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HistoryNaval Air Transport Service HistoryHistory

Circa 1948

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...25MAY48--Two Support Wings were established and placed under a Commander, Fleet Logistics Support Wings, to provide, subsequent to the merger of Navy and Air Force air transport commands, such air logistic support services over routes of sole Navy interest as would be required for internal administration and the fulfillment of the Navy's mission..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...01JUN48----The Naval Air Transport Service and the Air Transport Service of the Air Force Air Transport Command, were consolidated to form the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) as a unified element of the National Military Establishment under the command and direction of the U. S. Air Force. (to become MAC, then AMC)..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...01JUL48----The Naval Air Transport Service, which had remained in being after the establishment of MATS to assist in the transfer of Navy units to the new organization, was disestablished after 6 l/2 years of distinguished service..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]


Circa 1946

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...This is from my Dad's (LCDR Hjalmer A. Jordal) personal collection - NATS Naval Air Ferry Squadron 2 (VRF-2) - NAS North Island, San Diego, California - July 1946 - October 1946..." Contributed by La Dona ladonam@prodigy.net [11FEB2011]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraNATS History "...09JUL46 - Publication Title: Black and White and Color Photographs of U.S. Air Force and Predecessor Agencies Activities, Facilities, and Personnel - World War II - Content Source: NARA - Partner: NARA - Footnote Publication Year: 2007 - Classified Status: This image has been declassified under the following NARA Authority: NND983062 - War Theater Number: 11 - War Theater: East Asia - Place: Ryukyu Retto - Category: Aircraft, Landing - Sub Category: Douglas - Short Caption: A C-54 Douglas 'Skym... - Caption: A C-54 Douglas 'Skymaster' Comes In From Guam On Yonta Airstrip, After Six Hour Flight. These Planes Of The Nats (Naval Air Transport Service) Carried High Priority Personnel, Medical Equipment And Supplies. On The Return Trip To Guam They Carried Wound - Photo Series: WWII - Updated Subject: RYUKYU RETTO, AIRCRAFT, LANDING,DOUGLAS - History: Original 4" x 5" negative received 9 July 1946 from Air Evaluation Board, SWPA, Orlando Army Air Base, Orlando, Florida. - NARA Reference Number: 342-FH-3A04044-63879AC - Record Group: 342 - Series: FH - WebSite: http://www.footnote.com/..." Forwarded by Stephen Miller f134kilmil@comcast.net [28AUG2008]


Circa 1945-1946

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...This is from my Dad's (LCDR Hjalmer A. Jordal) personal collection - NATS Naval Air Ferry Squadron 3 (VRF-3) - NAS San Pedro, California - August 1945 - June 1946..." Contributed by La Dona ladonam@prodigy.net [11FEB2011]

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Circa 1945

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History Thumbnail NATS History "...Our Navy - First of November, 1945 - The Navy's Sky Hosts - Flight Orderly, USN - Wartime Steward for the Planes of NATS by Robert Garrick..." Official U. S. Navy Magazine [05JUN2013]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraNATS History "...26NOV1945 - Bettens Takes Over Sand Point Squad 5 - Publication Title: 13th Naval District Public Information Department Press Clippings, 1942-1960 - Content Source: NARA - Publication Number: P2012 - Date Range: 1942-1946 - Reel Number: 0001 - WebSite: http://www.footnote.com/..." Forwarded by Stephen Miller f134kilmil@comcast.net [28AUG2008]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...NATS Packet - Naval Air Transport Service Command - Pacific Fleet - Sptember 1945. VR-1 photo 5, VR-2 photo's 12, 14, 15 and 16, VR-3 photo 12, VR-4 photo's 8, 9, 12, 13 and 14, VR-5 photo's 9, 13 and 14, VR-6 photo 5, VR-11 photo's 9, 14 and 15, and VR-13 photo's 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18..." Contributed by COX, Douglas C. COXMARINEINS@AOL.COM [26FEB2005]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...In August 1945 I flew on PB2Y-5 BUNO: 7241 with VR-2 (left) and BUNO: 7241 (center and right) in NATS Packet September 1945..." Contributed by COX, Douglas C. COXMARINEINS@AOL.COM [26FEB2005]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...In November 1944 I flew on PB2Y-3 BUNO: 02745 with VR-2 (left) and BUNO: 02745 (right) in "The NATS - Pacific Fleet - PB2Y-R" - NATS Packet July 1945 Page 5..." Contributed by COX, Douglas C. COXMARINEINS@AOL.COM [26FEB2005]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: NATS Packet "...NATS Packet - Naval Air Transport Service Command - Pacific Fleet - July 1945..A few squadrons mentioned include: VR-2 Page 7, 10, 12, 14 and 15, VR-3 Page 14, VR-4 Page 7, 8 and 14, VR-5 Page 7, VR-11 Page 1 and 2 and VR-13 Page 7..." [06FEB2005]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP History ThumbnailCameraNATS History "...Photo #: 80-G-K-6096 (Color) - Seaman 1st Class Patricia A. Branch, USNR(W) Attends to an officer passenger on a trans-continental Naval Air Transport Service flight, circa mid-1945. Note her "NATS Flight Orderly" insignia, and his service dress grey uniform. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/prs-tpic/females/wvw2-av.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...03MAR45--The Naval Air Transport Service was reorganized and established as a Fleet Command with headquarters at NAAS Oakland, to operate under the immediate direction of CinC and CNO..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...03MAR45--Responsibility for evacuating wounded personnel was assigned to the Naval Air Transport Service..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...NATS Delivers Mail To Okinawa - Naval Aviation News - September 1945.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1945/1sep45.pdf [10NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...NAS New Orleans - Naval Aviation News - July 1945.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1945/1jul45.pdf [10NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Radio Aids NATS - Naval Aviation News - July 1945.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1945/1jul45.pdf [10NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Naval Air Transport Service - Naval Aviation News - June 1945.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1945/1jun45.pdf [10NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...NATS Line Maintenance School - Naval Aviation News - May 1945.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1945/15may45.pdf [10NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) - Naval Aviation News - January 1945.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1945/15jan45.pdf [10NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: NATS Publication "...Naval Air Transport Service Command Atlantic Wing August 1945 Vol. 1, No. 1 Publication...'The "Old Lady" and her daughter! First of the new JRMs, the Hawaii Mars looks sleek, alim, and streamlined alongside her predecessor, the old Mars, as they fly over Baltimore on the former's maiden public flight. For study in contract, the SNJ goes along for the ride.
History will record Saturday, July 21, as a very important day in the chronology of the Naval Air Transport Service. At the Martin Company's Middle River plant in Baltimore, two events took place which are destined to have a singular affect on the future development of NATS. In the forenoon, amid impressive ceremonies at the Martin athletic field, some 85 graduates of the JRM Line Maintenance School -- the first big class to complete training at that institution -- received their diplomas. Later in the day, at 1530 to be exact, the first JRM, christened the Hawaii Mars by Mrs. DeWitt Clinton Ramsey, slide gracefully into the blue waters of the Chesapeake at Strawberry Point, and minutes later was off on her maiden public flight. For NATS, these two connected events represent the beginning of the final work-stage in the forging of another chain of aerial supply lines to link our Pacific coast with the fighting fronts in the Far East. The Hawaii Mars, whose keel was laid on August 25, 1944, is the first of 20 giant flying boats built on specificiations derived from 16 months of transport operations with the "old" Mars in the Pacific. A distinct improvement over her prototype, she is longer, stronger and faster than the Mars, and her volume cargo capacity is one-third greater. Martin calls her a "flying warehouse" and, considering that the old Mars alone carried nearly thre million pounds of cargo on 78 round trips between Alameda and Honolulu, the advent of the Hawaii Mars and her 19 sister ships looms as a vitally important "assist" for the Naval Air Transport Service engaged in the mission of delivering the maximum amount of supplies to the fleet with the minimum delay.

