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Martin 4-0-4
Nine Martin 404s of Southern Airways at Atlanta Airport in 1972, being prepared for departure on the morning wave of flights
Role short/medium range airliner
Manufacturer Glenn L. Martin Company
First flight October 21, 1950[1]
Introduction 1951
Primary users Eastern Air Lines
Trans World Airlines
Produced 1951-1953
Number built 103
Developed from Martin 2-0-2

The Martin 4-0-4 was an American pressurized passenger airliner built by the Glenn L. Martin Company. In addition to airline use initially in the United States, it was used by the United States Coast Guard and United States Navy as the RM-1G (later as the VC-3A).

Design and development

When production of the earlier Martin 2-0-2 was stopped due to problems with wing structural failure the company decided to re-wing an improved version (which had already flown as the Martin 3-0-3). The new aircraft was the Martin 4-0-4. It had structural changes to the wings, pressurization and was lengthened slightly to take 40 passengers. Like the earlier 2-0-2, the 4-0-4 was a cantilever monoplane with a standard tail unit (cantilever tailplane and single vertical stabilizer). It had an airstair in the lower tail section for passenger loading and unloading, retractable tricycle landing gear and was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16 radial piston engines.

Operational history

United States Coast Guard RM-1Z/VC-3A.

First deliveries in 1951 were made to Eastern Air Lines (EAL) which had ordered 60 and Trans World Airlines (TWA) which had ordered 40. The only other new aircraft from the production line were delivered to the United States Coast Guard which had ordered two as executive transports with the designation RM-1G later changed to RM-1 and then in 1962 to VC-3A. In 1969 they were transferred to the United States Navy and were withdrawn from use by 1970. A total of 103 aircraft were built at the Glenn L. Martin factory in Baltimore.

TWA operated their 40 4-0-4s under the name "Skyliner" on scheduled services in the eastern part of the USA between 1 September 1950 and the last flight on 29 April 1961.[2] EAL operated their 4-0-4s in the eastern USA using the class name "Silver Falcon". The first EAL schedule was flown on 5 January 1952 and retirement came in late 1962.[3]

The restored Martin 404 in 2008 at Camarillo Airport wearing Pacific Air Transport markings shortly before its last flight to Chino Airport

Later in their airline career, as they became displaced from the EAL and TWA fleets by turbine-powered aircraft, the 4-0-4s became popular with "second level" operators who needed to replace their Douglas DC-3s.[4] One of the last 'major' US airlines with a large fleet of piston engined airliners was Southern Airways who operated 25 model 4-0-4s on a network of scheduled services from Atlanta in October 1961, all ex-Eastern Airlines aircraft.[5] Southern Airways' last 4-0-4 service was flown on 30 April 1978.[6] Martin 4-0-4s were also flown by Piedmont Airlines (former TWA airliners), Ozark Air Lines and Mohawk Airlines during the 1960s. Most of these planes were replaced in 1968 with Fairchild-Hiller/Fokker FH-227B aircraft. In February 2008 the last airworthy 4-0-4, an ex TWA aircraft, was ferried to the Planes of Fame Museum in Valle, Arizona.[7]

A restored and potentially airworthy 4-0-4 is at the National Airline History Museum in Kansas City.[citation needed]


♠ original operators


An Eastern Airlines Martin 404 circa 1955

  • Aero Proveedora Proa Ltda
 Dominican Republic
  • Dominair
  • Santiago Freighters
United States
  • Air South
  • Atlantic Southeast Airlines (1972-1979)
  • Eastern Airlines (1951-1962) ♠
  • Florida Airlines (1977-1981)
  • Marco Island Airways (1973-1981)
  • Mohawk Airlines (1961-1965)
  • Pacific Air Lines (1959-1968)
  • Ozark Air Lines (1964-1967)
  • Pacific Air Lines
  • Piedmont Airlines (1961-1972)
  • Provincetown-Boston Airlines (1975-1984)
  • Southeast Airlines (1971-1976)
  • Southern Airways (1961-1978)
  • Trans World Airlines (1950-1961) ♠
  • Rentavion

United States Coast Guard RM-1 in 1958.


United States

Notable accidents and incidents

  • 19 February 1955: TWA Flight 260 crashed into the Sandia Mountains, killing the three crew and 13 passengers.
  • 1 April 1956: TWA Flight 400 crashed on takeoff from Greater Pittsburgh International Airport, 22 of the 36 people aboard the aircraft died.
  • 2 July 1963: Mohawk Airlines Flight 121 crashed during takeoff from Rochester-Monroe airport, killing seven people and injuring 36.
  • 2 October 1970: In the Wichita State University Crash, a charter flight crashed near Silver Plume, Colorado killing 31 of the 40 people on board.


Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1953–54[8]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3 or 4
  • Capacity: 40 passengers
  • Length: 74 ft 7 in (22.73 m)
  • Wingspan: 93 ft 3 in (28.42 m)
  • Height: 28 ft 5 in (8.66 m)
  • Wing area: 864 sq ft (80.3 m2)
  • Airfoil: GLM-W 16
  • Empty weight: 29,126 lb (13,211 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 44,900 lb (20,366 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16 18-cylinder two-row air-cooled radial engine, 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) each (take off power), 1,800 hp (1,300 kW) (normal power)
  • Propellers: 3-bladed Hamilton Standard 2H17K3-48R, 13 ft 2 in (4.01 m) diameter


  • Maximum speed: 312 mph (502 km/h; 271 kn) at 14,500 ft (4,400 m)
  • Cruise speed: 280 mph (243 kn; 451 km/h) at 18,000 ft (5,500 m)
  • Stall speed: 81 mph (70 kn; 130 km/h) at sea level
  • Range: 1,080 mi (938 nmi; 1,738 km)
  • Ferry range: 2,600 mi (2,259 nmi; 4,184 km)
  • Service ceiling: 29,000 ft (8,839 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,905 ft/min (9.68 m/s)
  • Take-off distance to 50 ft (15 m): 1,980 ft (600 m)
  • Landing distance from 50 ft (15 m): 1,750 ft (530 m)

See also



  1. Gunston 1980, p. 170.
  2. Killion 1997, pp. 148–149.
  3. Killion 1997, pp. 133–134.
  4. Killion 1997, p. 67.
  5. Sievers 1969, p. 25.
  6. Killion 1997. p. 147.
  7. Airliner World, July 2008, p. 80
  8. Bridgman 1953, pp. 255–256.


  • Andrade, John. U.S. Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909. Leicester, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1979, pp. 95, 217. ISBN 0-904597-22-9.
  • Breslau, Alan Jeffry The Time Of My Death: Story of Miraculous Survival (E. P. Dutton, New York 1977) The July 2, 1963 crash of Mowhawk Airlines in Rochester, New York.
  • Bridgman, Leonard. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1953–54. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd, 1953.
  • Gunston, Bill. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Propeller Airliners. Leicester, UK: Windward Imprint, 1980. ISBN 0-7112-0062-9.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985). London: Orbis Publishing, 1985.
  • Killion, Gary L. The Martinliners. Sandpoint ID: Airways International Inc., 1997. ISBN 0-9653993-2-X.
  • Sievers, Harry. North American Airline Fleets. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1969. ISBN 0-85130-005-7.
  • Smith, M.J. Jr. Passenger Airliners of the United States, 1926–1991. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1986. ISBN 0-933126-72-7.

External links

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