Martin Baltimore bombing Sulmona, Italy

Martin Baltimore bombing Sulmona, Italy

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Martin Baltimore bombing Sulmona, Italy

A Martin Baltimore light bomber attacking the railway station at Sulmona, on what was then an important route across Italy for the German army.

Escape from Sulmona, Working in the POW camps Germany

This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from CSV on behalf of Eric Dowse and has been added to the site with his permission. Eric fully understands the site's terms and conditions. During the war I was a signalman in the 2nd (Middlesex Yeomanry) Armoured Division which was eliminated in April 1941 when a large number of us were taken prisoner and held at Sulmona. I was captured in a place called Fort Mechilli in Libya, about 60 miles from Tobruk. We were put on a truck to Derna, then to Benghasi where we unloaded German bombs off freighters and the Germans then handed us over to the Italians.

The Italians put us on trucks from Benghasi to Tripoli where we caught an Italian liner to Naples. There we were temporarily put into a camp near the foothills of Mount Versuvius and interrogated, and were made to give them our name, rank and serial number. Later we were put on a train to Rome and then on to our destination, Campo 78 near Sulmona. We were held there with members of all branches of the services who had fought and been captured in Libya. 3000 troops in total, including 75 officers causing great celebration on our arrival in Italy.

For 27 months we lived in this camp run by Italians. Their favourite word was the Italian for 'tomorrow', because if we asked them for anything to do with the camp, they would reply with "Domani"! Just two weeks before the Italian war was over the Americans came over on a Friday noon time and bombed the town of Sulmona which was about three miles away from Campo 78. I was a barracks orderly and I used to go to the kitchen to get big urns of soup. Me and my friend whilst getting the soup suddenly heard the American planes and saw the bombs coming down. It lasted about 15mins and was then perfectly quiet again. They repeated this one week later. After the second bombing the Italians surrendered to the allies, so the next day the Camp commander announced that we were no longer POWs and could leave if we wanted to. The day was Sept 8th, 1943. Most of the ordinary Italian men had abandoned the camp and so we went to the barracks where the red cross parcels were kept.

The plan was to go up into the hills, take sufficient supplies for 2 weeks and wait unitl the Allies arrived. The Italians had cut the barbed wire on the fences around the camp but not knowing which way was north or south we needed to look at the moss growth on trees to determine which route to take. We got up to the hills and one of our South African fellows had managed to bring binoculars. He kept an eye on the movement of German traffic.

We thought we were safe but some of the people in Sulmona had noticed us and the Germans came up to the hills, early one morning and we heard them shout "Komme, Komme, Raus!" The only comment we had was "Oh no! Not again!" If we had gone off in twos or threes we probably would have escaped but such a large group of POWs caused too much concern for the Germans and on re-capturing us we were taken back to the same camp now under a much harsher German rule.

We were put on two 8/40 rail trucks (called that because they were designed to carry 8 horses or 40 humans)and taken to a processing camp in Saxony, Germany. Then onto another camp in Leipzig, Germany. We were showered, medically examined, given a shot and a dog-tag and sent on to a working camp. The officers went to another camp.

I got lucky and was assigned with 49 others to a paper factory in a small town in Saxony. The owner of the factory spoke perfect English and told us we had replaced Russian POWs that he'd had trouble with! They had treated the Russians dreadfully but he promised, and did, treat us well and we received red cross parcels. We, in our British uniforms were working alongside German civilians and yet both of our countries were fighting to the death, how ridiculous war is! They tried to befriend us and told us repeatedly that they were communists, not Nazis. They would give us apples to supplement our diets. We gave them some cigarettes from our parcels. We generally got on with them but were concerned about what our work was making. It turns out we were making stationary for soldiers to write letters home, not for propaganda. But eventually they ran out of wood and use for us so we were sent to a camp in a beautiful region on the border with Czechoslovakia. It was June and we worked as loggers in the forests. Unfortunately we didn't have any idea how to cut trees down and getting fed up with us, they sent us on to another camp in Germany where we helped to build huts for camps for Dutch civilians. We were supposed to not talk to the Dutch civilians because they were able to speak German and listen tot he radio, etc. One morning I was trying to get some information on the latest news about the D-Day landings from some of the Dutch civilians. But there was a sudden room inspection by a German officer so I jumped in to on of the beds, pretending to be sick so that my uniform was covered by the bed cover. The officer was cross but I had not been discovered!

Whilst we were in this camp, in February 1945, 773 Lancaster bombers dropped 650,000 incendiary bombs on the undefended city of Dresden. We heard the bombers flying over and the next day druing daylight we heard the American pilots dropped their bombs ont he city creating a fire storm which burned for 7 days and nights, killing 130,000 people. Two months later in we were marched to another civilian prison camp which held mostly women from Poland and the Balkans who asked that we protect them. A few days after our arrival we heard machine gun fire and we heard a few of our guys who went to investigate shout "They're Yanks!". It was the advanced armour of General Patton's 3rd army! What a sight to behold, I stood there in awe and saw the face of the leading tank driver and he was black! I shall never forget that day,it was the 15th April 1945 and I had been a prisoner of war for 4 years and one week!

We travelled back to England via Brussels where we boarded a Lancaster bomber for our trip to Gatwick airport. The pilot told us that he had, the previous day, bombed Berchtesgarden (Hitler's country retreat). After a medical check and interview with officers, I was given leave and immediately headed for Beryl Rd. in London where my family lived. Once there I walked right past my brother Bill, not recognising him. When I left he was 12yrs old and now he was 17! When I saw my mother she was able to give me the letters which she had written to me throughout the war and which had been returned to her from Egypt when I had been taken prisoner.

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Martin Baltimore

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/12/2017 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Martin Baltimore (Model 187) was a light-/medium-class bomber whose design developed from the Martin Maryland series aircraft. Despite it being an American design, the twin-engine, four-crew platform was never fielded by the United States war machine n World War 2. Its primary operator became the United Kingdom largely by way of Lend-Lease which allowed America to supply war goods to her Allies without formally entering the war. The Baltimore would see operational service fin the conflict from 1942 into the middle of 1945, covering various battlescapes such as North Africa, the Middle East and the European Theater. By the end of the war, nearly 1,600 examples would be in circulation under no fewer than six major production marks.

The Baltimore was developed under the A-23 designation following its origination from the preceding A-22, which served as the Martin Maryland (detailed elsewhere on this site). The A-23 was given a revised, deeper fuselage design for more internal volume as well as uprated engines to help improve performance and first flew on June 14th, 1941. While the initial customer for the A-23 was the French (the USAAC passed on the design), the Fall of France in May of 1940 precluded its deliveries and a resources-strapped Britain accepted the order. As such, the name of Baltimore was bestowed on the line and the name stuck with the design for the entirety of its service career. A-23s arrived in the latter portion of 1941 and were baptized in combat over the skies of the Middle East.

Initial models were the Baltimore Mk I which fitted 2 x Wright GR-2600-A5B radial piston engines of 1,600 horsepower each. These aircraft featured a defensive armament arrangement of some 10 x 7.7mm machine guns though only two were set in trainable mountings at dorsal and ventral gun positions (the remaining stock were in fixed mountings on the wings and fuselage including a pair of aft-firing guns). 50 of the type were eventually produced.