The Atlantic Wing, through squadron VR-8, is scheduled to accept and "shake down" the JRMs and to train skilled crews to fly and maintain them. That's why so much significance is attached to the first big graduating class from the Line Maintenance School. These officers and men, followed by hundreds more, will form the nucleus of a group of working instructors who, after gaining practical experience in JRM operation and maintenance, will pass their knowledge on to the rest of the personnel who will man the new flying boats.

The Hawaii Mars will undergo an exhaustive series of flight tests by the Navy before being turned over to NATS. However, the second JRM will probably be delivered directly to VR-8 sometime in August. This flying boat, like her predecessor and her 18 sisters to follow, will be named after a Pacific Island which has been the scene of combat in World War II..." This was just one of many articles in this publication. Contributed by Edwin H. Gehricke jrmars@sover.net [08MAY2000]


Circa 1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraNATS History "...Recently Life Magazine (US) and Google placed the Life Magazine photo archives on-line. NATS transport in the background - Navy nurses arriving at Noumea during WWII. Location: New Caledonia - Date taken: 1944 - Photographer: Peter Stackpole..." WebSite: Life Archive http://images.google.com/ Contributed by John Szalay jpszalay01@insightbb.com [04MAY2010]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Life Magazine (US) and Google placed the Life Magazine photo archives on-line. Naval Air Transport Service - Photographer: Peter Stackpole. Search parameter's: Naval Air Transport source:life..." WebSite: Life Magazine http://images.google.com/ [16APR2010]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY:  History ThumbnailCameraNATS "...Delightful vintage 1944 photo from the Naval Air Station at Hononlulu, stamped as an official U.S. Navy Photograph Nov 25, 1944 with HNL Number 299396 featuring pilot (Harvey Gunderson) in the cockpit of a huge Navy transport plane with 18 islanders wrapped in native cloth waving to the pilot..." WebSite: EBay http://cgi.ebay.com/ Rare-1944-Navy-Air-Transport-Photo-with-Islanders_W0QQitemZ300004965354QQihZ020QQcategoryZ4727QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem [12JUL2006]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...WWII Aviator's Log Books: Thomas J. Merrick, USN (1944-1945) - Thomas Merrick, AAM 3rd Class, was assigned to patrol bombing squadron forty-three and flew out of sites in the Pacific Northwest including Seattle and Alaska (including NATS flight October 1944)..." Contributed by WebSite: Douglas Science & Technology Corporation http://www.dstc.org/ at http://www.dstc.org/w01/g05/m01/l08TM/lg_index.html [06MAR2005]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...23APR44--VR-3 operated the first regularly scheduled NATS transcontinental hospital flight between Washington, D.C., and March Field, Calif..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...15MAY44--The first of 16 special transatlantic flights was made by NATS aircraft to the United Kingdom to deliver 165,000 pounds of minesweeping gear essential to the safety of assault shipping during the Normandy invasion. The delivery was successfully completed 23 May..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...01JUN44--Air Transport Squadron 9 (VR-9) was formed at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland and VR-12 at Honolulu to function as headquarters and maintenance squadrons for their respective commands, NATS Atlantic and NATS Pacific..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Memories..." Contributed by Edwin H. Gehricke
jrmars@sover.net
Mars PicturesMars Pictures
Pacific --- Alameda 1946

When reporting at induction I was given the choice of service and chose the Navy with the intention of OCS and flight training. Boot camp was at Sampson New York followed by assignment to the Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) in Norman Oklahoma, which besides military training taught aviation maintenance and flight engineering. Most students upon graduation were assigned to aircraft carriers, land based Naval Air Stations and flight crews. I was retained as an instructor and became a part of the NATTC School staff.

Norman Oklahoma was a small town and home of The University of Oklahoma about 18 miles south of Oklahoma City. A great portion of the population was made up of Navy and Marine personnel as technical training was being conducted at the south base, cadet training at the university and flight training at the north base.

It was June 6, 1944 and my wife Violet and I were walking to town in Norman when church bells in all the churches started ringing. When we arrived at a coffee shop we heard the radio broadcast announcing the landing at NORMANDY. ...IT WAS "D" DAY. My duties with NATTC soon changed with rotation and after several reassignments to Hutchinson Kansas and Minneapolis I was granted a transfer to the Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) Squadron VR-8 based at Patuxent River Maryland.

VR-8 was the Atlantic Wing of NATS flying the Consolidated Vultee 4 engine PB2Y Coronados to and from South America. The PB2Ys were large seaplanes weighing about 33 tons fully loaded. Besides the PB2Ys, VR-8 was operating a huge prototype seaplane designated the XPB2M built by Martin. This aircraft was the predecessor to the JRM-ls being completed at this time by Martin.

The JRM-ls were named "MARS" and although twenty airplanes were ordered by the Navy only six JRMs were ever built. These aircraft were being assigned to VR-2 based in Alameda California. We at VR-8 Patuxent River Naval Air Station were selected to follow the JRMs to Alameda from which the PB2Ys were flying the Pacific areas. The events that dictated many of future operations and lives of military personnel included "VE" day on May 8, 1945 while I was stationed at Patuxent with my wife Violet who was employed by the US Navy.

In August of 1945 a transfer to VR-2 Alameda took place and my wife and I departed Patuxent for the new assignment. During our trip to California the Atom Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and Nagasaki on August 9th. We had just arrived in California when on August 14th the Japanese surrender took place followed by the official surrender on board the battleship Missouri on September 2, 1945. THE WAR WAS OVER!!!

The MARTIN MARS were now operational from Alameda and requirements for cargo and personnel transport brought significant focus on the MARS capabilities. The MARS had a gross weight of 72 plus tons and twice the size of the Pan AM 314 clippers. The war, now ended, also resulted in much military equipment to be disposed of and it was sad to see two Boeing 314 ex Pan AM 4 engine clippers landing gracefully in San Francisco Bay, taxiing to the VR-2 ramp and parked on the apron. They were destined for salvage. Across the bay could be seen the barges loaded with many types of military aircraft being lowed out to sea by large tugs for dumping.

The MARS aircraft now operating from Alameda were PHILIPPINE MARS, HAWAII MARS, MARSHALL MARS and MARIANAS MARS all. named after the Pacific Islands that they were serving. It was now 1946 and many of the military personnel were in the process of discharge and rehabilitation. The horrors of the war with Japan and remnents came in on every flight. Maintenance on the MARS were primarily performed at Alameda with lower level facilities at bases in the Pacific. VR-2 personnel were also being rotated and replaced because of separation activities.

