MARTIN 1/9 B26 MARAUDER
Back in the United States, However, things were not going well. Most of the experienced pilots were already flying in combat, and top-notch instructors were in short supply. Then the Army Air Corps ordered that pilot training be shortened, and their flow to the squadrons accelerated. There was little time to give them the needed experience, and so they went direct from flying aircraft like the Beechcraft AT-9 to the B17, B-24, B-25 and the B-26.
This step was a giant one, particularly to the Marauder with its high performance and revolutionary features. It did not forgive mistakes, and the young pilots, fresh from the flying schools, often found the 130 mph landing speed and the tricky single engine operation more than they could handle. Added to this, experienced mechanics were also in short supply, and soon the number of training accidents began to increase dramatically. Wrecked aircraft and dead aircrews were not the best recommendation to the young crew members being posted to the Marauder training units. At McDill Field at Tampa, Florida, the phrase "One a day in Tampa Bay" was not an idle one, and many Marauders taking off over Tampa Bay suffered a severe loss of engine power and ended up in the water. By the autumn of 1943, the situation brought down an Investigation Board and shortly afterwards the board ordered that all B-26's be grounded.
The Glenn Martin Company soon came up with the causes of the major problems - inexperience and lack of proper training of both ground and aircrews. Another contributing factor was that the Army Air Corps had continued to specify more and more equipment, adding more than 8000 lbs to the all-up weight. A crash programme was initiated at all Marauder training bases, with mechanics and engineers from the Baltimore plant working alongside the ground crews, teaching them the proper maintenance procedure for the R-2800 engines. Experienced Marauder pilots flew with the instructors and showed that the aircraft would fly on one engine, and that disaster was not inevitable if an engine was lost on take-off . The procedures were not complicated, but they had to be carried out correctly and at once. Automatic reaction was essential - with airspeed dropping quickly below 150 mph, and dangerously near stalling speed, the first step was full power on the good engine - immediately. Then and only then, the clean up procedure could be started, feather the propeller on the dead engine, and trim for straight and level.
A number of mechanical problems manifested themselves. One was the failure of nylon diaphragms on the engine carburetors caused by use of inferior material by a sub-contractor. It was corrected by strengthening the diaphragm by adding a rubber cover. Another was the habit of electrically controlled propellers to go fully fine on take-off (a "runaway prop") resulting in severe loss ofpower. This was solved after the Glenn Martin engineers discovered that the aircraft batteries were being used excessively on the round, leaving them in a very low charge state. A change of procedures here, with the use of the portable power unit, or a battery cart on the ground, virtually eliminated this problem. The number of accidents began to decrease, as confidence and experience continued to increase among the crews, until they were within the normal training parameters. In fact, they were eventually below those of the P-40, P-38, B-fl, and 3-24. Many men, and women, were involved in keeping the Marauder in the forefront of bomber operations, despite the paranoia that existed in some circles, both military and political, which demanded that the aircraft was too dangerous and should be totally withdrawn.
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