This mark was then followed by the Mk II which added two more 7.7mm machine guns, one to the trainable dorsal and ventral positions. 100 of the variant were produced.

The Mark III arrived by mid-1942 and featured a power-assisted Boulton-Paul dorsal turret which could be arranged with either quad (4) or dual (2) 7.7mm machine guns. The Mk III was also fitted with 2 x Wright GR-2600-19 "Cyclone" radial piston engines capable of 1,660 horsepower each providing the Baltimore with a maximum speed of over 300 miles per hour. Fuselage design made the Baltimore Mk appear very tall and narrow which restricted internal operating spaces for the four crewmembers (pilot, navigator/bombardier, radio operator and dedicated gunner). The nose assembly was consistent with other America-designed bombers of the time and featured a heavily glazed cone leading up to the stepped cockpit. Wings were mid-mounted on the fuselage with a dorsal turret seated along the fuselage spine, facing rear, and ahead of the single vertical tail fin. Bomb bay doors made up nearly the entire length of the fuselage underside. The Mk III was produced across 250 examples in all.

Though not a groundbreaking design by any means, the Baltimore was reportedly a very capable light bomber in its intended role. The performance capabilities and 2,000lb internal bombload provided desperate operators with much-needed offensive punch for a crucial phase of the war.

The Mk III was then followed by the Mk IIIA which were covered by the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) and passed onto the RAF. Due to their largely American origins, these were fitted with Martin-branded powered turrets armed with 2 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns. 281 of the type were manufactured and recognized as Martin Model A-30.

The Mk IV was another USAAF order passed on under Lend-Lease to the RAF. These were armed with 4 x 12.7mm heavy machine guns at the wings for a much improved offensive punch over the original 7.7mm fittings. 294 examples were produced and known as Martin Model A-30-MA.

The Mk V were given 2 x Wright R2600-29 radial piston engines and wings armed with 12.7mm machine guns. Power was served through 2 x Wright GR-2600-A5B geared radial engines of 1,700 horsepower for a maximum speed of 305 miles per hour, cruise speed of 225 miles per hour and range of 980 miles. 600 of this mark were produced and ordered through the USAAF appearing as late as May of 1944.

Two Baltimores were converted as maritime reconnaissance prototype platforms in a short-lived program. The fuselage was extended for increased fuel stores and provisions for carrying torpedoes. The nose was to be solid in its design and house a search radar for anti-ship duties over water. The formal designation was to be Baltimore GR.Mk VI and some 900 were on order before the entire project was shelved.

The Baltimore also served Commonwealth forces in Australia, Canada and South Africa. Other operators went on to include Free France, Greece, the Co-Belligerent Italian Air Force and Turkey. However, no one power was served by Baltimores as well as the British who fielded it across twelve total squadrons including one training and one Fleet Air Arm group.

Production of all Baltimores ended with 1,575 produced with the last retired in 1949. Sadly, none exist as museum showpieces today.


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. [5] The B-26 went from paper concept to an operational bomber in approximately two years. [6] Additional orders for a further 930 B-26s followed in September 1940, still prior to the first flight of the type. [7]

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), and an additional .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun was fitted in the tail. [Note 2]

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 (260 kg/m 2 ) for the initial versions, which at the time was the highest of any aircraft accepted for service by the Army Air Corps, until the introduction of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, with the then-astonishing wing loading of 69.12 lb/sq ft (337.5 kg/m 2 ) (although both would be considered lightly loaded by the standard of combat aircraft of the next decade). [9]

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

Accidents Edit

The B-26's 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 [10] 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).

As pilots were trained quickly for the war, relatively inexperienced pilots entered the cockpit and the accident rate increased. 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 several 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. Also, seventeen Women Airforce Service Pilots were trained to demonstrate the B-26, in an attempt to "shame" male pilots into the air. [11]

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 problems. Martin responded that the wings were too short. Senator Truman curtly asked why the wings had not been changed. When Martin replied that the plans were too close to completion, and 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 corrected the wings. [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 5 August 1942 and 8 October 1943. [14]

B-26 crews gave the aircraft the nickname "Widowmaker". [6] 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. [8]

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 early 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 Theater Edit

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. [7] [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 the Battle of Midway, 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 fired upon by fighters and anti-aircraft fire, which had to hold their fire to avoid hitting their own flagship. Another, after being seriously damaged by anti-aircraft fire, didn’t pull out of its run, and instead headed directly for Akagi ' s bridge. The aircraft, either attempting a suicide ramming, or out of control due to battle damage or a wounded or killed pilot, narrowly missed crashing into the carrier's bridge, before it cartwheeled into the sea. [23]

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 Theater 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 theater 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 an instructor for this aircraft at Frederick Army Airfield (now Frederick Regional Airport) during the Pacific battles, boasting that "not one Japanese aircraft got past Tulsa". [24]

Mediterranean Theater Edit

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. [25] Despite this, the B-26 continued in service with the Twelfth Air Force, supporting the Allied advance through Sicily, Italy and southern France. [26] [27] 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." [28] 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 Edit

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. [29] 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. [29]

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. [30] 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 Theater of Operations at less than 0.5%. [7]

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. [31]

British Commonwealth Edit

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. [32] 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. [33]

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. [34] 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. [32]

France Edit

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. [35] These B-26s replaced Lioré et Olivier LeO 451s and Douglas DB-7s. [36] 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. [36] Free French B-26 groups were disbanded in June 1945. [37] 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. [35]

Corporate operations Edit

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. [38] 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.

Martin A-30(A) Baltimore Mk III, IIIA, IV, V

The A-30 Baltimores III were received by the 13th Hellenic Squadron in Egypt, in place of Blenheims Mk V, and were used to escort convoys, in anti-submarine patrols, reconnaissance, and support operations in North Africa. They were also used in bombing missions in Yugoslavia and North Italy. These planes, designed for the RAF, sported desert camouflage and British roundels. The insignia of each aircraft was uppercase Latin letters on the sides of the fuselage. Some had the Greek flag painted on the sides of the fuselage, below the cockpit. Baltimores III’s were gradually replaced by Baltimores IV / V with which the 13th Squadron returned to Greece in autumn 1944.

Contact Information

Hellenic Air Force General Staff
227-231 Mesogion Avenue, Postal Code 155 61, Cholargos (Map)
Tel. Exch: +30 210 659 3399
Fax: +30 210 642 8239

HAF Spokesman
Tel.: +30 210 659 1040-1041
Fax: +30 210 654 6906


Though the site has not revealed significant Roman presence it appears in a ninth-century document as borgo di Pagus Fabianus. Its name in medieval Latin was Castrum Properi ("Waystation Fortress"), which name was recorded as early as 1016 as the property of Girardo, son of Roccone. The castle above the town was built between 1000 and 1015 for Tidolfo, Bishop of Valva. In 1269 the Angevin ruler Charles I of Naples granted Popoli as a fief in the Cantelmo family, who held it, with its ducal title, until 1749. The fief passed to Leonardo di Tocco, Prince of Montemiletto, and his heirs, until feudality was abolished in the Regno in 1806.

