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!�
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.
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.
THE LADY IS A MARAUDER
The B-26 is a lady of parts,
A runaway prop on the take-off, `tis true,
Then she'll hold one foot daintily in air,
On the runway she crouches and waddles around
When the pea-shooters threaten, she shoos them away
"Yep." Said Grandpop, stroking his beard,
And here's to the lady with the numerous quirks,
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.