22nd BOMB GROUP
DUCEMUS - We Lead!

B-26 Marauder

One of the first American bombers to go into action,  the Marauder suffered verbal abuse by the uninitiated,  while the crews actually flying them in combat were convinced that it was the best plane in the Air Force.   The unit had good reason to have faith in this hard-hitting aircraft,  for it had carried them on the long lonely flight over the Pacific,  pioneering as the first medium bomb group to fly from Hawaii to Australia.   They established the route for thousands of bombers to follow later.

       In the earlier days at Langley and Patterson Fields the new flying officers,  who were to become the squadron and group commanders several years later in combat,  were nursing this new and highly radical bomber through her first flight stages.   These pilots were flying the first heavy airplane equipped with a tricycle landing gear,  the first of the really "hot" bombers.   They touched the ground on landings faster than the B-18 cruised in the air.   In flight the Marauder handled like a baby, yet with a little extra boost it could outrun the fastest fighters in mock combat.   To her proud crews she was sometimes known as the  "Flying Prostitute" -(because she bad no visible means of support) - "Martin's Miscarriage"  or the  "Flying Torpedo"  --all of these nicknames rising from the fact that the wings were clipped for speed and the fuselage was sleek and cylindrical.

       In two years of combat,  from 6th April 1942,  when they first hit Rabaul, until January of 1944,  when they were honorably discharged,  they carried their crews through many a tough spot including a torpedo attack on aircraft carriers in the Battle of Midway,  where one plane fought off swarms of Zeros and came back riddled with more than 500 holes: in 74 strikes on the distant heavily defended base of Rabaul,  always working without fighter protection; sinking shipping in the Battle of the Coral Sea; bombing Lae,  Cape Gloucester,  Gasmata,  Salamaua and Finscbhafen,  at a time when these were practically the only medium bombers in the South-West Pacific; strafing and low-leveling the Nips at Buna; and blowing up stores on Timor.   In six months of the toughest part of the war the only fighter planes seen on missions were Japanese attackers.

       The fliers had such faith in the sturdiness of their Marauders that they invariably elected to remain with the plane and bring her in for a crash landing when the Nips had gotten in an effective blow.   The tough 26's seldom let the boys down.   On several occasions planes were back in the air three days after having made a belly landing.

       In mid 1943 all the paint was scraped from the 26's and the sleek, bright ships became known afar as the "Silver Fleet".   They were accorded the honor of receiving many threats and stories of liquidation over Radio Tokyo.

       When the Silver Fleet had to be abandoned due to lack of parts and the standardization of types of planes in this theater,  every one of the pilots,  crewmen and ground men who had known the Marauders bid them a silent farewell with reluctance.   All would liked to have continued flying their old favorites  "the only damn AIRPLANE in the whole Air Corps!�

J.W.B.
From: THE MARAUDERS a book of the 22nd Bomb Group (1944)


MARTIN B-26 MARAUDER

      One of the best medium bombers in service,  this twin-engine plane can fly faster,  farther,  and with a greater bomb load than any Axis plane of its type.  It is powered by Pratt and Whitney Wasp engines of 2000 hp. each.   Armament consists of a single gun in the nose,  one in the tail, and two in the top turret,  and a ton of bombs.

    • Wings are particularly short,  high,  with equal sweep-back and taper.
    • Engines are underslung on wings extending behind the trailing edge.
    • Fuselage is circular in section with transparent -nose and fail.   Wings are set far back on fuselage.
    • Tail is high with equal sweep-back and taper.   Single fin and rudder is high and triangular.

      Specifications: Span 65 ft.; length 58 ft.  2 in.; height 20 ft.-,  gross weight 26,600 lbs.; maximum speed over 350 m.p.h.; cruising range 2400 mi.

      SHORT WINGS FAR BACK ON FUSELAGE.   TALL SINGLE FIN AND RUDDER. EXTENDED TRANSPARENT TAIL GUN TURRET.

Illustration and specifications from
AERONAUTICS AIRCRAFT SPOTTERS HANDBOOK (1943)

THE LADY IS A MARAUDER

The B-26 is a lady of parts,
A whole lot of trouble whenever she starts,
She's shy, she's skittish, she's coy, she's bold,
And full many a pilot, she' soon turning old.

A runaway prop on the take-off, `tis true,
Scares the hell outa me, it would out of you,
But she has them, sure, in any old season
And far's I can see, for no damn good reason.

Then she'll hold one foot daintily in air,
A cute little trick that whitens your hair.
For this baby lands at a helluva speed
And three wheels down isn't more than you need.

On the runway she crouches and waddles around
Like an old fat goose out of place on the ground.
In the air she's clean, so round so smooth,
With a little persuasion she'll fly down the groove.

When the pea-shooters threaten, she shoos them away
Like an intent old girl too busy to play.
She doesn't hand around firing short bursts,
Just leaves them behind with a roaring spurt.
Of course, it they want to get rough and nasty,
She wallops them hard just for being so sassy.

"Yep." Said Grandpop, stroking his beard,
"I flew a twenty-six for over a year.
I wooded her and won her without much trouble,
And wherever we went, we went on the double."

And here's to the lady with the numerous quirks,
Who was always so willing to humble the squirts.
Those squirts who though it so easy to fly,
The twenty-six flew...only God knows why.

R. Burlingame, S/Sgt, Air Corps, 22n Bombardment Group (M). This poem was discovered in the archives of the Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
Reprinted from the 2nd Bomb Squadron Newsletter, March 1998.

Cy Klimesh
cyklim@klimesh.com

I am proud to have served with the Red Raiders


Squadron insignia from THE MARAUDERS, courtesy of Bob Crawford

Keep 'em Flying!