Popoli was bombed twice during World War II by the Royal Air Force. On 20 January 1944, the most important bridge in the region, the "Julius Caesar" bridge connecting Rome with Pescara, was destroyed. On 22 March 1944 at noon the city center and city hall were destroyed by substantial bombing by the British. Unfortunately, it was a day that rations were being distributed to town at the city hall, and there were long lines of women and children, many of whom were killed or wounded. The day is still remembered with sorrow by the town's inhabitants.

Honors Edit

Following World War II, the Italian Republic awarded the town of Popoli with the "Silver Medal of Civil Merit" (Medaglia d'argento al merito civile) "Crucial center, occupied by German troops the day after the armistice, was subjected to repeated and violent bombardments which caused the deaths of ninety-one civilians and the destruction of nearly all of the public property. The whole population knew how to react, with dignity and courage, to the horrors of war and to face, with the return of peace, the difficult works of moral and material reconstruction."—Popoli (PE), 1943–1944

The town and the surrounding area have several objects of interest:

  • The Taverna Ducale from the mid 14th century ranks among the most beautiful secular medieval buildings in Abruzzo.
  • Torre de' Passeri
  • The abbey of San Clemente a Casauria (12th century )
  • The church of San Francesco, was begun in the 15th century
  • The church of Santissima Trinità (1562) with an altar and a wooden choir from 1745
  • The area around the springs which are the source of the Aterno river is a regionally protected area
  • The castle ruin above Popoli

The main festivity is in August. The historical parade with people dressed in costume is held in celebration of historical event of the city (1495). The parade is followed by a fair, called "Certamen de la Balestra". Strength and ability are necessary for the knight to win the Certamen or the grand prize.

Accused killer's city job assessed

City officials today were reviewing the employment status of Dominic J. "Crowbar" Carozza, a longtime local crime figure and Department of Public Works superintendent charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a man on the East Baltimore waterfront last June.

"We are reviewing the matter to determine what administrative action to take," said James Kapplin, department spokesman.

He said department director George G. Balog and Jay S. Thorpe, a bureau chief under whose direction Carozza worked, were meeting to reach a decision, possibly today.

Kapplin said the two actions being studied are "suspension or a different assignment that would be appropriate in light of these charges."

If a new assignment, or job title, would be given to Carozza, it would not be on the supervisory level, Kapplin said.

Carozza, 58, and two other men are in City Jail under no bail charged with the June 22 killing of Russell Charles Baker, 42. Baker's bullet-riddled body was found in the middle of the 800 block of Lancaster St., a section of commercial yards and warehouses on the eastern edge of the Inner Harbor.

Carozza, a resident of the city's Little Italy community, also faces federal charges of being a felon in possession of ammunition and threatening to do bodily harm to a 36-year-old woman who is believed to be the pivotal witness in both the state and federal cases.

Although jailed on the murder charge since Sept. 19, Carozza has remained on the municipal payroll collecting his $35,900 annual salary.

Kapplin said that under Civil Service regulations Carozza could appeal any decision by Balog. He added that, if convicted, Carozza "could be terminated."

Carozza has a storied criminal history going back three decades. He has survived a car bombing that claimed his right leg and numerous allegations and convictions involving violent shootings, stabbings and federal firearms charges.

Asked how Carozza could be on the public payroll and serve in a supervisory capacity, Kapplin said: "He served his time."

Carozza was a lifelong friend of Marco "Buddy" Palughi, the late public works chief of special services and jack-of-all-trades bureaucrat who got Carozza hired with the department. According to one source, Carozza and Palughi were boyhood friends on the streets of Little Italy and remained close until Palughi's death in 1986.

Frank Babusci, a former high-ranking public works chief who fell out of grace during Kurt L. Schmoke's first year as mayor and was transferred to a less prestigious city job before leaving government service, recalled Carozza's first jobs.

"When he came on around the mid-'70s," Babusci recalled, "he first worked with crews on footways [sidewalks] and repairing tree roots. He took a test for a superintendent's position in '78 and passed it. He was a good worker."

Besides Carozza, the others charged in Baker's killing are Robert Vizzini, 26, of the 200 block of Dorell Road in Essex, and John Long, 40, of the 1300 block of McHenry St.

Carozza, of the 400 block of Albemarle St., lost his right leg in a car-bomb explosion in 1971. The bombing of his Cadillac occurred outside Carozza's then-residence in the 4700 block of Shamrock Ave. Three Carozza associates also were wounded in the blast.

A plumbers union figure was charged with the bombing but was acquitted after Carozza refused to testify.

According to a knowledgeable source, the bombing followed by several days a meeting between Carozza and a Philadelphia organized-crime figure in a Perring Parkway cocktail lounge. Carozza was said to have cursed the gangster and stormed out of the establishment.

In the 1960s, Carozza was accused of a double murder and a separate killing, but he was acquitted or charges were dropped. In a separate case, he spent six years in prison for the serious wounding of an after-hours club doorman in 1961.

He also was linked by prosecutors during the 1960s and 1970s with Local 16 of the Ironworkers Union, AFL-CIO, although his role was never clearly defined. It was in the early part of those days that he earned his street nickname of "Crowbar."

Martin Baltimore bombing Sulmona, Italy - History

Despite its high landing speed of 130 mph, which remained essentially unchanged throughout the entire production career of the B-26 in spite of numerous modifications made to reduce it, the Marauder had no really vicious flying characteristics and its single-engine performance was actually fairly good. Although at one time the B-26 was considered so dangerous an aircraft that aircrews tried to avoid getting assigned to Marauder-equipped units and civilian ferry crews actually refused to fly B-26s, it turned out that the Marauder could be safely flown if crews were adequately trained and knew what they were doing. It nevertheless did demand somewhat of a higher standard of training from its crews than did its stablemate, the B-25 Mitchell. However, once mastered, the B-26 offered a level of operational immunity to its crews unmatched by any other aircraft in its class.

A total of 5157 B-26 Marauders were built. Although on paper the B-26 was a more advanced aircraft than its stablemate, the North American B-25 Mitchell, it was built in much fewer numbers because it was more expensive to manufacture and had a higher accident rate.

One of the most commonly-asked questions is the difference between the Martin B-26 Marauder and the Douglas B-26 Invader. They were two completely different aircraft and had been designed to completely different requirements. The Douglas B-26 Invader had been originally been designated A-26, and was a twin-engine attack bomber intended as a successor to the Douglas A-20 Havoc. In 1948, the newly-independent Air Force decided to eliminate the A-for-Attack series letter as a separate designation, and the A-26 Invader was redesignated B-26, in the bomber series. There was no danger of confusion with the Martin B-26 Marauder, since this aircraft was by that time no longer in service with the US Air Force.

The history of the Martin Marauder dates back to early 1939. Both the North American B-25 Mitchell and the Martin B-26 Marauder owe their origin to the same Army Air Corps specification. On March 11, 1939, the Air Corps issued Proposal No. 39-640 for the design of a new medium bomber. According to the requirements listed in the specification, a bombload of 3000 pounds was to be carried over a range of 2000 miles at a top speed of over 300 mph and at a service ceiling exceeding 20,000 feet. The crew was to be five and armament was to consist of four 0.30-inch machine guns. The proposal called for either the Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the Wright R-2600, or the Wright R-3350 radial engine.

