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
Again, I really enjoy your B26.com site and appreciate your
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
...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.
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
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.
Bill Morton, Pilot, 344th BG
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
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
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,
...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
Pilot, 397th BG