B-45-MA indroduced a ring-and-bead sight for the package guns IFF SCR-695 was provided and the new SCR-522 VHF command radio set was added. The engine fire extinguisher was reinstated. The aft bomb bay was sealed shut from this variant onward, the extra space being used for additional ammunition. The fixed forward-firing 0.50-inch gun was deleted in the middle of the production run (from 42-95979).

The B-26B-50-MA was equipped with an emergency mechanial bomb bay closing arrangement. IFF gear was revised. Lycoming propeller blades began to be fittef from 42-95942 onward.

The B-26B-55-MA replaced the D-8 bombsight with the M-series. Changes to the Martin CE 250 dorsal turret were incorporated from 42-96079 onward. The camouflage paint was discontinued from 42-96219 onward.

The last of 1883 B-26Bs was delivered at Baltimore in February of 1944. In addition, 208 B-26Bs were converted to AT-23A target tugs for the USAAF.

Serials of Martin B-26B Marauder:

41-17544/17624 Martin B-26B Marauder
41-17625 Martin B-26B-3-MA Marauder
41-17626/17851 Martin B-26B Marauder
41-17852/17946 Martin B-26B-2-MA Marauder
41-17947/17973 Martin B-26B-3-MA Marauder
41-17974/18184 Martin B-26B-4-MA Marauder
41-18185/18334 Martin B-26B-10-MA Marauder
41-31573/31672 Martin B-26B-15-MA Marauder
41-31673/31772 Martin B-26B-20-MA Marauder
41-31773/31872 Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder
41-31773 was 'Flak Bait' the first Allied bomber in the ETO to complete 200 sorties. Nose section is on display at NASM.
41-31873/31972 Martin B-26B-30-MA Marauder
41-31973/32072 Martin B-26B-35-MA Marauder
42-43260/43357 Martin B-26B-40-MA Marauder
42-43358/43359 Martin AT-23A
B-26B modified as unarmed target tug
42-43360/43361 Martin B-26B-40-MA Marauder
42-43362/43458 Martin AT-23A
B-26B modified as unarmed target tug
42-43459 Martin B-26B-40-MA Marauder
42-95629/95737 Martin AT-23A
B-26B modified as unarmed target tug
42-95738/95828 Martin B-26B-45-MA Marauder
42-95829/96028 Martin B-26B-50-MA Marauder
42-96029/96228 Martin B-26B-55-MA Marauder

Additional Material

On February 22, 1941, the first four Martin B-26s were accepted by the USAAF. First to use the B-26 was the 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium) based at Langley Field, Virginia. The new B-26s replaced the Douglas B-18s that were formerly operated by this unit. The fact that the B-26 weighed two and one half times as much as the B-18 and had a landing speed that was 50 percent higher caused lots of problems for the 22nd BG. A series of failures of the front wheel strut resulted in a delay in bringing the B-26 to full operational status. Although the forward landing gear strut was strengthened in an attempt to correct this problem, the true cause was ultimately traced to an improper weight distribution. The manufacturer had been forced to deliver the first few B-26s to the Army without guns, and had trimmed these planes for delivery flights by carefully loading service tools and spare parts as ballast. When the Army took the planes over, they removed the ballast without replacement and the resultant forward movement of the center of gravity had multiplied the loads on the nosewheel, causing the accidents. The installation of the guns corrected the problem.

Pacific Theatre:

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the 22nd Bombardment Group was transferred to California to fly coastal patrols in case the Japanese fleet attempted to raid the American mainland. In February of 1942, the 22nd BG was ordered to Australia. The 22nd Bombardment Group's Marauders were disassembled and loaded aboard ships and left San Francisco on February 6, 1942 bound for Hawaii. The B-26s were unloaded and reassembled at Hickam Field and then flew sea patrol duty until they were fitted with bomb bay ferry tanks and flown to Brisbane where they were based at Amberley Field under the command of Lt. Gen. George H. Brett. By March 22, the first flight of B-26s had arrived in Australia.

Subsequently, the 22nd BG moved northward to bases at Townsville. The B-26 first entered combat on April 5, 1942, when the 22nd Group took off from from Townsville, refuelled at Port Moresby, and then attacked Japanese facilities at Rabaul. Each B-26 had a 250-gallon bomb bay and carried a 2000- pound bombload.

On these missions, the B-26s took off from the mainland loaded with bombs, landed at Port Moresby to be refueled, then taking off again for targets in New Guinea. Targets were attacked with small formations of from two to six aircraft. The aircraft generally carried four 500-pound or twenty 100-pound bombs, which they dropped from medium altitudes of 10,000 to 15,000 feet. Generally, no fighter escort was available and the Marauders were on their own if they encountered enemy fighters. There were two groups equipped with B-26s in this theatre, the 22nd and 38th, with two squadrons of the 38th Bombardment Group (69th and 70th) equipped with B-26s.

In this series of attacks on Japanese-held facilities in the East Indies, the B-26s gained a reputation for speed and ruggedness against strong opposition from Japanese Zero fighters. Attacks on Rabaul ended on May 24, after 80 sorties had flown.

A series of unescorted raids were made on Japanese installations in the Lae area. These raids were vigorously opposed by Zero fighters. In the 84 sorties flown against Lae between April 24 and July 4, 1942, three Marauders were lost.

Elements of the 22nd Group which had been left behind in the US were used to activate the 21st Bombardment Group at Jackson Army Air Base in Mississippi. The 21st would eventually be moved to MacDill Field, Florida to serve as a B-26 OTU.

The Marauder could carry an 18-inch 2000-pound torpedo slung on an external rack underneath the fuselage. On the ground, the torpedo only cleared the ground by about four inches when taxiing. In June, the B-26A made its debut as a torpedo bomber, being used against Japanese warships during the Battle of Midway. Four Marauders were equipped with external torpedo racks underneath the keel and took off on June 4, 1942 in an attempt to attack Japanese carriers. The torpedo runs began at 800 feet altitude, the B-26s then dropping down to only ten feet above the water under heavy attack from Japanese fighters. Two of the Marauders were lost in this action, and the other two were heavily damaged. No hits were made on the Japanese carriers. The B-26 was much too large an aircraft for this type of attack.

After numerous frontal attacks by enemy fighters, it was decided to fit Marauders with additional guns in the nose. A 0.50-inch gun replaced the former 0.30-inch weapon and a pair of flexible 0.30-inch guns were installed on each side of the nose bubble. However, these extra guns caused the bombardier to bump his head for lack of space and were eventually removed.

After the Battle of Midway, it was concluded that additional forward-firing armament was needed. In the field, several B-26s were fitted with an additional 0.50-inch machine gun mounted on each side of the fuselage on each side of the fuselage just aft of the nosewheel well to be fired by the pilot. At first, no streamlined pod was fitted over the gun. This extra armament was eventually introduced on the B-26B production line.

As the Allies pushed northward in the South Pacific, temporary airfields had to be cut out of the jungle and these runways were generally fairly short. The North American B-25 Mitchell had a shorter takeoff run than the B-26, and it began to take over the medium bomber duties in that theatre. Although it was admitted that the B-26 could take greater punishment, was defensively superior, and could fly faster with a heavier bomb load, the B-25 had better short-field characteristics, good sortie rate, and minimal maintenance requirements. In addition, the B-25 was considerably easier to manufacture and had suffered from fewer developmental problems. At this time, there were more B-25s available for South Pacific duty because it had been decided to send them to the Mediterranean but not to the European theatre. Consequently, it was decided to adopt the B-25 as the standard medium bomber for the entire Pacific theatre, and to use the B-26 exclusively in the Mediterranean and European theatres.

Three of the 22nd Bombardment Group's squadrons switched over to to the B-25 between January and October of 1943, leaving only the 19th Squadron with the Marauder. Eventually, all medium bomber groups in the South Pacific were equipped with the B-25. Some of the B-26 crewmembers stayed with the B-25s when the changeovers took place, some were sent back stateside to aid in the instruction of new B-26 crews, and some went to North Africa for another tour with B-26s. A dwindling number of B-26s would remain in the Pacific for a few more months. The last mission flown by B-26s in the South Pacific was on January 9, 1944.

The following Marauder groups served in the Pacific theatre with the 5th Air Force:

22nd Bombardment Group (Medium). 2nd, 19th, 33rd, and 408th BS. Used B-26s until Oct 1943 when B-25s were added. Re-equipped with B-24s in Feb 1944 and redesignated 22nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) 38th Bombardment Group (Medium). 69th, 70th, 71st, 405th, 822nd, and 823rd BS. Activated Jan 15, 1941 with B-18, B-25, and B-26 aircraft. Assigned to 5th AF and equipped with B-25s.

Alaska Theatre:

The 28th Composite Group in the Alaskan Air Command of the 11th Air Force was formed in 1941 with one heavy bombardment squadron, two medium bombardment squadrons, and one fighter squadron. The 11th Bombardment Squadron left for Elmendorf Field with 14 B-26s during January of 1942. They carried out numerous raids against Japanese forces involved in the Aleutian campaign. However, in early 1943, the Marauders were withdrawn from the Alaskan theatre, being replaced by B-25s.