Requests for proposals were widely circulated throughout the industry. Proposals were received from Martin, Douglas, Stearman, and North American. The proposal of the Glenn L. Martin company of Middle River, Maryland (near Baltimore) was assigned the company designation of Model 179. Martin assigned 26-year-old aeronautical engineer Peyton M. Magruder as Project Engineer for the Model 179. Magruder and his team chose a low-drag profile fuselage with a circular cross section. Since the Army wanted a high maximum speed but hadn't specified any limitation on landing speed, the team selected a high-mounted wing with a wingspan of only 65 feet. Its small area gave a wing loading of more than 50 pounds per square foot. The wing was shoulder-mounted to leave the central fuselage free for bomb stowage. The wings were unusual in possessing no fillets. The engines were to be a pair of 1850 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-5 Double Wasp air-cooled radials, which were the most powerful engines available at the time. Two-speed mechanical superchargers were installed in order to maintain engine power up to medium altitudes, and ejector exhausts vented on each side of the closely-cowled nacelles. The engines drove four-bladed 13 foot 6 inch Curtiss Electric propellers. Large spinners were fitted to the propellers, and root cuffs were added to aid in engine cooling.

The armament included a flexible 0.30-inch machine gun installed in the tip of a transparent nose cone and operated by the bombardier. Two 0.50-inch machine guns were installed in a Martin-designed dorsal turret located behind the bomb bay just ahead of the tail. This was the first power-operated turret to be fitted to an American bomber. Another 0.30-inch flexible machine gun was installed in a manually-operated tunnel position cut into the lower rear fuselage. There was a 0.50-inch manually-operated machine gun installed in a pointed tail cone. The tail gunner had enough room to sit in an upright position, unlike the prone position that had been provided in the early B-25.

There were two bomb bays, fore and aft. The bomb bay doors were unusual in being split in tandem, the forward pair folding in half when opened and the aft set being hinged normally to open outward. Two 2000-LB bombs could be carried in the main bomb bay, but up to 4800 pounds of smaller bombs could be carried if the aft bay was used as well.

Detailed design of the Model 179 was completed by June of 1939. On July 5, 1939, the Model 179 was submitted to a Wright Field Board. The Martin design was rated the highest of those submitted, and on August 10, 1939, the Army issued a contract for 201 Model 179s under the designation B-26. This contract was finally approved on September 10. At the same time, the competing North American NA-62 was issued a contract for 184 examples under the designation B-25. Since the design had been ordered "off the drawing board", there was no XB-26 as such.

Although the first B-26 had yet to fly, orders for 139 B-26As with self-sealing tanks and armor were issued on September 16. Further orders for 719 B-26Bs on September 28, 1940 brought the total B-26 order to 1131 aircraft.

Early wind tunnel test models of the B-26 had featured a twin tail, which designers thought would provide better aerodynamic control. This was dropped in favor of a single fin and rudder so that the tail gunner would have a better field of view.

The B-26 had a semi-monocoque aluminum alloy fuselage fabricated in three sections. The fuselage had four main longerons, transverse circular frames, and longitudinal stringers covered by a metal skin. The mid section with the bomb bays was built integrally with the wing section. The retractable tricycle landing gear was hydraulically actuated. The nose wheel pivoted 90 degrees to retract into the nose section, and the main wheels folded backwards into the engine nacelles. The tail fins were of smooth stressed skin cantilever structure. The elevators were covered with metal skin, but the rudder was fabric covered.

The first B-26 (c/n 1226, USAAF serial 40-1361) took off on its maiden flight on November 25, 1940, with chief engineer and test pilot William K. Ebel at the controls. The first B-26 initially flew without any armament fitted.

The first 113 hours of flight testing went fairly well, and there were few modifications needed. However, a slight rudder overbalance required that the direction of travel of the trim tabs be reversed.

Since there was no prototype, the first few production aircraft were used for test purposes. On February 22, 1941, the first four B-26s were accepted by the USAAF. The first to use the B-26 was the 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium) based at Langley Field, Virginia, which had previously operated Douglas B-18s.

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 an improper weight distribution. The manufacturer had been forced to deliver the first few B-26s without guns, and had trimmed them 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 nose wheel, causing the accidents. The installations of the guns corrected the problem.

Specification of Martin B-26 Marauder

Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-5 Double Wasp air cooled radial engines, rated at 1850 hp each.

Maximum speed 315 mph at 15,000 feet. Cruising speed 265 mph. An altitude of 15,000 feet could be attained in 12.5 minutes. Service ceiling 25,000 feet. Range was 1000 miles at 265 mph with a 3000-pound bombload.

21,375 pounds empty, 32,025 pounds gross.

Wingspan 65 feet 0 inches, length 56 feet 0 inches, height 19 feet 10 inches, wing area 602 square feet.

A Little More History

The first Allied bomber to carry out 200 combat missions was a 9th Air Force B-26B christened "Flak Bait". This record is even more enviable if one considers that it was achieved by an aircraft that in the initial stages of its career, was not liked by its crews, because its excellent performance made it difficult to fly. However, once it was better known, the B-26 "Marauder" proved to be an extremely effective aircraft. In all, 5,157 were manufactured between February 1941 and March 1945. They served on all fronts and in all theaters of operation. In particular, 522 of them served in the units of the British Royal Air Force and in those of the South African Air Force, in the Mediterranean.

The B-26 project was launched in 1939, in response to specifications issued by the USAAC on January 25th, calling for a fast medium bomber with particular qualities as far as range and ceiling were concerned. In September, the Glenn L. Martin Company presented its Model 179, and the proposal was considered so superior to its rivals that it was accepted "on the drawing board", with an initial order being placed for 201 aircraft. The new planes design was supervised by Peyton M. Magruder with William K. Ebel as chief engineer. It had a rounded fuselage, and nice aerodynamic lines with a retractable, rearward folding, tricycle landing gear. It was powered by a pair of large Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp 18-cylinder engines.

The first B-26 made its maiden flight on November 25, 1940, and in the course of this flight confirmed the expectations of its technicians in achieving a maximum speed of 305 mph (508 km/h). However, in order to guarantee the high performance requested the design was characterized by a high wing load, much greater than that of any other military aircraft to date. It was not, therefore, and easy plane to fly (especially during landing), and this did not facilitate training or the launching of its operative career. There were many accidents, and although the "A" version aircraft (139 built in all) were delivered in 1941, they did not see combat until April of 1942 in the Pacific. The B-26A also saw service as a torpedo bomber during the Battle of Midway (June 1942) and as an anti-ship type in the hands of the 73rd and 77th Bomb Squadrons operating in the Aleutian Islands. Production was even halted, and a specific inquiry launched to investigate the actual danger of the aircraft. Nevertheless, the commission decided to continue to build the B-26, introducing a series of modifications to improve its performance at low altitude and to perfect its maneuvering capabilities.

