b-26c

The “Flying Prostitute” it was called – the design, radical for the time, featured wings so short in span that there appeared to be “no visible martinb26maraudermeans of support,” hence the moniker.  Later, as inexperienced crews were dropping more and more of them into the waters of Tampa Bay, it earned another – “widow maker.”  But in action in Europe, employed in the tactical air mission of transportation infrastructure interdiction, there was none better.  Fast, able to deliver a heavy punch at low- and medium altitudes, the B-26 Marauder garnered a following among the crews that flew it that was the equal of the admiration, no, love that crews for the Flying Fortress felt for their steed.  By the end of the war in Europe in 1945, despite its wide-ranging employment the B-26 had the lowest loss rate of all Allied aircraft with a reputation for bringing her crews back.

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6 Comments

  1. It seems General Doolittle discusses the “window maker” part of the tail in detail in his autobiography I COuld Never Be SO Lucky Again”. Something about going to the training comnad and flying one himself, then looking at the process and seeing deficiencies in the program. Corrected and hence the bad accidents weren’t the problem they had been.

    Great read, BTW, for those who haven’t picked it up yet (I’m pretty sure SJS has plowed that ground already from a long ago post here).

  2. Not only did he fly one, he made a point of flying several times in front of trainee pilots, demonstrating the Marauder’s capability in portions of the flight envelope where it had a lackluster reputation (mainly low and slow, particularly at high bank angles and particularly with one engine out). Once he went flying by with one engine out at 300 ft, pulled into a tight turn and landed, the plane seemed to magically gain a much more positive reputation.

  3. Eagle1

    Your post caused me to dig through some old photos of my dad flying B-26s during Korea with the USAF 8th Bombing Squadron.

    Thanks.

  4. Larry Schumacher

    Back in the 80s at Chino Ca. the boys down the row had a “coffin without handles” they were restoring. It was the real deal right down to the curtiss electric props, and while tinkering with our beloved B25 Mitchells we followed it’s progress while trying not to look too interested because there is a bit of a rival thing between B25 and B26 people.

  5. Virgil xenophon

    Probably best book ever written about the wartime experiences of the B-26 was a book entitled: “FLACK BAIT” which tracked a B-26 of that name which earned the distinction of flying more missions than any other B-26 (although it was later eclipsed by another crew flying “Mild and Bitter”) A GREAT READ!! Lots of air war history in general as well.

    Vignette: My Father, Company CO (Capt)in the 42nd Rainbow Inf Div was wounded when his jeep hit a land mine
    and while recovering in hospital was flanked by two younger (they were both 22yr old 1/lts and single, Dad was a married “old” codger of 28) B-26 pilots on either side of him that had been injured in crash on returning to their base w. battle damage. To while away the time they gave Dad a “ground-school” in flying the B-26 to include memorization of ins. panel, etc. In later years Dad used to say after that he was convinced he “could have flown the damn thing in a pinch.” LOL

    Appropos of that experience, one of my treasured keep-sakes is a letter one of the pilots wrote my Mother telling her what a great guy Dad was. Wasn’t that a nice and classy thing for that guy to do?!

  6. Virgil xenophon

    PS: The “Widow Maker” bit came from inexperienced aircrews in tng as the Marauder was a lot of aircraft with a high sink rate on final. “One a day in Tampa Bay” became the slogan during pilot training which reflected the loss rate.

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