Mediterranean Theatre:

The first Marauder group to cross the Atlantic was the 319th, which had moved to Shipdham in England in September of 1942. It moved to Algeria in November. It was soon joined by the 17th Group, which had converted to Marauders from Mitchells in September of 1942. Beginning in November of 1942, the USAAF sent three Marauder-equipped groups (the 17th, the 319th, and the 320th Bombardment Groups) to North Africa, where they were assigned to the 12th Air Force. The 319th Bomb Group was first to become operational, flying its first mission on December 30, 1942, a flight over Tunis. The 320th Bombardment Group entered combat in April of 1943 with the 12th Air Force.

In late December, General Doolittle had ordered the B-26 units under his command to operate at medium altitudes (around 10,000 feet) on all but sea sweeps against enemy shipping. The 319th was equipped with D-8 bombsights, so the few missions it did fly at medium altitudes before being equipped with Norden bombsights were not very successful. The aircraft of the 17th Group left for Africa equipped with the Norden, and later on the 320th would also come over with one out every four of its planes being equipped with a Norden. The D-8 was good enough for low-altitude work, but at medium and high altitudes the Norden was required. Generally, only the leader of each flight carried the Norden, with the remainder dropping their bombs when the leader dropped USAAF Marauders were particularly effective during the latter stages of the Tunisian campaign, when their heavy armament, high speed, and long range enabled them to intercept Me 323 and Ju 52/3m transports far out over the Mediterranean, shooting them down in droves and cutting off attempts to evacuate the defeated German forces.

As German fighter opposition declined, the Marauder crews in the Mediterranean began removing the four package guns. Sometimes the entire installation was removed, while other removed only the guns, leaving the pod housings intact.

In May of 1943, after the North African campaign was over, a comparison was made between B-25 and B-26 operational statistics. Even though there had been more B-26s in the theatre than B-25s, the figures were as follows: B-25 B-26 Total Sorties Flown 2689 1587 Losses 65 80 Percentage loss per sortie 2.4 5.00 Percentage aborts 3.0 12.0

The B-26 did not look good in comparison to the B-25, and for a third time, serious thought was given to discontinuance of the Marauder. However, improved Marauder performance during the Italian campaign and in the ETO saved the plane. As part of the Ninth Air Force, these Marauder-equipped groups followed the Allied forces from North Africa through Sicily to Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, and into the south of France, and eventually into Germany as the war came to an end.

The following B-26 Groups were active in the Mediterranean theatre with the 12th Air Force:

17th Bombardment Group. 34th, 37th, 95th, 432nd BS. Converted from B-25s to B-26s summer 1942. Assigned initially to 12th AF, then to 15th AF Nov 1943 and again to 12th AF Jan 1944.

319th Bombardment Group (Medium). 437th, 438th, 439th, and 440th BS. Operated with Twelfth AF until Jan 1945, except for a brief assignment to Fifteenth, Nov 1943-Jan 1944. Converted to B-25 Nov 1944.

320th Bombardment Group (Medium) Jun 19, 1942 to December 4, 1945. 441, 442, 443, and 444th BS. Assigned to 12th Air Force

European Theatre:

It was to be in the European theatre where the Marauder was to achieve its greatest success. In the United Kingdom, the Marauder formed the basis of the medium bomber forces of the Eighth Air Force. The first B-26s arrived in the United Kingdom in February of 1943. They were to be used in low-level missions against German military targets on the Continent. These B-26Bs were not equipped with the Norden bombsight, but carried instead a modified N-6 gunsight mounted in the cockpit for the copilot to use in releasing the bombs. The first operational raid took place on On May 14, 1943. Flying through heavy flak at altitudes of 100 to 300 feet, Marauders from the 322nd Bombardment Group dropped a group 500-pound delayed-fuse bombs on the Velsen generating station at Ijmuiden in the Netherlands. All planes returned safely to base. However, the delayed fuse bombs which allowed Dutch workmen to escape also gave the Germans enough time to defuse or remove them. It is probable that the 322nd only escaped the attention of Luftwaffe fighters because of a battle taking place elsewhere with 8th Air Force heavy bombers.

On May 17, 1943, eleven Marauders returned at low level to attack German installations at Ijmuiden and Haarlem in the Netherlands. This time the Luftwaffe was ready, and the raid was a disaster, with all but one aircraft (which had aborted due to an electrical failure) being shot down by flak and fighters.

The disastrous raid at Ijmuiden proved that the B-26 was totally unsuited for low-level operations over Europe, where enemy flak was heavy and accurate and enemy fighters were numerous and particularly effective. After the Ijmuiden raid, low-level operations by Marauders over Europe were discontinued, and for a fourth time thought was given to withdrawing the type from combat. In the meantime, the B-26 equipped units stood down to retrain for attacks against strategic targets from medium altitudes (10,000-14,000 feet) with heavy fighter escort.

In July of 1943, some consideration was given to adapting the B-26 as a escort fighter for the Flying Fortress heavy bombers of the 8th Air Force which were at that time experiencing heavy losses to German fighters. This suggestion was immediately dropped, since the Marauder had an entirely different performance envelope from the Fortress and in addition had proven that it was itself unable to survive without fighter escort in hostile European skies.

The B-26 did not return to action over Europe until July 17, 1943. This time, the B-26 was more successful in its new role of medium-altitude bombing, and proposals to withdraw the Marauder from combat over Europe were quietly shelved. Marauders developed tight formation flying tactics to ensure a close pattern of bombs on the target and to protect themselves against fighter attacks. Because of the tremendous concentration of defensive firepower that the B-26 offered, the Luftwaffe was reluctant to press home attacks on Marauder formations. However, in the European theatre fighter escort was absolutely essential to defend against determined German fighter attacks. The German 88-mm antiaircraft guns were most accurate at the altitudes at which the Marauder normally operated, and it was determined that a straight and level flight for as little as 30 seconds gave the German radar gun detectors sufficient time to track the formation and place shots right in its midst. Consequently, evasive actions every 15 or 20 seconds was absolutely necessary to minimize flak losses. However, once committed to the bomb run, there was no evasive action possible and runs of 25 seconds or longer were considered quite dangerous.

Medium-altitude pinpoint bombing became routine with the Marauders of the 9th Air Force. Prior to D-Day, typical targets were bridges, airfields, railroad marshaling yards, gun positions, ammunition and oil storage dumps, and V-1 flying bomb sites. In November of 1943, all Eighth Air Force B-26 groups were transferred to the re-formed Ninth Air Force. By May of 1944, the 9th Air Force had eight B-26 groups.

The groups which prepared the way for the invasion of Normandy were the 322nd, 3234d, 344th, 386th, 387th, 391st, 394th, and 397th Bombardment Groups. The 335th and 336th Bombardment Groups were replacement training units based back in the States until they were disbanded in May of 1944.

A few Marauders were converted for Pathfinder missions for bad weather actions. These planes were equipped to work with the OBOE system, which consisted of a series of ground transmission stations which broadcasted narrow radio beams which directed the aircraft to their targets during those times when the weather was so bad that the ground could not be seen. It was arranged that beams from two separate stations would intersect immediately over the target. The receiver aboard the aircraft transmitted a tone to the pilot in the form of a Morse code E if he was to the left of course and a T when he was to the right. A steady hum was heard when he was on course. A separate panel on the pilot's instrument panel (which was duplicated at the bombardier's position) directed when the bombs should be dropped. The system had a CEP of only 300 feet. OBOE-equipped B-26s could be distinguished by by the presence of an antenna which consisted of a plexiglas tube sticking out of the belly just forward of the waist windows. The OBOE system was mostly of British design and was of course highly classified. When Pathfinder Marauders were parked on their airfields, there was always an armed guard posted, and there was a destruct mechanism installed to prevent the system from falling into enemy hands. The system was still in its infancy during the war, and the slightest malfunction in any portion of the equipment would usually cause the entire mission to be scrubbed.

Soon after V-E Day, some B-26 groups were demobilized, but others moved to Germany to serve with the occupation forces.

The following Bombardment Groups flew the B-26 Marauder with the 9th AF in the European theatre:

322nd Bombardment Group (Medium): May 14, 1943 to April 24, 1945. 449, 450, 451, 452nd BS. Assigned to 8th Air Force, but reassigned to 9th Air Force in Oct 1943.

323rd Bombardment Group (Medium) : July 16, 1943 to April 25, 1945. Reassigned to 9th AF Oct 1943.

344th Bombardment Group (Medium): March 6, 1944 to April 25, 1945. 494th, 495th, 496th, and 497th BS. Served with 9th Air Force.

386th Bombardment Group (Medium): June 20, 1943 to May 3, 1945. 552, 553, 554 and 555th BS. Reassigned to 9th AF Oct 1943.

387th Bombardment Group (Medium) : June 30, 1943 to April 19, 1945. 556, 557, 558th and 559th BS. Reassigned to 9th AF Oct 1943

391st Bombardment Group (Medium): February 15, 1944 to May 3, 1945 . 572, 573, 574, and 575 th BS. Assigned to 9th AF.