In May 1942, production of the B-26B was started. This was the version of which most of the aircraft were built (1,883) and in which, apart from improvements to the armament, and various other equipment, a substantial modification was made with an increased wingspan of 6 feet (183 cm). With this modification in place the aircraft had a lower wing load, aiding in solving the earlier wing loading problem. The surface area of the tail fins and rudder were also increased.

The next variant, the B-26C, was characterized by having more defensive armament, but also an increase in weight. 1,235 of these aircraft were built, and they went into service in the USAAF toward the end of 1942 in North Africa. The final versions were the B-26F and G, which differed only slightly in their equipment. An attempt was made in both aircraft to further improve the takeoff and landing characteristics by increasing the angle of attack of the wing by 3.5 degrees. The last Marauder was delivered on March 30th, 1945, and the aircraft that survived the conflict remained in service for another three years.

The B-26 - Firsts

(J.K. Havener piloted more than 50 combat missions in B-26 Marauders during WWII and was also a B-26 transitional training instructor. The following was taken directly from his book The Martin B-26 Marauder (Copyright 1988 by TAB BOOKS Inc)

It was the first aircraft of WWII vintage to use four-bladed propellers. These were 13-foot 6-inch Curtis electrics that were driven by Pratt and Whitney R-2800-5 Wasp engines, which developed 1850 hp at takeoff and 1500 hp at 15,000 feet. A two-stage blower was employed for a supercharging effect at higher altitudes.

It embodied the first horizontal tailplane with a marked dihedral. ( 8 degrees. )

It was the first aircraft to carry a power-operated gun turret. The original armament called for four flexible .30-caliber guns, but Martin designed the 250CE dorsal-mounted, electrically operated turret with twin .50-caliber guns for increased firepower. These turrets were also later used on B-25, B-17, and B-24 American bombers as well.

It was the first medium bomber in which the tail gunner could sit in an upright position. Original armament included a flexible .30-caliber gun in the tail position, but this was later replaced (in the B models) with twin flexible .50s, and later (in March 1943) by an electric-hydraulic Martin-Bell turret still containing twin .50s.

It was the first WWII aircraft to use weapons pods. Two fixed .50-caliber machine guns were mounted in package pods on both sides of the forward fuselage belly, beginning with the B models.

It incorporated the first all-plexiglass bombardier's nose-a Martin innovation.

It was the first combat aircraft in which the designers used butted seams for the skin covering as opposed to the conventional lapped seams. This enhanced the flow of air over the streamlined torpedo-like fuselage, which increased the speed of the craft.

It was the first combat bomber to employ an all-electrical bomb release mechanism.

It was the first combat aircraft to have rubber self-sealing fuel tanks installed as regular equipment. These were another Martin innovation and invention called "Mareng Cells."

It employed the first flexible tracks for transferring ammunition from the bomb bay storage areas back to the tail gun position. Lionel, the famous toy train manufacturer, furnished these tracks.

It was the first combat aircraft to use plastic materials as metal substitutes on a grand scale. Martin had been pioneering the use of plastics to replace metal, and the B-26 contained over 400 such parts.

It was the first (and last) Army bomber to use torpedoes in the WWII conflict. An external rack was installed along the keel to carry a standard 2000-pound Naval aerial torpedo.

It was the first Allied bomber in the European Theater of Operations to complete 100 operational missions. This was accomplished by Mild and Bitter on an afternoon raid on a Nazi airfield at Evreux/Fauville, southwest of Rouen, France, on 9 May 1944. She was a B-26B-25, Serial Number 41-31819, of the 450th Squadron in the 322nd Bomb Group (M) of the 9th Air Force and had flown her first mission on 23 July 1943. She did all this on her original engines, amassing a total of 449 hours and 30 minutes on them, 310 hours and 40 minutes of that in combat! During this time she never aborted due to mechanical failure, and not one of her many crewmen was a casualty. She was taken off operations after her 100th mission and flown back to the States to conduct War Bond selling tours.

Even more amazing was the fact that a B-26 was the first Allied bomber in the European Theater of War to fly 200 operational missions! In fact, Flak Bait, Serial Number 41-31733, actually flew 202 combat missions over a 21 month period. She was assigned to the 449th Squadron of the same 322nd Bomb Group and flew her first mission on 16 August 1943 when Mild and Bitter had completed her 100th, Flak Bait had 99. She never did get the press coverage that Mild and Bitter received, but she persevered and it paid off in the end. She flew her 202nd and last mission in early May 1945 from Airfield Y-89 at Le Culot, Belgium, from which she had also flown the now-famous 200th. (Sgt. W.J. Johnston, now of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the engineer-gunner on the third crew assigned to Flak Bait, and, although he didn't realize it at the time that it was to be her last mission, he was on it. His crew flew approximately 30 missions in Flak Bait, including numbers 199, 201, and 202. Why not number 200 when it was "their" airplane? The old military truism "Rank has its privileges" reared its ugly head for this historic event, and Sgt. Johnston's crew had to stand down that day so the top brass of the outfit could receive the glory. At least the Sarge flew on that last one and now gloats over the fact that Flak Bait is probably the most famous Marauder of them all. She was appropriately named, having absorbed over 1000 enemy hits during her combat days. Her nose section -well preserved but unrestored and in original condition- now resides in a place of honor at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. After the war, Devon Francis even wrote a book about her, appropriately titled Flak Bait.

Another B-26 may have been the first American bomber to complete 300 combat missions -and probably the only one of any type in the USAAF to do so. A photo of this unnamed ship shows her after 336 missions, during which none of her many crew members had been injured. (Unfortunately, the negative for that photo, which is the only print in the Martin Photo Library, had been destroyed by deterioration, and attempts to discover the identity of the ship or to which group she was assigned proved futile.)

The army was anxious to get into production and although the first order included a prototype, none was built, and the first production model was the first of the line to fly!

It had the first aerodynamically perfect fuselage. One of its early nicknames was "The Flying Torpedo".

It was the first twin - engine bomber to carry more payload of bombs than the B-17 of the time.

Lastly, the B-26 was the first aircraft to test the bicycle-type landing gear that would later be adopted for use by the Air Force on the B-47 and B-52 jet bombers. The test bed was a G-25 model, Serial Number 44-68221, and was called the XB-26H. It carried the name Middle River Stump Jumper.

It is doubtful that any other World War II aircraft could lay claim to that many firsts.

Although Mild and Bitter was the first B-26 to complete 100 missions in the ETO and Flak Bait 200, the honor of the first B-26 to complete 100 missions anywhere has to go to Hells Belle II of the 17th Bomb Group in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. She was a B-26B-10, Serial Number 41-18322, and beat Mild and Bitter by eight days in racking up her 100th mission on 1 May 1944, bombing the Calaviria rail viaduct in Italy. At that time she had flown a total of 724 hours, 450 to 500 of which were in combat.

The 336-mission mystery ship was undoubtedly from a Mediterranean Theater outfit also, substantiated by the fact that B-26s had been flying combat in that theater since late 1942.

