Martin B-26 Marauder
Series: Air Vanguard 4
Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781780966052
Author: Martyn Chorlton
Artists: Adam Tooby, Henry Moreshead
Format: Softcover; PDF; eBook
IntroductionMartin B-26 Marauder
is Osprey Publishing's fourth book of the Air Vanguard
series. It is full of textual, photographic and artwork detail concerning the design, production, training and deployment of the much maligned yet most effective B-26 Marauder.
Future U.S. President Harry Truman twice chaired boards of review investigating an advanced bomber that was considered dangerous, twice recommending cancellation of the aircraft. The very same bomber flown in 1942 by the 22nd Bomb Group in primitive conditions against the invincible Japanese in New Guinea and the Bismarcks; when asked if they had any problems with it the 22nd replied, "Yes we've got a problem with it -- we can't get enough of them!" They only lost three in combat in over 160 missions!
That Martin B-26 Marauder was an incredibly advanced aircraft from the get-go. It was too advanced for a rapidly expanding U.S. Army Air Corps with insufficient multi-engine trainers. Yet with basic multi-engine training the B-26 crews ended the war with the lowest loss rate of American types in the war. In fact, flown by UK pilots out of North Africa on taxing sea-level anti-shipping sweeps, in one three-month period the B-26 had the lowest loss rate of any Allied combat aircraft! Marauders achieved high levels of bombing accuracy and B-26s were chosen to attack a heavily defended marshaling yard next to Vatican City!
Martin's B-26 was an advanced demanding aircraft which did not suffer casual handling. In conscientious hands it took the fight to the enemy, achieved good results in the dangerous low and medium altitudes, and brought more of its crews home than other types. Indeed, Ferry Command pilot Vincent Burnett caught the eye of General Jimmy Doolittle who tasked him with demonstrating the B-26 as a safe airplane; 'Squeak' once challenged Marine Corps top ace Joe Foss to a dogfight between his B-26 and Foss in a new F4U Corsair; it was declared a draw!
Yet the Marauder's post-war reputation was "The Widow-maker." While it does not include interesting anecdotes reveled above, this book examines the design, development, deployment and employment of the B-26 into the teeth of the enemy around the globe.
ContentMartin B-26 Marauder, Air Vanguard 4
is brought to us through 64 pages in seven chapters and sections
- Design and Development
- Technical Specifications and Variants
- Operational History
- Bibliography and Further Reading
The book is well organized and easy to read. However, editing is lacking. A minor critique is that some terms are written in the European parlance, such as the caliber of the guns as .50-inch instead of their native country designation of .50 caliber. More seriously are factual errors such as listing the Martin Marauder as the 'B-25' (Which was North American's Mitchell medium bomber.) a couple of times, plus listing a B-26 as shot down in November
1945. Another is titling art plate D3 as "GBM 1/34" yet listing it as "GBM 1/32" in the caption.
Author Martyn Chorlton presents the B-26 in a commendable fashion starting with the background of the Martin company, which employed many of the emerging greats of American aviation. He also reviews the world situation and Army Air Corps requirement for the B-26. He describes Martin's designing the B-26 for 'automobile assembly' by unskilled workers. USAAC recognized the potential and ordered the aircraft into production without a prototype or service trial aircraft. Further, he relates the sweat, tears and blood required to build up a B-26 force for the upcoming war. Problems with the aircraft that gave it the horrible reputation are explored and explained in good detail. The author details the Marauder from the first aircraft until the last: B-26G-25-MA 44-68254 of 18 April, 1945.
Technical specifications are examined in great detail. Explained are the differences between a B-26A through G: factory model designations (Ever wonder what is the suffix "MO"?); Marauder I, II, III and JM-1 & -2; modifications (including serial numbers; weight saving attempts; internal equipment; gun turret types; propeller types; when camouflage was deleted; experimental models of the Marauder. Particularly interesting is the XB-26E ground attack model with twin 37mm cannon!
