Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Martin Baltimore

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The Martin Baltimore was an American design ordered by the French in May 1940, just as the Battle of France took shape. The French armistice with Nazi Germany forced the Glen L. Martin Company to look for another buyer. They found a willing customer in the Royal Air Force.

The RAF only used these aircraft operationally in North Africa and the Mediterranean. They were used as light attack bombers with the Desert Air Force, which later became part of the Northwest African Tactical Air Force for campaigns in Tunisia and Sicily. By this time, the Tactical Air Force included more advanced bombers like the Douglas Boston. Nevertheless, three squadrons (one of which was South African) continued to operate the Baltimore. These units were a common sight above the British 8th Army, attacking Axis lines of communication, artillery, and troop concentrations.

The Baltimore also served as a maritime reconnaissance, search and rescue, and anti-submarine aircraft. Two squadrons, one with the Northwest African Coastal Air Force and another with Air Headquarters Malta, served in maritime aviation roles during Operation Husky.


Specifications (Baltimore V)

Type: four-seat light bomber

Powerplant: two 1268kW (1700hp) Wright GR-2600-A5B geared radial engines

Performance: maximum speed 488km/h (305mph); range 1577km (980 miles)

Weights: empty 7253kg (15,991lb); loaded 10,900kg (23,185lb)

Wingspan: 18.7m (61ft 4in)

Length: 14.8m (48ft 6in)

Height: 4.32m (14ft 2in)

Armament: four wing-mounted 7.62mm (0.30in) fixed, forward-firing machine guns in the leading edges of the wing, two to four 7.7mm (0.303in) trainable rearward-firing machine guns in the dorsal turret, two 7.7mm (0.303in) machine guns in the ventral positions, plus an internal bomb load of 910kg (2000lb)  


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The following Mediterranean Air Command units flew the Martin Baltimore during Operation HUSKY:

Northwest African Coastal Air Force

  • No. 52 Squadron RAF

Northwest African Tactical Air Force

  • No. 21 Squadron SAAF
  • No. 55 Squadron RAF
  • No. 223 Squadron RAF

Air Headquarters Malta

  • No. 69 Squadron RAF
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Warplane Wednesday

Warplane Wednesday: Douglas A-20 Havoc / Boston

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In an interesting combined operation, RAF Boston light bombers acted as pathfinders on the night of 17/18 July for a US B-25 Mitchell attack [against Naples] because the USAAF was a day bombing force.

– Excerpt from Eagles over Husky

The Douglas A-20 Havoc (or Boston for Commonwealth aircrews) was a light bomber that served with the Northwest African Tactical Air Force’s tactical bomber force. Targets for these aircraft included Axis gun positions, lines of communication, and troop concentrations. In particular, these tactical bombers. On rare occasions, Boston crews with night flying training and experience served as pathfinders for USAAF medium bomber crews who had limited experience operating at night.  


Specifications (A-20B Havoc/DB-7B Boston III)

Type: four-seat light attack bomber

Powerplant: two 1193kW (1600hp) Wright GR-2600-A5B Double Cyclone radial engines

Performance: maximum speed 515km/h (320mph); initial climb rate 609m (2000ft) per minute; service ceiling 7470m (24,500ft); range 1996km (1240 miles) with reduced bomb load

Weights: empty 5534kg (12,200lb); normal take-off 8959kg (19,750lb); maximum take-off 9789kg (21,580lb)

Wingspan: 18.69m (61 ft 4in)

Length: 14.48m (47ft 6in)

Height: 6.36m (17ft 7in)

Armament: four 7.7mm (0.303in) fixed forward-firing machine guns on the sides of the forward fuselage, two 7.7mm (0.303in) trainable machine guns in the dorsal position and one 7.7mm (0.303in) trainable machine guns in the ventral position, plus an internal bomb load of 907kg (2000lb)


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The following Mediterranean Air Command units flew the Havoc/Boston light bomber. Notice the South African Air Force (SAAF) squadrons:

Northwest African Tactical Air Force

  • No. 12 Squadron SAAF (Boston III)
  • No. 24 Squadron SAAF (Boston III)
  • No. 18 Squadron RAF (Boston III)
  • No. 114 Squadron RAF (Boston III)
  • US 84th Bombardment Squadron (A-20B)
  • US 85th Bombardment Squadron (A-20B)
  • US 86th Bombardment Squadron (A-20B)
  • US 97th Bombardment Squadron (A-20B)