Forces of Valor 85246 USAAF Martin B-26B Marauder Medium Bomber - "The Big Hairy Bird", 599th Bombardment Squadron, 397th Bombardment Group, France, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"In the future, war will be waged essentially against the unarmed populations of the cities and great industrial centers."
- Italian General Giulio Douhet
The Martin B-26 Marauder was one of the most controversial American combat aircraft of the Second World War. It was primarily used in Europe, and was in fact numerically the most important USAAF medium bomber used in that theatre of action. However, on four occasions, investigation boards had met to decide if the development and production of the Marauder should continue. The Marauder survived all attempts to remove it from service, and by 1944, the B-26s of the US 9th Air Force had the lowest loss rate on operational missions of any American aircraft in the European theatre, reaching a point less than one half of one percent.
Despite its high landing speed of 130 mph, which remained essentially unchanged throughout the entire production career of the B-26 in spite of numerous modifications made to reduce it, the Marauder had no really vicious flying characteristics and its single-engine performance was actually fairly good. Although at one time the B-26 was considered so dangerous an aircraft that aircrews tried to avoid getting assigned to Marauder-equipped units and civilian ferry crews actually refused to fly B-26s, it turned out that the Marauder could be safely flown if crews were adequately trained and knew what they were doing. It nevertheless did demand somewhat of a higher standard of training from its crews than did its stablemate, the B-25 Mitchell. However, once mastered, the B-26 offered a level of operational immunity to its crews unmatched by any other aircraft in its class.
A total of 5157 B-26 Marauders were built. Although on paper the B-26 was a more advanced aircraft than its stablemate, the North American B-25 Mitchell, it was built in much fewer numbers because it was more expensive to manufacture and had a higher accident rate.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a USAAF Martin B-26B Marauder medium bomber known as "The Big Hairy Bird", which was attached to the 599th Bombardment Squadron, 397th Bombardment Group, then deployed to France during 1944.
Wingspan: 11.75 inches
Length: 9.25 inches
Release Date: January 2010
Historical Account: "Guardians of Freedom" - On the European continent, the 397th struck enemy positions at St Malo and Brest and bombed targets in the Rouen area as Allied armies swept across the Seine and advanced to the Siegfried Line. The group began flying missions into Germany in September, attacking such targets as bridges, defended areas, and storage depots.
The 397th struck the enemy's communications during the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944 - January 1945) and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission on December 23rd, 1944 when the group withstood heavy flak and fighter attack to sever a railway bridge at Eller, a vital link in the enemy's supply line across the Moselle.
The group continued to support the Allied drive into Germany until April 1945, being stationed at Venlo, Holland (Y-55) on VE-Day. It returned to the United States during December 1945 - January 1946, being inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey on January 6th, 1946.