Mar 28, 2008

Martin 404 Mainliner

( - Martin made many great military planes during World War II, but knew there would be an excess of them when the war was over. Glenn Martin was determined to make the earliest possible entry into the postwar airliner market.
He unveiled a full-size mock-up of the new Martin 2-0-2 less than two weeks after the Japanese surrender. Many of the planes were sold, but the company suffered heavy losses. By 1949, the Martin company had recovered and embarked on its 4-0-4 project. 103 were sold to Eastern and TWA. Three months later, the Korean War broke out and costs escalated, but the contracts were for a fixed price. Losing money on every plane, Martin refused to make any more. However the 404 became legend.
After a decade or so with the trunk lines, they joined the former Northwestern 2-O-2's in service on regional carriers. Some were converted into executive planes (including one for Frank Sinatra) and others were used to carry cargo (not always legal).
Several were still flying in the 1990's, including 4-O-4's owned by the Mid Atlantic Air Museum, Save a Connie, Inc., and a private collector in Washington - displaying the liveries, respectively, of Eastern, TWA, and Pacific Airlines. At least two 4-O-4's have been impounded by the U.S. Customs Service and await possible restoration.

Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum, Essex, Maryland

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens