The B-10, the first "modern" all-metal monoplane bomber produced in quantity, featured such innovations as retractable landing gear, a rotating gun turret and enclosed cockpits. Powered by two 775-hp Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines, Martin's advanced design made the B-10 50 percent faster than contemporary biplane bombers and as fast as most of the fighters. This capability convinced many U.S. Army Air Corps planners that bombers could successfully attack strategic targets without long-range fighter escort.
In the largest procurement of bomber aircraft since World War I, the Air Corps ordered 121 B-10s from 1933-1936. The Air Corps also ordered an additional 32 of these aircraft with 700-hp with Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet engines and designated them B-12s.
Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, who called the B-10 "the air power wonder of its day," led 10 B-10s on a 8,290-mile flight from Washington, D.C., to Fairbanks, Alaska, and back in 1934. By the late 1930s, B-17s and B-18s had replaced the Air Corps' B-10s and B-12s, but the Chinese and Dutch air forces flew export versions in combat against Japan at the start of World War II.
The aircraft on display, an export version sold to Argentina in 1938, is the only remaining B-10. In 1970 the government of Argentina donated the airplane to the U.S. government for the U.S. Air Force Museum. The 96th Maintenance Squadron (Mobile), stationed at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, restored the aircraft from 1973-1976.
Donation of the Martin B-10
The museum spent years searching worldwide for an example of the Martin B-10 for its collection. A wonderful example of the rich heritage of the USAF, the B-10 holds a key place in American aviation history. As the first all-metal monoplane bomber produced for the U.S. Army Air Corps in quantity, it was the predecessor to more advanced strategic bombers such as the B-17 and the B-24. The B-10 made operational history in 1934 when then-Lt. Col. Hap Arnold led a squadron of 10 B-10's on an 8,290-mile round trip from Bolling Field, Washington, D.C., to Fairbanks, Alaska, and back. This flight brought to world attention the significant power and range to American military aviation at that time.
When the B-10 design was released for export in 1936, several countries purchased the export version of the bomber, the 139W, for their armed forces. Argentina bought 35 Martin 139Ws, including 12 for the Argentine Navy. After many years of service, the obsolete bombers were used for various types of training. The aircraft on display at the museum was last used as a ground-training tool for Argentine engineering students at the "Jorge Newberry" National School of Technical Education, No. 1, in Buenos Aires.
When museum staff learned that the only known surviving B-10 was in Argentina, discussions began with Argentine officials to obtain this historic American aircraft for the museum. As a magnificent gesture of friendship between Argentina and the United States, and in recognition of the tremendous historical value of the B-10 to the U.S. Air Force, the Argentine Navy presented this aircraft as a gift to the United States on behalf of the Argentine nation on Aug. 21, 1970. The gift was accepted by the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, John Davis Lodge.
Armament: Three .30-cal. machine guns and 2,200 lbs. of bombs
Maximum speed: 215 mph
Cruising speed: 183 mph
Range: 1,370 miles
Ceiling: 24,000 ft.
Span: 70 ft. 6 in.
Length: 44 ft. 9 in.
Height: 15 ft. 5 in.
Weight: 14,700 lbs. loaded
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