My Martin Watch

Foun­da­tions of Martin’s Mid­dle River Im­perium: Some of “The Fly­ing Dude’s” most fa­mous air­planes Part 2/2

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: BLAINE TAYLOR

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.)

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