B-26 Marauder Medium Bomber
The B-26 Marauder is one of the most recognizable planes produced by the Glenn L. Martin Company. Its origins are rooted in the development of the attack bomber in 1938 and 1939. The plane was designed to meet specifications outlined by the Army Air Corps for a new medium bomber. The Martin design, Model 179, incorporated many advanced design features, in many cases surpassing the requirements of the competition. Just weeks before fighting broke out in Europe, the Model 179 was chosen as the winner of the contract.
Originally awarded a contract for 201 planes, another 930 were ordered before the B-26 had even flown as part of President Roosevelt's "50,000-plane" program in the fall of 1940. November 25, 1940 saw the first flight of the B-26. After reviewing the performance of the aircraft, the British placed an order for 459 additional planes. It was the Royal Air Force (RAF) who gave the plane the name “Marauder,” in place of the company proposed name – the “Martian.” The company began delivering aircraft to the Air Corps in February 1941, with the RAF not receiving planes until 1942.
In response to the coming war, the B-26 had been rushed from the drawing board to the production line. This led to many early problems with the B-26. The B-26 had high take-off and landing speeds due to the high wing loads of the aircraft. This resulted in several training accidents with pilots at MacDill Field, where training pilots nicknamed the plane “the widow maker.” In response to these early problems, several steps were taken, including a number of design improvements.
The Marauder was initially deployed to the Pacific, but long take-off and landing distances hampered its effectiveness. Bomber groups were shifted to North Africa and Europe where the B-26 eventually experienced greater success. Early missions in Europe, however, did not go well. An infamous disaster occurred when a planned mission to knock out a power station in Ijmuiden, Holland, ended in disaster with ten bombers lost and one aborted. These types of incidents led war planners in Europe to order a halt to the low level bombing missions that had been effective in Japan. The change to higher altitude runs, adding fighter escort and a design that proved extremely resistant to anti-aircraft fire led to far fewer losses. At the end of the war, the Army Air Force lost fewer Marauders than any other bomber. In May 1944, “Hell’s Belle II” was the first Marauder to reach the 100 mission milestone.
As the war ended, so did the life of the Marauder. The Air Force quickly moved to take the planes out of service and by the end of 1948 all of the Marauders had been removed. Few of the 5,266 Marauders that were built remain, most of these held in museum collections.
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B-26G Marauder Specifications
Span: 71’ 0”
Length: 58’ 6”
Height: 20’ 3”
Loaded Weight: 37,000 lb
Max Speed: 285 mph
Cruising Speed: 190 mph
Service Ceiling: 19,800 ft
Range: 1,100 miles