Martin Mars Water Bomber
Year Deployed as
a water bomber:
4- R 2,500 hp ea.
119 ft. 6 in.
202 ft. 7 in.
5 1/2 hours
The Martin Mars Water Bomber is world's largest propeller driven water bomber and the largest propeller driven seaplane ever to enter production. The U.S. Navy contracted for the development of large transport aircraft in 1935. In answer the manufacturer enlarged their PBM Mariner patrol bomber to produce the JRM-1 Mars series of aircraft. This went on to become the Mars Water Bomber.
After successful testing of the prototype, the U.S. Navy ordered 20 aircraft. The first was delivered in June 1945, but with the end of the war the Navy cut their order to only five additional aircraft for a total of six in all, with the last one delivered in 1947.
The production Mars aircraft entered service transporting cargo from the U.S. to Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. Through the years, four of the aircraft were lost in various incidents. One of the aircraft set a load weight record of 62,282 lbs. in 1948 and another record for carrying 269 people aloft in 1949.
The Martin Mars Water Bomber entered service in 1963. Two aircraft, the Hawaiian Mars and the Philippine Mars, were converted to water bombers. They were operated by Coulson Flying Tankers, Inc. on Sproat Lake near Port Alberni, British Columbia.
In 2007 one of the two aircraft, the Hawaiian Mars, was temporarily based at Lake Elsinore in Southern California. It was employed to fight Southern California blazes.
The Philippine Mars was retired as a water bomber and Coulson is hoping to place it in a museum.
The Hawaiian Mars was put on display during the Oshkosh, WI air show in 2016 where its bottom was damaged. It has since been repaired, but more modern aircraft are now being used for fighting blazes. It has since been placed on sale.
Pictured above is Ivan Pettigrew with his Martin Mars Water Bomber from Ivan's Plans. It is 1/20 scale with a ten foot wingspan. Powering it are four Jamara HS BB motors geared 4.1:1.