Martin B-10

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B-10 being flown during a training session at Maxwell Field
Role Bomber aircraft
Manufacturer Glenn L. Martin Company
Designer Peyton M. Magruder
First flight 16 February 1932
Introduction November 1934
Retired 1949 Royal Thai Air Force
Primary users United States Army Air Corps
Netherlands East Indies AF
Turkish Air Force
Produced 19331940
Number built 121 B-10
82 model 166
32 B-12
348 of all variants including 182 export versions
Variants Martin Model 146

The Martin B-10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber to be regularly used by the United States Army Air Corps, entering service in June 1934.[1] It was also the first mass-produced bomber whose performance was superior to that of the Army's pursuit aircraft of the time.[2]

The B-10 served as the airframe for the B-12, B-13, B-14, A-15 and O-45 designations using Pratt & Whitney engines instead of Wright Cyclones. A total of 348 of all versions were built. The largest users were the US, with 166, and the Netherlands, with 121.

Design and development[edit]

Martin B-10, 25th Bombardment Squadron, Panama Canal Zone
Martin B-10 during exercises over Oahu, Hawaii, 1941
Martin B-10B airplane

The B-10 began a revolution in bomber design. Its all-metal monoplane airframe, along with its features of closed cockpits, rotating gun turrets (almost simultaneously with the 1933 British Boulton & Paul Overstrand biplane bomber's own enclosed nose-turret), retractable landing gear, internal bomb bay, and full engine cowlings, became the standard for bomber designs worldwide for decades.[2] It made all existing bombers completely obsolete. Martin received the 1932 Collier Trophy for designing the XB-10.[3]

The B-10 began as the Martin Model 123, a private venture by the Glenn L. Martin Company of Baltimore, Maryland. It had a crew of four: pilot, copilot, nose gunner and fuselage gunner. As in previous bombers, the four crew compartments were open, but it had a number of design innovations as well.[4][5]

These innovations included a deep belly for an internal bomb bay and retractable main landing gear. Its 600 hp (447 kW) Wright SR-1820-E Cyclone engines provided sufficient power. The Model 123 first flew on 16 February 1932 and was delivered for testing to the U.S. Army on 20 March as the XB-907. After testing it was sent back to Martin for redesigning and was rebuilt as the XB-10.[4][5]

The XB-10 delivered to the Army had major differences from the original aircraft. Where the Model 123 had Townend rings, the XB-10 had full NACA cowlings to decrease drag.[6] It also sported a pair of 675 hp (503 kW) Wright R-1820-19 engines, and an 8 feet (2.4 m) increase in the wingspan, along with an enclosed nose turret. When the XB-10 flew during trials in June, it recorded a speed of 197 mph (317 km/h) at 6,000 ft (1,830 m). This was an impressive performance for 1932.[2]

Following the success of the XB-10, a number of changes were made, including reduction to a three-man crew, addition of canopies for all crew positions, and an upgrade to 675 hp (503 kW) engines. The Army ordered 48 of these on 17 January 1933. The first 14 aircraft were designated YB-10 and delivered to Wright Field, starting in November 1933, and used in the Army Air Corps Mail Operation. The production model of the XB-10, the YB-10 was very similar to its prototype.[citation needed]

Operational history[edit]

Martin B-10B during exercises
Martin B-12 at March Field, California, 1935

In 1935, the Army ordered an additional 103 aircraft designated B-10B. These had only minor changes from the YB-10. Shipments began in July 1935. B-10Bs served with the 2d Bomb Group at Langley Field, the 9th Bomb Group at Mitchel Field, the 19th Bomb Group at March Field, the 6th Composite Group in the Panama Canal Zone, and the 4th Composite Group in the Philippines. In addition to conventional duties in the bomber role, some modified YB-10s and B-12As were operated for a time on large twin floats for coastal patrol.[7][8]

In February 1936, the U.S. Army Air Corps used 13 49th Bomb Squadron B-10Bs to drop supplies to the residents of Virginia's Tangier Island and Maryland's Smith Island; with ships unable to reach the islands due to heavy ice in the Chesapeake Bay, the islanders faced starvation after a severe winter storm. The B-10B supply flights followed earlier supply flights to the islands by the Goodyear Blimp Enterprise on 2 February 1936 and by the squadron's Keystone B-6A bombers on 9 and 10 February 1936.[9][10]

