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)
The following Mediterranean Air Command units flew the Martin Baltimore during Operation HUSKY:
Northwest African Coastal Air Force
Northwest African Tactical Air Force
- No. 21 Squadron SAAF
- No. 55 Squadron RAF
- No. 223 Squadron RAF
Air Headquarters Malta