394th Bombardment Group: March 23, 1944 to April 20, 1945. 584, 585, 586 and 587th BS. Assigned to 9th AF

397th Bombardment Group: April 20, 1944 to April 20, 1945. 596, 597, 598, and 599th BS. Assigned to 9th AF

After the war in Europe was over, most of the Marauder-equipped units were quickly disbanded and their planes were scrapped. In the late fall of 1945, all of some 500 Marauders operating in the ETO were ferried to a disposal site near Landsberg, Germany where they were all scrapped. In the fall of 1945, a gigantic aircraft disposal operation began at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas and handled the disposal of nearly 1000 surplus USAAF Marauders In the beginning, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation handled the disposal task, but this was later taken over by the General Services Administration. The surplus aircraft were first offered for sale and many were bought by France, China, and South American countries for military or airline use. The remainder were scrapped.

A few Marauders were sold on the commercial market and were converted as executive transports.

Because of the massive scrapping effort immediately after the war, very few Marauders survive today. I am aware of only three Marauders that are still in existence today.

Flak Bait, a B-26 serial number 41-31773 of the 449th Squadron of the 322nd Bombardment Group was the first Allied bomber in the ETO to fly 200 combat sorties. Its nose section is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. The rest of the plane is presumably somewhere in storage within the Paul Garber restoration facility at Suitland, Maryland.

B-26G-10 serial number 43-34581 was given to the French Air Force during World War 2. After the war, it went into storage at Mont de Marsan. In 1951, it was turned over to Air France as a ground-based aircraft for use in training mechanics. In 1965, 43-34581 was donated to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, where it is currently displayed painted as a 387th Bombardment Group B-26B-50 serial number 42-95857.

On January 3, 1942, three B-26 Marauders of the 77th BS were forced to crash-land in British Columbia while in transit to Alaska. The crewmen were all rescued, but the aircraft were forced to remain. In 1971, an expedition was mounted to recover these planes, headed by David C. Tallichet, president of the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation, a subsidiary of Specialty Restaurants Corporation. which was based in Chino, California. The three Marauders were dismantled and flown out by helicopter. Once back in Chino, the best airframe of the three (40-1459) was restored to flying condition, using parts scavenged from the other two. It took to the air for the first time in July of 1992. In 1996, the plane was sold to Kermit Weeks of Kissimmee, Florida, and it now carries the civilian registration N4297J.

B-26C-20-MO serial number 41-35071 had been delivered to the USAAF on May 24, 1943. Following the end of the war, it was purchased from the Walnut Ridge disposal operation by a commercial operator. It went through a succession of operators, including the Tennessee Gas Corporation which converted it as an executive transport. In 1967, the Confederate Air Force bought the plane and attempted to restore it to flying condition, no mean feat since no structural B-26 parts were then available anywhere in the world and all B-26 engineering and production data had been destroyed in a fire at Martin's Baltimore plant. Restoration began in 1976, but progress was slow since most needed components had to be made by hand. The first flight did not take place until 1984. The aircraft was named Carolyn in honor of a generous contributor, and carried the civilian registration number N5546N. It was a popular participant in Confederate Air Force shows. Tragically, Carolyn crashed near Midland, Texas on September 28, 1995, killing all five people onboard.

  • Birdsall, Steve. B-26 Marauder in Action (Aircraft number 50). Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1981. ISBN 0-89747-119-9.
  • Bridgman, Leonard. "The Martin Model 179 Marauder". Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
  • Brown, Kenneth. Marauder Man: World War II in the Crucial but Little Known B-26 Marauder Medium Bomber. Pacifica, California: Pacifica Press, 2001. ISBN 0-935553-53-3.
  • Donald, David, ed. American Warplanes of World War II. London: Aerospace Publishing, 1995. ISBN 1-874023-72-7.
  • Ehrhardt, Patrick. Les Marauders Français (in French). Ostwald, France: Editions du Polygone, 2006. ISBN 2-913832-05-9.
  • Ethell, L. Jeffrey. Aircraft of World War II. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995. ISBN 0-00-470849-0.
  • Forsyth, Robert and Jerry Scutts. Battle over Bavaria: The B-26 Marauder versus the German Jets, April 1945. Crowborough, UK: Classic Publications, 2000. ISBN 978-0-9526867-4-3.
  • Freeman, Roger A. B-26 Marauder at War. London: Ian Allan Ltd., 1977. ISBN 0-7110-0823-X.
  • Green, William. The Aircraft of the World. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd Third edition 1965.
  • 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, Tennessee: Southern Heritage Press, 1997. ISBN 0-941072-27-4.
  • Hunter, Lawrence Jack. The Flying Prostitute. Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse.com, 2000. ISBN 0-595-00048-7.
  • Johnsen, Frederick A. Martin B-26 Marauder. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 2000. ISBN 1-58007-029-9.
  • Johnson, E.R. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2008. ISBN 0-7864-3464-3.
  • Listemann, Phil H. Allied Wings No. 2: Martin Marauder Mk.I. France: www.raf-in-combat.com, 2008. ISBN 2-9526381-6-0.
  • Marauder: Mr Martin's Mean Machine Part 1. Air International, January 1988, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 22–29, 49. Bromley, UK: Fine Scroll. ISSN 0306-5634.
  • Marauder: Mr Martin's Mean Machine: Part Two. Air International, February 1988, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 75–82, 94. Bromley, UK: Fine Scroll. ISSN 0306-5634.
  • March, Daniel J. British Warplanes of World War II. London: Aerospace Publishing, 1998. ISBN 1-874023-92-1.
  • McCullough, David. Truman. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. ISBN 0-7432-6029-5.
  • 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, Florida: Malia Enterprises, 1989. ISBN 1-877597-00-7.
  • Moore, Carl H. WWII: Flying the B-26 Marauder over Europe. Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania: McGraw-Hill/TAB Books, 1980. ISBN 0-8306-2311-6.
  • Nowicki, Jacek and Andre R. Zbiegniewski. Martin B-26, Vol. 1 (Militaria 137) (in Polish). Warsaw, 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.
  • Parshall, Jonathon and Anthony Tulley. Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Washington D.C.: Potomac Books, 2005. ISBN 1-57488-923-0.
  • Rehr, Louis S. and Carleton R. Rehr. Marauder: Memoir of a B-26 Pilot in Europe in World War II. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2003. ISBN 0-7864-1664-5.
  • Scutts, Jerry. B-26 Marauder Units of the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces. Botley, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1997. ISBN 1-85532-637-X.
  • Slessor, Sir John. The Central Blue. New York: Fredrick A. Praeger, Inc., 1957.
  • Swanborough, F.G. and Peter M. Bowers. United States Military Aircraft since 1909. London: Putnam, First edition, 1963.
  • Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911. Annapolis, Maryland: 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, Colorado: Boomerang Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-9605900-6-4.
  • Trent, Jack. " 'Fat-Bottomed Girls': The Martin B-26 Marauder." Scale Aircraft Modeller, Volume 14, No. 7, July 2008.
  • United States Air Force Museum Guidebook. Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Air Force Museum Foundation, 1975.
  • Wagner, Ray. The Martin B-26B & C Marauder (Aircraft in Profile No. 112). Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1965. Reprinted 1971.

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Thread: Today In WW II History | Forums

On this day of December 25 1944.