The "Widow-Maker"

Unfortunately, many of the pilots trying to master the Marauder at these fields had no previous twin-engine experience. In 1942, a series of training accidents took place stateside which placed the future of the entire Marauder program in doubt. Most of these accidents took place during takeoff or landing. The increases in weight that had been gradually introduced on the B-26 production line had made the wing loading of the Marauder progressively higher and higher, resulting in higher stalling and landing speeds. Veteran pilots in combat overseas had enough experience that they could handle these higher speeds, but new trainees at home had serious problems and there were numerous accidents, causing the Marauder to earn such epithets as "The Flying Prostitute", "The Baltimore Whore", "The Flying Vagrant", or "The Wingless Wonder", these names being given because the B-26's small wing area appeared to give it no visible means of support. Other derisive names being given to the B-26 were "The Widow Maker", "One-Way Ticket", "Martin Murderer", "The Flying Coffin", "The Coffin Without Handles", and the "B-Dash Crash". In particular, there were so many takeoff accidents at MacDill Field during early 1942 that the phrase "One a Day Into Tampa Bay" came to be a commonplace lament.

The USAAF was concerned about the high accident rate and seriously considered withdrawing the Marauder from production and service. The US Senate's Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program (better known as the Truman Committee, after its chairman, Sen. Harry S. Truman of Missouri), which had been charged with ferreting out corruption, waste, and mismanagement in the military procurement effort, also began looking into the Marauder's safety record. By July, the Committee had heard so many Marauder horror stories that they recommended that B-26 production be stopped. However, combat crews in the South Pacific, who were more experienced, were not reporting any particular problems with the airplane, and they went to bat for the Marauder. They exerted pressure, and the USAAF decided to continue with production of the Marauder.

However, by September of 1942, the situation had gotten even worse and training accidents had become even more frequent. By that time, the reputation of the Marauder had gotten so bad that civilian crews contracted to ferry USAAF aircraft to their destinations were often quitting their jobs rather than having to ferry a B-26. The Air Safety Board of the USAAF was forced to initiate an investigation into the cause. In October, the Truman Committee was again on the warpath and once again recommended that production of the B-26 be discontinued.

USAAF commanding General Henry H. Arnold directed that Brig. Gen. James H. Doolittle (fresh from his famous Tokyo raid) investigate the problem with the B-26 personally. Doolittle had recently been given command of the B-26-equipped 4th Medium Bombardment Wing, which was scheduled to take part in the invasion of North Africa.

Both General Doolittle and the Air Safety Board concluded that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the B-26, and there was no reason why it should be discontinued. They traced the problem to the inexperience of both aircrews and ground crews, and also to the overloading of the aircraft beyond the weight at which it could be safely flown on one engine only. Almost immediately after the Marauder had entered service, it had been found necessary to add more and more equipment, armament, fuel, and armor, driving the gross weight steadily upwards. By early 1942, the B-26 had risen in normal gross weight from its original 26,625 pounds to 31,527 pounds with no increase in power. It had been found that many of the accidents had been caused by engine failures, which were in turn caused by a combination of poor maintenance by relatively green mechanics and a change from 100 octane fuel to 100 octane aromatic fuel, which damaged the diaphragm of the carburetors. Many of the B-26 instructors were almost as green as the pilots they were trying to train, and did not know themselves how to fly the B-26 on one engine only, and so could not teach the technique to their students.

General Doolittle sent his technical adviser, Captain Vincent W. "Squeak" Burnett, to make a tour of OTU bases to demonstrate how the B-26 could be flown safely. These demonstrations included single-engine operations, slow-flying characteristics, and recoveries from unusual flight attitudes. Capt. Burnett made numerous low altitude flights with one engine out, even turning into a dead engine (which aircrews were warned never to do), proving that the Marauder could be safely flown if you knew what you were doing. Martin also sent engineers out into the field to show crews how to avoid problems caused by overloading, by paying proper attention to the plane's center of gravity.

The End of The Marauder

Soon after VE-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 in the ETO:

322nd Bombardment Group: May 14, 1943 to April 24, 1945
323rd Bombardment Group: July 16, 1943 to April 25, 1945
344th Bombardment Group: March 6, 1944 to April 25, 1945
386th Bombardment Group: June 20, 1943 to May 3, 1945
387th Bombardment Group: June 30, 1943 to April 19, 1945
391st Bombardment Group: February 15, 1944 to May 3, 1945
394th Bombardment Group: March 23, 1944 to April 20, 1945
397th Bombardment Group: April 20, 1944 to April 20, 1945

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.

Because of the massive scrapping effort immediately after the war, very few Marauders ended up in postwar service, and very few 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.

B-26G-10 serial number 43-34581 ended up in France as a ground-based aircraft for use in training Air France 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.

The third was B-26 serial number 40-1464, the 103rd Marauder, which had crash-landed in northern Canada and had remained more or less intact out on the tundra for many years. It was recovered by the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation, a subsidiary of Specialty Restaurants Corp., of Anaheim, California, whose president is David Tallichet.

Former Army pilot recalls little-known WWII tragedy, the mates who didn't make it

It promised to be an easy mission the morning of March 4, 1945 — or as easy as a long-range bombing raid inside Nazi territory in the waning weeks of World War II could be.

The weather was perfect for the flight from Italy across the Alps into southern Austria. Army Air Force 2nd Lt. MacDonell Moore and his B-24 crew had carried out a dozen similar runs under harsher conditions. No German warplanes had been spotted.

"We were happy before we took off, because this was to be our last mission before going to a rest camp in a few days," says Moore, 91, of Catonsville.

But the instant they dropped their bombs, all hell broke loose.

A cannon shell smashed into the B-24's nose a second sheared a wing. Moore took the time to help five buddies leap from the flaming aircraft before forcing himself out through its bomb bay at more than 22,000 feet.

Had he not delayed his jump by those few seconds, Moore would likely have floated to earth near the four crewmates who would be paraded before crowds of civilians and then shot to death. They were victims of Fliegerlynchjustiz — "lynch justice for fliers" — a campaign ordered by the Nazi high command that historians are only now bringing to light.

Moore would live through the day, one of two members of the B-24 crew to survive. In the following weeks and years he'd learn little about what really happened. But a team of Austrian historians has studied the incident for years — and will share its findings Monday at a memorial ceremony at the site of the executions.

Moore is too infirm to make the trip. But he says he's deeply grateful for the public nod to a group of men whose sacrifices might otherwise be lost to history.

In his Catonsville home, he adjusts himself in his favorite overstuffed chair.

"They're worth remembering," he says.

Like many who have been in combat, MacDonell "Mac" Moore has rarely spoken of his wartime experiences. Even family members are just learning the details.

Those who do hear the stories say they'd make a spine-tingling movie — if only the details were less hard to believe.

He was born to a well-to-do family in Danbury, Conn., on March 12, 1925. He recalls enduring no special hardships during the Great Depression. He was gifted in school and played hockey, football and golf.

He met the girl he would marry when he was 12.

"I wouldn't change a thing on that front," he says, and smiles in the direction of the former Betty Ann Fennell, sharp and bright-eyed at 92.

When a team of Army Air Corps recruiters came to Danbury looking for potential pilots in 1943, they told young Mac he was qualified for a special training program even though he hadn't been to college.

Eager to join the war effort, he signed on.

"Much to his surprise, and my grandmother's dismay, he was called to duty two months before high school graduation and left for basic training in Biloxi, Miss.," says the couple's son, MacDonell "Don" Moore III.