I was reassigned to the Cavite JRM base in the Philippines in August of 1946. My wife Violet and our young son had been living in a government housing project in Alameda and were quite comfortable while I would be stationed in the Philippines. Our neighbors were all helpfull to each other and baby sitting was shared by our neighbor Phyllis Diller and her husband Sherwood. Readjustment following the war that just ended was evident in many ways of life. Phyllis Diller talked about having 9 children for a baseball team, Sherwood Diller was a part time self employed real estate agent under the name, of KILLER DILLER and was experimenting in building a radio in a plastic soap dish container. My brother Fred now separated from the Navy and living in Alameda was helping Sherwood Diller.

My interest, as limited as it could be, was photography and I had set up a darkroom in our closet. The cameras I had were a kodak box camera and a miniature toy camera which took film that I would have to cut from a standard Kodak roll of 620 film. We all shared our interests and we all knew that some day very soon we would go our separate ways. The apartments we lived in were in the Encinal housing project, one of the neighbors was the wife of a Navy man who was on his way back to the states. This woman who was a mother did her shopping in the local supermarket like everyone else and on a walk home from the store one evening was attacked and violated. We were notified by police and almost immediately contacted our neighbors and in vigilante fashon my brother Fred, Sherwood Diller, another neighbor and myself went on a search and destroy mission throughout the area with no success. She recovered and I believe to this day she bears the scars of that nightmare.

Mars Pictures


In Cavite we had a limited number of personnel and our duties consisted of maintaining the equipment and facilities. During a typhoon which swept the area all personnel slept in the NATS terminal building. The crash boat that was used to sweep the area waters before the MARS could land or take off was used for going to Manila whenever enough of the crew decided.

The terminal building was operational 24 hours a day and fully equipped with tele-communication equipment. Manning the terminal building was shared by all with different time schedules.The telefax machine was our link to Alameda and all other military bases and the messages "clicking" during the night watches were always monitored for any action that may be required.

On a night that I had the duty I sat at my post monitoring the messages which notified us that another typhoon was on its way and the prediction was severe. This message was followed by an order that Edwin Gehricke return to Alameda as soon as possible for separation. The next incoming flight of the MARS was not sheduled at this time and my orders were to report at Alameda before October 1, 1946.

I took a chance at getting a flight out of Clark Field on a military aircraft and was driven by jeep through the jungles via the village of Paranaque and Manila to Clark Field. Many planes that were scheduled to fly anywhere were being lashed down because of the hurricane and the flight I could have taken was grounded at Guam for the same reason. I returned to Cavite and learned that the MARSHAL MARS had departed Alameda for its trip-to the Philippines via our Pacific bases. The typhoon would have passed by the time it would arrive about September 24. My hopes were up and I now was looking forward to going home.

The MARSHAL MARS arrived and all hands "turned to" for unloading and onloading including the aluminum trunk I had made loaded with all my belongings. JATO bottles were attached to the Mars for take off assistance and we left in the evening for Saipan.

As in Cavite, cargo from Saipan was loaded and after two attempts we lifted off the water. The harbor in Saipan was cluttered with sunken ships and debris and the first take off had to be aborted because the take off area was too close to the reefs. Another all night flight took us to Majuro, VR-2s next base where we on loaded more cargo, refueling and checkout. As in Saipan I met with my shipmates from Alameda who were very envious at my opportunity to soon become a civilian.

The MARS was readied and we left for Majuro at about 1800 hours that evening. I was getting closer to home. The MARS had a galley on board with a crewman who doubled as a cook and all hands ate well having boxed food or a sit down meal in the lower level dining area.

THE MARSHALL MARS


On September 27, 1946, we were flying from MAJURO, an atoll in the Marshall Islands group, to HONOLULU. This was a scheduled flight by the Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) VR-2 Pacific Wing on the third leg of a trip from CAVITE (Manila) to ALAMEDA (San Fransisco/Oakland) Via SAIPAN, MAJURO and HONOLULU.

The aircraft was the MARSHALL MARS, Navy Designation JRM-1, the largest airplane in the world having a wingspan of 200 feet built by MARTIN, only four of these giant aircraft were operational and used exclusively by NATS VR-2. Now that the war with Japan had ended, all four MARS aircraft were being used to transport equipment, supplies and personnel to and from ALAMEDA and the Pacific Islands.

With heavy cargo on board including Admiral Towers's rattan furniture from Manila, we tookoff from the MAJURO lagoon at 1800 hours. Lifting from the water required the aid of 12 JATO bottles for Jet Assisted Takeoff and all was proceeduraland normal. The all night flight would have brought us to HONOLULU at about 0700 hours the next morning.

At about 0330 hours while the relief flight crew were resting on the flight deck an engine problem developed on the starboard wing. Number three engine was experiencing a faulty prop motor and would have to be shut down. Inadvertently number four engine was put into full feather causing a tremendous vibration and was immediately shut down along with number three inboard engine. After correction of propeller pitch on number four outboard engine the engine was restarted and the MARS was now flying on only three engines. Having lost altitude from about 9000 feet it became apparent we had an emergency because altitude could not be maintained.

Our position was radiod to all area stations and the plane commander ordered all crew to prepare for the possibility of dumping cargo if an open sea landing in heavy seas would be to dangerous. Our descent continued until visual obervation confirmed a rough sea but suitable for a landing. Dawn was now breaking and our commander brought the MARS down on the sea beautifully. Our location fortunately was in reasonable proximity to JOHNSON Island a MARINE Corps Base and with three engines the MARS was able to taxi over water until it reached JOHNSON Island and anchor off shore.

From JOHNSON Island a communication to ALAMEDA resulted in a replacement prop motor being flown in by another NATS R5D from HONOLULU. With onboard scaffolding removed from the aircraft and secured under number three engine (over the water) the repairs were made and the MARS was made ready for takeoff and continuation of the scheduled flight.

The photograph above was taken from the port side wingtip prior to departure with my Kodak Brownie 620 camera using Kodak plus X film. JOHNSON Island can be seen in the background.

It is to be noted that on April 5, 1950 the MARSHALL MARS was forced to make a crash landing at sea near Oahu Island Hawaii. A new engine (number 3) was being flight tested and caught fire causing a massive explosion. The crew of seven escaped in life rafts and the MARSHALL MARS sank to the bottom in more than 100 fathoms off Keehi Lagoon.