Stopping-over at Kwajalein, December 1944
by Tom Duff

Kwajalein, December 25, 1944:
I remember Kwajalein as a narrow strip of sand with a stump of a palm tree about 8 to 10 feet tall and no other foliage in sight. The island did not appear to be long enough to handle B-29's, and not very wide. So my first glimpse of Kwajalein was the end of a runway which started at water's edge. I learned upon leaving the island the next day the other end of the runway disappeared at the water's edge, also. It was so flat I was sure high tide would overrun the land. However, we were not weighted for combat. Therefore, we were tons lighter, and a shorter runway would do the trick. The purpose of the runway was as a way-station for B-29's on the way to the Marianas, which at that time was the front line of the battle with Japan. We found a garrison of Marines on Kwajalein, their tents and defenses. That completed the picture.
As we approached the atoll I was busy with my landing duties in the rear section of the plane and did not see Kwajalein from the air. My duties consisted of securing any items that may have loosened during the flight from Hawaii - such as, supplies we took for general use, extra small parts for the plane, guns, k-rations, and our personal luggage. Also, I had to start the put-put, a small engine that boosted the electrical power when we raised or lowered the flaps or wheels on take-off and landing. Lastly, on a trip like this (not a mission) we had the "luxury" of a bucket in which to relieve ourselves. It was located in the rear of the plan my responsibility was to dispose of it before landing. I had never performed this seemingly simple, though not desirable, task before.
I opened the camera hatch and waited until I saw the runway, which, I knew, put the plane at 90 mph, landing speed. That would make the slipstream minimum of any time we were in the air. When I saw the runway I emptied the bucket into the slipstream. Even at minimum speed, the slipstream showed its insulting power over mere man by throwing the bucket liquids back at me as though they splashed right back up after hitting the concrete, even though we were 20 or more feet off the ground. The gross contents splashed back over me from head to toe. Ugh! Newt couldn't park the plane fast enough for me. As soon as he did I threw open the door, put down the ladder and headed straight into the ocean, which couldn't have been more than 10-15 yards away, thank goodness! I walked in, fully dressed, not giving any thought to watch or cigarettes, GI boots or coveralls. I was the first member of our crew to take a full western Pacific bath.
Pilot Robert Minto, while checking out the interior of the plane exited the rear door via the ladder I put out. Partway down he decided to jump the rest of the way. He caught a ring on his right hand on the door jamb, tearing the skin off part of his finger. He went to a Marine who was greeting the crew, and was taken to the dispensary for attention. He didn't "surface" again that night. When he caught up with us the next morning we learned he had spent the evening "recovering" with some hospitable Marines and their supply of liquor.
We had hoped to get a good square holiday meal, but, alas, we were too late for Christmas dinner. It was all gone. We ate the (dry) k-rations we had with us. Flight engineer Dan Cheesman tried to get the mess sergeant to cook anything that was "cookable" for us, or at least c-rations. C-rations would have included a beef or chick type stew or a thick vegetable soup. The mess sergeant produced one egg. Danny accepted it and told us it was the worst egg he had ever eaten.
There wasn't any place to go, so we chatted with the Marines, who were the only people on the island. (The Japanese had inhabited the island until February, 1944, when the Navy shelled the island, leaving little other than the one palm tree stump I mentioned. The Marines came on the island when the Marines and Army took the Marshall Islands. The small contingent of Marines who hosted us was left to hold the island). The sun went down very quickly, as it does in the Pacific. One minute it was light, the next it was completely dark! We were left standing in the dark, tugging out our flashlights. One thing was obvious: It was bedtime.
There were no sleeping accommodations for "visitors," the Marines themselves slept in tents only. So we had to sleep in the plane or on the ground. A couple of guys slept on cots that were offered by the Marines. The rest of us slept on the plane. Five of us plopped down on the floor of the radar room and mid-plane gunnery section, two crew members slept in the 33-foot tunnel running above the bomb-bays, used to crawl through from the middle to the front of the plane. They made a quick and excellent choice, since it was well padded. Other planes did not have carpeting this was one of many ways in which the B-29 was superior, almost "deluxe" by comparison. Those of us on the floor did have carpeting under us and used our B-4 bags for pillows. A couple of guys used their parachutes. (B-4 bags as issue were a big deal, since anyone who acquired them no longer had to tote the cumbersome A and B bags, associated with every other branch of the Service. Only the flyers got B-4 bags and only when they became an official crew).
The morning of the 26th Kwajalein was a beautiful bare paradise with blue skies, scattered clouds, and the sun a ball of fire at daybreak, 5:00 AM. In the morning toiletry was completed with water from a Lister bag. The amount rationed only filled half a helmet. We had to do everything from teeth to toes, with water for shaving left until last. We loaded the top two turrets, the six 50-calibre machine guns, with the ammo supplied to us by the Marines. We couldn't take on too much weight and still take off on the runway that ended in the ocean. We topped off the gas tanks, waved good bye, and left, all before breakfast. Our k-rations were on board for us to eat as time allowed. I watched through the camera hatch as we sped down the runway and ran out of land while still streaking only feet above the ocean. The gradual assent started a beautiful day with our next destination Saipan.
Thomas Duff, Plane #8310 : 313th Wing, 505th Bomb Group, 483rd Squadron

Martin 250CE turret on B-26 Marauder - History

Chapter V:
The Turret Problem

Flying at high altitude under abnormal atmospheric conditions amid the presence of fighter opponents that may strike at any time and at any angle and attempting to fire accurately under such conditions present a situation entirely different from firing at a ground target. Add to the aerial situation suggested the necessity of understanding and manipulating a turret and the picture becomes even more complicated. Turrets had to be installed in planes for which they were adapted, sights had to be installed in turrets, power had to be provided for operation, and the whole delicate mechanism, to be effective, had to be kept in balance.

The importance attached to the understanding of turrets may be indicated by reference to the programs of instruction in 1942 and 1943. In the former year 20 hours were assigned to turret drill and 15 to turret maintenance in the latter, 18 to turret manipulation and 32 to turret maintenance. 1 Maintenance consisted in part of installing and boresighting guns, mounting sights, checking the operation of the fire interrupters and of the turret, gun, and sights, and loading

ammunition. Manipulation consisted in part of adjusting the sights properly, entering and leaving the turret correctly, locating and using correctly all switches, interphone connection, and oxygen connection, and engaging and disengaging all clutches. Much of the manipulation had to be done when the gunner was blindfolded. The two operations--maintenance and manipulation--were, it appears from the above description, so complementary as often to make one unable to distinguish between them.

In order to improve the quality of maintenance training, steps were taken in the fall of 1942, at the suggestion of the Director of Individual Training, to develop a program on central sighting station and remote-control turret equipment. In response to this suggestion, it was recommended that station operator gunners be given a special gunnery course on central sighting station equipment which "should include all necessary calibration, adjustment, minor repairs and inspection." Power turret and gun sight specialists, it was suggested, "should be selected from graduates of the turret school end given an additional course on maintenance of central sighting station equipment." 2 Remote control, however, did not actually come into effect until the use of the B-29 in 1944. 3

The slow progress in turret training in 1942 is an interrelated phase of the slow, yet gradual, progress which was being made in other

phases of flexible gunnery training during that experimental year, The lack of any technical training on the part of many students combined with the required knowledge of numerous turrets made the task doubly difficult, Such trainers as the E-1 Spotlight and E-5 did not at first prove satisfactory for that type of training. Securing of equipment, as pointed out elsewhere, was a major problem. Frequently parts needed for the repair of turrets were not available, and sometimes when repair was not necessary trained personnel were lacking for operation. A special board of officers, created to investigate training being conducted by the four-engine schools of the Flying Training Command and of the replacement training units, reported that in the Second Air Force many gun turrets in training airplanes, though not in use, had not been removed so an to be used elsewhere. In many cases the planes were not being used because damage had resulted from the mishandling of the turret structure by insufficiently trained personnel. 4

Maj, Gen, Barton K. Yount declared on 25 June 1942, that "although the scheduled production of gunners per month is approximately 2000 there is not one airplane in the gunnery schools mounting a turret." 5 Even after turrets were mounted on planes, there remained the problem of coping with atmospheric conditions while manipulating a turret. To clear malfunctions, adjust guns and gun solenoids, and reload. ammunition

when flying at high altitude attack. During the latter part of 1942 Headquarters AAF urged the flying Training Command to see to it that all students received training in high altitude flying and in the actual use and adjustment of oxygen equipment. Such a policy had been initiated in the three training centers as early as 7 July 1941, but shortage since that time of the necessary type of plane had prevented execution of the policy. Renewed efforts, it was stated, could be taken along that line. 6

The most significant step taken in connection with this phase of training was the provision, early in 1943, for specialized turret training. There were in use at that time in the air forces six types of turrets: Consolidated tail, Sperry upper and Sperry lower, Martin upper, Bendix upper and Bendix lower. 7 To understand all or any considerable number of them seemed to many too difficult an undertaking and represented an unwise scattering of the energies and efforts of the gunner forever, the assigning of particular turrets to particular planes and special designations of the latter to the respective gunnery schools helped simplify the problem of equipment. Several factors were responsible for the triumph of the specialization principle. Through its Sperry maintenance representatives in England, the Air Service Command reported the unfavorable attitude in that country toward the training the turret gunner was receiving in the United States. Those

representatives felt that there was too much emphasis upon training men as radio operators or engineers instead of as gunners and upon diversified rather than specialized turret training. 8 A report of a special board of officers stated that students were not being trained in aerial turret gunnery, that they were often assigned to the use of equipment with which they were unfamiliar, and that low morale was due in part to fear generated by lack of special training. 9

The Flying Training Command heartily urged the specialization idea. It claimed that unless seven weeks of training were provided shortages of instructors and equipment would make it impossible to give proper instruction in all types of turrets. Thorough familiarity with one, it felt, would pave the way for quicker familiarity with others. It requested that a survey be made showing the required number of gunners on designated types of turrets and the necessary assignment of airplanes equipped with the same type of turret as that used for instructional purposes. 10 Before the end of 1942 both the Directorate of Individual Training and the Directorate of Bombardment

Turret Training

Turret Instruction

Turret Instruction

had, expressed agreement with the Training Command. 11

In December 1942 steps were taken to put the turret specialization program into effect, and on 3 January 1943, in accordance with the authority received, the Flying Training Command gave orders to translate the policy into action. Accompanying this move or just before it was the designation of flexible gunnery schools for training in specialized. aircraft. Laredo and Harlingen became 100 per cent B-24 schools, Las Vegas and Kingman 100 per cent B-17, Panama City 50 per cent B-26 and 50 per cent B-25, and Fort Myers 60 per cent B-26 (B-34) and 40 per cent light and dive bombardment. 12 The Second. Air Force at this time took the graduates from the first four, or the heavy bombardment schools the Third Air Force took the graduates from Panama City and Fort Myers. 13

