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Full text of "The history and development of the Glenn L. Martin Company, Baltimore / prepared by Robert Gottlieb"

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The Glekn L.M>\rtin Compatn^y 

KOVEldBER 18, 1938 



The true genesis of the G-lenn L. Martin Company, 
long before it was dignified by legal Incorporation with 
a "Company" title, was when a young man, aided toa oppor- 
tunity offered hy his mother, began experimental work on 
airplane construction in Santa Ana, California, in 1907. 
His workshop was an abandoned church and his tools those 
available in small- town garages of that dlstaml day, but, 
his labors produced a "flyable", pusher -type biplane 
which, in 1909, he taught himself to operate, ^^e next 
three years represented a strenuous effort, against the 
advice of neighbors and friends, to continue in the career 
which fascinated him, a struggle made financially possible 
only by appearances in "flying circuses" and a venture into 
the movies In a film starring "Americans Sweetheart," 
Mary Pickford, 1912 brought him into further International 
prominence when he flew from Newport Beach, California, 
to Catallna Island, 51 miles out In the Pacific Ocean, 
setting a new distance-record for over-wfcter flying , 
These activities earned for him the Aero Club of America's 
Expert Aviation Certificate No. 2, In that same year 
he succeeded In his dream of becoming an airplane man- 
ufacturer. On August 16, 1912, he incorpor4ted one of the 
first airplane companies In the Unites States and opened a 
factory at Los Angeles. 


The next year, the compsuiy delivered its first 
airplane to the U. S, Armj , This was not only the first In 
a long procession of Martin planes piir chased by the Army 
and Navy but it was also America's first training plane 
and won the Curtisa Marine Trophy for covering the greatest 
mileage in one day. 

In September, 1916, after the World V(ar had "been 
under way for two years, Mr, Martin participated in a 
merger which formed the Wright Martin Aircraft Corporation. 
This association was discontinued when the activities of 
the new combination became concentrated on engine production. 
Mr, Martin again organized his own company. In ^^eptember 
1917 tha Glenn L. Martin ^onpany of Ohio began operations 
in Cleveland and. In April 1918, took possession of a 
plant of 61, 000 sq. ft. of floor space.; History-making 
aeronautical developments followed In rapid succession. 

The world -fame of the Martin name is based primarily 
on three epochal accomplishments. 

First, In 1918, was the development of the first 
American twin engine bomber, a bombardment plane so 
superior to all contemporaries and so far in advance In 
desigh that It remained for eight years the standard of 
the U, S. Army. 

Second, In 1935, came the sensational B-IO-B 
Bomber which. In one jump, antiquated all other aircraft 
In its classification, achieving 215 miles per hour at a 


tlmo when the prevailing speed for Its type was nearly 
100 miles slower and when pursuit planes of 175 miles 
per hour were regarded as effective for defense. 

That same year Mr. Martin astounded the aviation 
world by taking a contract for a plane that "couldn't "be 
built". Before many of the necessary accessories, including 
engines and propellers of adequate rating were yet in exist- 
ence and before the automatic pilot had been perfected, The 
Glenn L, Martin "-^ompany signed a contract to produce the 
ocean transports now known as the "China Clipper" type, 
for the trans-Atlantic route, the flying boats which 
demonstrated to the world the practicability of taans- 
oceanic passenger and cargo flying when this route was 
changed to the Pacific crossing. 

Tfhile these three achievements are those which 
established the popular fame of Glenn L, Martin, the 
aviation v/orld recognizes the significance of other less 
spectacular stepping-stones— 1919, the first model mall 
planes J 1922, the first metal American monoplane sj 
1926, the first airplane with alloy steel fuselage; 
1927-8, the 5-p\irpose airplane for carrier use; 1929. the 
first dive bombers successfully t* carry a 1,000 lb. bomb 
in a terminal velocity dive; and, in 1938, the Model 166, 
63,000 lb. super- transport, capable of carrying 16 pass- 
engers, their baggage and a normal load of mail and express 
non-stop from Kew ybrk to London In less than 24 hours. 