With an advanced performance, the Martin company fully expected that export orders for the B-10 would flood in. The U.S. Army owned the rights to the Model 139 design. Once the Army's orders had been filled in 1936, Martin received permission to export Model 139s, and delivered versions to several air forces. For example, six Model 139Ws were sold to Siam in April 1937, powered by Wright R-1820-G3 Cyclone engines; 20 Model 139Ws were sold to Turkey in September 1937, powered by R-1820-G2 engines.[citation needed]

On 25 August 1937, as the air battles intensified in the early part of the Sino-Japanese War-WWII,[11] five Chinese Nationalist Air Force bombers of the 8th BG, 19th and 30th Squadrons consisting of three Heinkel He-111As and two Martin B-10s respectively, flying from their base in Nanjing to Shanghai, successfully dropped their bombs on Japanese landing forces at Liuhe, Taicang northwest of Shanghai, however Japanese aircraft pursued the bombers and shot up two of the Heinkels, forcing them to crash land; two crew members were killed on the ground by Japanese aircraft strafing at them.[12][13]

As the National Revolutionary Army of China fought desperately to hold onto their remaining positions in the Battle of Shanghai, the Chinese Air Force launched a major strike with a motley-mix of aircraft against Japanese positions in Shanghai on 14 October 1937, consisting of three B-10s, two Heinkel He-111As, five Douglas O-2MCs, five Northrop Gammas, and three Curtiss Hawk IIIs from Nanjing in the late-afternoon; in the evening, one bomber was launched every hour from Nanjing to attack Japanese positions in Shanghai until 03:00 on 15 October.

On 19 May 1938, two B-10s of the 2nd BG, 14th Squadron, led by Capt. Hsu Huan-sheng and Lt. Teng Yen-bo, successfully flew a nighttime "raid" over Japan. However, rather than dropping bombs, the B-10s dropped messages printed on 2,000,000 leaflets in goodwill; "alerting the conscience of the Japanese people against atrocities committed by the Japanese invasion and occupation of China", over the cities of Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Kurume, Saga and others, while reconnoitering airbases, ports, warships and factories.[14][15][16][17][18] It was soon thereafter that the Chinese high-command, along with Claire Lee Chennault, American advisor to the Chinese Air Force, sought to fly actual bombing missions deep into Japan given that the US help provide B-17 bombers to the Chinese Air Force, years before the Attack on Pearl Harbor, but potential B-17s to the Chinese war effort were redirected to the British instead under the directives of George C. Marshall. Prior to the Chinese B-10 mission over Japan, two French pilots from the 41st International Volunteer Squadron (a.k.a. the 41st PS) are said to have proposed a raid with dropping incendiary bombs over Kagoshima, but was refused due to the "exorbitant remuneration" demanded by the French as well as other foreign "volunteers" considering flying the raid against Japan.[19] Dutch Martins fought in the defense of the Dutch East Indies.


At the time of its creation, the B-10B was so advanced that General Henry H. Arnold described it as the airpower wonder of its day. It was half again as fast as any biplane bomber, and faster than any contemporary fighter. The B-10 began a revolution in bomber design; it made all existing bombers completely obsolete.[6]

Rapid advances in bomber design in the late 1930s meant that the B-10 was eclipsed by the time the United States entered World War II. The Model 139s in combat in China and South East Asia suffered the same disadvantages as the other early war medium bombers, i.e. not enough armour and guns, while it could not outrun the latest fighters.

An abortive effort to modernize the design, the Martin Model 146, was entered into a USAAC long-distance bomber design competition 1934–1935. The bomber came in a strong second place and was only bested by the Boeing B-17 design in range and endurance. It, however, had a higher ceiling of 28,500 ft and was only 2 mph slower and carried 313 lb less in bombs than the Boeing at over half the cost. However, the design was seen as a dead end, and the third-place aircraft Douglas B-18 was selected instead.[20]


Martin XB-907
Martin YB-10
Martin B-12
Martin B-12A
Martin XB-14

Martin Model 123[edit]

Private venture of Martin company, predecessor of the XB-10, served as prototype for the series, one built.[21]

US Army designation for the Model 123 in evaluation,[21] with open cockpits and two Wright SR-1820-E, delivered April 1932.
Modified XB-907 after Martin returned it to U.S. Army for further operational trials,[6] with larger wingspan and two Wright R-1820-19.
Designation of the prototype when purchased by the United States Army Air Corps, Modified XB-907A with enclosed cockpits and turret and single strut landing gear.[2][22]

Martin Model 139, 139A and 139B[edit]

Army Air Corps versions, 165 built.