The orders and actions described above did not settle all differences of opinion over the specialization policy. In July 1943 the Military Personnel Division of Headquarters AAF suggested a return to

the policy of multiple turret training. In the opinion of that division the change was justified because of the increased emphasis on the heavy bombardment program, as evidenced by the agreement with AC/AS, Training that all graduates of gunnery schools during July would be sent to the Second Air Force. In disagreeing with the suggestion, AC/AS, Training pointed out the impossibility of an enlisted gunner understanding the operation and preflight maintenance of the 10 tactical turrets then installed in light, medium, and heavy bombardment aircraft. This office spoke of the possibility, however, of having one of the two light bombardment schools change to specialization in heavy aircraft. 14

The equipment problem was improved, but, of course, not solved, when the turret specialization Lies went into effect. As previously stated, the policy itself helped to simplify the problem. The Flying Training Command indicated a shortage of 196 of the 830 power-operated turrets needed. 15 Malassignment of gunners in terms of their preparation was noticeable, to some extent, after the specialization program went into effect. Headquarters, Tyndall Field complained that its graduates were sometimes assigned to B-17 units where they had to use the Sperry and Consolidated turrets, though Tyndall was specializing in Martin and Bendix turrets. 16 In phase checks that were carried out at Mountain Home Army Air Base in Idaho, men from both Kingman and Tyndall fields were checked for proficiency in turrets with which they

were not supposed to be familiar. 17 AAF Headquarters queried the Commanding General of the Second Air Force as to why graduates of Kingman and Las Vegas bad been consigned to B-24 units, and the Flying Training Command, in urging AC/AS Training to impress upon the training air forces that turret specialization was the accepted principle in the flexible gunnery schools, emphasized the additional work that would have to be done in operational training if they did not accept the principle. 18 As late as July 1944 a report on flexible gunnery from the IX Bomber Command urged the use in combat of the same type of aircraft and the same type of equipment in which training had been given, but declared that this principle was often not followed. 19

The policy of turret specialization was modified to some extent in 1944. Though the Flexible Gunnery Instructors School had been training the student in only one type, it was required in February that he be trained in all turrets and other gun positions on the plane to which he was to be assigned. Since some instructors were to be returned to the station of the command from which they originally came and some were to be assigned to the training air forces, those proportions would have to be determined before plane designations could be known. It was also necessary to know what percentage of those to be assigned to air

forces would be trained on the respective bombardment planes. It was decided that 30 per cent of the graduates of the school should be returned to their original stations and 70 per cent should go to air forces. Of the 70 per cent to be assigned to air forces the percentage for each type airplane was indicated as follows: 20 B-24, 50% B-17, 40%, B-25, 4% B-26, 4% B-20, 2% B-29, included in B-17 percentages. In May 1944 the Training Command was authorized to delete all instruction in turrets for radio operator mechanics, but to train all other gunners, whether instructors or not, in the "gun positions on the airplane for which they are specifically trained." 21 This order did not represent an abandonment of the specialization principle, for turret specialization was provided in detailed fashion in a Training Command Memorandum of 31 May 1944. That same memorandum, however, required the gunners to be "familiar" with the various gun positions on the plane. Emphasis on one turret along with detailed individual aircraft specialization now became the aim. 22 It seemed

logical that along with increased facilities for gunnery training there should be at least multiple training to the point where it made for greater coordination on the part of interdependent members of an individual bomber crew.

It is obvious from the preceding discussion that considerable progress had been made involving the turret problem since that June day in 1942 when, in the words of General Yount, not an airplane in the gunner schools was mounting a turret. Opinions of come who had had connection with the combat air forces suggest the progress that had or had not been made. Col. V. L. Zoller of the Fifteenth Air Force felt that the basic training gunners received was "good," that "barring the necessity of using gunners in positions other than that for which

classified and perhaps modifications with which they are not familiar, that it, modifications of now equipment, the gunner usually does show the knowledge necessary to operate his position." According to Capt. A. M. McIlwain of the Fifth Air Force, "only a small percentage" of gunners had been "taught the proper method of head space and solenoid adjustments," and many had "forgotten how to properly enter and leave a turret." Many "were very familiar with the Martin turret" but some times had to use other turrets with a resulting lack of success. Speaking for the Seventh Air Force, Col. L. E. Boutwell emphasized the point that those with "extensive training in the Martin Turret" often found the training of little use because they were required to use the Consolidated type. 23

In the early part of the year 1944, the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department General Staff made a report indicating serious deficiencies in the training of turret gunners sent to European theaters. In some cases, it was stated, they were "afraid to enter the turret in the air," and in others they did "not know what to do" when they entered it, with the result that too much time had to be devoted to training in combat areas. When asked by G-3 what was being done to correct these deficiencies, AAF Headquarters replied that action had been "taken within the limitations of base facilities, personnel and equipment." The reply emphasized that according to training standards

every gunner was required manually to perform phase checks on all turret functions. 24 The sweeping character of these phase checks is illustrated by the fact that gunners were expected to be checked twice in the flexible gunnery schools, twice in the OTU's, and twice in the combat theaters. 25

The securing of turrets and of planes in which to install them was a prerequisite to training in maintenance and manipulation, operations which were particularly difficult during high altitude flying. Renee, much time was devoted to this phase of training. During the early stages of specialized gunnery training the gunner was required to be familiar with all types of turrets, but after much criticism of his lack of proficiency he was required early in 1943 to specialize in one turret. Coupled with this policy was one which helped solve the problem of equipment, namely, assigning particular turrets to particular planes and special designations of the latter to the respective gunnery schools. Improvement in training techniques by 1944 seemed to justify a modification of the specialization principle, and thereafter gunners were required to be familiar with all gun positions on the Plane to which they were assigned, Phase checks to determine proficiency and attempts to prevent malassignments were significant policies in respect to turrets during 1943 and since.

1. Program of Instruction for the Training of Aerial gunners (Flexible) W 4076 AC, 2-20-41, Rev, 6-3-42, W-7680, A. F. T. C. Memo No. 50-13-1, 12 Aug. 1943.

2. R&R, AFRIT to AFDMR, 19 Sep. 1942 R&R, AFRDB to AFRAD and AFRBS in turn, 26 Oct. 1942, in AAG 353A, Training.

3. Interview with Maj. Edward Elliott, Jr., AC/AS, AAF, 11 Sep. 1944.

4. Special Board of Officers to CG AAF, 3 Nov. 1942, in AAG 353A, Training History of the Second Air Force, 7 Dec. 1941-31 Dec. 2942, I 268-69. For further evidence of difficulties, see History of Buckingham Army Air Field, Installment 1, II, 113-23 History of Harlingen Army Air Field, II, 29-30, 39-40 History of eastern Flying Training Command, Installment 2, II, 991 ff.

5. Project Book, CG AFFTC, Flexible Gunnery Sec. 25 June 1942, 3.

6. AFRIT to CG AFFTC, 10 Oct. 1942, and. 1st ind., Hq AFFTC to AFRIT, 5 Nov, 1942, in AAG 353A, Training.

7. History of Buckingham Army Air Field, Installment 2, II, 113.

8. Memo for AFRDB by Hq AFASC, 22 Oct. 1942, in AAG 353.9C, Training General.

9. Special Board of Officers to CG AAF, 3 Nov. 1942, in AAG 3535, Training.

10. Hq AAFTC to AFRIT, 27 Oct. 1242, in AAG 353, Gunnery Training.

11. R&R AFRIT to AFRDB, 31 Oct, 1942 R&R, AFRDB to AFRIT, 22 Nov. 1942, in AAG 353A, Gunnery Training. In this same communication, AFRDB indicated the following basis for computing the numbers of flexible gunners required in terms of individual turrets: (a) Sperry trained-engineer and radio operator grinners on B-17, radio operator gunners on B-24, armorer gunner on B-17 (b) Martin trained--engineer gunners on B-24, armorer engineer and radio operator gunners on B-26, bombardiers and navigators on B-26 (c) Consolidated trained—armorer gunners on B-24 (d) Bendix trained- bombardiers and navigators on B-24, armorer engineers and radio operators on B-25, bombardiers and navigators on B-17, bombardiers and navigators on B-25. This estimate was evidently based on the assumption that all flexible gunners would have technical training, though at that time such was the wish but not the policy of AAF Headquarters.

12. Project Book, CG AFFTC Flexible Gunnery Sec., 11, 21 Dec. 1942, 11, 29 Jan, 1943.

13. AFRIT to AFPMP, 10 March 1943, in AAG-353, Gunnery Training.

14. R&R, AEPMP to AC/AS, Training, 20 July 1943, R&R, AC/AS, Training to AFPMP, 5 Aug. 1943, in AAG 353A, Gunnery Training.

