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Does the Martin B-26 Marauder deserve to be remembered as the Flying Prostitute or Widow Marker?

...My flight record shows a total of 1,375 hours in the B-26. The aircraft always treated me well, and I have nothing bad to say about it at all. Read more...
Again, I really enjoy your site and appreciate your efforts.
Don Frisbie, Pilot, 394th BG - 7 Feb 2005

...We were not unaware of the remarks as to its reputation but one thing I was quite sure of was that if I selected the B-26 as my first choice, I would without a doubt be selected for it. That is what happened.
...In this process we experienced every weather condition, performance and durability. I cannot say enough for the confidence the B-26 gave to its Pilot and Crew.  Read more...
Robert Kendall, Pilot, 386th Bomb Group

My reply to would be thus:
1. When first introduced to the B-26 we were so young, so naive and so un-fearful of death that we were thrilled to be flying anything, even a Piper Cub.
2. Halfway through B-26 production they made the G models which with less wing loading, were reportedly safer. We didn't care for them too much as they were slower and not as maneuverable. Most of us preferred the B and C models.
3. Yes there were a lot of accidents for reasons stated by your correspondent, but the one he left out was of equal importance: all the good and experienced maintenance people had gone overseas. The stateside mechanics left were inexperienced and new out of school. Also, the airplanes we flew in training were older models, well used and oftentimes poorly maintained.
Robert Destiche, Pilot, 387th BG

Mike, I think the combat loss ratio was one half of one per cent. You can check with Havener about that - it probably is in his book.
The Martin B-26 wasn't a bad plane when I flew it, so I would have to say a big NO to calling it flying prostitute or widow maker. Another old name that I have heard was Baltimore Whore.
I was very fortunate in that I got to go to a B26 transition school at Dodge City Kansas. Others long before me came right from Advanced Flight school to flying B26's in Florida in preparation to go overseas. John Moench did this. I am sure that not having sufficient training was a factor in early crashes.
One of the greatest causes of there early crashes was run away propellers. With the props going flat on you on take off, you were bound to crash.
Then there were those who said the plane would not fly on one engine. Hap Arnold is supposed to have sent Jimmy Doolittle to Lakeland, Fl. to show that it would. He made turns into the dead engine, etc. I flew AT 19's at Advanced. It was fairly hot for a twin engine plane, so it helped in the transition to the B26. Since I was not there in the early days, and did not start flying the 26 until May and June 1944, I would suggest you ask people like Moench and Harwell and Havener about the early days.
The 26 was unusual in that we came in on the final at about 150 MPH. No other WWII plane did that. All the jets do now.
Hope I have been helpful.
Best Regards,
Bill Morton, Pilot, 344th BG

Hi Mike:
The information in your second paragraph is true. When I reached Avon Park, there were four planes on the ramp. and the crews were scared of it. And the stories about Tampa were concocted. As we got more planes in the mechanics learned more about maintenance. The engines kept running, but when one cut out, and inexperienced pilot sometimes panicked. I had four engines shot out in combat and landed on one with no problem as long as one kept the airspeed above 140 on approach. So most of the comments are true. General Doolittle demonstrated that a good pilot could cut out an engine on take off and still continue as long as the airspeed could be maintained and he looped the plane. This flight sure gladded the pilots and they all became more confidant as time progressed. I don't think the Martin B-26 deserves to be remembered as the flying prostitute and the widow maker. But the comments were biased from the beginning, made by stupid observers!
Hugh Walker, Pilot, 391st BG

The plane was new, fast and a good pilot could fly it satisfactorily as proven by Jimmy Doolittle. However, it did help a lot to get the electrical system upgraded to fix or slow down the run away prop problem. I would still bet my life on it !!!----Clyde Harkins, Pilot, 387th Bomb Group

When we given our commission most of us were flying AT-17 which was a small twin engine airplanes which didn't have much horse power. It was very easy to fly. The Air Force placed the new pilots in new airplane that had thousands of horse power which had not been tested-even the instructors didn't know much about it. The airplane was overloaded in weight also the propellers ran away on take offs. This airplane landed at low speed. You set the flaps at full and you were coming down fast - you didn't get a another try. I blame the Air Force for not testing the airplane. We wouldn't have lost a lot of good pilots if they had time to learn to fly the plane.  I will leave it to you on the names.
When the Air Force fixed the defects in this airplane it was easy to fly and the best airplane bomber in its class - just don't make mistakes When new pilots arrived over seas they had to learn to fly different from what they learned in the States. The pilots broke all the rules but this airplane would get them back home, the airplane proved it to be the best airplane to be in combat. There were too many things wrong with this airplane at that time, so if I had been there I would have had some kind of name for it.
Don Round, Pilot, 320th BG

Hi Mike;
About B26 questions, yes I have heard all of them too. The top ten percent of my class went to B26's for training. All of the names; "Baltimore Whore", "Flying Prostitute", "Hotter Than a Two Dollar Pistol", all of them. Hell, I flew over to England and only had around five hundred hours then. Yes they were more unforgiving than others. The b-17 was a four engine "Taylor Cub" the same with the others. They were just aircraft. No, the B26 doesn’t deserve the name flying prostitute and widow maker. I think that the B26 was a great aircraft. If I had to repeat the WW-2, I would want to be in one. If I had to choose another, it would be a P-47 (Jug). Next to the B26, it was a tough bird. Most birds in WW-2 were, not ones that appealed to me. Now the Marauder Did!!
Lee Godwin, Pilot, 323rd BG

...From the first time I flew in a B-26, I felt that all I needed to do was understand and know the aircraft and I could fly it like any other aircraft. I paid no attention to rumors that it was a "hot" airplane etc.. I just felt it was a matter of being checked out properly and knowing the aircraft. I took the emergency procedures very seriously...before every take off, I would go over emergency procedures, especially, what to do if an engine loses power on take off? I had heard of run-a-way props as a cause of B-26 crashes on takeoff...
George Parker, Pilot, 397th BG

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