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[1977.009.001] Aircraft - 'P5M-2S/SP-5B Marlin Acquired'
P5M-2S (SP-5B) on Display
P5M-2S/SP-5B Marlin Acquired
Accession Number 1977.009.001
Accession Date 17/03/1977
Creator
Creator Creator Role
Manufacturer
Date Created 1956
Object Desciption Navy acquired 254 Martin Marlin P5M-1/-2 patrol flying boats commencing in 1952. This was the Navy's last big buy of flying boats. Redesignated P-5/SP-5M after 1962, the Mariner served in the Vietnam War.
Object Notes One of the first batch of P5M-2s, the display aircraft was accepted by the Navy in May 1956 and joined its first squadron, Air Development Squadron (VX) 1, the following month. During its ensuing eleven year career with the fleet, this aircraft served in a number of patrol squadrons, finishing its active career with Patrol Squadron (VP) 40, which in 1967 became the last squadron in the U.S. Navy to make an operational deployment with flying boats. Despite its routine service career, the museum's aircraft was destined to be special. At the conclusion of the last seaplane deployment, during which VP-40 flew patrol missions off the coast of South Vietnam as part of Operation Market Time, the squadron's SP-5Bs flew from the Philippines to Japan, where most were scrapped. Some of their number survived and, as destiny would have it, one of them was the aircraft on display. As the end of 1967 approached and the phasing out of the Marlins continued, the Navy decided to have one final curtain call for Navy flying boat operations. Because at the time they were the only big boat crew in the Navy to possess "Alpha" status signifying their complete qualification in all phases of antisubmarine warfare, the crew of the museum's aircraft was chosen to fly the ceremonial last flight. Thus, on 6 November 1967, in a final tribute to flying boat operations in the U.S. Navy, the aircraft made one last pass over Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island and splashed down in the waters of San Diego Bay.

Little did the crew know that they would have one more flight in their aircraft's aging airframe, a flight into history. Just eight days after the final touchdown in San Diego, the Smithsonian Institution requested that one of the Navy's fast disappearing SP-5Bs be earmarked for use in the institution's proposed National Armed Forces Museum Park. Chosen for this honor was none other than the aircraft that had made the "last" flight over San Diego. On 6 July 1968, it departed North Island bound for Naval Air Test Center (NATC) Patuxent River, Maryland. Following a stop at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, the aircraft concluded its final flight with a water landing at Patuxent River. On 12 July 1968, she was formally turned over to the Smithsonian Institution.

For the next several years, nothing was done with the historic Marlin. However, on 14 March 1975, with the concept of a National Armed Forces Museum Park having failed to materialize, the Smithsonian Institution transferred the aircraft to the Naval Air Systems Command. That same day, seeing an opportunity for a rare jewel, then Naval Aviation Museum Director Captain Grover Walker requested that it be assigned to the Naval Aviation Museum. Transferred by barge to NAS Pensacola, the last of the big boats was accessioned into the museum's aircraft collection in 1977.
Notes
From naval aviation's earliest beginnings the flying boat assumed a prominent role in operations at sea. The capability of flying long-range missions, coupled with the inherent flexibility of not being reliant upon airfields for operations, made this class of aircraft ideal for patrol and antisubmarine warfare. The Glenn L. Martin Company contributed much to this tradition. The builder of the famed China Clipper, which plied the skies of the Pacific with Pan American Airways during the 1930s, the company was also known in military circles as the manufacturer of the PBM Mariner. The venerable flying boat, first flown in 1939, served successfully with Navy and Coast Guard patrol squadrons during World War II. One of them, while flying in the Atlantic with Patrol Squadron (VP) 74, scored the first U-Boat kill by a U.S. Navy flying boat, sending
U-158 to the bottom in June 1942. Thus, it was no surprise that when the U.S. Navy needed a replacement for the aging Mariner following the war, it turned to the seaplane experience of the Glenn L. Martin Company.

With the successful PBM airframe serving as a logical starting point, Martin engineers set about designing the new aircraft after the issuance of a U.S. Navy contract for a prototype on 26 June 1946. Though they decided upon a different hull configuration for the new flying boat, the engineers incorporated the Mariner's wing and upper hull into the prototype. Called the XP5M-1, the aircraft was, at 100 feet 7 inches, over 20 feet longer then its predecessor, and the Wright R-3350s suspended beneath the wings enabled higher airspeed. Despite its mammoth size, it nevertheless proved highly maneuverable on the water, partly the result of unique hydroflaps on the hull that could be lowered to assist in turning. Though it first flew on 30 May 1948, it took over two years before the Navy finally issued a formal contract for production versions of the aircraft. Squadron delivery began in April 1952.

Operationally, the Marlin, as the P5M-1 was called, became a key component in the Navy's antisubmarine warfare mission. The aircraft featured APS-80 search radar in a prominent, bulbous nose, as well as weapons-bays in the long engine nacelles that protruded from its wings. In addition, modified versions carried an array of antisubmarine gear, including magnetic anomaly detection equipment and the Julie and Jezebel echo-sounding and sonobuoy detection systems.

Following the P5M-1 versions of the Marlin into service was the P5M-2, which with its T-tail design presented a different appearance than its predecessor. First flown in August 1953, the P5M-2s began reaching Navy fleet squadrons the following June. All told, the Navy accepted 259 production versions of the Marlin, including the P5M-2 version that featured a "T-tail" (in 1962, P5M-1 and P5M-2 aircraft were designated SP5A and SP-5Bs respectively). Though primarily employed in antisubmarine warfare during their service, Marlins flew missions of a different sort in Vietnam in support of Operation Market Time, the surveillance of the coast of South Vietnam to prevent the flow of supplies into the country.

Specifications for the P5M-2

Manufacturer: Glenn L. Martin Company
Dimensions: Length: 100 ft., 7 in.; Height: 32 ft., 8 in.; Wingspan: 118 ft., 2 in.
Weights: Empty: 50,485 lb.; Gross: 85,000 lb.
Power Plant: Two 3,450 HP Wright R-3350-32WA engines
Performance: Maximum Speed: 251 M.P.H. at sea level; Service Ceiling: 24,000 ft.; Range: 470 miles
Armament: Up to 8,000 lb. of ordnance carried internally or externally
Crew: Complement of 11

Aircraft in the Museum Collection

SP-5B (BuNo 135533)- On outdoor static display
Multimedia
SP-5B Taking Off in San Diego
SP-5B Following Last Flight
 Aircraft on Display


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