15. Hq AFFTC to AFRIT, 9 Jan. 1943, in AFACT 353, Gunnery, General.

16. Tyndall Field FGES to CG SEAFTC, 1 July 1943, in AAG 353A, Gunnery Training.

17. Hq Mountain Home AAB to AC/AS, Training, 12 Nov. 1943 Hq Kingman Army Air Field to CG AFWFTC, 26 Nov. 1943, in AAG 353, Gunnery Training.

18. 1st ind.(Hq Mountain Home AAB to AC/AS, Training, 12 May, 1943), Brig. Gen. R. W. Harper to CG AFTRC, 20 Nov. 1943 2d ind. (Hq Kingman AAF to CG AFWFTC, 26 Nov. 1943), AFTRC to AC/AS, Training, 2 Jan. 1944, all in AAG 353, Gunnery Training.

19. Maj. Gen, R. W. Harper to CG AFTRC, 9 Aug. 1944, with attached Report of IX Bomber Command of 22 July 1944, in AAG 353A, Gunnery Training.

20. Hq Fort Myers AAF to CG AFTRC, 13 Jan. 1944, and 2d Ind., Hq AFTRC to AC/AS, Training, 27 Jan. 1944, and 2d Ind., Brig. Gen. R. W. Harper to CG AFTRC, 4 Feb. 1944, in AAG 353, Gunnery Training.

21. Daily Diary, Flexible Gunnery Div., 13 May 1944 AFTRC Monthly Progress Deport, April 1944.

22. T. C. Memo No. 50-13-1, 31 May 1944. The following table shows the provisions in regard to turret specialization:

Martin 250CE turret on B-26 Marauder - History

The Aerial Gunnery Symposium was the best event that we have had here at the museum to date. I will post pictures and a report soon. One nice article about our symposium in the Stockton Record can be seen by clicking here.

The Stockton Field Aviation Museum is proud to present our first in a series of symposiums about air and ground crewmembers.

The first symposium is a tribute to the the aerial gunner. The aerial gunner has been around almost as long as the airplane has been used by the military. The gunner was responsible for protecting the aircraft from being shot down by the enemy.

We will have several guest speakers giving talks about their gunnery experiences from WWII, The Korean War, Viet Nam and hopefully the Gulf War.

Please join us for a very interesting day. $7 admission. Doors open at 10AM. Guest speakers begin at 11. A BBQ Tri-Tip lunch by the world renowned cook . well, certainly he's been heard of in some parts of the county. Rick Clausen, will be available for $8. Several of the turrets and gunnery systems will be operational throughout the day. The B-25, P-51 Mustang and RC-45J will be on display. Later in the afternoon, weather permitting, a ride in the B-25 and the Twin Beech will be auctioned off to help raise funds for the museum. Some lucky individuals will be able to actually handle the 50 cal guns while flying in the B-25. Some seats in the B-25 will be available for purchase prior to the symposium so if you know anyone who might want to help the museum and go for an incredible ride please get in touch with us for details.

Here are some of the turrets that will be on display.

These images are thumbnails co click on a picture to see a larger photo.

A Sperry designed, Briggs built, A-13 Ball turret which was used in both the B-17 and the B-24.

The Crocker Wheeler A-8 training turret which was used in the Beech AT-11 and the AT-21 Gunner.

The Martin 250 CE top turret which was used on the B-24, A-20, B-26 and the P2V Neptune.

Please tell all of your friends and join us for a fascinating day to pay tribute to one of our country's unsung heroes:

Tentative schedule of Events

11 a.m. History of Aerial Gunnery

11:45 Central Fire Control System Demonstration

1:30 Ball Turret Demonstration

2:30 Central Fire Control System Demonstration

3: 30 Ball Turret Demonstration

4 p.m. Flying Demonstrations and aircraft rides

For driving and flying directions please check out the bottom of this page










Stuka: The Variants II

Despite the Stuka’s vulnerability to enemy fighters having been exposed during the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe had no choice but to continue its development, as there was no replacement aircraft in sight. The result was the D-series. In June 1941, the RLM ordered five prototypes, the Ju 87 V21-25. A Daimler-Benz DB 603 powerplant was to be installed in the Ju 87 D-1, but it did not have the power of the Jumo 211 and performed “poorly” during tests and was dropped. The Ju 87 D-series featured two coolant radiators underneath the inboard sections of the wings, while the oil cooler was relocated to the position formerly occupied by the coolant radiator. The D-series also introduced an aerodynamically refined cockpit with better visibility and space. In addition, armour protection was increased and a new dual-barrel 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81Z machine gun with an extremely high rate of fire was installed in the rear defensive position. Engine power was increased again, the Jumo 211J now delivering 1,420 PS (1,044 kW, 1,401 hp). Bomb carrying ability was massively increased from 500 kg (1,100 lb.) in the B-version to 1,800 kg (3,970 lb.) in the D-version (max. load for short ranges, overload condition), a typical bomb load ranged from 500-1,200 kg (1,100-2,650 lb.).

The internal fuel capacity of the Ju 87D was raised to 800 L (of which 780 L were usable) by adding additional wing tanks while retaining the option to carry two 300 L drop tanks. Tests at Rechlin revealed it made possible a flight duration of 2 hours and 15 minutes. With an extra two 300 L (80 US gal) fuel tanks, it could achieve four hours flight time.

The D-2 was a variant used as a glider tug by converting older D-series airframes. It was intended as the tropical version of the D-1. It was to have heavier armour to protect the crew from ground fire. The armour reduced its performance and caused the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe to “place no particular value on the production of the D-2”. The D-3 was an improved D-1 with more armour for its ground-attack role. A number of Ju 87 D-3s were designated D-3N or D-3 trop and fitted with night or tropical equipment. The D-4 designation applied to a prototype torpedo-bomber version, which could carry a 750-905 kg (1,650-2,000 lb.) aerial torpedo on a PVC 1006 B rack. The D-4 was to be converted from D-3 airframes and operated from the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. Other modifications included a flame eliminator and, unlike earlier D variants, two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, while the radio operator/rear gunner’s ammunition supply was increased by 1,000 to 2,000 rounds.

The Ju 87 D-5 was based on the D-3 design and was unique in the Ju 87 series as it had wings 0.6 metres (1 foot) longer than previous variants. The two 7.92 mm MG 17 wing guns were exchanged for more powerful 20 mm MG 151/20s to better suit the aircraft’s ground-attack role. The window in the floor of the cockpit was reinforced and four, rather than the previous three, aileron hinges were installed. Higher diving speeds were obtained of 650 km/h (408 mph) up to 2,000 m (6,560 ft.). The range was recorded as 715 km (443 mi) at ground level and 835 km (517 mi) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft.).

The D-6, according to “Operating instructions, works document 2097”, was built in limited numbers to train pilots on “rationalised versions”. However, due to shortages in raw materials, it did not go into mass production. The D-7 was another ground attack aircraft based on D-1 airframes upgraded to D-5 standard (armour, wing cannons, extended wing panels), while the D-8 was similar to the D-7 but based on D-3 airframes. The D-7 and D-8 were both were fitted with flame dampers, and could conduct night operations.

Production of the D-1 variant started in 1941 with 495 ordered. These aircraft were delivered between May 1941 and March 1942. The RLM wanted 832 machines produced from February 1941. The Weserflug Company was tasked with their production. From June to September 1941, 40 Ju 87 Ds were expected to be built, increasing to 90 thereafter. Various production problems were encountered. Just one of the planned 48 was produced in July. Of the 25 the RLM hoped for in August 1941, none were delivered. Only in September 1941 did the first two of the planned 102 Ju 87s roll off the production lines. The shortfalls continued to the end of 1941. During this time, the WFG plant in Bremen moved production to Berlin. Over 165 Ju 87s had not been delivered and production was only 23 Ju 87 Ds per month out of the 40 expected. By the spring of 1942 to the end of production in 1944, 3,300 Ju 87s, mostly D-1s, D-2s and D-5s had been manufactured.

Total production amounted to 3639 Ju 87D (592 D-1, 1559 D-3 and 1448 D-5), all built by Weserflug. The last Ju 87 D-5 rolled off the production lines in September 1944.

The Ju 87 E and F proposals were never built, and Junkers went straight onto the next variant. Another variant derived from the Ju 87D airframe, the Ju 87H saw service as a dual-control trainer.

In January 1943, a variety of Ju 87 Ds became “test beds” for the Ju 87 G variants. At the start of 1943, the Luftwaffe test centre at Tarnewitz tested this combination from a static position. Oberst G. Wolfgang Vorwald noted the experiments were not successful, and suggested the cannon be installed on the Messerschmitt Me 410. However, testing continued, and on 31 January 1943, Ju 87 D-1 W. Nr 2552 was tested by Hauptmann Hans Karl Stepp near the Briansk training area. Stepp noted the increase in drag, which reduced the aircraft’s speed to 259 km/h (162 mph). Stepp also noted that the aircraft was also less agile than the existing D variants. D-1 and D-3 variants operated in combat with the 37 mm (1.46 in) BK 37 cannon in 1943.