Since 1929 the company's factory has been located 
on a 1,200 acre tPGCt of land at Middle River, Maryland, 
on the Chesapeake Bay, 10 miles east of the business section 
of Baltimore, The property has a frontage of one and one- 
half miles on the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, 
affording excellent railroad transportation facilities. 
In addition it enjoys a frontage on tide water, penetrated 
by several arms of the Chesapeake Bay, where the Company's 
flying boats can be launched within a relatively few yards 
of the main Assembly Hall. 

The factory site is on the northwest corner of th© 
property contiguous to the railroad, with spur tracks in 
operation. The plant. Is of the latest pavilion type 
fireproof steel and brick construction, and has been so laid 
out as to Insure minimum operation expenses and majtlmum 
efficiency throughout. The main assembly Hall provides a 
clear manufacturing area of 450 feet long by 300 feet wide 
without coluDUis or obstructions of any kind, where flying 
boats far larger than any yet constructed ©an be built and 
assembledunder cover under Ideal manufacturing conditions. 








UP TO Date advancements ii 









In describing the "History and Development of the 
Martin Airplane Company," a description of the events in 
the life of Glenn L, Martin would almost complete the 
subject. The story of his life is slmlllar to many of 
our national heroes who through their untiring efforts 
have succeeded in accomplishing what they set out to do. 
He had numerous failures, but through these disappoint- 
ments he became hardened and strove with increased effort 
to overcome these difficulties. 


Glenn L. Martin was born in Macksburg, Iowa, on 
a bleak night in January, 1886, when the thermometer stood 
at 25 below zero, and there was nothing flying but snow 
and mortgage Interest dates. Leaving Macksbxirg, the 

Martins lived for a brief while in Liberal, Kansas; but 
most of Glenn' s boyhood was spent in Sallna taking things 
apart. Threshing machines, separators, horseless buggies, 
when they put in an appearance; everything mechanical was 
prey for his inquisitive screw-driver. 

An earnest and industrious reader, he came across 
magazine pieces and books about the pi onoEi^ glider work 
of Chanute and Lillenthal, and the flying -ma chine re- 
searches of Langley, This new trend of hi a mental Interest, 


and heroworshipiftfi, first took expression in Icltes. Grlean 
filled the air aroumd Salina with kites in such abundance, 
kites of such magnitude and magniflcenee, that Kansas 


drove Ih froM all parts of Saline ©ounty to see them and to 
wag their heads dolefully over a bent that might easily 
turn into blasphemy. 

Mother Martin finds that there were plain Indlcalj* 
tlons of the future gr«at aircraft aianufacturer In that early 
kltecraft. Kites were never, to tJlenn, as to other boys, 
just a hank of string, a couple of sticks, a sheet of paper, 
and a ball of twine. Then, as now, he was a great one for 
figures. He would sit down at the kitchen table In the 
little home in isalina, iiaftsevenings, and work for hours on 
an "artist* conception" of the projected kite. Sg,tisfiacl 
presently, with the design, ke would make complet* working 
blueprints of the kite— every cross-stick, every length of 
string, every inch of covering — that's where a lot of Mother 
Martin's worn bed sheets went I — would be reduced to scaled 
drawings, and to cost. He knew exactly how many pennies 
each kite would cost him before he started to build it. 
In this respect tJlenn Martin was the only boy in history 
to exactly estimate and budget his kites. J?Vom kites to 
gliders was a natural step for the young aero»»aut, who 
wd4ked for miles trying to find those gentle slopes whlck 
pass for hills in Kansas, so that he could get a running 
start for a glide Into some neighbor's field. , 

— o— 

The Martin Store at Liberal, Kansas, in the 


Glenn's Father is the Hatless Man in the 

Saturday Evening Post, August 14, 1937 


Glenn finlsiied two years at Kansas Wo 3 ley an when he 
was nineteen— since then they have been glad to give hla an 
konorary Sc. D. Degree- -and moved to Santa *aa, California, 
with kia parents. There he was tolling happily In a garage, 
surrounded by heaps of automobiles which he had taken apart, 
when the news came along casually and belatedly that a couple 
of fellows named Wright had flovai, Glenn put down his 
wrecking-bar and walked thoughtfully home. Mother was there 
and as was his custom he talked over the possibilities of 
his accomplishing the same feat with her. She encouraged 
him to do the thing he thought he could do . 

