Martin started out building military trainers in Santa Ana, California, and then in 1916, accepted a merger offer from the Wright Company, creating the Wright-Martin Aircraft Company in September. This apparently did not go well, and Martin left to form a second Glenn L. Martin Company on September 10, 1917, this time based in Cleveland, Ohio.
Martin's first big success came with the MB-1 bomber, a large biplane design ordered by the US Army on January 17, 1918. The MB-1 entered service too late for World War I, but a followup design, the MB-2, was so successful that the Army ordered 130 more. Unfortunately for Martin, the production orders were given to other companies that had bid lower.
In 1924, Martin underbid Curtiss on production of a Curtiss-designed scout bomber SC-1, and ultimately produced 404 of these. In 1929, Martin sold the Cleveland plant and built a new one in Middle River, Maryland, not far from Baltimore.
During the 1930s, Martin built flying boats for the US Navy, and the innovative B-10 bomber for the Army. It also produced the famous China Clipper flying boat used by Pan American Airways for its San Francisco to Manila route.
Postwar efforts included unsuccessful prototype XB-48 and XB-51 bombers, the B-57 Canberra night bombers, the P5M Marlin flying boat, and a twin-engine passenger plane Martin 4-0-4.
Martin merged with the American-Marietta Corporation in 1961 to form the Martin Marietta Corporation.
The Martin Company employed many engineers who later went on to found their own companies, including William Boeing, Donald Douglas, Lawrence Bell, and James S. McDonnell.