Within 18 months, Mac Moore had learned to fly the heavy B-24 Liberator bomber, become commissioned as an officer, bonded with the men who would become his crew, and married Betty Ann at an Army airfield near his final training stop in Savannah, Ga.

By Dec. 16, 1944, the 10 airmen — part of the 484th Bombardment Squadron of the 15th U.S. Army Air Force — had relocated to an Allied airbase in Cerignola, Italy, staging ground for an intensive campaign of bombing missions aimed at military, industrial and transportation targets in the southern part of the Third Reich.

Lead pilot James Crockett, 24, also a second lieutenant, thought so much of Moore's skills that he had the 19-year-old serve as pilot for half his crew's first dozen runs.

All were dangerous forays toward such heavily guarded Austrian centers of industry as Vienna and Linz.

Moore's tone in recalling them is as calm as he must have been in the cockpit.

They returned from one run with 189 bullet holes in the aircraft — a number he says was not out of the ordinary.

"You just hoped the bullets didn't hit you where it counted," Moore recalls.

For their "lucky 13th" mission, the target was a rail yard in Graz, the second-largest city in Austria.

The feelings of the Austrian people about the National Socialist party and its expansionist aims were deeply mixed.

The Nazis had annexed their nation under the threat of force in 1938. For many, they were hostile occupiers. But by drafting more than a million Austrians into their army, they wedded many to their cause.

It was onto this ambivalent landscape that Moore parachuted on March 4, 1945.

The plunge alone was hair-raising.

His ripcord failed twice on the way down. It opened only when he was 300 feet above the ground. He landed in a shell crater on the outskirts of Graz.

It scared him, of course, when a crowd appeared as if out of nowhere, surrounding him. One visibly angry man pointed a gun at him. Others in the crowd subdued the would-be assailant and dragged him off.

By the time a local cop arrested Moore and led him to a makeshift jail, he didn't know what to think. That night was even more confusing.

Moore listened as men who appeared to be SS officers argued with others in what seemed to be Austrian military uniforms. A man Moore believed was a Graz policeman slipped him a note.

We're Austrians, not Germans, it read. Whatever you do, don't talk to anyone.

"Verstehen Sie?" the man whispered.

Moore nodded that he did understand.

After the Nazis left, the cop and a man who seemed to be an Austrian lieutenant marched the prisoner out of his cell to a crossroads. They handed him his belongings and pointed in the direction of what they said was Yugoslavia.

When they told him to start walking, he obeyed.

"I was sure they were going to shoot me in the back," he says.

He had no way of knowing that four crewmates had met a worse fate less than four miles away.

'It's about remembering'

As a boy growing up in Graz in the 1980s, Georg Hoffmann gave more thought to sports than he did to the air war that had scarred his homeland in 1944 and 1945.

He'd heard the grownups argue about it. Some recalled the Allied airmen as liberating heroes. Others saw them as invaders who killed too many Austrians.

Mostly, he says, they hid their feelings on the matter.

Hoffmann was on his way to soccer practice one day when he noticed an artifact that would bring them to the surface.

It was a small stone memorial, half-hidden near a railroad crossing.

"Here on this place killed a Nacifacist three amerikan pilots," the inscription read in tangled English. "Strassgang March 4, 1945."

What, he wondered, did the words mean? Who had been killed here, and why? The old-timers he asked would go silent, change the subject, or tell him no such killings ever took place.

In time, Hoffmann would know more about what happened that day than those who had survived it — and illuminate its connection to history.

Hoffmann, 37, now a history professor at the University of Graz, and a colleague, Nicole-Melanie Goll, were working with the Austrian government to document the locations of Nazi atrocities a decade ago when they happened on files that contained details related to the fates of Moore and his crew.

They made some of the discoveries at the U.S. National Archives and the University of Maryland at College Park.

The files included something the stone had not: names and photos. It took Hoffmann and Goll five more years to complete the rest of the picture.

By the time Moore had begun his walk through the woods, it turns out, not three but four of the comrades he hoped had found sanctuary were dead, victims of a program conceived by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and authorized by Hitler.

Interviews with witnesses confirmed that Sgt. Levi Morrow of Emory, Texas Sgt. Charles Westbrook of Mississippi. Sgt. Steven Cudrak of Ford City, Pa. and Cpl. Harold Brocious of Dayton, Pa., had all landed about three and a half miles south of Moore. The sight of their chutes drew the attention of locals.

Each was surrounded by a crowd of civilians and shot at point-blank range by a Nazi SS officer — at least one man as he begged for his life.

All ended up in a pile of corpses at a place called Strassgang — the railroad crossing where Hoffmann would find the stone.

Under the Geneva Conventions, downed airmen are to be treated as combatants and, if captured, protected as prisoners of war.

No one knows who placed the stone there, or wrote its slightly inaccurate inscription. But Hoffmann has learned it has been vandalized, removed and returned several times since the end of the war.

World War Photos

Martin PBM-1 74-P-4 of the VP-74 returns to East Coast 1942 Transport Martin PBM-3R Mariner taking off 1942/43 Martin PBM flight engineer station interior Early PBM-1 55-P-1 of the VP55 being hoisted on board the seaplane tender, 1941
Martin PBM-5 Mariner “white 8” on beaching gear Martin PBM take off with Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) 1945 PBM-3S Mariner P-8 of the VP-8 on beaching gear at NAS Norfolk 1943 Martin PBM-3S Mariner 󈫼” at NAS Norfolk 1943
Plexiglass domes of machine gun turrets being readied for PBM’s U.S. Navy crew and their Martin PBM-3D “white 37” Early Martin PBM-1 Mariner at Norfolk 1941 Crew installs new propeller on Martin PBM at Marianas base
PBM-3C Mariners on sssembly line in Baltimore Plant 1943 Crew of downed Martin PBM-5 board life rafts off Korea 1945 Female inspector checks PBM’s de icing equipment at Glenn Martin Plant 1943 Martin PBM-5 and Coronado seaplanes at base in Marianas
PBM-3C Mariner C-10 off NAS Norfolk, Virginia 1942 2 Martin PBM-1 BuNo1253 of the VP-55 being hoisted on board the seaplane tender, 1941 PBM on patrol in Pacific 1944, color photo PBM-3S of VP-211 over shoreline of Rio as they return to base 1944 2
Seabees use pontoon lighter barge to move PBM-5 “C10” on Okinawa Anti-submarine aircraft PBM-3S of the VP-8 in water at NAS Norfol, Virginia 1943 Prototype XPBM-1 Mariner 1939/40 Flying boat PBM-3S at San Diego California 1944
Early PBM-1 55-P-1 of the VP55 being hoisted on board the seaplane tender, 1941 2 PBM recsues crew of sinking PBM downed off Korea 1945 Launching a PBM-1 at NAS Norfolk 1941 PBM-3C Mariner “C-10” off NAS Norfolk, Virginia 1942
Flying boat PBM-1 BuNo 1262 in flight, 1941 PBM-3D flying boat with search radar housing above the forward fuselage anchored on the water PBM-3D Bunny is on beaching gear PBM-1 Mariner 22 Florida 1943
Martin PBM-5 Mariner on water PBM-5 Mariner code E5 Okinawa Martin PBM-3 Mariner flying boats on final assembly line PBM Mariners Saipan
PBM-3R Mariner on a seaplane ramp 18 August 1942 PBM-3D Mariner taxiing in the waters off NAS Pensacola 25 October 1944 PBM-1Mariner formation in flight Martin PBM-5 Mariner Saipan
PBM patrol bomber flying boat Bunny British PBM-3B Mariner Mk I serial JX103 of No. 524 Squadron at Oban October 1943 Martin Mariner PBM-3D Makes Dry Landing in Arizona Desert 1944 Destroyed PBM Mariner code E4 Okinawa
PBM-3 H-243 Patrol Bomber on Mission Martin PBM-5 Mariner hoisted aboard seaplane tender 1945 Beached radar fitted PBM-5 J047 PBM Martin Mariner taking off with JATO
PBM-3S Mariners of the VP-211 over shoreline of Rio as they return to base Martin PBM-5 Mariner code E10 from VPB-27 Patrols off Okinawa 1945 PBM-5 Martin Mariners gets overhaul on seaplane tender 1945 Destroyed PBM Mariner code E3 Okinawa
PBM on the assembly floor at the Glenn L. Martin Company plant in Baltimore Maryland 1943 PBM-3 Mariner making a rocket assisted take off from the waters off NAS Kaneohe September 1944 Martin PBM-1 Mariner assembly line December 1940 PBM-3 Mariner code C-10 in flight during 1942-1943
PBM-3 Mariner flying boat undergoing engine maintenance PBM-1 Mariner taxis in the waters off NAS San Juan Puerto Rico 16 July 1945 Seaplane Tender Refuels PBM Mariner in the Marianas PBM-5 Mariner code E2 Dinah Might – nose art
PBM-3 Mariner take-off 1942 PBM-3S Mariner dropping a depth charges Anti-submarine PBM-3S Mariner PBM-3 patrol bomber flying boat on mission
Black PBM-5 Mariner code J2 of the VPB-26 Okinawa PBM-5 Mariner C428 with AN/APS-15 radar housing above the forward fuselage, Saipan Martin PBM-3D Mariner 10 PBM-3 H-243 Patrol Bombers over Ocean


