A few years ago I was with the Silly Air Patrol and had a chance to attend one of their events, the National Blue Beret.
While I was there I had a pleasure of meeting some now really good friends from Coulson. I had a chance of getting on the Martin.
The Martin Mars is a four engine cargo float plane designed by the Martin Company in World War Two. Five of these Martins were built and began operation on 30 November 1943. The Marianas Mars, Philippine Mars, Marshall Mars, Caroline Mars and the Hawaiian Mars began flying cargo from Hawaii to the Pacific Islands. . On 4 March 1949, the Caroline Mars set a new world passenger load record by carrying 269 people from San Diego to Anaheim California On 5 April 1950, the Marshall Mars was lost near Hawaii when an engine fire consumed the airplane after her crew had evacuated. The remaining “Big Four” flew record amounts of Naval cargo on the San Francisco - Hawaii route. They finally were retired in 1956 from Military service. In 1959 the remaining Mars aircraft were to be sold for scrap, but a Canadian company, Forest Industries Flying Tankers (FIFT), was formed and bid for the four aircraft and a large spares inventory. The four aircraft were flown to Fairey Aviation at Victoria, British Columbia, for conversion into Water bombers. The conversion involved the installation of a 7,200 US gal ywood tank in the cargo bay with retractable pick-up scoops to allow uploading of water while the aircraft was taxiing. The scoops allowed 30 tons of water to be taken on board in 22 seconds. Later some of the hull fuel tanks were replaced with water tanks. The Marianas Mars was lost in on 23 June 1961 during firefighting operations, all four crew members were lost. . Just over a year later, on 12 October 1962 while parked onshore at the Victoria airport, the Caroline Mars was damaged beyond repair by Typhoon Fedra when she was blown 200 yards, breaking her back. The Hawaiian and Philippine had their conversion into water bombers advanced and entered service in 1963. The Hawaiian and Philippine finally retired in 2013 due to political red tape by the Government of British Columbia. Here’s my shots of the Mars!
(They wouldn’t allow the public to go on the wing this was an awesome opportunity)