Circa 1943-1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Naval Seaplane Base Brisbane, Australia - Attached are some photos sent to me by G. A. Nicholson of Brisbane, from his collection. After Pearl Harbor, Pan Am was contracted to fly priority mail and personnel to MacArthur's HQ in Brisbane. They used their Martin 130 Clippers and later USN Catalinas, Coronados and Mariners. The NATS (Naval Air Transport Service) seaplane base was quickly built on the Brisbane River at Colmslie and included a seaplane ramp and maintenance facilities as well as a USN and Pan Am radio station. Imperial Airways (BOAC), RAAF and QUANTAS also used the facilities and also had their moorings along the river. It was taken over by Barrier Reef Airways after the war. It is now the Colmslie Recreational Park. The current boat ramp was the seaplane slip at the seaplane base..." Forwarded by McLAUGHLIN, LT Bob banddmcl1964@msn.com [15MAR2013]

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Circa 1943

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...13DEC43 - Crew of Record-Breaking Giant "MARS" - Members of the crew of the giant MARS new cargo-carrying flying boat of the NATS, line up at the NAS Patuxent River, Maryland for their "Album" picture after a flight to and from NAF Natal, Brazil which broke four records - Associated Press Photo from U. S. Navy..." WebSite: EBay http://www.ebay.com [02JUN2008]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...NATS Planes Get Insignia - Naval Aviation News - December 1943.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1943/15dec43.pdf [08NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Note To VP, VR Squadrons - Naval Aviation News - October 1943.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1943/1oct43.pdf [08NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Naval Air Transports - Naval Aviation News - August 1943.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1943/15aug43.pdf [08NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...13FEB43--The Naval Air Transport Service was reorganized and the establishment of Wings was directed for the Atlantic and Pacific coast squadrons..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...01MAR43--Air Transport Squadrons, West Coast, was established at NAAS Oakland with control over all NATS squadrons west of the Mississippi except those on the mainland to Honolulu run..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...29MAR43--Air Transport Squadrons, Atlantic, was established at Norfolk to supervise and direct operations of NATS squadrons based on the Atlantic seaboard..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...03MAY43--Air Transport Squadron 1 (VR-1), based at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, extended the area of its operations with a flight to Prestwick, Scotland, via Reykjavik, Iceland. This was the first R5D operation in the Naval Air Transport Service..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...27NOV43--The first of the Martin Mars Flying boats was delivered to VR-8 at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...01DEC43--The Naval Air Ferry Command was established as a Wing of the Naval Air Transport Service. It assumed the functions previously performed by Aircraft Delivery Units in ferrying new aircraft from contractor plants and modification centers to embarkation points for ultimate delivery to the Fleet..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...History Of The Martin MARS Aircraft..." WebSite: http://www.city.port-alberni.bc.ca/fire/Links/marshist.htm [23NOV2004]

The Martin MARS is simply a huge airplane. With a wingspan of 200 feet (61 m), the length of a city block, and a height of 48 feet (14.64 m), approximately four or five stories, the MARS was the largest aircraft in operation from its first flight in 1942 until the first Boeing 747 flew. The two-story interior is asbig as a 15 room house, and the flight deck could be a studio apartment. A spiral staircase connects the flight deck with the cabin. The MARS remains today the largest operational flying boat, and next to Howard Hughes' so-called Spruce Goose, the second-largest flying boat ever built.

The MARS type was born in the late 1930's with a contract from the US Navy for a new patrol bomber flying boat.

After three years, 60,000 pounds (27215 kg) of aluminum alloy, 3 million rivets, 2 miles (3.2 km) of conduit, 7.5 miles (12.1 km) of wire, and 300 gallons (1136 l) of paint, the prototype was completed. On November 5, 1941, XPB2M-1, nicknamed `Old Lady,` was launched from the Martin Factory in Little River, Maryland into the Patapsco river. However, it would not be until six months later that the first MARS would take flight. During testing, Old Lady threw a propeller blade from the number three engine, tearing a gash in the top of the fuselage and starting a fire in the engine that consumed the engine, engine mounts, and part of the wing.

During repairs, it was decided to convert Old Lady to a transport aircraft, rather than a patrol bomber. The Navy required better supply lines to Hawaii following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the MARS was a natural choice.

The gun turrets were removed, and the aircraft was prepared for transport duty. Finally, on the 23rd of June, 1943, the re-designated XPB2Y-1R made its maiden flight.

Old Lady was an instant success. She could carry record payloads over record distances, and could climb at 300 feet per minute (91.5 m/min) with two of its four engines inoperative. On October 4th and 5th, Old Lady broke the international seaplane endurance record by flying a 4,600 mile (7403 km) closed course, staying aloft for 32 hours and 17 minutes.

After being delivered to the Naval Aviation Transport Service (NATS) in November, 1943, Old Lady broke another record by flying non-stop from the Patuxent river (USA) to Natal, Brazil, a distance of 4,375 miles (7041 km). The MARS was carrying 13,000 pounds (5897 kg) of cargo, which put it 8,500 pounds (3856 kg) over its maximum certified gross weight of 140,000 pounds (63504 kg). On the return trip (made in 4 legs), the MARS broke another record by carrying 34,811 pounds (15790 kg) of cargo from Belem, Brazil to Trinidad, British West Indies.

In 1944, Old Lady was delivered to VR-2 in Alameda, California to be used on the longest over-sea air route in the world (at the time) - California to Hawaii, a distance of 2400 miles. Old Lady did an outstanding job in the role, carrying loads as heavy as 20,000 pounds (9072 kg). Before being retired in 1945, Old Lady carried a total of over 3 million pounds (1.34 million kg) of cargo.

The MARS had impressed the Navy, which in January of 1945 placed an order for 20 improved MARS models, designated as the JRM-1. The JRM-1 was designed explicitly for the transport role. In place of Old Lady's twin vertical stabilizers, the JRM-1 had a single vertical stabilizer that improved directional control. The JRM's hull was 3 feet (0.9 m) longer than Old Lady's, and the cargo doors were larger. Inside, Old Lady's bulkheads had been replaced by frames in the JRM, which improved interior cargo space. The JRMs had two levels, with reinforced decking to accommodate vehicle cargo. Larger fuel tanks enabled the JRM's to fly nearly 5000 miles (8047 km) without refueling. The gross weight was increased from 140,000 pounds (63503 kg) to 155,000 pounds (70306 kg), thanks in part to the 18-cylinder Wright Cyclone R-3350-8 engines, each of which produced 2300 horsepower for takeoff.

The JRM-1 made its first flight on July 21, 1945. Unfortunately, disaster struck, and the aircraft sank 15 days later in Chesapeake Bay after a landing mishap. Salvage was determined to be uneconomical, and construction continued on the second JRM-1.

The second JRM-1, nicknamed the 'Marshall MARS,' was commissioned with VR-2 in Alameda, California in February of 1946. On its second flight with VR-2, it broke Old Lady's record payload on the California to Hawaii route by carrying 27,427 pounds (12441 kg) of cargo. Following the Marshall MARS, the Marianas MARS, Philippine MARS and Hawaii MARS were all delivered to VR-2 for service on the California - Hawaii route.

The US Navy canceled the remaining MARS orders during post-war cutbacks, and the last MARS delivered was the Caroline MARS, a new version designated the JRM-2 and fitted with powerful Pratt & Whitney "Corncob" R-4360 Wasp Senior radial engines. Each engine had four rows of 7 cylinders, for a total of 28 cylinders per engine. On takeoff, the engines produced 3000 horsepower each, for a total power availability of 12,000 horsepower between the four engines. The higher power output enabled another increase in gross weight, from 155,000 pounds (70306 kg) to 165,000 pounds (74842 kg). Cruising speed was a swift 173 miles per hour (278 km/h). Delivered in May of 1948, the Caroline MARS was the grand finale to the MARS line of flying boats.

