Martin B-26C Marauder

Last revised July 24, 2017


The B-26C was the designation given to a version of the B-26B manufactured at a new factory built by the government for Martin at Omaha, Nebraska. Even before Pearl Harbor, the US government had already sensed the coming of war, and began a massive expansion of the American aircraft industry. As part of this program, the government built a whole series of new aircraft plants which were to be leased to aircraft manufacturers for the purpose of fulfilling military contracts. Most of these plants were in the Midwest or Western states, well out of range, it was hoped, from German raiders. The plant in Omaha was built at Fort Crook (now Offut AFB) and was leased to Martin for the manufacture of the B-26 Marauder. The plant was formally turned over to Martin on January 1, 1942.

At the same time, the Martin-Omaha Modification Center was built adjacent to Fort Crook, and began operating in March of 1942. The Center was given the task of modifying Marauders fresh off the Baltimore production line to incorporate the latest government change orders to make them more combat-capable.

In parallel, the Ford Motor Company was provided with a license to build Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engines at a new River Rouge engine plant at Dearborn, Michigan.

The B-26C had been initially ordered on June 28, 1941. However, there were inevitable delays in bringing such a massive production effort to full fruition, and it was not until August of 1942 that the first Omaha-built B-26C was ready for flight.

The B-26C was essentially identical to the Baltimore-built B-26B, and followed more or less the same evolution during its production lifetime. However, all B-26Cs were built with the new larger wing--the B-26C was in fact the first Marauder to appear with the new larger wing, the larger wing having been introduced on the Omaha line before it appeared on the Baltimore line with the B-26B-10-MA. The wingspan was increased to 71 feet and the wing area rose to 659 square feet. This lowered the wing loading to 51.5. A larger vertical tail was also fitted. The larger wing and tail assembly, plus the additional armament and armor, increased the weight by 1500 pounds. The top speed at 15,000 feet dropped to 282 mph and cruising speed declined to 214 mph.

The armament changes intitially done on on the Baltimore-built B-26Bs at the Martin-Omaha Modification Center, plus the package guns introduced on the B-26B-4 were made standard on the B-26C. The waist gun doors were enlarged and moved aft to improve the field of fire.

The first three B-26Cs were accepted in August of 1942, and 86 B-26C-5-MO aircraft were accepted by the end of 1942.

In early 1943, 60 B-26C-5-MO aircraft were subjected to a substantial weight-reduction program, in which the co-pilot position was deleted and some extra equipment was removed. These planes were redesignated B-26C-6-MO. However, commanders in the field objected strenuously to the absence of the co-pilot, and all of these planes were eventually converted back to a two-pilot configuration.

The B-26C-10-MO was identical to the B-26C-5-MO.

The B-26C-15-MO differed only in having the fixed oxygen system Type A-9 regulator deleted and improved SCR-595A IFF equipment fitted. Except for the place of manufacture, the B-26C-15-MO and B-26B-15-MA were identical.

The B-26C-20-MO introduced the Bell-designed power turret in the tail which replaced the hand-held setup previously used. Its guns were positioned below the gunner and afforded a wider field of fire. The guns were operated by a remotely-controlled linkage, but gunners usually preferred swinging the guns manually.

The B-26C-25-MO featured more armor plate for the Martin 250CE turret. Some examples not intended for overseas combat roles had the tail turret deleted.

Provisions for the external torpedo rack and the rear bomb bay were deleted from the B-26C-30-MO and later production blocks. A curved piece of armor plate was mounted externally to the left side of the fuselage to add extra protection for the pilot, and some extra armor was added behind the bombardier and around certain vital systems.

The B-26C-35-MO eliminated the carburetor de-icing system.

The C-40 model introduced "shark-nose" ailerons, which appeared from 42-43320 onward. All of these planes were subsequently converted to AT-23Bs.

The C-45 model incorporated a thicker grip on the control wheels, improvements in the hydraulic and electrical systems, and additional emergency systems. A ring and bead sight for the package guns was provided. The engine fire-extinguisher was reinstated as standard equipment. The aft bomb-bay was finally sealed up from this variant onward. In the middle of the production run, the forward-firing 0.50-inch machine gun in the nose was deleted. 26 examples were converted to AT-23Bs.

350 B-26C were manufactured as target tugs and were redesignated AT-23B. These AT-23Bs were later redesignated TB-26C. 225 AT-23Bs were transferred to the US Navy as JM-1s. The JM-1 was used by the Navy for target towing and other general utility duties. It was never used in combat. Many JM-1s were painted with a bright orange-yellow finish, but the USAAF AT-23Bs retained their natural metal finish.

A total of 1210 B-26Cs and 275 AT-23B target tugs were built at Omaha. The last B-26C (a B-26C-45-M0) was delivered in April of 1944. After that, Martin-Omaha switched over to the manufacture of the B-29 Superfortress.

Serials of B-26C Marauder:

41-34673/34847		Martin B-26C-5-MO Marauder
				34681,34869/34693,34695,34702/34742,
				34777/34787 converted to B-26C-6-MO
				34680 modified as "XB-26E"
41-34848/34907		Martin B-26C-10-MO Marauder
41-34908/34997		Martin B-26C-15-MO Marauder
41-34998/35172		Martin B-26C-20-MO Marauder
	
41-35173/35372		Martin B-26C-25-MO Marauder
				35370/35372 converted to AT-23B
41-35373/35572		Martin B-26C-30-MO Marauder
				100 delivered to RAF as Marauder II FB415/FB517
				35525/35572 converted to AT-23B	
41-35573/35772		Martin B-26C-35-MO Marauder
				35598/35620 converted to AT-23B
41/35773/35872		Martin B-26C-40-MO Marauder
				All converted to AT-23B
42-107471/107496	Martin AT-23B
42-107497/107830	Martin B-26C-45-MO Marauder
42-107831/107855	Martin AT-23B

Sources:


  1. Famous Bombers of the Second World War, William Green, Doubleday, 1959.

  2. The Martin Marauder B-26, Victor C. Tannehill, Boomerang Publishers, 1997.

  3. The Martin B-26 Marauder, J. K. Havener, TAB Aero, 1988.

  4. Me & My Gal--The Stormy Combat Romance Between a WW II Bomber Pilot and His Martin B-26, Charles O'Mahony, Wings, December 1994.

  5. The Martin B-26B and C Marauder, Ray Wagner, Aircraft in Profile, Doubleday, 1965.

  6. Jane's American Fighting Aircraft of the 20th Century, Michael J.H. Taylor, Mallard Press.

  7. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  8. E-mail from Phil Marchese on wingspan of B-26C, and on modification introduced to B-26B incorporated on B-26C.