Glenn found an abandoned church which he could rent 
for twelve dollars a month. He tacked newspapers over the 
windows so that neighbors couldn't look in to see what he 
was doing and plague him by sending policemen to "get that 
crazy man," Nights, after he had put in a full day of 
work at the garage, he worked on his plane while his mother 
held a kerosene lamp for him, '^'here was no other lighting 
available in the moldy building. 


Th» plane was finished— It was the fi-uit of his long 
list of gliders. He mounted a 14-horsepower -''ord automobile 
motor in it, and t2"ien on a day in 1908T-when he was just <'' 
past twenty —he wheeled it to a meadow on the farm of James 
Irvine, at the south end of Main Street in Santa Ana, 
Hiujidreds of people gathered, but the youngster recalls that 



Chiirch in which Martin Built His ^""irst 


Glenn Martin at the Wheel Of His Elrst 

Saturday Evening Post August 14, 1957 


as he took lals seat on the front edge of the wing and secured 
his strap with trembling hands he could see only his mother. 
He flew. 


The jaraje saw him no more, Glenn Martin, airplane 
manufacturer, was born, -tbr a man with such a head for 
figures was not one to do things on a small acale. Ke 
realized the importance of organization. "If I have any 
genius, any outstanding talent," he saya, "it is for hiring 
men who know more than I do, iVhen I speak of the engineering 
achievements of Kartla aircraft in terms of 'we', I am not 
disclaiming personal credit, nor am I having an attack of 
generosity, I am merely telling the truth. Ilie planes 
are the product of the organization, I onl;jr direct, "^ako 
for Instance, a specific problem of engineering detail. I 
have the bRCkground of two college years, and many years of 
self- instruction at night. If I sit down to It and concentrate 
I can do that problem, and get It correct; but it will take 
me sixteen hours and I'll be worn out. In the plant we 
have one hundred engineers. Some of them are mere boys, 
smart as whips. X can send for any one of those boys at 
three-thirty In the afternoon, tell him the problem, and 
at five he will lay the answer on my desk and say, '^^ny thing 
else tonight, Mr, Martin?"'* 

By 1913 he had in full blast in Santa Ana the largest 

*Collier3, June 3, 1933 p. 48 


alrcraft mRnufacturlng plant In the world. But, while 
the church was still their factory, poverty was the Tillain. 
Glenn, his mother and seven devoted ex-automoblle mechanics 
would stand back and survey a little airplane, built from 
hand to mouth, tram 1 oiir to hour: steel bargained for there, 
wood here, wires and linen any place. Mother Martin, ll]f:e 
as not, had sewn on the wings. 

It was their whole fortune in this world that they 
saw before them on th(S dirt floor of the tumble-down church. 
It would be sold — luckily. Then '^lenn would go out in his 
own ship and give exhibitions up and d^iwn the United States 
throughout the summer in order to raise enough money to keep 
his plant going. 


Glenn was one of the first American pilots to win 
an International license of the Federation Aeronauti^^ue 
Internationale, He was the first aviator ever to take his 
Bioth;r flying; the first aviator to fly below sea level — 
this feat was performed at Brawl ey, in the Iiyperial Valley; 
the first to deliver merchandise by air; in 1911 he ran an 
aerial express service in California, He was the first to 
take movies in the air; a picture (galled "Battle in the 
Clouds," and he flew Mary Pickford and worked as the villain 
in one of her productions. 

In May, 1912, two years after Bier lot flew the 
Channel, Glenn Martin made the longest and most daring water 



(9l<?^tn Margin Tojintj ^'^i^ '^»^ Pfcfc^^i^of CorU E^ A^ 
^«rlv Fi?i*iou* P)*tye#-5 Fn#M ^ ^-h^i <SiW O-P ye=,tcraay 

C«-f. fcvevti 




^ "5 ■ i ( J / "^ 3 "T" 


flight ever known up to that tlmej from the California 
mAinland to Av&lon, on Catallna Island, thirt^j miles out 
In the Pacific. In 1912 he armed himself with field glasses 
and performed the first aerial police work; searching for 
two "bandits in the mountains. He did not find the bandits 
but he did gire an interview to the papers prophesying that 
one day airplanes would be a commonplace and Invaluable part 
of policework; and that air traffic would be so heavy that 
Federal air police would have to patrol the sky lane s4nd 
shoot dovm sky-hogs and other violators. 