The combat history of the B-26 is lacking to an extent, probably because the vast number of B-26 sorties were over NW Europe and this format is insufficient. Reading the book leads one to believe that USAAF ceased B-26 operations in the Pacific Theater Operations (PTO) after July 1942. In fact the 22nd BG tenaciously clung to the B-26 into late 1943, and photographs exist showing Marauders bombing Munda in the Solomons in 1943. Further, there is one subject that I believe is inaccurately recounted - the role of the Marauder as an American torpedo bomber. The role of B-26s attacking the Japanese fleet at Midway with torpedoes is fairly well known; plus I just learned from this book that on that same day B-26s also attacked a Japanese carrier off the Aleutians! (They actually achieved a unique hit on carrier Ryūjō
!) While the book later recounts United Kingdom pilots successfully employing Marauders as torpedo planes, it states that June 1942 was the only use of torpedoes by USAAF Marauders. In fact, 38th BG B-26s sortied with torpedoes against Japanese naval units during the Guadalcanal campaign; they practiced with torpedoes as late as December 15, 1942.*
Seven pages of the 22-page combat section cover the PTO and foreign air force in the MTO. The next 15 pages explores Marauders with the 8th, 9th and 12th Air Forces, from rocky start to stellar finish. The author concludes with the irony that despite B-26 units achieving the best bombing results and the lowest loss rates of American planes, the Marauder is still unjustly portrayed as a failure. He observes - correctly no doubt - this is due to 'armchair flyers' who never saw a B-26 yet (no doubt) had pet projects eclipsed by the magnificent Martin.
Art, photographs, graphics
Artists Adam Tooby and Henry Moreshead provide excellent graphic support to the text with full color artwork, illustrations, cutaway art. Two excellent 'in-action' full-page scenes show the B-26 bringing the pain to the Axis:
The Raid On Melos Harbour, 21 February 1943:
Maj. Lewis in FK370, 14 Sqn RAF, tears away low-level from the ship Artemis Pitta
he has just torpedoed.
Operation Crossbow & The 322nd BG:
9th Air Force Marauders braving intense flak while bombing V1 flying bomb sites, 5 November 1943.
Further artwork includes:
a. B-26 40-1361, the very first Martin B-26 Marauder.
b. B-26A (22nd BG, 5th AF), as flown with a torpedo by 2nd Lt Watson against the Japanese fleet at Midway.
c. B-26B-4-MO (449th BS, 322 BG), Impatient Virgin shot down on the first V1 mission.
d. B-26C-45-MO (443rd BS, 320th BG), Alabama Express, Tunisia.
a. Tail Gun Differences: four styles of tail turrets.
b. Engine Cowling Differences: two designs, the B-26A and B-26B and onwards.
c. Torpedo Details: the 2,000lbs 18-inch weapon with shackles and mount.
3. B-26C Marauder:
profiles and planform of B-26C-45-MO, 42-107811 'IH-H', 1st Pathfinder Sqn (Provisional).
a. Marauder IA (14 Sqn): FK370, lead B-26 of the Melos harbour raid.
b. B-26G-5-MA (444th BS, 320th BG): Pancho and his Reever Rats, Decimomannu aerodrome, Sardinia.
c. B-26G-25-MA (GBM 1/34): French Air Force Groupe de Bombardement 1/32.
d. JM-1 (Ex AT-23B) (USMC): USMC yellow target tug.
5. Martin B-26B-20 Marauder
cutaway with 35 keyed items.
Photographic supports includes dozens of high quality black-and-white images, plus four original full-color photos of operational B-26s! For modelers and historians there are several excellent detail views of the upper and tail turret, cockpit, assembly line, and more! Modelers will also be interested in a clear close-up of an airman painting D-Day invasion stripes on a wing. Furthermore, a rare shot of a mounted torpedo is included! A great deal of information can be gleaned from these photos.
Graphics include a Martin color diagram showing how to bail out of the B-26. Seventeen tables full of data present the reader with vital stats of B-26 models and variants: powerplant; size; weights; performance; armament; production numbers; serial numbers.
I am somewhat disappointed with this title that I do not find to the standard of other Air Vanguard works. The book is well organized and easy to read. Technical specifications are examined in great detail and excellent graphics support the text with full color artwork, illustrations, cutaway art.
However, there are numerous editing flaws and typos. The combat history of the B-26 is lacking and there is one subject that I believe is inaccurately recounted.
While this book provides a good basis for enthusiasts, historians and modelers of the Martin B-26 although the abridged combat history shortchanges it. That is forgivable given the constraints of format but the editing and factual flaws tarnish the book.
Recommended all the same.
Please tell vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on Aeroscale.
* B26.com. History of the 69th Bombardment Squadron (M)
. [Web.] n.d.