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Martin MB-2

The Martin MB-2 was essentially an improved and slightly enlarged version of the Martin MB-1. The MB-2 can be distinguished from the MB-1 by noting the engines on the MB-2 were lowered to the bottom wing. The MB-1 engines were suspended between the wings. Twenty MB-2s were ordered by the U.S. Army in 1920, and Martin built only the first five as MB-2s. The remaining 15 were built as NBS-1 (Night Bombardment-Short Distance) when the Army adopted a new designation scheme.

During the post-World War I era, the Army usually purchased the aircraft design and contracted the actual construction to the lowest bidder. In the case of the MB-2 (NBS-1), four firms built the aircraft. Martin only built the first 20 aircraft. The remaining 110 aircraft were built by Curtiss (50 aircraft), LWF (35 aircraft) and Aeromarine (25 aircraft).

The MB-2's (AS 64195) first flight was on Sept. 3, 1920. Twenty Curtiss-built NBS-1s (AS 68508 to 68527) were fitted with superchargers allowing the aircraft to climb as high as 25,600 feet. The Martin MB-2 designers incorporated an interesting element -- folding wings. Since its large wingspan would have made it difficult to store in a hangar, the aircraft had hinges and notches cut out to allow the wings to be swung from just outside of the engine nacelles.

The most notable contribution of the MB-2 (NBS-1) was as the aircraft used in the famous ship bombing trials in 1921. Flying out of Langley Field, Va., under the command of Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell, the Martin Bombers sunk a destroyer, cruiser and a battleship and proved the worth of aerial bombardment.

The MB-2 became the Air Service's primary multi-engine bomber until replaced by the Keystone bombers of the late 1920s. Today, no original MB-2 exists. The reproduction on display at the USAF museum was built using original Martin drawings and completed in 2002.

Type MB-2
Number built/converted5
Remarks15 aircraft delivered as NBS-1
Armament Five .30-cal. machine guns and 2,000 lbs. of bombs
Engines Two Liberty 12-As of 400 hp each
Maximum speed 98 mph at sea level
Cruising speed 91 mph
Range 400 miles
Service ceiling 7,700 ft. (9,900 ft. absolute ceiling)
Span 74 ft. 2 in.
Length 42 ft. 8 in.
Height 14 ft. 8in.
Weight 12,027 lbs. gross
Serial numbers: AS 64195 to 64199

Martin MB-2 Martin MB-2 Martin MB-2 Martin MB-2 Martin MB-2 Martin MB-2 Martin MB-2 Martin MB-2 Martin MB-2

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Page last modified: 10-08-2018 02:01:12 ZULU