By 1916 Glenn could earn more money on the ground. 
He was working on the twenty -four -plane Dutch order, building 
a series of ships for the Army, and filling private contracts. 
And in that year he entered Into a new business arrangement 
that brought him Kast. Well Street promoters organized a 
merger of the Wright brothers' manufacturing interests with 
Martin's in what was termed a §10,000,000 enterprise. Over 
the protests of California newspapers, Martin accepted the 
vlce-presldenoy of the new corporation and removed to New 

Although Martin built the first Liberty-motored bomber. 
It saw no service In France. He was unable to get it into 
production until 1918 and, meanv^hlle, our Army had adopted 
the British Handley-Page. But Martin improved his bomber, 
a Itimbering twin-motored Craft with a roomy capacity for 
bombs and a erusing speed of 80 miles per hour, and it became 
standard in oiir ■'*rmy until 1925. 


Martin-Bullt China Clipper Outward Bour.d From 
San JTranclsco Bay for Hong Kong and Way Stations 

Saturday Evening Post August 14, 1957 



In 1932, he revolutionized air attack, bringing 
out the Model B 10-B the famous "flying whale"— which, in 
one sure step, lifted the speed of heavy service aircraft 
by 100 miles per hour, to 225; rendered obsolete most of 
the light pursuit planes in the world's armies and navies; 
enlarged the possibilities of swift passenger transport and 
earned for Martin the valued Collier trophy from the hands 
of ^resident Koosevelt in 1933, 

In 1933, Mr. Martin astounded the aviation world 
by taking a contract for a plane that "couldn't be built," 
Before many of the necessary accessories. Including engines 
and propellora of adequate rating were yet in existence and 
before the automatic pilot had been perfected. The Glenn L. 
Martin Company signed a contract to produce the ocean trans- 
ports now known as the "China Clipper" type for the trans- 
Atlantlc route, the flying bo*ta which demonstrated to the 
world the practicability of trans-oceanic passenger and 
cargo flying when this route was changed to the Pacific 
crwSsing . 

In 1937 a larger flying boat slmlllar to the 
the "China Clipper" was completed. This airplane was 
sent to Russia for use in their extensive coimnercial air 
force. It is the largest airplane built by the Martin Co. 
and one of the largest planes flying today. 

In 1937 Martin decided to build his "dream boat". 
This new ocean transport will be manned by a crew of 11 



Pencil Sketch Of th& Proposed Trans-Atlantic 


Drawn from artists conception of completed 
airplane. Published In Baltimore Sun Deo. 11, 1937 


men, and will carry its passengers on two decks in largo 
luxurious quaters, including a game room where passengers 
can play table tennis and quoits. 

On the lower deck will be a large salon with over- 
stuffed chairs and a bar, i^orward, beneath the pilots and 
radio compartment will be an observation room, where pass- 
engers will look out of large windows. 

There will be a full sized kitchen, shower facilities 
and rimnlng water, and toilet faeilitieain the passengers 
cabins. Interior decorations are being planned carefully. 

It is understood that the new flying boat la being 
considered for use by the American Export AirHnes, a 
subsidiary of the Export Steamship Corportatlon, which has 
been organized to challenge the Pan-American Airways for 
transatlantic passenger and mail business. Below are 
figures that compare the new transport which will be 
finished in 1939 to the Kuaalan transport,* 

New Transport Russian Transport 

188* wing span 15V* 

118* fusellfie length 91 » 10" 

100-- — --"day passengers--- -46 

66~ — -- — —-—-night passengers 26 

190 crusing speed 145-170 

230 high speed 200 

16,670# pay load 7,500# 

8000 ml.--- — "-- ---extreme range -5000 mi, 

♦Baltimore Sun 12-11-37 p, 24 



Buzzing around high above Maryland these past few 
weeks has been a little airplane that may be one of the 
most important developments In aviations brief history. 
Unexciting in itself, the tiny craft may resxilt in the 
development and construction of airliners so much larger 
than any now in existence or under way that the average 
mind will be unable to appreciate their dimensions. 

