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PBM Mariner
A U.S. Navy PBM-5 Mariner
Role flying boat
Manufacturer Martin
First flight 18 February 1939
Introduction September 1940
Retired 1964 (Uruguay)
Primary users United States Navy
United States Coast Guard
Royal Australian Air Force
Argentine Navy
Produced 1937-1949[1]
Number built 1,285
Variants Martin P5M Marlin

The Martin PBM Mariner was a patrol bomber flying boat of World War II and the early Cold War period. It was designed to complement the Consolidated PBY Catalina in service. A total of 1,366 were built, with the first example flying on 18 February 1939 and the type entering service in September 1940.

Design and development

In 1937 the Glenn L. Martin Company designed a new twin engined flying boat, the Model 162, to succeed its earlier Martin P3M and complement the PBY Catalina. It received an order for a single prototype XPBM-1 on 30 June 1937.[2] This was followed by an initial production order for 21 PBM-1 aircraft on 28 December 1937.[3]

To test the PBM's layout, Martin built a ⅜ scale flying model, the Martin 162A Tadpole Clipper with a crew of one and powered by a single 120 hp (89 kW) Chevrolet engine; this was flown in December 1937.[4] The first genuine PBM, the XPBM-1, flew on 18 February 1939.[2]

The aircraft was fitted with five gun turrets, and bomb bays that were in the engine nacelles. The gull wing was of cantilever design, and featured clean aerodynamics with an unbraced twin tail. The PBM-1 was equipped with retractable wing landing floats that were hinged outboard, with single-strut supported floats that retracted inwards to rest beneath the wing, with the floats' keels just outboard of each of the engine nacelles. The PBM-3 had fixed floats, and the fuselage was three feet longer than that of the PBM-1.

Operational history

A U.S. Navy PBM-1 of Patrol Squadron 56 (VP-56) in 1940.

A U.S. Navy PBM of Fleet Air Wing 6 is hoisted aboard the seaplane tender USS Curtiss (AV-4) after a mine-hunting patrol off North Korea during the Korean War (1950-1953).

The first PBM-1s entered service with Patrol Squadron Fifty-Five (VP-55) of the United States Navy on 1 September 1940.[3] Prior to the outbreak of World War II, PBMs were used (together with PBYs) to carry out Neutrality Patrols in the $3, including operations from Iceland. Following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, PBMs were used on anti-submarine patrols, sinking their first German U-boat, U-158 on 30 June 1942.[5] PBMs were responsible, wholly or in part, for sinking a total of 10 U-boats during World War II.[5] PBMs were also heavily used in the Pacific War, operating from bases at Saipan, Okinawa, Iwo Jima and the South West Pacific.[6]

The United States Coast Guard acquired 27 Martin PBM-3 aircraft during the first half of 1943. In late 1944, the service acquired 41 PBM-5 models and more were delivered in the latter half of 1945. Ten were still in service in 1955, although all were gone from the active Coast Guard inventory by 1958 (when the last example was released from CGAS San Diego and returned to the U.S. Navy). These flying boats became the backbone of the long-range aerial search and rescue efforts of the Coast Guard in the early post-war years until supplanted by the P5M Marlin and the HU-16 Albatross in the mid-1950s.[7]

PBMs continued in service with the U.S. Navy following the end of World War II, flying long patrol missions during the Korean War.[8] It continued in front line use until replaced by its direct development, the P5M Marlin, with the last USN squadron equipped with the PBM, Patrol Squadron Fifty (VP-50), retiring them in July 1956.[9]

The British Royal Air Force acquired 32 Mariners, but they were not used operationally, with some returned to the United States Navy.[10] A further 12 PBM-3Rs were transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force for transporting troops and cargo.[11][12]

The Royal Netherlands Navy acquired 17 PBM-5A Mariners at the end of 1955 for service in Netherlands New Guinea.[13] The PBM-5A was an amphibian with retractable landing gear. The engines were 2,100 hp (1,600 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34. After a series of crashes, the Dutch withdrew their remaining aircraft from use in December 1959.[14]


The XPBM-1 showing the original retractable floats.