  • Ju 87 V 21. Registration D-INRF. W.Nr 0870536. Airframe conversion from B-1 to D-1.First flown on 1 March 1941.
  • Ju 87 V 22 Stammkennzeichen of SF+TY. W.Nr 0870540. Also airframe conversion from B-1 to D-1. First flown on 1 March 1941.
  • Ju 87 V 23 Stammkennzeichen of PB+UB. W.Nr 0870542. Also airframe conversion from B-1 to D-1. First flown on 1 March 1941.
  • Ju 87 V 24 Stammkennzeichen of BK+EE. W.Nr 0870544. Also airframe conversion from B-1 to D-1/D-4. First flown on 1 March 1941.
  • Ju 87 V 25 Stammkennzeichen of BK+EF. W.Nr 0870530. Also airframe conversion from B-1 to D-4 trop. First flown on 1 March 1941.
  • Ju 87 V 30, the only known prototype of the Ju 87 D-5. W.Nr 2296. First flown on 20 June 1943.
  • Ju 87 V 26-28, Ju 87 V 31, and V 42-47 were experiments of unknown variants.

With the G variant, the aging airframe of the Ju 87 found new life as an anti-tank aircraft. This was the final operational version of the Stuka, and was deployed on the Eastern Front. The reverse in German military fortunes after 1943 and the appearance of huge numbers of well-armoured Soviet tanks caused Junkers to adapt the existing design to combat this new threat. The Hs 129B had proved a potent ground attack weapon, but its large fuel tanks made it vulnerable to enemy fire, prompting the RLM to say “that in the shortest possible time a replacement of the Hs 129 type must take place.” With Soviet tanks the priority targets, the development of a further variant as a successor to the Ju 87D began in November 1942. On 3 November, Erhard Milch raised the question of replacing the Ju 87, or redesigning it altogether. It was decided to keep the design as it was, but to upgrade the powerplant to a Jumo 211J, and add two 30 mm (1.18 in) cannon. The variant was also designed to carry a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb.) free-fall bomb load. Furthermore, the armoured protection of the Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik was copied, to protect the crew from ground fire now that the Ju 87 would be required to conduct low level attacks.

Hans-Ulrich Rudel, a Stuka ace, had suggested using two 37 mm (1.46 in) Flak 18 guns, each one in a self-contained under-wing gun pod, as the Bordkanone BK 3.7, after achieving success against Soviet tanks with the 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon. These gun pods were fitted to a Ju 87 D-1, W. Nr 2552 as “Gustav the tank killer”. The first flight of the machine took place on 31 January 1943, piloted by Hauptmann Hans-Karl Stepp. The continuing problems with about two dozens of the Ju 88P-1, and slow development of the Hs 129 B-3, each of them equipped with a large BK 7.5 cm (2.95 in) cannon in a conformal gun pod beneath the fuselage, meant the Ju 87G was put into production. In April 1943, the first production Ju 87 G-1s were delivered to front line units. The two 37 mm (1.46 in) cannons were mounted in under-wing gun pods, each loaded with a six round magazine of armour-piercing tungsten carbide ammunition. With these weapons, the Kanonenvogel (“cannon-bird”), as it was nicknamed, proved spectacularly successful in the hands of Stuka aces such as Rudel. The G-1 was converted from older D-series airframes, retaining the smaller wing, but without the dive brakes. The G-2 was similar to the G-1 except for use of the extended wing of the D-5. 208 G-2s were built and at least a further 22 more were converted from D-3 airframes.

Only a handful of production Gs were committed in the Battle of Kursk. On the opening day of the offensive, Hans-Ulrich Rudel flew the only “official” Ju 87 G, although a significant number of Ju 87D variants were fitted with the 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon, and operated as unofficial Ju 87 Gs before the battle. In June 1943, the RLM ordered 20 Ju 87Gs as production variants. The G-1 later influenced the design of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, with Hans Rudel’s book, Stuka Pilot being required reading for all members of the A-X project.

Night-harassment variants

The Soviet Air Force practice of harassing German ground forces using antiquated Polikarpov Po-2 and R-5 biplanes at night to drop flares and fragmentation bombs, inspired the Luftwaffe to form its own Störkampfstaffeln (harassment squadrons). On 23 July 1942, Junkers offered the Ju 87 B-2, R-2 and R-4s with Flammenvernichter (“flame eliminators”). On 10 November 1943, the RLM GL/C-E2 Division finally authorised the design in directive No. 1117. This new equipment made the Ju 87 more difficult to detect from the ground in darkness.

Pilots were also asked to complete the new “Blind Flying Certificate 3”, which was especially introduced for this new type of operation. Pilots were trained at night, over unfamiliar terrain, and forced to rely on their instruments for direction. The Ju 87’s standard Revi C12D gunsight was replaced with the new Nachtrevi (“Nightrevi”) C12N. On some Ju 87s, the Revi 16D was exchanged for the Nachtrevi 16D. To help the pilot see his instrument panel, a violet light was installed. On 15 November 1942, the Auxiliary Staffel were created. By mid-1943, Luftflotte 1 was given four Staffeln while Luftflotte 4 and Luftwaffe Kommando Ost (Luftwaffe Command East) were given six and two respectively. In the first half of 1943, 12 Nachtschlachtgruppen had been formed, flying a multitude of different types of aircraft, including the Ju 87, which proved itself ideally suited to the low-level slow flying needed.

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North American B-25 Mitchell

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/15/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) fielded two major medium bomber types during World War 2 (1939-1945) - the Martin B-26 "Marauder" and the North American B-25 "Mitchell". Both were designed during the same pre-war period with the former's production totaling 5,288 and the latter's registering 9,816 before the end. The Mitchell's legacy was solidified by its use in the 1942 "Doolittle Raids" which brought the war to Japanese soil for the first time. The medium bomber went on to become one of the classic American aircraft of the war and fulfilled its various over-battlefield roles faithfully.

The Need Grows

By the late 1930s, with emerging threats in Japan, Italy and Germany, it was pressed upon American aircraft manufacturers to deliver on a new generation of fighters, bombers and attack platforms. In a March 1938 release by the USAAC, a specification was put forth calling for a design capable of reaching speeds in excess of 200 miles-per-hour out to a range of 1,200 miles with a bomb load of up to 1,200lb. Lofty goals for the period to-be-sure but the need was becoming desperate to better help the United States military (and its allies) contend with new aircraft developments being witnessed overseas.

Back in 1936, North American Aviation (NAA) had developed a medium-class bomber for evaluation by the USAAC as the "XB-21". This entry was a twin-engine type with each nacelle fitted to each wing mainplane member outboard of the centralized fuselage. The cockpit was stepped with the nose glazed for a navigator/bombardier's position and the crew complement numbered up to eight personnel. The tail unit incorporated a single vertical fin with low-set horizontal planes. For ground-running, a tail-dragger landing gear arrangement was used. Power was from 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-1280-A "Twin Hornet" turbosupercharged air-cooled radial piston engines. Defensive armament was centered on 5 x 0.30 caliber M1919 air-cooled machine guns while the bomb load could reach up to 10,000lb in the internal bay.

Only one prototype of the XB-21 was completed to the tune of $122,000 USD and flown, this for the first time on December 22nd, 1936. The XB-21 competed directly with another twin-engine design of the period that would eventually be adopted by the USAAC - the Douglas B-18 "Bolo" (detailed elsewhere on this site). The USAAC still held some interest in the XB-21 for they contracted for multiple evaluation models but, in the end, only a single form was ever completed. The Bolo went on to bigger and better things in the pre-war world, production reaching 350 units, leaving the XB-21 without a role or interested customer.

The NA-21, being North America's first twin-engine product, provided company engineers with priceless experience in designing, developing and selling a combat warplane to the United States military. The framework was more or less set up for the company to deliver a more modern, thoroughly-refined aircraft in the coming years and this new initiative (the "NA-40") moved at such a pace that a first-flight of a revised form was had as soon as late-January 1939. Before the end of March 1939, the aircraft was fitted with more powerful engines to extract performance gains and other facets of its design were ironed out for the better. That same month, the now-NA-40B was readied for evaluation by the USAAC and faced competition from designs offered by Douglas, Martin, and Stearman. The NA-40B failed to secure its future in the coming weeks and, on April 11th, 1939, the prototype was doomed in a crash.

The NA-62 Becomes the B-25

Undeterred, North American Aviation continued to pressed on and began molding the already-completed work of the NA-40B into the new "NA-62". The NA-62 was fleshed out to meet a newer USAAC requirement for an all-modern medium bomber type with speeds nearing 300 miles-per-hour out to a range of 1,200 miles with a 2,400lb war load. In September of 1939, USAAC authorities liked what they saw and committed to the NA-62 - the war in Europe (World War 2) had just broken out on September 1st, 1939 so there was a sense of urgency now. The NA-62 would enter USAAC service under the "B-25" designation and to be fielded side-by-side with a competing medium bomber design, the Martin B-26 "Marauder" (detailed elsewhere on this site).

Production of the new North American bomber ramped up and, following the ninth completed example, the company addressed stability of its product by adding anhedral to the outer wing panels (that is those panels outboard of the engine nacelles). The vertical tail fins also had their surface area increased to add to stability and control.