Built by Glenn L. Martin at the Middle River 
factory near Baltimore, the little ship is the world's 
first man- carrying, scale flying model of a full- sized 
flying boat. Its purpose, briefly is to determine at low 
cost the performance and characteristics of a projected 
aircraft which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars 
to design, manufacture and test. 

Today the only method available to them is through 
the use of wind tunnels and towing t>«-sins, in which a model 
is tested under nearly ideal conditions such as the airplane 
itself might encounter one day in the year. Because of the 
unnatural, mechanically ideal nature of the wind tunne}., 
errors are almost certain to creep into calculations reached 
through its use — errors that may result in complete falliire 
and a consequent tremendous financial loss to the manu- 


facturer, or, at least, necessitate costly changes in the 
completed airplane. 

Martin hopes that the flying model built to the 
exact scale of the projected airplane will enable him to 
determine much of the data necessary for its construction. 


by testing it under natural conditions to ellmlnato as 
much design error as it is humanly possible to eliminate, 
and enable him to make any necessary changes before 
construction begins. 

One of the most inportant of the tests being conduc- 
ted with the little ship is to determine Its characteristics 
on the water. Naturally, a flying boat must handle well 
when it is being maneuvered on the surface, and the shape 
aiKi dimensions of the hull are of the utmost importance. 
The Martin scale model is, as far as any one knows, the 
first of its type in the world. No one, to the Martin 
company's knowledge, ever before has attempted this method 
of development. 

Only when Martin has actually built a hu^e super- 
liner larger than anything ever before constructed, using the 
scale model to help work out the characteristics and per- 
formance, and it is as successful as all his other airplanes 
have been., will the true value of the little experimental 
ship be known. Only then will anyone know definitely that 
the idea Is the answer to the manufacturers' problems. If 
it is, we all may be sure that the world will see some 
amazing advances in the construction of big flying boats of 
the type which will rival the surface ocean-going craft of 
today; the kind that has been predicted in the i>unday 
"science" section, but so far not seen. 


Tadpole Clipper 

The novel little ship's actual size stands out 
beside the recently completed Russian Clipper. 
Popular Aviation March 1938 



On March 15, 1929, Martin made public his intentions 
of establishing his airplane factory at the Middle River 
10 miles from Baltimore, '^e following alcetches show the 
location and general plan of his proposed site. The 
factory Is located In a 200-acre tract north of i>ark Head 
creek. Adjoining it is a 1,000 acre airport pro-rldinfi a 
runway of more than a mile in length in any direction. 
The origlonal proposal included hangers for land and 
sea planes, an aviation sGhool, hotels, restaurants and 
service stations, water-front residences to provide smrnntr 
homes for sportsmen interested in aviation, "boating, fishing 
and other sports also were planned. These plans were not 
carled out however because of the failure in the plan to 
make Baltimore the United States air center. 

With the growing demand for transoceanic passenger 
planes, 16- to 20- ton army bombers, and four-englned navy 
flying boats, the already heavy volume of the Martin 
Company's business increased to a point where it was 
necessary to construct a new assembly plant at Baltimore. 
Consequently, Albert Kahn, Inc., architects of Detroit, 
submitted conpleteia designs for the structure toward the 
latter part of April, 1937, work on the building was started 
early in May, and the completed plant is now in op ration. 
The entire project, involving a construction cost of 
approximately $2,000,000, consists of a main assembly 


General location of the Martin Site, 

The Baltimore Sun March 15, 1929 



Proposed Site Of Martini Aircraft- The Suni 15-3 -is 



buildinfi, a three-story engineering "building, and a 
two-stor^ wing In which space Is provided for cafeteria, 
lockers and toilets. Adjoining Is the office building. 

The assembly building, measuring 300 ft. wide by 
450 ft. long, is spacious enough to allow assembly of 
planes larger than any yet built, A-s can be seen In 
the following picture, even the Russian Clipper, which 
has a wing span of 157 ft, and an overall Ifcngth of 92 ft, 
looks comparatively small. Twelve planes of this type could 
be assembled at one time in this building. 

