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Martin B-26 Marauder

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A twin-engined medium bomber the B-26 would be used by the United States Army Air Force and Royal Air Force and would serve around the world including in the Pacific and European theatres of war. Making its operational debut during April 1942 the B-26 Marauder would be used during the Battle of Midway and D-Day.

Quick Facts
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First flight
25th November 1940
Entered service
22nd February 1941
Total built
5,268

Front view
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Side view
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Rear view
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On the 11th March 1939 the United States Army Air Corps issued Proposal No 39-640 for a high speed medium bomber which had a top speed of over 300 mph, a range of over 2,000 miles and could hold 3,000lb bombs. Peyton M. Magruder would lead the Martin design team and produced the Type 179. An order for 201 aircraft was placed on the 10th August 1939. Further orders totalling 1,131 for the Type 179 had been placed before any examples of the aircraft had flown. It wouldn't be until the 25th November 1940 that the first B-26, as it was now known, flew.

The Martin B-26 Marauder would, normally, have a crew of seven comprising pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, radio operator, top turret gunner, waist gunner and tail gunner. The B-26 was powered by two 1,850-hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-5 Double Wasp engines. This gave the aircraft a top speed of 315 mph, range of 1,000 miles with a service ceiling of 25,500 ft. Armament was two 0.30-in machine-guns and two 0.50-in machine-guns with a bomb load of 5,200lb. It would be the 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium) based at Langley Field who received the first B-26s to enter service on the 22nd February 1941 when they took delivery of four aircraft.

The B-26's entry into service with the United States Army Air Corps was not an easy one. Due to the aircraft's high landing speed a number of accidents occurred and this saw the B-26 grounded for a short time during April 1941. To improve the situation the later models of the B-26B would have an increased wingspan.

The B-26A would be the next variant and this was powered by the 2,000-hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-9 or R-2800-39 Double Wasp engine. The B-26A's top speed, range, service ceiling and machine-gun armament were exactly the same as the B-26, however its bomb load was less at 3,000lb. Flying from Garbutt Field in Australia the 5th April 1942 saw the 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium) use the B-26 in combat for the first time when they attacked Japanese position at Rabaul, New Britain. The B-26A would also be used by the Royal Air Force and known as the Marauder Mk I. It would be No. 14 Squadron who would be the first RAF squadron to be equipped with the type when it replaced their Bristol Blenheim Mk IVs. They performed their first sortie with the type on the 28th October 1942.

The B-26B followed and with 1,883 built would be the most produced variant. The B-26B, or Marauder Mk IA when used by the Royal Air Force, would be powered by either two 2000-hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-41 or R-2800-43 Double Wasp engines. Slower than its predecessors with a top speed of 282 mph, its range was 1,150 miles with a service ceiling of 25,500 ft. The armament was increased over the B-26 and B-26A with twelve 0.50-in machine-guns installed. Bomb load was 4,000lb or one torpedo. A handful of B-26B Marauders would be used in the Battle of Midway (4th June 1942 - 7th June 1942). A number of B-26Bs were also converted into trainers and target tugs and known as TB-26B.

The B-26C Marauder, known as the Marauder Mk II when in Royal Air Force service, would be powered by the same Pratt & Whitey engines as the B-26B and therefore had the same top speed, range and service ceiling. The armament, whilst the 4,000lb bombs or one torpedo bomb load was the same, saw a further four 0.50-in machine-guns added, brining the total to sixteen. There was also a number of B-26Cs converted into trainers and target tugs and designated TB-26C.

The next Marauder variant, the XB-26D, was a single aircraft fitted with hot air de-icing equipment. Whilst a lightweight version designated B-26E never went into production. As well as weighing 2,000lb lighter the B-26E also moved the dorsal turret from the rear of the fuselage to behind the cockpit.

So the next production variant would be the B-26F Marauder and this was fitted with a pair of 2,000-hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-43 Double Wasp engines. This gave the B-26F a top speed of 283 mph, range of 1,100 miles and a service ceiling of 19,800 ft. Armament was reduced from the B-26Cs sixteen 0.50-in machine-guns to eleven and able to carry 4,000lb bombs. The B-26G Marauder followed, named the Marauder Mk III by the Royal Air Force, this had the same engines, top speed, range, service ceiling and armament as the B-26F. A number of TB-26G trainers and target tugs were also produced.

As well as serving in the Pacific the Martin B-26 Marauder would also be used over Europe and it flew its first operational mission for the Eighth Air Force with the 322nd Bombardment Group on the 14th May 1943 when twelve attacked the power station at Ijmuiden, Netherlands. This was followed on the 17th May 1943 by a disastrous raid when the 322nd Bombardment Group was tasked again with attacking the power station at Ijmuiden and a power station near Haarlem, Netherlands. Of the eleven B-26s sent to attack the targets one turned back early due to mechanical problems whilst the other ten were lost. Of the sixty aircrew two made it back to Britain, twenty three were killed, eleven were missing in action with the other twenty four ending up as prisoners of war. The B-26 would also be used during 'Operation Neptune', commonly known as D-Day on the 6th June 1944.

March 1945 saw the last of 5,268 B-26s built and by the time the Second World War (1939 – 1945) ended, B-26s had flown 110,000 sorties.



Technical Details

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Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
B-26 315 mph 1,000 miles 25,500 ft two 0.30-in machine-guns
two 0.50-in machine-guns
5,200lb bombs
B-26A 315 mph 1,000 miles 25,500 ft two 0.30-in machine-guns
two 0.50-in machine-guns
3,000lb bombs
B-26B 282 mph 1,150 miles 25,500 ft twelve 0.50-in machine-guns
and either 4,000lb bombs or
one torpedo
B-26C 282 mph 1,150 miles 25,500 ft sixteen 0.50-in machine-guns
and either 4,000lb bombs or
one torpedo
XB-26D Test aircraft used to evaluate hot air de-icing equipment.
B-26E One B-26B with the dorsal turret located behind the cockpit, instead of the rear of the fuselage, and weighing 2,000lb less.
B-26F 283 mph 1,100 miles 19,800 ft eleven 0.50-in machine-guns
4,000lb bombs
B-26G 283 mph 1,100 miles 19,800 ft eleven 0.50-in machine-guns
4,000lb bombs
XB-26H One aircraft fitted with tandem landing gear.



Photos

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See This Aircraft

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Location
B-26C (F) Boxted Airfield Museum

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