The MARS continued to set records well after its production run ended. Payloads on the California - Hawaii route increased to as much as 38,000 pounds (17236 kg). The record payload rose to 68,327 pounds (30992 kg), and the record passenger load was 301 men plus 7 crew. The Marshall MARS met an untimely end near Hawaii after an in-flight fire. The crew successfully executed an open-sea landing, but after attempts to extinguish the fire failed, they were forced to abandon the Marshall MARS. While the aircraft was lost, the crew was unhurt. In 87,000 hours of service with the US Navy, the MARS maintained an unblemished record with passengers aboard.

By 1956, the MARS had outlived its usefulness for the Navy and had been condemned to the scrap yard. However, after a series of disastrous fire seasons in British Columbia, a group of logging companies heard about the availability of the MARS. The MARS was ideally suited to British Columbia's abundance of waterways and shortage of strategically placed airfields. MacMillan Bloedel took the initiative and formed Forest Industry Flying Tankers Limited (FIFT), in partnership with Pacific Forest Products Limited and TimberWest Forest Limited. The new company purchased the last four remaining Martin MARS from the US Navy in 1959.The Marianas MARS was sent to Fairy Aviation of Canada for modifications. After installation of a 7206 US gallon (27276 l) plywood holding tank and retractable filling probes, the Marianas MARS was put into service again in mid-1960, registered as C-FLYJ.

Flying as low as 150 feet, the MARS could wet down 3 to 4 acres (1.2 to 1.6 ha) per drop, and return in 15 minutes with another load. It was the ideal solution for FIFT's fire fighting needs, and dramatically reduced forest fire losses in its first year of operation.

The program was put in jeopardy after a tragic accident on the 23 of June, 1961. The Marianas MARS struck trees and crashed during a fire fighting operation, killing all four crew members and destroying the aircraft. Early reports indicated that there was no sign of mechanical failure, and no definite cause has been documented.

Because of the impressive performance of the Marianas MARS, FIFT went ahead and converted the Philippine MARS (C-FLYK) in 1962 for water bombing use. Disaster struck again on October 12, 1962 when another MARS, and the only JRM-2, the Caroline MARS (C-FLYM), was destroyed on the ground in a freak wind storm. Tied down on beaching gear at Victoria International Airport, the airplane fell victim to Typhoon Frieda, which packed winds up to 75 miles per hour (121 km/h). The tie-down lines broke, and the beaching gear collapsed. The Caroline MARS was sent skidding across the tarmac. After the storm, it was determined that the Caroline MARS was irreparably damaged and the only JRM-2 was scrapped.

In 1964, the last remaining unconverted MARS, the Hawaii MARS (C-FLYL), was converted for water bombing use. Since then, the two surviving MARS have had an outstanding safety record. Today, the aircraft are still in use, based from Sproat Lake near Port Alberni in British Columbia. FIFT's self-sufficient staff of maintenance technicians, engineers and pilots keeps these humongous birds flying. FIFT has a stockpile of parts and engines that should keep the MARS operable indefinitely. Twenty engines are kept in pressurized containers, with an average of one engine swap per year. FIFT pilots are highly experienced, with a minimum total time requirement of 5000 hours, most of which is in seaplanes in British Columbia.

FIFT is located on Sproat Lake, near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The address is RR#3, Lakeshore Road, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7L7. They can be reached by phone at (604) 723-6225 and FAX at (604) 723-6200. The company is owned and operated by Pacific Forest Product Limited, TimberWest Forest Limited and MacMillan Bloedel Limited.

[1] ORIGINS / THE XPBM2M-1

* US Navy interest in a large flying boat, or "flying dreadnought", to be used for long-range ocean patrol, began in 1935, and resulted in a contract awarded to Glenn L. Martin Company in late 1938. The new aircraft was designated the XPB2M-1, or "MARS".

The XPB2M-1 was rolled out from the hangar at Martin's Middle River, Maryland, plant in September 1941. The "Old Lady", as it would come to be known, was a monster, with a wingspan of 61 meters (200 feet), a length of 36 meters (117 feet), and an empty weight of 34.3 tonnes (75,573 pounds). The aircraft was propelled by four Wright 18-cylinder Duplex Cyclone radial engines, each delivering 2,000 HP. The new aircraft was heavily armed by the standards of the time, with tail and nose turrets, waist gun positions, a retractable top turret, and bomb bays in the fuselage and in the wing roots.

The Old Lady nearly came to grief on 5 December 1941, when one of the engines caught fire. Fortunately, the engine burned off its mounts and fell into the water, preventing the destruction of the entire aircraft. The Old Lady made its first flight on 23 June 1942, after the engines had been replaced with 2,200 HP Cyclones and the wooden three-bladed propellers had been replaced by metal ones. Each of the huge new propellers was 5 meters (16.5 feet) in diameter.

Martin continued test flights on the aircraft until November 1942, when the Old Lady was passed on to the Navy. By this time the Navy had decided that big lumbering easy-target patrol bombers were not such a good idea after all, and the flying boat was converted to a cargo aircraft before it was handed over. All the turrets and guns, bomb bays, and armor plate were removed, cargo-loading hatches and cargo-loading equipment were installed, and the decking was reinforced. The modified aircraft was designated XPB2M-1R.

The XPB2M-1R operated in a training role out of the Naval Air Station (NAS) at Patuxent River, Maryland, until January 1944, when it was transferred to the Naval Air Station at Almeda, California. It made 78 round trips between San Francisco, and Honolulu until being retired in March 1945. The Old Lady was then overhauled and used by Martin for training.

[2] THE JRM MARS

* The Navy was pleased enough with the Old Lady that they decided to order 20 of an improved version, for the specific purpose of proving heavy air transport between Alameda and Honolulu. The new version was designated JRM-1.

The first JRM-1, named the "Hawaii MARS", was completed in June 1945. The Hawaii MARS had the same wing and float structure as the Old Lady, but was otherwise extensively redesigned. The powerplants were upgraded to 2,400 horsepower R-3350-8 engines, the twin-tail was replaced by a tall single vertical tail, large cargo doors with electric hoists were installed under the wings with smaller cargo doors placed farther aft, and the internal layout was optimized for cargo and transport operations.

Martin JRM-1 Hawaii MARS

The JRM-1's maximum cargo capacity was almost 16 tonnes (35,000 pounds). The aircraft could be configured to carry 133 troops, or 84 litters (with 25 seats) for the medevac role, on its two decks. Unfortunately, the Hawaii MARS was lost in an accident in Chesapeake Bay on 5 August 1945.

A few days later the war was over, and the Navy decided they didn't need 20 JRM-1's after all. Five more MARS flying boats, were completed instead: the Philippine MARS, the Marianas MARS, the Marshall MARS, a second Hawaii MARS, and the single JRM-2, the Caroline MARS, delivered in July 1947 and equipped with 3,000 HP Pratt & Whitney R-4360-4T engines.

The Marianas MARS was lost on 5 May 1950, off Diamond Head in Hawaii. One of her engines caught fire, and though the pilot put her down on the water and a rescue crew on a boat tried to help, the fire spread and the aircraft spectacularly exploded. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries in the incident.

All the four surviving aircraft were upgraded to the JRM-3 standard by fitting them with

Wright R-3350-24WA engines and reversible props on the inner pair of engines. They operated mostly on the San-Francisco-Honolulu run, and set a number of records for freight hauling. The Navy was very happy with them, finding them reliable and economical to operate.