Model 139A, test and production version of the XB-10 with crew reduced to three members, and two 675 hp/503 kW R-1820-25, 14 built, some flown temporarily as float planes.[7]
The YB-10A was different from a YB-10 only in its engines. It used Wright R-1820-31 turbo-supercharged radials, allowing it to attain speeds of 236 mph (380 km/h). This made it the fastest aircraft of the B-10 series. Despite this advantage, only one was built, as a test aircraft.[7]
According to one source, two additional aircraft ordered in 1936.[7]
Model 139, main production version with two 775 hp (578 kW) R-1820-33 engines, 105 built, delivered August 1936.[7]
According to one source this was, these were B-10Bs converted as target tugs.[7] According to Martin's own archive, this was the designation of the YB-10 after testing, then used for airmail and Alaska missions, 13 of the 14 built were still in service in April 1940.
One former NEIAF Model 139WH-3A model impressed in July 1942 and flown from Australia to the United States.[7]
Model 139B. With 250 or 500 gallons flotation chambers for safety on overwater flights, and two Pratt & Whitney R-1690-11 "Hornet" radial engines. These 775 hp (578 kW) engines gave similar performance to those on the B-10B (218 mph/351 km/h), seven built, five still in service in April 1940.[7]
The production version of the YB-12 with provision for a 365 gal (1,381 l) fuel tank in the bomb bay, giving the B-12A a combat range of 1,240 mi (1,995 km), 25 built, 23 still in service in April 1940.[7]
Re-engined version of the YB-10 powered by two 700 hp (522 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1860-17 Hornet B radial engines. Ten were on order but cancelled before production started, not built.[7]
To test the new 900 hp Pratt & Whitney YR-1830-9 "Twin Wasp" radial engines, one built which was converted back to YB-12 after testing.[7]
Proposed attack variant of the YB-10 with two 750 hp (559 kW) R-1820-25 engines, was never built. The contract fell to the A-14 Shrike.[23]
With two 750 hp Wright R-1820-17, proposed high-speed observation role, one B-10 was beginning to be converted in 1934 and another in 1935 but both were stopped before being completed and were converted back into B-10s.

Model 139W and 166[edit]

The export versions, 100 built (182 including the Model 166, see below).

Model 139WA
Martin demonstrator for Argentina, later sold to Argentine Navy.
Model 139WAA
Export version for Argentine Army, 22 built, delivered April 1938.
Model 139WAN
Export version for the Argentine Navy, 12 built, delivered November 1937.
Model 139WC and WC-2
Export version for China, six and three built, delivered in February and August 1937.[1][24]
Model 139WH
Export version for the Netherlands, used in the Netherlands East Indies. Produced in block series WH(-1) (13 built, delivered February 1937) and WH-2 (26 built, delivered March 1938).
Model 139WR
Single demonstrator to the Soviet Union.[7][24]
Model 139WSM and WSM-2
Export version for Siam, three and three built, delivered in March and April 1937.[7]
Model 139WSP
Proposed licence built version to be built by CASA of Spain, production blocked by U.S. State Department.
Model 139WT
Export version for Turkey, 20 built, delivered September 1937.[1]
Side view of Dutch Martin Model 166
Model 166

Final version, a.k.a. 139WH-3 and 139WH-3A, 82 built.

Export version for the Netherlands, used in the Netherlands East Indies. Redesigned wings, nose and single 'glass house' canopy, bomb shackles between engines and fuselage, and better engines. The WH-3 had two 900 hp (671 kW) R-1820-G5 (40 built, delivered September 1938), the WH-3A had two 1,000 hp (671 kW) R-1820-G-105A (42 built, delivered March 1940). With the bomb shackles the bomb load could be doubled for a shorter range. A total of 121 of all types were built for the Dutch.[7]


 The Netherlands
 Philippine Commonwealth
Thailand Thailand
 Soviet Union
 United States


Ex-Argentine model 139WAA at the National Museum of the United States Air Force painted as a USAAC B-10

Specifications (B-10B)[edit]