XPBM-1 (Model 162)
Prototype. Powered by two 1,600 hp (1,194 kW) R-2600-6 engines.[4]
PBM-1 (Model 162)
Initial production version. 5× .50 inch (12.7 mm) machine guns. Two R-2600-6 engines; 21 built.[4]
XPBM-2 (Model 162)
Conversion of one PBM-1 as experimental catapult-launched long range strategic bomber.[15]
PBM-3 (Model 162B)
Improved version. 1,700 hp (1,270 kW) R-2600-12 engines; 32 built.[15]
PBM-3R (Model 162B)
Unarmed transport version of PBM-3. 18 new build plus 31 converted from PBM-3.[15]
PBM-3C (Model 162C)
Improved patrol version with twin .50 in machine guns in nose and dorsal turrets, and single guns in tail turret and waist positions. AN/APS-15 radar in radome behind cockpit; 274 built.[16]
PBM-3B (Model 162C)
Designation for ex-RAF Mariner GR.1A after return to U.S. Navy.[16]
PBM-3S (Model 162C)
Dedicated anti-submarine aircraft with reduced armament (2× fixed 0.50 in machine guns in nose, single machine gun in port waist position and single gun in tail turret) and increased range; 94 built as new plus 62 conversions.[17][18]
PBM-3D (Model 162D)
Patrol bomber with increased power (two 1,900 hp (1,417 kW) R-2600-22s) and increased armament (twin 0.50 in machine guns in nose, dorsal and tail turrets, plus two waist guns). 259 built.[17]
PBM-4 (Model 162E)
Proposed version with two 2,700 hp (2,015 kW) Wright R-3350 engines; unbuilt.[19]
PBM-5 (Model 162F)
Version with 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines;[20] 628 built.[19]
Variant of PBM-5 with improved radar.[20]
Lightened anti-submarine variant of PBM-5.[19]
Improved anti-submarine aircraft with revised radar installation.[19]
PBM-5A (Model 162G)
Amphibian version of PBM-5, with retractable nosewheel undercarriage; 36 built plus four conversions.[19]
Mariner I
British designation for 32 PBM-3B supplied to the Royal Air Force.


A 41 Sqn RAAF Mariner in 1944

An 524 Sqn RAF Mariner I at Oban, Scotland (UK), in October 1943.

A U.S. Coast Guard PBM takes off from the water assisted by RATO.

 United Kingdom
  • Royal Air Force ordered 33 aircraft but only 28 were delivered.[22]
    • 524 Squadron operated 28 Mariner Is from October–December 1943[23] under command of No. 15 Group Coastal Command.
United States
  • United States Navy
    • ATU-1
    • ATU-10
    • VPB-2
    • VR-8
    • VR-10
    • VR-21
    • VP-16
    • VP-17
    • VPB-20
    • VP-21
    • VP-34
    • VP-40
    • VP-46
    • VP-47
    • VP-55 (later VP-74)
    • VP-56
    • VP-200
    • VP-203
    • VP-204
    • VP-205
    • VP-207
    • VP-208
    • VP-209
    • VP-210
    • VP-213
    • VP-214
    • VP-731
    • VP-892


  • United States Navy PBM-5A (Bureau Number (BuNo) 122071) is the only surviving Mariner. It is on loan from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. and is currently on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum adjacent to Davis–Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.[26] Operated by the USN between 1948 and 1956, it is painted in the markings of Transport Squadron 21 (VR-21) and coded RZ 051 of the early 1950s.[26]
  • Although only one complete Mariner aircraft exists, another aircraft (PBM-5 BuNo 59172) lies upside down under Lake Washington. It crashed on 6 May 1949, and after a number of unsuccessful attempts to recover the wreck over the following decades it is now used as a training site for divers.[27][28]
  • The Model 162A (registered NX19168), the piloted ⅜ scale test aircraft, is on display at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.[29]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 30 November 1944, a U.S. Navy PBM-5 crashed into Mount Tamalpais in northern California killing eight naval aviators and naval aircrewmen. The aircraft had taken off from Naval Air Station Alameda and was part of a larger flight headed for Hawaii when it developed engine trouble shortly after takeoff.
  • United States Navy PBM-5 (BuNo 59225) based at Naval Air Station Banana River, Florida is believed to have been destroyed in a mid-air explosion in December 1945 off the coast of Florida near The Bahamas while searching for the missing TBM Avengers of Flight 19 from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • A U.S. Navy PBM-5 crashed on Thurston Island, Antarctica on 30 December 1946 while supporting Operation Highjump.
  • 10 September 1958. A Mariner P-303 was being ferried to the Netherlands from Biak, Indonesia. Due to technical problems, a forced landing was carried out at Abadan, Iran. About two weeks later, repairs had been accomplished and the airplane took off. Shortly after takeoff an oil leak was observed on engine nr.1. While on finals for landing at Abadan, the airplane suddenly lost height and crashed, killing all aboard. It appeared that the remaining engine went into reverse, causing the crew to lose control. [1]</ref>
  • On 9 November 1958, an Aero-Topográfica PBM-5 (registration CS-THB) disappeared on a scheduled passenger flight from Cabo Ruivo, Lisbon, Portugal to Funchal Airport, Funchal, Madeira. The last radio transmission from the aircraft (when it was about 13°W) was: "I am forced to land immediately." No trace has ever been found of the aircraft, its six crew or 30 passengers.[30]

Specifications (PBM-1)

PBM-5S BuAer 3 side view.jpg

Data from Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II[31]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Seven
  • Length: 79 ft 10 in (23.50 m)
  • Wingspan: 118 ft 0 in (36 m)
  • Height: 27 ft 6 in (5.33 m)
  • Wing area: 1,408 ft² (131 m²)
  • Empty weight: 33,175 lb (15,048 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 56,000 lb (25,425 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-2600-6 14-cylinder radial engines, 1,600 hp (1,194 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 178 kn (205 mph, 330 km/h)
  • Range: 2,600 nmi (3,000 mi, 4,800 km)
  • Service ceiling: 19,800 ft (6,040 m)
  • Rate of climb: 800 ft/min (4.1 m/s)


