HISTORIAN'S CORNER - October, 2004
Lee Bogerna recently gave me an interesting 3-ring binder oi material containing
the instructions for assembling the Martin B-1 0 bomber from the 1930's.
Lee, who retired from Martin Denver in 1988 acquired the material in 1978
from Bucky Merrill, then president of the Baltimore Division, when Lee was
Chief Engineer at Baltimore.
The binder contains assembly drawings, procedures, descriptions of the necessary
tools and handling equipment, photographs and specifications collected by
H. McAlister, an Orlando retiree, who worked on the B-1 0 at Baltimore and
signed many of the drawings dated from 1934 to 1937. The first paragraph
in the binder gives the feeling for the relative intormality of the processes
during that era: "All Model 139-WT airplanes (the Martin designation for
the export version of the B-1 0) are completely assembled and flight tested
at the factory. Immediately after the flight tests, these airplanes are carefully
disassembled, the loose parts are wrapped and packed, and the entire airplane
is carefully crated in 10 large boxes for export. These airplanes should
be received in perfect knock-down conditions, and that by strict adherence
to the following instructions no difficulty should be experienced in reassembly
of the airplane."
The general configuration of the B-1 0 is shown in the picture on the following
page. I decided to learn a little more about the history of the B- 10 and
found two informative web sites that I used for the rest of the story. The
first is the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum site (www. marylandaviationmuseum.org),
which has an extensive wtite-upon the B-10 and other Martin aircraft. The
second is the USAF Museum site at Wright Patterson AFB (www.wpafb.af mil./mu-seum.org),
which in addition to write-ups on past aircraft also has an overview of the
military aviation situation at the time of the B- 10.
The B-1 0 was the first "modem" bomber acquired by the Army Air Corps in
the 1930's. The Air Corp issued a design directive in 1929 (like an RFP)
and Fokker, Key-stone, Douglas, Ford and Boeing all submitted designs and
prototypes before Martin. After incorporation of a series of improvements
suggested by the Army's Material Division, the final XB-907A Martin design
won out over the Boeing and Douglas designs in 1932 and the Air Corps awarded
Martin a contract for 48 airplanes costing $2.5M. The Air Corps eventually
purchased a total of 151 aircraft between 1933 and 19M, and Martin received
orders for 189 more planes from other countries. The all-metal monoplane
had - enclosed cockpits, streamlined monocoque fuselage, two radial engines
with variable-pitch propellers, cantilevered wings with lift-enhancing flaps,
integral fuel tanks, internal bomb storage, and retractable landing gear.
With a top speed of 230 mph, the B-1 0 matched or exceeded the speed of the
US pursuit aircraft of the time. Glenn L. Martin was awarded the Collier
Trophy for the B- 10 in I 9W.
In 1934 the Air Corp needed a show of air power, and ten B-10's under command
of Lt. Col. Henry"Hap" Arnold left Boiling Field near Washington DC on July
19 for Alaska. Flying by the way of Winnipeg and Edmonton, they arrived safety
in Fairbanks, Alaska, on July 24. For the next month, they flew numerous
exploratory flights over Alaska, including aerial photography of 23,000 square
miles of territory in only three days. The planes left Fairbanks on August
16 and returned to Washington, DC by way of Seattle and Omaha. They landed
at Bolling Field on August 20, completing the round trip of more than 7,000
miles, much of it over uncharted wilderness. For commanding this flight,
Hap Arnold won the 1-934 Mackay Trophy. All ten of the aircraft made it back,
including one that made a forced landing in Cook's Inlet in Anchotage and
was dried out!
After 1936, the Air Corps lost interest in the B-10 when it was decided a
longer-range bomber capable of daylight precision bombing was needed. This
eventually led to the B-17 and B-29, although 119 of the 151 of the B-10s
purchased by the Air Corps were still in service in the spring of 1940. The
last remaining B-10 is displayed in the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson
AFB. Ina letter to George Bunker, General McConnell (then Executive Director
of the Air Force Museum Foundation at WPAFB), called the B-10 . one oi the
most significant airplanes in the history of world-wide military aviation"'.