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Martin B-10

The Martin B-10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber to go into regular use by the US Army, entering service in June 1934. It was also the first bomber whose performance was superior to that of the Army's fighter aircraft of the time.

The B-12 and B-14 were later versions, with successively more powerful engines.

Martin B-10B in flight
The B-10 started out as the Martin Model 123, a private venture by the Glenn L. Martin Company of Baltimore, Maryland. It had a deep belly with an internal bomb bay, retractable main landing gear, two 600 hp engines, and carried four crew, two of them gunners, one in the nose and one in mid-fuselage. The Model 123 first flew on February 16, 1932, and was delivered to the Army for testing on March 20. In July trials, the aircraft recorded a speed of 197 mph (317 km/h) at 6,000 ft (1830 m), a remarkable performance for 1932.

A number of changes were made, including reduction to a three-man crew, addition of canopies for all crew positions (the cockpits were formerly open), and an upgrade to 675 hp engines. The Army ordered 48 of these on January 17, 1933.

The first 14 aircraft were designated YB-10 and delivered to Wright Field starting in November 1933. A couple additional aircraft were experimental variations, while 32 received 775 hp Pratt & Whitney engines, and according to the practice of the time, received a new number B-12A.

In 1935 the Army ordered an additional 103 aircraft designated B-10B with minor changes from the YB-10, and started receiving those in July 1935. B-10Bs served with the 2nd Bomb Group at Langley Field, the 9th Bomb Group at Mitchell Field, the 19th Bomb Group at March Field, the 6th Bomb Group in the Panama Canal Zone, and the 28th Bomb Group in the Philippines.

The rapid advances in bomber developers in the 1930s meant that the B-10 was superseded by the B-17 and B-18 before the US entered World War II.

Once the Army's orders had been filled, in 1936, Martin received permission to export B-10s, and delivered versions to the air forces of Argentina, China, Netherlands, Thailand, Soviet Union (just one, for evaluation), and Turkey. The B-10's obsolescence was proved by the quick defeat of Dutch B-10B squadrons at the hands of Japanese Zeros during the invasion of the Dutch East Indies in 1942.

One of the Argentine B-10s was returned to the US in 1976, refurbished, and is now on display in the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. It is likely the sole surviving B-10 in the world.