The Martin MB-2 was the first U.S.-designed bomber produced in large numbers. First ordered in June 1920, it replaced the handful of British Handley-Page O-400 and Italian Caproni bombers produced in the United States under license during World War I.
Derived from the MB-1 (or GMB) and designed as a night bomber, the MB-2 sacrificed speed and maneuverability to carry a heavy bomb load. Although more capable than the aircraft it replaced, the MB-2s design reflected conventional features of the time, such as an internal wood structure and fabric covering. It also used the same Liberty engines as previous U.S. Army Air Service bombers.
While the Glenn L. Martin Co. designed the aircraft, it built only the first 20 MB-2s. Under its contracting system, the Army Air Service purchased the design and assigned production to the lowest bidders, which were Curtiss (50 aircraft); Lowe, Willard and Fowler (35); and Aeromarine (25). At the same time, the Army Air Service changed the Martin designation to NBS-1 for Night Bomber Short range.
The MB-2 became the Air Service's primary multi-engine bomber until replaced by the Keystone bombers of the late 1920s. Today, no original MB-2 exists. The reproduction on display at the museum was built using original Martin drawings and completed in 2002.
The Martin MB-2 designers incorporated an interesting element -- folding wings. Since its large wingspan would have made it difficult to store in a hangar, the aircraft had hinges and notches cut out to allow the wings to be swung from just outside of the engine nacelles.
Crew: Four Armament: Five .30-cal. machine guns and maximum 3,000-lb bomb load Maximum speed: 99 mph Range: 558 miles
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