Data from United States Military Aircraft Since 1909.[33]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 44 ft 9 in (13.64 m)
  • Wingspan: 70 ft 6 in (21.49 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 5 in (4.70 m)
  • Wing area: 678 sq ft (63.0 m2)
  • Empty weight: 9,681 lb (4,391 kg)
  • Gross weight: 14,700 lb (6,668 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 16,400 lb (7,439 kg)
  • Powerplant: × Wright R-1820-33 Cyclone (F-3) 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 775 hp (578 kW)
  • Propellers: 3-bladed variable-pitch propellers


  • Maximum speed: 213 mph (343 km/h, 185 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 193 mph (311 km/h, 168 kn)
  • Range: 1,240 mi (2,000 km, 1,080 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 24,200 ft (7,400 m)
  • Wing loading: 21.7 lb/sq ft (106 kg/m2)
  • Power/mass: 0.105 hp/lb (0.173 kW/kg)


See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c Jackson 2003, p. 246.
  2. ^ a b c d Eden and Moeng 2002, p. 931.
  3. ^ Collier Trophy Is Presented to Martin, 1 June 1933.
  4. ^ a b "Flying Fish–Our Army's Newest Plane Hits Terrific Speeds (photo of Model 123, US Army designation XB-907, in flight)." Popular Science, October 1932. Retrieved: 22 December 2010.
  5. ^ a b "M-list." Aerofiles. Retrieved: 22 December 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Fitzsimons 1969, p. 1846.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Eden and Moeng 2002, p. 932.
  8. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1964, p. 331.
  9. ^ Bentley, Stewart W., Jr., PhD., "The Touch of Greatness: Colonel William C. Bentley, Jr., USAAC/USAF; Aviation Pioneer, Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4490-2386-7, pp. 41–42.
  10. ^ Anonymous, "Bombing Planes to Bring Food to Ice Victims," Chicago Tribune, 2 February 1936.
  11. ^ Sun, Lianggang. "Shanghai 1937 – Where World War II Began". SHANGHAI 1937: WHERE WORLD WAR II STARTED. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Martyr Chen Xiong-ji". Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  13. ^ "Martyr Yun Feng-zeng". Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  14. ^ Dunn, Richard L. "Illusive <sic> Target: Bombing Japan from China.", 2006. Retrieved: 16 May 2013.
  15. ^ Li & Li 1998, p. 265.
  16. ^ Xu 2001, p. 126.
  17. ^ Fenby 2009, p. 320.
  18. ^ Underwood 1942, p. 86.
  19. ^ Avions n°4, June 1993. Retrieved: 2 October 2016.ISSN 1243-8650
  20. ^ David D Gravermoen B-10 - The Martin Bomber
  21. ^ a b Fitzsimons 1967/1969, p. 1845.
  22. ^ "Photo of XB-10." Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 17 July 2011.
  23. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1964, p. 332.
  24. ^ a b Baugher, Joe. "Martin B-10". American Military Aircraft, 11 July 1999. Retrieved: 13 June 2010.
  25. ^ Ay, Carlos (15 August 2013). "Catálogo Ilustrado de Aeronaves de la Fuerza Aérea Argentina". Gaceta Aeronautica (in Spanish). Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  26. ^ "Donation of the Martin B-10." Archived 26 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved: 13 June 2010.
  27. ^ Photos as well as paintings of ROC
  28. ^ Shores, Cull and Izawa 1992, pp. 38, 56.
  29. ^ Young 1984, p. 23.
  30. ^ Casius 1983, p. 20.
  31. ^ "USAF Fact Sheet Martin B-10." Archived 26 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved: 13 June 2010.
  32. ^ "Martin B-10" (in Dutch). Archived 23 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine Netherlands Military Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 22 December 2010.
  33. ^ Swanborough and Bowers, 1964, p. 333.


  • Bridgwater, H.C. and Peter Scott. Combat Colours Number 4: Pearl Harbor and Beyond, December 1941 to May 1942. Luton, Bedfordshire, UK: Guideline Publications, 2001. ISBN 0-9539040-6-7.
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Further reading[edit]

  • Núñez Padin, Jorge Felix; Benedetto, Fernando C. (2007). Núñez Padin, Jorge Felix (ed.). Martin 139W en Argentina. Serie en Argentina (in Spanish). Nº1. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Fuerzas Aeronavales. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.

External links[edit]