Martin XB-51


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Martin XB-51

The Martin Model 234 was designed originally to meet a US Army Air Force requirement for a close-support bomber, being allocated the designation XA-45. However, it was developed instead as a medium bomber with turbojet power-plant and two prototypes were ordered under the designation XB-51. A cantilever mid-wing monoplane with swept wings and tail surfaces, it was powered by three 2640kg thrust General Electric J47-GE-7 or -13 turbo-jets, one pylon-mounted low on each side of the forward fuselage and the third within the rear fuselage. Other features included pressurised accommodation for the two-man crew, provisi-sions for JATO (jet-assisted take-off) units, and a braking parachute. The first was flown in 1949, but no production order resulted, despite outstanding reliability and handling.

Martin XB-51 on YOUTUBE

Martin XB-51A three-view drawing (452 x 748)

 ENGINE3 x 2360kg General Electric J47-GE-13
  Take-off weight25393 kg55982 lb
  Empty weight13431 kg29610 lb
  Wingspan16.18 m53 ft 1 in
  Length25.93 m85 ft 1 in
  Height5.28 m17 ft 4 in
  Wing area50.91 m2547.99 sq ft
  Max. speed1038 km/h645 mph
  Cruise speed857 km/h533 mph
  Ceiling12344 m40500 ft
  Range2576 km1601 miles

Martin XB-51

Anonymous, 12.11.2021 20:27

Although this aircraft was not ordered into production by the USAF, Martin did not lose out completely. Instead, they received a contract to build a version of the English Electric Canberra for the USAF to fulfill the same requirement, which became known as the B-57. The Canberra was smaller, had only two engines and was probably less expensive to manufacture and to operate.


Klaatu83, e-mail, 16.10.2014 06:58

This aircraft was prominently featured in "Toward the Unknown", a movie about test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base released in 1956. Clearly, by that time the Air Force has sufficiently lost interest in this plane to allow it to be flown in a movie. However, in the film the aircraft was referred to by the fictional name of "Gilbert XF-120".


deaftom, e-mail, 22.01.2014 04:44

Several photos of the XB-51's pilot's cockpit, left- and right-hand consoles and circuit breakers, and the SHORAN operator's station appear on pages 10-13 of Scott Libis' book "The Martin XB-51" (Air Force Legends number 201), published by Steve Ginter (Simi Valley, CA: 1998), ISBN 0-942612-00-0. In addition, page 26 has 1 /72 scale templates showing the arrangement of many cockpit instruments and controls, though the numerical callouts are tiny and require much flipping back and forth to the key on page 24.


Kenneth Kavula, e-mail, 09.05.2013 22:54

I had the same problem as Mr Uffelman, but there turned out to be an excellent cutaway drawing in Google Images that is very detailed. As to cockpit photos, I have only seen one and that is a partial view of the front cockpit taken from the aisleway between the two crew stations which I accidentally found while searching "cockpit photos" on Google. I was recently told that there MAY be a dash One for the -51 at the St Louis Records Center in the Wright Patterson archives, but I have not been able to confirm this as yet.


Kenneth Uffelman, e-mail, 10.04.2012 01:36

Aviation Weekly, circa 1978 states that their was a big dispute between Glenn L. Martin, and the powers that be in the USAF, because of Martin's refusal to build other companies designs. But my main concern is that so far I have not come up with any pictures of the general layout of the inside of this particular a /c. Ie., location of the instrument panel, the pilot's control stick and other instruments. Can you send me any photos of these because I am building a resin model of the B-51 Bomber. Any help will be appreciated!


Paul, e-mail, 06.06.2011 08:41

It was as fast and agile as any fighter of the day. At the time the Air Force and Navy were in a buget battle in congress. The Navy was a much bigger customer than the Air
Force so Martin sided with the Navy. To punish Martin an Air Force general said "Martin will never build another one of their aircraft for the Air Force again". Martin put a lot of effort into making the Canberra acceptable for the Air Force and put several XB-51 features into the Canberra.


Bob Davis, e-mail, 09.06.2008 03:46

I was crew chief on the xb-51 at Edwards AFB in 1955. The xb-51 crashed in El Paso Texas in 1956 killing all on board / 2 people


Terence John Hunt, e-mail, 17.02.2008 21:22

Outstanding reliability and handling?????????
In a direct comparison contest, the English Electric "Canberra" twin engined jet bomber flew rings around the B51, and was awarded the USAF contract. It was built in relatively large numbers by Martin as the B-57.


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