Forces of Valor 1/72nd scale UN812015A Martin B-26B Marauder “Shootin’ In”, 556th BS, 387th BG, Germany, 1945. Buy online at Flying Tigers.
The Martin B-26 Marauder is an American World War II twin-engined medium bomber built by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Middle River, Maryland (just east of Baltimore) from 1941 to 1945. First used in the Pacific Theater in early 1942, it was also used in the Mediterranean Theater and in Western Europe.
After entering service with the United States Army aviation units, the aircraft received the reputation of a “Widowmaker” due to the early models’ high accident rate during takeoffs and landings. The Marauder had to be flown at exact airspeeds, particularly on final runway approach and when one engine was out. The 150 mph (241 km/h) speed on short final runway approach was intimidating to pilots who were used to much slower speeds, and whenever they slowed down to speeds below what the manual stated, the aircraft would stall and crash.
The B-26 became a safer aircraft once crews were re-trained, and after aerodynamics modifications (an increase of wingspan and wing angle-of-incidence to give better takeoff performance, and a larger vertical stabilizer and rudder). After aerodynamic and design changes, the aircraft distinguished itself as “the chief bombardment weapon on the Western Front” according to a United States Army Air Forces dispatch from 1946. The Marauder ended World War II with the lowest loss rate of any USAAF bomber.
A total of 5,288 were produced between February 1941 and March 1945; 522 of these were flown by the Royal Air Force and the South African Air Force. By the time the United States Air Force was created as an independent military service separate from the United States Army in 1947, all Martin B-26s had been retired from U.S. service. The Douglas A-26 Invader then assumed the “B-26” designation — before officially returning to the earlier “A for Attack” designation in May 1966.