Martin B-26 Marauder in the Mediterranean Theatre

The Martin B-26 Marauder played an important part in the fighting in North Africa and Italy, first arriving in the theatre at the end of 1942 and remaining in service in large numbers until the start of 1945. At its peak in April 1944 there were 321 Marauders in the theatre, and they equipped twelve squadrons of the 17th, 319th and 320th Bombardment Groups of the Twelfth Air Force.

The first fourteen B-26s arrived in November 1942, equipping the 319th Bombardment Group. Their first mission was an attack on oil storage, train yards and warehouses at Sfax on 28 November. The 17th Bombardment Group flew its first mission, an attack on the airfield on Gabes, on 30 December, and the 320th joined the battle in April 1943. At this stage all three groups were part of the Fifteenth Air Force.

B-26 Marauders over Sardinia, 24 May 1943
B-26 Marauders
over Sardinia,
24 May 1943

By the summer of 1943 the three Marauder groups were part of the North West African Air Forces (NAAF), and were involved in the preparations for the invasion of Sicily. Attacking the island on 9 July 1943 just as the invasion was going in. Much of the rest of the summer was spent attacking transport targets in Italy, and by the end of the year their field of operations had expanding to include southern France and the Balkans.

On 1 January 1944 all three groups moved from the Fifteenth to the Twelve Air Force, where they continued their campaign against transport links. For most of the year the Marauder was used to make daylight attacks on targets behind the German lines, but there were also a number of unusual raids during this period, including a rare night raid against the iron and steel works and Piombino on 10/11 January 1944, an attack on the abbey at Monte Cassino on 15 February and an equally rare use directly against the German troop concentration at Vallalta on 20 February.

In August 1944 the Marauders were used to support Operation Dragoon – the invasion of southern France, while also playing a part in the fighting in the Po valley and in attacks on the Gothic line.

The Marauder was at its peak in the Mediterranean in April 1944, when 321 aircraft were available, but by November the number had dropped to only 93, and the remaining aircraft were operating alongside the A-26 Invader. By December the total was down to 22 and in January 1945 it dropped again to 14. A small number remained in use to the end of the war, but as in other theatres the Marauder was withdrawn soon after the fighting stopped.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 May 2009), Martin B-26 Marauder in the Mediterranean Theatre ,

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