Early Mitchell Marks

Initial production forms were designated simply as "B-25" and carried 2 x Wright R-2600-9 radial piston engines of 1,350 horsepower each. The bomb bay could accommodate up to 3,600lb of droppable stores and defense was through just three 0.30 caliber machine guns - one fitted at the nose, one at the waist (beam) position, and the final installation in a ventral mounting. A single 0.50 caliber heavy machine gun was installed at the tail to better protect the aircraft's more vulnerable rear. Production ended after 24 examples and the fleet more-or-less served as pre-series aircraft pending the arrival of the B-25A models.

The B-25A was the first-in-line to be deemed combat-capable. To the base form was added better survivability features such as self-sealing fuel tanks and a revised tail-gunner's station. However, this mark only saw production reach 40 total units before attention had shifted to the upcoming B-25B.

The B-25B was improved by way of twin-gunned (2 x 0.50 cal) dorsal turret and remote-controlled, retractable ventral turret. The B-model was the first definitive mark in the series with production reaching 120 units. Some were supplied to the British Royal Air Force via Lend-Lease and served locally under the designation of "Mitchell Mk.I".

The Doolittle Raids of 1942

B-25B aircraft were selected for the famous Doolittle Raid in April of 1942 which showed the Japanese that their homeland could be reached by the United States. Sixteen B-models were used in this daring mission which occurred just four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The bombers were launched from USS Hornet. Of the 80 airmen involved, 69 made the eventual trip home - though fifteen of the bombers crash-landed en route to China.

Mitchell Models Continued.

The B-25C was brought online as an improved form of the preceding B-25B mark. The engines were now switched to 2 x Wright R-2600-13 series air-cooled radial piston engines with added much needed power. The nose section was upgraded by the addition of 2 x 0.50 cal HMGs with one being trainable and the other fixed to protect against head-on attacks. The navigator was given a sighting blister to better account for the bomber's position when en route and anti-icing equipment was installed for cold weather service. The C-model quickly leaped out in front of all other Mitchell bombers for 1,625 total aircraft were built to the standard. Its reach was such that the British, Canadians, Chinese, and Dutch all became recipients of this much-needed bombing platform. For the British, the new model was known as the "Mitchell Mk.II".

The B-25D was a similar mark to the C-model but its production was handled in Kansas City, Kansas (as opposed to Inglewood, California for all others prior). D-model aircraft were also fashioned to photographci-reconnaissance platforms by incorporation of photography gear (3 x K.17 cameras) and operated as the "F-10". In 1944, at least four D-models were further converted to serve in the weather reconnaissance role.

Developmental Mitchells

The XB-25E was a single B-25C set aside to be used as a test bed for more advanced anti-icing/de-icing equipment. The XB-25F-A was similarly used. The XB-25G was a single Mitchell modified for the gunship role. Its nose assembly was shrouded over and carried 2 x 0.50 cal HMGs along with a single 75mm M4 automatic cannon for ground-attacking.

The XB-25G was successfully tested and led to the development of the B-25G. Four-hundred production models were completed to this standard. In service, these aircraft carried more armor and fuel stores to better survivability and improved range.

The XB-28 "Dragon" (NA-63) (detailed elsewhere on this site) was an offshoot of the B-25 program. It was proposed to the USAAF through two completed prototypes as a high-altitude medium bomber to serve over the vast expanses of the Pacific Theater. The aircraft lost the trademark twin-tail rudders of the B-25 with a single rudder unit in its place. While proving an excellent entry when tested, the XB-28 was not adopted due to several factors - including the American switch to low-level bombing.

The B-25H was an improved form of the G-model. Two additional 0.50 cal HMGs were added to the nose. Before long, twin-gunned gun packs were added to the forward fuselage sides adding four more 0.50 caliber HMGs to the mix. While fixed to fire only forward, these guns could prove highly lethal to anything unfortunately caught in its path. The dorsal turret was pushed forward on the fuselage spine to provide for better views. The original M4 autocannon was succeeded by the developmental T13E1 model. Total production netted another 1,000 Mitchells.

The B-25H was crewed by six personnel made up of two pilots, a navigator (doubling as the bombardier), a dorsal turret gunner (doubling as the flight engineer), a radio operator (doubling as a beam gunner) and a tail gunner. Structurally the aircraft has a running length of 52.10 feet, a wingspan of 67.6 feet, and a height of 16.3 feet. Empty weight was 19,500lb against an MTOW of 35,000lb. Power was from 2 x Wright R-2800-92 "Twin Cyclone" 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines outputting 1,700 horsepower each and used to drive three-bladed propellers. Performance included a maximum speed of 272 miles per hour, a cruising speed of 230 miles per hour, a range of 1,350 miles and a service ceiling up to 24,200 feet. Armament ranged from 12 to 18 machine guns of the .50 caliber variety as well as the aforementioned 75mm autocannon. Beyond the 3,000lb of conventional drop stores held internally, the bomber could be equipped with external shackles for carrying and releasing Mark 13 series torpedoes. Beyond this, the wings could field eight 5" HVAR rockets fro ground/ship attacks.

The B-25J was a meshing of D- and H-model qualities to serve as either in medium bomber or gunship roles. The mark was produced at the Kansas City location and could carry up to eighteen forward-facing machine guns for ground attack sorties or be used in the traditional bombing role. 4,318 of the type were ultimately built and about 316 were shipped to the British where they were known as the "Mitchell Mk.III". The J-model was the most produced Mitchell in the entire family line.

Other Mitchell Forms

The Mitchell series also included non-combat forms such as the CB-25J which was modified for the transport role. Similarly, the VB-25J was outfitted to serve in the military VIP transport role. The airframe also proved suitable as pilot, bombardier, navigator, gunnery and crew trainers through the TB-25 variant series which encompassed TB-25D through TB-25N. The United States Navy and Marine Corps also made use of the medium bomber in various guises: the PBJ-1C was modified to serve as an anti-submarine platform complete with airborne search radar fitted. The PBJ-1J was a Navy/Marine mark suitable for submarine hunting and carrying radar and rockets.

The B-25 saw widespread service across the globe, both in wartime and in the post-war world. Operators ranged from Argentina and Australia to Uruguay and Venezuela. Brazil, Canada, the Republic of China (Taiwan), France, Poland and the Soviet Union all fielded some form of the bomber or another. The RAF alone operated over 700 B-25s for their part in the story across nine total squadrons.

The B-25 In Service

The B-25 series proved its worth in combat all over the globe during World War 2. Like other bombers of the period, it could take an unbelievable amount of punishment and remain airborne. It was capable of flying on one engine and was noted for its excellent handling characteristics. The aircraft was a viable candidate for a plethora of sanctioned and unsanctioned conversions leading to a myriad of official and unofficial variants being had. The tricycle undercarriage, coupled with the heavily glazed and stepped cockpit, provided excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit for the pilots during landing and take-off actions.

The End of the Road

Like other wartime aircraft - even classic ones remembered to this day - the Mitchell series was quickly given up by the Americans with the close of the war. By 1947, just a few hundred examples remained in now-USAF service. Those that managed existences in American service into the 1950s were used solely for training and second-line roles before ultimately being passed on to Air National Guard units and th elike. The final USAF B-25 was retired in 1960. Other national powers continued to field the B-25 until the late 1970s.

Air Force Museum

The Air Force Museum is located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH. The main part of the museum is publicly-accessible, but an optional tour of the Presidential and Research and Development Hangars takes the visitor onto the base proper, and requires a special tour bus and the attendant security.

Like the Naval Aviation Museum, the Air Force Museum has renamed itself when we first visited, it was the "United States Air Force Museum," but some time before October 2006, it was renamed to be the "National Museum of the United States Air Force." We were actually there the day (or one of the days) they were changing the lettering on the front of the museum (although I didn't take any pictures of that I didn't realize what they were doing at the time).

Google Maps link. The round structure in the northwest is the IMAX theater just inside the main entrance. To the southeast is a hangar cut into two by a hallway the smaller, southwest portion contains WWI planes ("Early Years Gallery"), while the larger, northeast portion contains WWII planes ("Air Power Gallery"). The next hangar east is the "Modern Flight Gallery," which houses the B-52 and various more modern fighter aircraft (although the walk-through B-29 is located here, as well). The third hangar is the "Cold War Gallery," containing the B-1, B-2, F-17, U-2, B-36, and other Cold War planes. Finally (at least as I write this -- I understand that the museum has plans for yet another hangar!), on the southeast, is the tall "missile silo" (aka "Missile & Space Gallery"). A fair amount northeast of the museum proper is the English air field and the flight line, containing a number of planes for which the museum has no indoor space.

As of now, I have not yet sorted through all of my pictures of the Air Force Museum, but some other page references this location. Thus, this is a "place holder" version right now, with only the pictures actually referenced. Come back some time later to see if I've finished up, or drop me an email to request me to prioritize the rest of these pictures.

Watch the video: ΕΥΔ ΕΠ Αττικής. Παρουσίαση της επέκτασης του λιμανιού του Πειραιά (July 2022).


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