The "Big Four" were retired in 1956. After being parked at NAS Almeda for three years, they were finally sold for scrap in 1959. However, that wasn't the end of the story.

[3] THE MARS WATER BOMBERS

See: http://www.martinmars.com/

* In the late 1950s, the Canadian Pacific-coast province of British Columbia was badly hit by a series of forest fires, and in 1958 the lumber companies met to discuss what to do in response. One of the recommendations was to make greater use of "water bombers" -- aircraft converted to dump water on fires.

Unfortunately, existing aircraft types used as water bombers, such as Beavers, Otters, Avengers and so on, couldn't carry enough water to really dowse a fire. A water-bomber pilot named Dan McIvor suggested that using surplus flying boats would give the fire-fighters the clout they needed. However, big flying boats were a thing of the past and most of them had been scrapped.

In the spring of 1959, McIvor learned that the US Navy intended to sell its huge Mars flying boats for scrap. McIvor knew that the Mars would be the best water bomber of all the aircraft he had considered, and called the Navy immediately.

The bids had been closed, but the Navy gave McIvor the name of the winning bidder. McIvor called them and arranged to buy the four aircraft for a slight markup over their bid, paying the remarkably cheap sum of $100,000 US for all four. McIvor was apparently quite an energetic guy, as he then managed not only to acquire spare engines and the entire Navy parts stock and documentation archive for the archive for a small sum.

The four JRMs were flown to British Columbia during August and September 1959. The Caroline Mars was pressed into service for training, while the Marianas Mars was being converted into a water bomber by Fairey Aviation. All extraneous gear was stripped out, a single 22,700 liter (6,000 US gallon) fiberglassed-plywood tank was installed, and two retractable scoops were built into the hull. New radio equipment and a spiffy red-and-white paint scheme completed the upgrade.

The Marianas Mars began its service in Spring 1960. Unfortunately, McIvor ended up being grounded because of his eyesight, and his replacements weren't nearly as capable. On 23 June 1960, a pilot named Richman failed to heed the recommendations of an observer on a fire-spotting aircraft and cartwheeled the Marianas Mars through the treetops, killing himself and the other three crewmen.

As a result, the conversion of the Caroline Mars to a water bomber was accelerated. In 1962 McIvor, who had got his license back on appeal, demonstrated the wisdom of his selection of the Mars flying boats by putting out a serious fire with the Caroline Mars before ground crews even managed to get to the scene. Unfortunately, the Caroline Mars was completely wrecked by a storm that winter.

That left the Philippine Mars and the Hawaii Mars. Fairey Aviation immediately proceeded to convert them to water bombers as they had the other two aircraft. They also added a new secondary tank to contain "Gelgard", a thickening agent that was added to the water to make it viscous and not run off so readily.

The two water bombers went into service during the fire season in 1963, and remain in service to this day.


Circa 1942

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...History - by M.L. Shettle, Jr. - http://www.militarymuseum.org/NASTeminalIsland.html..." Contributed by EASTMAN, Jack G. vsnavy.org@westnet.com.au [17MAY2005]

Long Beach and San Pedro serve as the harbor for the greater Los Angeles area. During World War I, the Navy established an operating base at San Pedro that remained in use through the 1920s and 30s. In 1935, a need arose for an aviation facility to support the floatplanes of battleships and cruisers. The harbor's sand-filled Terminal Island was leased for no charge from the City of Los Angeles. The WPA provided initial construction of the break water, a seaplane ramp, a concrete parking mat, and three runways that reached completion in June 1937. Work continued with the addition of hangars, barracks, and other facilities in the fall. The station commissioned on March 1, 1938, as NAS San Pedro, California, and went through a series of name changes before finally settling on Terminal Island.

In early 1939, the Navy began construction of a training facility nearby, named Roosevelt Base, and a shipyard. On October 1, 1941, the Navy formed an Aircraft Delivery Unit (ADU) at the air station. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army stationed P-40 and P-38 interceptors at the airfield with the permission of the Navy. In January 1942, VS-46 began operating the inshore patrol mission from the base with 12 OS2U Kingfishers. The same month, the Army built eight concrete revetments on the airfield to protect its aircraft. The primary mission of the air station became the major West Coast Aircraft Delivery Unit. In the last six months of 1942, the ADU commissioned 200 aircraft a month from the Douglas and Lockheed factories in the area including the SBD, SNV, PV, and the A-24 (SBDs for the Army). Meanwhile NATS's VR-2, began three flights a week.

During 1943, activity continued to rise. VR-2's ser vice increased to daily with VR-3 beginning two daily transcontinental flights. Scouting squadrons continued operating from the station and from August to December of the year, VS-52 conducted operational training with SBDs. During the year, the ADU's deliveries averaged 434 aircraft a month including Culver TD2C drones, PB2Bs, PB2Y-3R transports, Canadian produced SB2Cs, and PBYs from Consolidated's new plant in New Orleans. NAS Terminal Island, California reached the limit of its capacity; therefore, an Auxiliary Aircraft Acceptance Unit opened at Litchfield Park, Arizona, to accept the PB4Ys Liberators from San Diego. On December 1, the ferry squadron, VRF-3, commissioned at NAS Terminal Island, California. Army continued to operate interceptors and added antiaircraft guns plus barrage balloons. During 1944, the station started performing aircraft modifications. At the end of 1944, the ADU began receiving the new Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon. VJ-12 also arrived and remained to war's end.

NAS Terminal Island, California had three asphalt runways with the longest 4900 ft. In March 1944, personnel totaled 341 officers, 1274 enlisted men, and 420 civilians. Billeting was available for 171 officers and 1054 men. Peak utilization of the station occurred in the spring of 1945, with over 300 aircraft on board. VRF-3 operated 18 aircraft -- mostly light transports. The station proper had approximately 20 aircraft assigned. An Assembly and Repair Department maintained an aircraft pool that reached over 100.

NAS Terminal Island, California closed in 1947, and its property assigned to the Bureau of Yards and Docks. Growth of the Long Beach Naval Shipyard eventually obliterated the former airfield's runways. The 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended closing the shipyard.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...01APR42--First Naval Air Transportation Service (NATS) squadron for Pacific operations commissioned..." WebSite: Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil/wars/datesapr.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...01APR42--VR-2 established at NAS Alameda, California..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...15MAY42--A VR-2 flight from NAS Alameda, California to Honolulu, the first transoceanic flight by NATS aircraft, initiated air transport service in the Pacific..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...26JUN42--Scheduled Naval Air Transport Service operations between the West coast and Alaska were initiated by VR-2..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...15JUL42--VR-3 established at Kansas City, Kansas..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...06SEP42--The first Naval Air Transport Service flight to NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, marked the beginning of air transport expansion along the eastern seaboard that during the month extended briefly to Iceland and reached southward to the Canal Zone and Rio de Janeiro..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...07SEP42--Air Transport Squadron 2 (VR-22), based at NAS Alameda, California, established a detachment at NAS Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and began a survey flight to the South Pacific as a preliminary to establishing routes between San Francisco and Brisbane, Australia..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...31OCT42--Air Transport Squadrons (Pacific) was established over the NATS squadrons based in the Pacific and those on the west coast flying the mainland to Hawaii routes..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...09DEC42--VR-1, the first of 13 VR squadrons established under the Naval Air Transport Service during World War II, was established at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, Commander C. K. Wildman commanding..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]