In the entire floor area of 135,000 sq. ft. there 
are no interior columns. The roof trusses, which span 
300 ft, from column to coluunn, are 30 ft, deep and weigh 
123 tons each. Ten of these trusses, spaced 50 ft. apart, 
support the entire roof. Because of their dimensions, they 
had to be ere<Sted by metnods applicable to bridge const- 

Columns supporting the ends of the trusses are 4 ft, 
deep, and are of the open lattice type instead of the solid 
web type, the 4 ft, space being used for the passage of 
steam, air, water ajid other process piping. The columns have 
been designed to withstand wind pressure against all sides 
of the building, and to achieve this result, those along 
one side have pin end bearings. 

Height fi'om floor to underside of the roof truss 
is 45 ft. e in., and an overhead nomorail system, used 


Interior of the Martin assembly 

Aero Digest April 1938 


to transport parts required in the assembly of planes, is 
suspended from the hottom c?iord of the trusses. Clear 
height from floor to "underside of the monorail system is 
40 ft. At the south end of the hulldlng there are three 
100 ft, wide vortical-lift canopy type doors which can be 
raised simultaneously, thus providing a clear opening 
300 ft, wide by 40 ft. high. 

Exterior walls of the building are brick to a 
height of 8 ft. above floor level. Above the window sills 
the walls have large expanses of glazed steel sashj add- 
itional glazed sash Is Installed in the roof monitors so 
that the interior of the building is well lighted during 
the day. 

Artificial lighting, of an intensity of 60 ft. 
candles on the working plane, is obtained from the 
installation of high-intensity mercury vapor lamps suspended 
at the roof truss level. Spacing of electric light outlets 
was designed to obtain uniformity of lighting, now recognized 
as being as Important as intensity of lighting. 

The building is heat<6d by a Lief Lee hot-air system. 
Two heating chambers, 40 ft. wide by 75 ft. long, were 
constructed below the ground floor, one near each end of 
the Ttjuilding, Hot air ducts (or trenches) run underground 
distrubuting the heat by forced ventilation to various parts 
of the building. Additional under-ground trenches are used 
for power wiring and process piping. 


Above is an artists drawing of the complete 
Martin Plant. The assembly room is shown on 
left, the engineering building in the center, 
and the administration and cafeteria on the 
right. The following pictures are snapshots 
of the above buildings taken at different 


Eiiglneerlng building from the southeast corner, 

Administration building on the left and the 
Assembly hall as shown from southeast corner, 




View taken from the Penn. R. R, with 
Eastern Ave. In the foreground. 



Western face of the Engineering Building 
with Assembly Hall in the rear. 


VI ew of north-east corner of the Aasembly 
Hall with Frog Mortar Creek in the foreground. 

Eastern side of Assembly Hall with Middle 
River in the foregroxind. The concrete ramp 
can be seen on the center-left. 


Eastern side of Assembly Hall with 
Middle River in the Foreground. Ramp 
in center, i^ark Head Creek to left. 

A view to the south of Middle River. 



In the preceedinfi pages the development of a 
great industry Is presented. This thesis possible only 
because of the untiring efforts of one man who did not 
know the meaning of the word "failure'*. One thing has never 
left him in his climb to the top— the boy ft*om Sallna 
who stood on a platform in London, England, and delivered tbe 
Vfllbur Wright Memorial lecture of 1931 to the Hoyal Aero- 
nautical Society still has the barnstormer's singular 
irregularity: an unconsciousness of clocks. Sometimes, 
when he lived in Washing |x>n, he would look up from a new 
sketch and see that it la on_ln the morning, and home fifty 
miles away. So they had to fix up an apartment for him In 
ftt the factory; It is as plain as a monastery cell, a 
reflection of quiet tastes. One thing you feel, back of 
all Glenn Martinis friendliness; an iron will. 

The little church of Santa Ana could be tucked into 
the office safe at Baltimore, Yet it is doubtfull that Glenn 
Martin is any prouder of the new than of the old; he is that 
sort — ;his mind advances while his heart clings to yesterday. 
His is a little heavier at fifty- two than he was at twenty. 
He looks more like a school-teacher than an industrial leader 
as he sits behind his desk and looks out over his three 
thousand acres, but never was there a man who set his goal 
and strove for it as did Glenn L, Martin,