See also



  1. "PBM Mariner in Action."
  2. 2.0 2.1 Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 318.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Green 1968, p. 177.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Dorr 1997, p. 122.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Dorr 1997, p. 115.
  6. Dorr 1987, p. 116.
  7. "Martin PBM-3/5 Mariner." US Coast Guard. Retrieved: 29 June 2011.
  8. Dorr 1987, p. 118.
  9. Roberts 2000, Appendix 1, p. 671.
  10. March 1998, p. 172.
  11. A70 Martin Mariner. RAAF Museum:RAAF Point Cook. Retrieved: 24 May 2009.
  12. Graham, Wynnum. "RAAF PBM-3S Mariners". Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  13. Hoffmann 2002, p. 74.
  14. Hoffman 2002, pp. 76-77.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Dorr 1997, p. 123.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Dorr 1997, p. 124.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Dorr 1997, p. 125.
  18. Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 320.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 Dorr 1997, p. 126.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Donald 1995, p. 184.
  21. Hoffman 2003, pp. 29–31.
  22. Hoffman 2003, p. 33.
  23. Jefford 1988, p. 96.
  24. "PBM-3/5 Mariner." United States Coast Guard. Retrieved: 27 May 2009.
  25. Hoffman 2003, pp. 31–32.
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Martin PBM-5A Mariner." Pima Air and Space Museum. Retrieved: 2 August 2009.
  27. Martin Mariner PBM-5 in Lake Washington." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 7 August 2009.
  28. "Martin PBM Mariner Patrol Bomber-BuNo 59172." United States Navy, 29 March 2009. Retrieved: 7 August 2009.
  29. "Martin 162A NX19168." Retrieved: 7 August 2009.
  30. Ranter, Harro and Fabian I. Lujan. "ASN Aircraft accident Martin PBM-5 Mariner CS-THB North Atlantic Ocean." Aviation Safety Network, 2005. Retrieved: 28 June 2011.
  31. Bridgeman 1946, p. 245.


  • Bridgeman, Leonard. “The Martin Model 162 Mariner.” Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
  • Donald, David, ed. American Warplanes of World War II. London: Aerospace Publishing, 1995. ISBN 1-874023-72-7.
  • Dorr, Robert F. "Variant Briefing: Martin Flying Boats: Mariner, Mars and Marlin". Wings of Fame, Volume 7, 1997, pp. 114–133. London: Aerospace Publishing, ISBN 1-874023-97-2.
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War: Volume Five Flying Boats. London: Macdonald, 1968. ISBN 0-356-01449-5.
  • Hoffman, Richard A. "Dutch Mariners: PBMs in Service with the Netherlands Navy". Air Enthusiast, No. 97, January/February 2002, pp. 73–77. Stamford, UK:Key Publishing. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Hoffman, Richard A. The Fighting Flying Boat: A History of the Martin PBM Mariner. Annapolis, Maryland: US Naval Institute Press, 2004. ISBN 978-1-59114-375-8.
  • Hoffman, Richard A. "South American Mariners: Martin PBMs in Argentina and Uruguay". Air Enthusiast, No. 104, March/April 2003, pp. 29–33. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Jefford, C. G. RAF Squadrons. Ramsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing, UK, First edition, 1988. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • March, Daniel J. British Warplanes of World War II. London: Aerospace Publishing, 1998. ISBN 1-874023-92-1.
  • Martin PBM-3C US Navy Pilot's Handbook (MTPBM3C-POH-C). Washington, D.C.: The Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, 1944.
  • Martin PBM-3D 1943 Pilot's Handbook of Flight Operating Instructions (AN 01-35QF-1). Washington, D.C.: The Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, 1944.
  • Martin PBM-3D 1945 Pilot's Handbook of Flight Operating Instructions (AN 01-35EE-1). Washington, DC: The Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, 1944.
  • Martin PBM-5 1947 Navy Model Pilot's Handbook (AN 01-35ED-1). Washington, D.C.: The Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, 1944.
  • PBM-3S PNM-3D Handbook of Structural Repair Navy Model (A.N. 01-35QG-3). Washington, D.C.: The Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department, 1944.
  • Roberts, Michael D. Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons: Volume 2: The History of VP, VPB, VP(HL) and VP(AM) Squadrons. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, 2000.
  • Smith, Bob. PBM Mariner in action - Aircraft No. 74. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1986. ISBN 978-0-89747-177-0.
  • Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. United States Navy Aircraft since 1911. London: Putnam, 1976. ISBN 0-370-10054-9.
  • Sweet, Donald H. et al. The Forgotten Heroes: The Story of Rescue Squadron VH-3 in World War II.Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey:DoGO, 2000. ISBN 0-9679889-8-5.

External links

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