Martin Maryland

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The Martin Maryland was a light bomber originally developed to satisfy a US army specification and which entered British service after the fall of France. The original Martin Model 167 had lost out to the rival Douglas A-20 design in the 1938 bomber contest, but Glenn L. Martin had sold 215 to France. All but 75 of these aircraft had been delivered before the fall of France, leaving 75 which were then take over by the British.

These aircraft were already being built, so the first one reached Britain late in June, the same month that the contract had been taken over. The first 32 aircraft still had French equipment, while the last 43 were given British equivalents. There was also a change of engine, from the Cyclone 9s used by the French to the Twin Wasps originally installed by Martin. The 75 Maryland Is were followed by an order for 150 Maryland IIs, with two-speed superchargers on their Twin Wasps. The Maryland then became the basis for the Martin Baltimore, which served in much larger numbers.

Martin Maryland, Libya, 1941
Martin Maryland, Libya, 1941

The Maryland first entered RAF service with No.431 Flight, which formed on 19 September 1940 on Malta as a reconnaissance unit. The flight later became No.69 Squadron, and operated the Maryland until most of its aircraft were destroyed by German bombing early in 1942. During this period the squadron was responsible for taking the before and after pictures for the Fleet Air Arm’s raid on Taranto, which crippled the Italian battle fleet and was the first successful torpedo bomber attack on capital ships in harbour.  No.771 Squadron in Britain was also an early user of the Maryland, carrying out long range reconnaissance over the North Sea. It was an aircraft from No.771 Squadron which discovered that the Bismarck had left her Norwegian base at the start of the voyage that would end with her destruction.

The Maryland saw most service in the Western Desert. Here it was used as both a reconnaissance aircraft and as a bomber, often by the same squadron. In general the RAF squadrons (Nos.8, 39, 69, 203, 223 and 554) used the aircraft for reconnaissance, while three South Africa squadrons (Nos.12, 21 and 24 SAAF) used the Maryland as a bomber. This pattern was not rigidly observed, with every squadron available thrown into the fray at times of crisis. The Marylands were used in this way to cover the evacuation from Crete in May 1941 and during Operation Battleaxe in June 1941.

The Maryland’s combination of fixed forward firing guns and relatively high top speed meant that it was capable, at a push, of acting as a fighter (it did after all carry the same number of guns and was faster than the Bristol Blenheim IVF). Nos.12 and 21 SAAF Squadrons were even briefly used as long range fighter squadrons during December 1941, operating with some success against Junkers Ju 52/3 transport aircraft, but they were very vulnerable if intercepted by German fighters.

The Maryland was phased out of use as a front line bomber during 1942, often being replaced by the Douglas Boston. All but two of the reconnaissance squadrons also lost their Marylands during 1942 (No.69 Squadron on Malta mostly to German bombing), while No.544 Squadron and No.60 Squadron SAAF replaced theirs during 1943. Five of the ten squadrons that had used the Maryland would later use the Martin Baltimore, although often after a short gap.

Maryland Mk I

The designation Maryland Mk I was given to the 75 aircraft taken over from the French order. The engines were changed from the Cyclone 9s used on the French aircraft to single-stage supercharged Pratt & Whitney “Twin Wasps”

Martin Maryland II of the SAAF, December 1941
Martin Maryland II of the SAAF, December 1941

Maryland Mk II

The Maryland Mk II was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S1C3-G “Twin Wasp” two stage supercharged engine. This greatly improved the performance of the aircraft, lifting its top speed over 300mph. 150 Maryland Mk IIs were produced for the RAF, bringing the total of British service to 225.

Maryland Squadrons

Squadron

Dates

Notes

No.8

Aug 40-Jan 41 (1)

Reconnaissance from Aden

No.39

Jan 41-Jan 42 (2)

Reconnaissance from Egypt

No.69

Jan 41-May 42 (3)

Reconnaissance from Malta

No.203

Feb-Nov 42 (1)

Reconnaissance, Eastern Med.

No.223

May 41-Feb 42 (1)

OTU and recon, Western Desert

No.544

Oct 42-March 43

Photo reconnaissance, UK

No.12 SAAF

May 41-March 42

Bomber, Western Desert

No.21 SAAF

May 41-Feb 42

Bomber, Western Desert

No.24 SAAF

March-Nov 41

Bomber, Western Desert

No.60 SAAF

Aug 41-Jun 43

Reconnaissance and survey, North Africa

(1) Alongside Blenheim I
(2) Alongside Beaufort
(3) Alongside Beaufighter, Hurricane, Spitfire, Beaufort, Blenheim and Mosquito

Statistics for Maryland II
Engines: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S1C3-G “Twin Wasp”
Power: 1,050hp
Crew: 3
Length: 46ft 8in
Width: 61ft 4in
Empty Weight: 11,213lb
Loaded Weight: 15,297lb
Max takeoff weight: 16,809lb
Max Speed: 304mph at 14,000ft
Cruising Speed: 248mph
Ceiling: 29,500ft
Max Range: 1,300 miles
Bomb load: 2,000lb
Guns: four 0.30in machine guns in wings and one 0.303in machine gun in each of dorsal and ventral positions (sources disagree on the calibre of the wing guns).

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 September 2008), Martin Maryland , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_martin_maryland.html

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