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Established on July 4, 1997

A WORLD AT WAR

THE UNITED STATES ARMY AIR FORCES

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FORTRESS UNDER FIRE

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B-26 DEVELOPMENT

AND

GEN. JIMMY DOOLITTLE

THE BIRTH OF THE MARTIN MARAUDER CAME ABOUT DUE TO SPECIFICATIONS ISSUED BY THE ARMY AIR CORPS ON JANUARY 25 th OF 1939. THESE SPECIFICATIONS SOUGHT A TWIN ENGINE BOMBER WITH GREAT EMPHASIS PLACED ON SPEED, RANGE AND OPERATIONAL ALTITUDE. THE MARTIN COMPANY PRESENTED A DESIGN IN LESS THAN SIX MONTHS THAT MET ALL REQUIREMENTS PERFECTLY, ON PAPER. THIS WAS ACCEPTED BY THE A.A.C. AND THEY PRESENTED THE COMPANY WITH AN UNPRECEDENTED ORDER FOR 1,000 AIRCRAFT SIGHT UNSEEN.

THE FIRST PROTOTYPE OF THE MARAUDER FLEW ON NOVEMBER 25 th OF 1940. AS OPERATIONAL USE OF THE B-26 BEGAN PROBLEMS THAT WOULD FOLLOW IT THROUGH ITS CAREER SURFACED QUICKLY. THE LARGEST OF THESE PROBLEMS WAS IN TRAINING THE FLIGHT CREWS AND THEN MAINTAINING THEIR TRUST IN THE AIRCRAFT. THE CREWS WERE DISCONCERTED BY CERTAIN FEATURES OF THE PLANE, PRIMARILY THE UNUSUALLY HIGH WING LOADING THAT NECESSITATED DANGEROUSLY HIGH LANDING SPEEDS. AFTER A NUMBER OF ACCIDENTS PRODUCTION WAS ACTUALLY STOPPED AND A COMMISSION OF INQUIRY WAS APPOINTED. IT WAS DECIDED TO PROCEED WITH PRODUCTION AFTER CERTAIN MODIFICATIONS, WHICH PROVED TO BE OF LITTLE ASSISTANCE.

DURING THE EARLY WEEKS OF OPERATION IN NORTH AFRICA THE MARAUDER WAS GAINING A REPUTATION AS A KILLER OF FLIGHT CREWS. IT WAS KNOW BY A NUMBER OF UNFLATTERING NICKNAMES, SUCH AS THE BALTIMORE WHORE AS IT HAD NO VISIBLE MEANS OF SUPPORT.

JIMMY DOOLITTLE HAD RECENTLY TAKEN COMMAND OF THE 12 TH AIR FORCE AND WANTED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS SITUATION. FIRST OF ALL DOOLITTLE DID NOT WANT HIS CREWS TO FEEL THAT HIGH COMMAND DID NOT CARE. SECONDLY THE GENERAL HAD TESTED THIS PLANE THOROUGHLY BEFORE MOST OF THE COMBAT CREWS HAD EVER SEEN ONE. HE KNEW IT WAS A PLANE THAT COULD MAKE A CREDITABLE MARK ON THE WAR EFFORT.

TO PROVE HIS POINT THE GENERAL STARTED TO TOUR UNITS WHILE FLYING A B-26 WITH NO COPILOT, ONLY A CREW CHIEF TO SERVICE THE CRAFT. JIMMY WOULD FLY OVER THE BOMBER UNITS DOING THINGS THAT MOST THOUGHT WOULD BRING CERTAIN DEATH. TO ILLUSTRATE THIS I AM GOING TO BORROW A BIT FROM GENERAL PAUL TIBBETS' MEMOIRS. THIS WAS WRITTEN AFTER A RIDE WITH DOOLITTLE DURING ONE OF HIS PERFORMANCES. I HAVE BORROWED THIS FROM DOOLITTLE'S BOOK, I COULD NEVER BE SO LUCKY AGAIN .

 

I should have suspected that Doolittle knew
more about the B-26 than he admitted when he said,
"It's just another airplane. Let's start it up and play
with it."

That is exactly what we did. We got in the air and
circled to 6,000 feet, remaining close enough
to the field to reach the runway if we had trouble.
But everything went smoothly.

Doolittle then shut down one of the engines,
feathered the propeller. He got the plane trimmed and
we did some flying on one engine, turning in both
directions, climbing, making steep banks. The
Marauder was a tame bird with Doolittle at the
controls.

Suddenly he put the plane into a dive, built up
excess speed, and put it into a perfect loop�all with
one engine dead. As we came to the bottom of the
loop, he took the dead propeller out of feather and it
started windmilling. When it was turning fast enough,
he flipped on the magnetos and restarted the engine
as we made a low pass over the airfield. We came
around in a normal manner, dropped the gear and the
flaps, and set the B-26 down smoothly on the runway.

The pilots and operations people who had been
watching us were impressed. The flight was an important
start toward convincing them that the B-26 was just
another airplane.

THE MARAUDER, 5157 OF THEM, AND THEIR CREWS PROVIDED FINE SERVICE TO OUR NATION AND A GREAT CONTRIBUTION TO THE WAR EFFORT.

B26

This Aviation History site is owned by
Dennis R. Pixler.

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I FEEL PEOPLE MUST KNOW AND MUST REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING.

THE MORAL OF WAR

IN WAR: RESOLUTION

IN DEFEAT: DEFIANCE

IN VICTORY: MAGNANIMITY

IN PEACE: GOODWILL

WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL
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