My Martin Watch
Foundations of Martin’s Middle River Imperium: Some of “The Flying Dude’s” most famous airplanes Part 2/2
Beyond the historic founding of modern-day Middle River, MD/USA, however, Glenn L(uther) Martin (1886-1955) was a giant in the overall, global aviation industry, designing and then mass-producing
more than 30 aircraft types for the private business world, the United States Postal Service, the Navy, for the former Army Air Corps (since 1947 the US Air Force), as well as the French, British, and even Russian air services, to boot!
Indeed, Martin-built airplanes had been in the very forefront of aeronautical progress from the barnstorming era of the Roaring Twenties of the last century, to the succeeding crosscountry and then transoceanic flights of the 1930s, and follow-on massive aerial campaigns of World War II around the globe.
The world’s first modern bomber, the B-10, was built by Martin’s in 1932, and the largest ever constructed, The Soviet Clipper, five years later, in 1937.
When American Air Corps Gen. William Billy Mitchell demonstrated that all navies’ battleships and such other floating gun platforms could be sunk from the air, he did it with Martin-built bombers, no less.
Two decades later---in 1942, when then President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent young Texan US Congressman Lyndon Johnson on a secret, fact-finding mission against the Japanese in the
far Pacific Ocean, it was in another famed aircraft, B-26.
This was the famous Martin Marauder, the most successful such medium bomber of that entire global war, of any air forces that waged it on either side, Allies and Axis, and every single one was built at the Middle River factory, too.
So were the Maryland (1939) and Baltimore (1940) bomber models before it for our future allies the British Royal Air Force/ RAF as well as the French Army of the Air.
In 1933, Martin was awarded the prestigious Collier Trophy by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, thus enshrining Glenn L forever in the ranks of such other contemporary aviation titans as Fascist Italy’s Air Marshal Italo Balbo, Nazi Germany’s ace designer Dr. Willi Messerschmidt, and Dutch inventor Anthony Fokker.
Indeed, other later famed aircraft designers and manufacturers got their own careers started via working first for “Mr. Martin” of Middle River, MD/USA.
Known as The Flying Dude via the 1920s press media, Martin not only flew and built his own aircraft, but he also personally raced them, plus the same with bikes and cars, helped develop the life-saving parachutes we all now take for granted; and his version as
well of the synchronized machine gun.
Popularizing early Hollywood movies shot from and being featured in the aircraft of a century ago, GLM was nonetheless once ridiculed by our Baltimore City Council when he accurately predicted that one day sporting events would be played out under domed stadiums.
Who knew? Reportedly, Glenn L. Martin started his own firm from virtually nothing, taking it to become a manufacturing empire that encompassed fully 453,000 employees with at one time the largest privately owned airfield in the United States!
This included three runways atop the then 1,260 acres at Middle River.
By the end of the Second World War, Martin was the sole early aviator and aircraft builder still heading his own firm.
Six years after his death at age 69, it became the Martin-Marietta Corporation.
An early history on GLM was published in 1964 by author Henry Still entitled, To Ride the Wind: A Biography of Glenn L. Martin, in which he asserted, “In 1910---when Glenn was doing some flying in a craft he’d constructed himself, the Martin family doctor wrote his mother, ‘For heaven’s sake---if you have any influence with that wild-eyed, hallucinated
young man---call him off before he’s killed!
“Have him devote his energies to substantial pursuits, and leave dreaming to the professional dreamers!”
Fortunately for modern day aviation, mother Minta Martin backed her son all the way from the very start of his career, and earlier.
Added Still, “Martin… went on to become one of the world’s outstanding pilots, holding speed, altitude, and endurance records, and one of the great prophets and visionaries of the aircraft industry, and founder as well of the company that bears his name.
“To those who knew him as a boy at Liberal, Kansas/ USA, his future success must’ve been no surprise, for at age six he was designing, building, and selling kites to his classmates at a handsome .25 cents each…
“It was a long way from box kites…to such craft as the Vanguard Rocket and the Titan ICBM”---the last
such underground silo containing one such that I saw at Pima, Arizona/USA in 2000 with the retired former Towson State University Chief of Police Col. Stephen James Murphy, now of Hanover, PA/USA.
Now that you’ve had but a peek into the engrossing saga of Glenn L. Martin, you’ll enjoy with me over the coming weeks and months a good deal of the men, women, planes, and famous events connected to GLM, The Man Who Created Modern Middle River.
Blaine Taylor (1946-) has published 22 illustrated books globally in three languages since 1993, five of them fully illustrated aerial career histories: the first on Italian aviation pioneer Italol Balbo (1996), and the rest from the private photograph albums of World War I ace and later German Luftwaffe/Reich Marshal Hermann Goring during 201417, with volume five to be written this year.
A Martin, Middle River-built B-26 medium Marauder bomber over Nazi-occupied Festung Europa/Fortress Europe during 1944 in World War II. (Courtesy Stan Piet, GLM MD State Aviation Museum, Martin State Airport, Middle River, MD/USA.)
Avenue freelance feature writer Blaine Taylor first wrote for the paper about GLM during 1979-86, and resumes that pursuit now---29 years later--in 2018. A Congressional Capitol Hill press secretary in Washington, DC during 199192 for the late GOP Maryland 2nd District Rep. Helen Delich Bentley (1923-2016), Taylor here is seen in Dress Blues uniform (with added red bow tie modification) of the former elite US Army 199th Light Infantry Brigade with which he served under enemy Communist Viet Cong fire in thenSouth Vietnam in 1966-67, being awarded the coveted Combat Infantryman’s Badge for same. (Photo from BT Archives, Towson, MD/USA.)