  • XPBM-1 (Model 162) prototype with BuNo. 0796
  • PBM-1 (Model 162) BuNo. 1246, 1248-1266 (21 built) 2 x R-2600-6 engines and retractable floats
  • XPBM-2 (Model 162) BuNo. 1247, one of the PBM-1. Experimental catapult-launched long-range strategic bomber, tested during 1941 but never placed
    in production.
  • PBM-3 (Model 162B) BuNo.6455-6458, 6471-6498 (32 built)
  • XPBM-3E (Model 162B) BuNo. 6456 – prototype with AN/APS-15 radar
  • PBM-3R (Model 162B) unarmed transport version of PBM-3. 18 new build (BuNo.6459-6470, 6499-6504) + 31 converted from PBM-3.
  • PBM-3C (Model 162C), Mariner GR Mk I – patrol version with twin 12,7 mm (.50 in) machine guns in nose and dorsal turrets, and single guns in tail turret and waist positions. AN/APS-15 radar in radome behind cockpit and bomb bays 2� kg (2x4000lb). BuNo. 6505-6754, 01650-01673 ( 274 built)
  • PBM-3B (Model 162C) ex-RAF Mariners GR Mk 1 after return to U.S. Navy
  • PBM-3S (Model 162C) anti-submarine aircraft with reduced armament (top turred was removed) and increased range. Engines with coolinf fins. 94 built (6693, 01674-01728, 48125-48163) + 62 conversions.
  • PBM-3D (Model 162D) patrol bomber with new engines R-2600-22 (1900 hp), increased armament (twin 12,7mm machine guns in nose, dorsal and tail turrets, plus two waist guns) and incresed armor protection. BuNo. 48124, 48164-48223, 45205- 45274, 45277-45404 (259 built).
  • PBM-4 (Model 162E) – cancelled version with two Wright R-3350 2700 hp (2015 kW) engines
  • PBM-5 (Model 162F) – Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines (2100 hp, 1566 kW). Lengthened engine cowlings with new carburettor intake position. BuNo. 45275-45276, 45405-45444, 59000-59348, 84590-84789, 85136-85160, 98602-98615 ( 628 built).
  • PBM-5E – AN/APS-15 radar and other electronic equipment.
  • PBM-5A (Model 162G) amphibian version of PBM-5 with retractable nosewheel and main undercarriage in hull sided. New APS-31 radar with teardrop fairing. BuNo. 122067-122096, 122468-122471, 122602-122613 (36 built) + 4 conversions.
  • PBM-5M – Mariner used to monitor missile tests.
  • PBM-5N – all-weather variant. BuNo. 98606
  • PBM-5S – lightened anti-submarine variant of PBM-5
  • PBM-5S2 – improved anti-submarine aircraft with revised radar installation and huge searchlight.
  • PBM-5G – PBM-5 used by Coast Guard
  • XPBM-6 – concept


PBM-1: 2 x 1600 hp Wright R-2600-6 Twin Cyclone 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engines driving three-bladed, electric controllable-pitch metal propellers.
PBM-3D: 2 x 1900 hp Wright R-2600-22 Twin Cyclone 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engines driving three-bladed, electric controllable-pitch metal propellers.
PBM-5: 2 x 2100 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-22 Double Wasp 18-cylinder air-cooled radial engines driving four-bladed, electric controllable-pitch propellers.


  • PBM Mariner in Action – Bob Smith, Perry Manley Squadron/Signal Publications – Aircraft Number 74
  • Pilot’s handbook of flight operating instructions PBM-5 airplanes
  • Flying Boats and Seaplanes since 1910, The Pocket Encyclopedia of World Aircraft in Color – John W. Wood
  • American Flying Boats and Amphibious Aircraft – E.R. Johnson
  • Golden Age of Flying-boats, Aeroplane Collectors’ Archive – Kelsey Publishing Group 2012
  • Flying boats of WWll, Aviation Archive – Kelsey Publishing Group 2015
  • Wings Of Fame – The Journal Of Classic Combat Aircraft – Volume 7
  • United States Navy Aircraft since 1911 – Gordon Swanborough, Peter M Bowers
  • Navy Air Colors: United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aircraft Camouflage and Markings, Vol. 1, 1911-1945 – Thomas E. Doll, Barkley R. Jackson Squadron/Signal Publications 6159
  • The Official Monogram U.S. Navy & Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide, Vol 2: 1940-1949 – John M. Elliott, Monogram Aviation Publications 1989
  • R. Johnson – United States Naval Aviation, 1919-1941: Aircraft, Airships and Ships Between the Wars
  • Steve Ginter – Martin PBM Mariner, Naval Fighters number 97
  • Richard A. Hoffman – The Fighting Flying Boat: A History of the Martin PBM Mariner

Site statistics:
photos of World War 2 : over 31500
aircraft models: 184
tank models: 95
vehicle models: 92
gun models: 5
units: 2
ships: 49

World War Photos 2013-2021, contact: info(at)

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