Circa 1941

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: History ThumbnailCameraNATS Flight Orderly "...NATS Flight Orderly..." WebSite: EBay http://cgi.ebay.com/ [28AUG2008]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "12DEC41--Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) is established..." http://omni.cc.purdue.edu/~lwjewell/chr/chr41-12.html = URL DIED! 24SEP97

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) Seadogs of the Airways NATS was formed on December 12, 1941, to operate only where the Navy had a direct interest. In the Pacific, their supply lines extended right into the combat area. The prime objective was to deliver critical supplies, materials and personnel quickly. In some cases they dropped supplies by parachute to the combat groups. To organize the early operations, they borrowed personnel and facilities from the commercial airlines and also called up reserve officers with airline experience. Later, the Navy developed a training program to provide the crews that they needed, but throughout the war many of the routes continued to be flown by contract airlines. In 1943, NATS operated over 100 planes flying 50,000 miles of routes. By the end of the year they were flying 3,600,000 miles, carrying 22,500 passengers, 8,300,000 pounds of cargo and mail, and ferrying 3,000 airplanes a month. Return flights to the U.S. carried thousands of pounds of critical war materials such as mica, tantalite and natural rubber. They also returned many wounded and sick. Their use of flying boats allowed them to land along side a ship at sea to deliver vitally needed repair parts, or pick up wounded men and fly them to the nearest medical facility. Flying boats also were found useful in delivering supplies to the small atolls in the South Pacific where landing strips could not be built. The crews also watched for subs and survivors of ship sinkings. NATS held the record for moving the heaviest cargo in a single load of 35,000 pounds and for the longest non-stop flight of 4,375 miles. Both records were set using a Mars flying boat..." http://avdigest.com/~rcecil/aahm/trnats.html

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...12DEC41--The Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) was established under the Chief of Naval Operations to provide rapid air delivery of critical equipment, spare parts, and specialist personnel to naval activities and fleet forces all over the world..." WebSite: VRC-50 Association http://www.vrc-50.org/historyNATS.htm [04FEB2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "12DEC41--Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) is established..." http://omni.cc.purdue.edu/~lwjewell/chr/chr41-12.html = URL DIED! 24SEP97

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) Seadogs of the Airways NATS was formed on December 12, 1941, to operate only where the Navy had a direct interest. In the Pacific, their supply lines extended right into the combat area. The prime objective was to deliver critical supplies, materials and personnel quickly. In some cases they dropped supplies by parachute to the combat groups. To organize the early operations, they borrowed personnel and facilities from the commercial airlines and also called up reserve officers with airline experience. Later, the Navy developed a training program to provide the crews that they needed, but throughout the war many of the routes continued to be flown by contract airlines. In 1943, NATS operated over 100 planes flying 50,000 miles of routes. By the end of the year they were flying 3,600,000 miles, carrying 22,500 passengers, 8,300,000 pounds of cargo and mail, and ferrying 3,000 airplanes a month. Return flights to the U.S. carried thousands of pounds of critical war materials such as mica, tantalite and natural rubber. They also returned many wounded and sick. Their use of flying boats allowed them to land along side a ship at sea to deliver vitally needed repair parts, or pick up wounded men and fly them to the nearest medical facility. Flying boats also were found useful in delivering supplies to the small atolls in the South Pacific where landing strips could not be built. The crews also watched for subs and survivors of ship sinkings. NATS held the record for moving the heaviest cargo in a single load of 35,000 pounds and for the longest non-stop flight of 4,375 miles. Both records were set using a Mars flying boat..." http://avdigest.com/~rcecil/aahm/trnats.html

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Martin 170, 193, 199 - XPB2M-1, JRM-1 To JRM-3, Mars Flying Boats..." Glenn L. Martin Museum Aviation Museum http://www.martinstateairport.com/museum/aircraft/ch_14.htm [28APR2001]

Martin 170, 193, 199
XPB2M-1, JRM-1 To JRM-3, Mars Flying Boats


In some respects the PBM represented an interruption in Martin's work on huge four-engine flying boats. These had become something of an obsession with the firm's founder and president. In 1938 the Navy ordered a single prototype Martin Model 170 as an experimental patrol bomber, designated XPB2M-1. This was to be the Martin Mars, a 140,000-pound behemoth that was the largest plane in the U.S. military inventory until the arrival of the B-36 intercontinental bomber in 1947. The Mars was originally conceived as a "sky battleship" or "flying Dreadnought," armed with multiple gun turrets, capable of flying long distances with huge bombloads (and Marine paratroopers as well). In speeches and articles, Glenn Martin predicted that a single Mars could capture an enemy island or "totally destroy" a rail center or shipyard. A squadron of them, he wrote, could "devastate Tokyo in one trip."

The XPB2M-1 was accordingly treated like a warship. Its keel was ceremoniously laid on August 20, 1940, with Glenn Martin driving the first rivet. Its launching into Dark Head Creek on November 5, 1941, was stern-first, after a bottle of champagne had been duly smashed over its bow. The plane's interior was laid out with separate mess rooms, berths, and washrooms for officers and enlisted men. Its commander had a private stateroom and issued his orders from a desk behind the pilots' seats. A huge bomb-bay, located in the hull underneath the wings, contained racks capable of holding five 1,000-pound bombs each. When it came time to drop them these could slide out on either side along the lower edge of the wing.

Initial taxiing tests in Middle River came to an abrupt end on the Friday before Pearl Harbor when one of the giant laminated-wood propellers threw a blade. It just missed the Martin flight engineer inside the hull and started a fire in one of the huge Wright R-3350 engines. The stricken sky battleship had to be towed closer to shore to allow firemen to put out the blaze. When the smoke cleared serious damage to the starboard wing and number-three engine nacelle were apparent. Repairs took more than six months, by which time the plane's mission had undergone a complete re-evaluation.

Pearl Harbor showed that fast carrier planes made very effective bombers indeed, while German U-boats turned the Atlantic coast into "Torpedo Alley." Thoughts naturally turned to a "sky freighter" as an alternative way to ship supplies to Britain and other battlefronts, invulnerable to torpedoes. The industrialist Henry J. Kaiser suggested that, given Martin's blueprints for the Mars, he could quickly build hundreds of the planes in his west-coast shipyards. Martin's response was ambivalent. Although the company issued calculations suggesting that building the Mars in quantity would be more cost-effective than Liberty ships, Glenn Martin was not inclined to share his prize plane with another manufacturer. Kaiser joined forces instead with Howard Hughes; this was the origin of Hughes' 400,000-pound "Spruce Goose." Like Hughes, what Martin really wanted was government support for an even larger flying boat. Plans for the 250,000-pound Model 163, projected back in 1937, were dusted off and modernized. Building five hundred six-engine Model 193's could win the war, declared Glenn Martin, and company ads frequently depicted it as a postwar airliner. Meanwhile the Navy redesignated the original Mars as a transport, XPB2M-1R, and Martin began to remove its turrets and bombing equipment.

Long before either Mars transports or the Model 193 could have been ready, the tide had turned in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Mars was sent to the Pacific instead, where it built an impressive record between 1943 and 1945, carrying cargoes of up to 34,811 pounds. Particularly impressive was the plane's ability to carry ten tons of cargo on the critical California to Hawaii route.

In January 1945 the Navy ordered twenty more Mars transports, now designated JRM-1. In comparison to the original, their hulls were to be six feet longer and the split PBM-style tail replaced by a single 44-foot vertical fin. Fewer internal bulkheads and an overhead hoist would assist cargo-handling. Maximum take-off weight grew to 148,500 pounds. Recalling the China Clippers a decade before, the first JRM-1 was christened the "Hawaii Mars" in July 1945. It crashed just two weeks later in a landing accident on Chesapeake Bay. Four more JRM-1's were completed in 1945, but, in the wake of V-J Day, the Navy order was cut to six.

Peace allowed Martin pursue the long-cherished goal of selling giant airliners. The Mars was offered in several commercial versions for passengers and cargo. Re-engined with massive four-row Pratt and Whitney R-4360 Wasp Majors, the largest piston engines made, Model 170-21A offered transatlantic range with 58 sleeper or 79 coach seats. Model 170-24A could seat 105 for shorter ranges. But the construction of so many long runways during the war eliminated one of the flying boat's principal advantages. Martin recognized this and began work on a 145,000-pound landplane using the same engines and wings as the JRM-1; the Model 199 was to have a floor level no higher than that of a truck. Other four-engine airliners were already on the scene, however. There were no airline purchasers for either the 170 or the 199.

The Navy did purchase its sixth and last Mars with Wasp Major engines, which enabled the single JRM-2 to carry an extra 18,000 pounds of cargo on the San Francisco-to-Hawaii run. The four earlier planes were eventually re-engined with Wasp Majors as well and designated JRM-3's. All five served in the Pacific, carrying military personnel, Korean-war wounded, blood plasma, and other priority cargo over the same routes as were once flown by the glamorous clippers. Like them, they were duly christened for Pacific destinations: Philippine, Marianas, Marshall, a second Hawaii, and Caroline.

A fire destroyed the Marshall Mars in 1950; the other four JRM's served the Navy until 1956. They were then sold as surplus to Forest Industries Flying Tankers Limited, a Canadian firm, which uses them to drop 60,000-pound loads of water and foam on forest fires. The Marianas Mars crashed in an accident in 1961, and the Caroline Mars was destroyed in a hurricane a year later - but as they approached age 40 both the Philippine and Hawaii Mars were still flying.

Martin MARS Aircraft Specifications
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Martin Aircraft Specifications (8KB)

Circa Korea

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: MARS ThumbnailCameraMARS BUNO: Unknown "...Korean War Points Up Value of Seaplane- The Martin Star - September 1950 - Page 16 through 17..." [01JUL2007]

Photograph Caption: A Martin JRM Mars, one of five similar giant flying boats built for the U. S. Navy, which have proved unusually reliable and economical and have established some phenomenal records for low-cost air transport.

Korean War Points Up Value of Seaplane


As is usually the case when war ~ breaks out in ,an isolated country such as Korea, military interest in the flying boat is revived, as such an airplane is usually the only, or almost the only, airplane ready to go into operation at once in regions where adequate airports are not available.

Under such conditions the flying boat must be depended upon for detecting and destroying submarines, which are likely to be among the first arms which the enemy would have in the area,

It is only natural, then, that the Martin P5M-1 Marlin flying boat is being looked upon with favor by the U. S. Navy, which has placed within the last few weeks two production orders of considerable size.

And while the Marlins are under construction at the factory, the older Martin flying boats, PBM Mariners and the gigantic JRM Mars ships, are doing yeoman service in the Pacific Ocean, getting into and out of places where there are no facilities for landing and handling landbased aircraft. The extent of the operations of the older Martin flying boats has not been revealed other than that it is extensive and reliable.

Many astute thinkers and planners in the higher echelons of the Department of Defense are realizing more and more the value of the flying boat as a weapon of war and envision its necessity under circumstances where air operations are necessary, but landing strips are nonexistent or negligible. Even so astute an officer as Major General James M. Gavin, USA, in a recent interview in THE STAR, envisioned a definite place in the scheme of things for the flying boat, particularly when men and materiel must be brought in quickly for initial assault landings.

The Martin P5M-1 Marlin is one of the most advanced flying boats in production in the world today. Its final design as now being constructed, is the result of many years study and testing.

Avoiding many of the pitfalls heretofore inherent in the flying boat, the Marlin presents a long hull, with the keel under water from stem to stern, just as in the case of a steamship. This makes for more ease of handling in water landings and takeoffs, and allows them to go into sea areas formerly not suitable for seaplane operation, due to high waves or swells. Underwater flaps have been added to the hull near the stern to serve as rudders and make maneuvering of the airplane in restricted water areas easier and quicker by reducing the turning radius.

Electronically equipped with the latest in detection devices, the Marlin is designed primarily as an anti-submarine airplane, carries submarine destruction armament. For assault operations in moving men and materiel into advanced areas, the Marlin can be produced as an effective troop and cargo seaplane.

The hull-type airplane has one advantags which makes it incomparable in either war or peace-c-ther e is hardly a place in the world where there is not sufficient water for a flying boat to land.

During and since World War II, for instance, Martin and other flying boats have criss-crossed the United States hundreds of times. The big Mars ships usually make the flight non-stop from coast to coast, but even these big 200foot wing giants have made routine Iansings and takeoffs on lakes and streams hundreds of miles from salt water.

During the latter stages of the war when Mariners were going almost exclusively to the West Coast, the overland route was almost as well populated by flying boats as is a commercial airline route. Seldom were the airplanes out of gliding distance of sufficient water to make a landing.

The same holds true for other parts of the world, where lakes, streams, rivers and the coastline itself provide readymade landing places for flying boats.

Terminal facilities for the flying boat are thus infinitely less than those required for land-based aircraft. Instead of multi-million dollar airports with 10,000 foot runways, only the necessary facilities for servicing and operating are required for the flying boat~an installation which can be made for a fraction of the cost of a modern airport.

The flying boat in its amphibious version enjoys a unique place in the air scheme of things. The Martin Company has built for the U. S. Navy sucha modification of the PBM Mariner, and it is today the largest amphibian in the world. It is particularly useful for air-sea rescue work,and the rescue may be from a flying boat, an overseas land-based airplane or surface vessel.

Based on actual figures kept for the big Martin Mars flying boats operated by the Navy between Alameda, Calif., and Honolulu, the cost of operation per tonmile for the flying boat is much less than that of the land plane operating over the same route. This is an important factor, whether military or commercial, although during war time cost consciousness is likely to go out the window.

Today's seaplane is a much swifter one than those of only a few years ago, progress being made against one of the chief points against the seaplane which have ~en made by the land-plane advocates. Designs now in the study stage will provide comparable performance between seaplanes and landplanes,

Not only will this come from changes in the hull design, giving less drag during flight, but the coming-of-age of the turboprop and jet engines will give the additional thrust to increase the flying boat's speed to the fastest of landplanes.

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