PBM Mariner
A U.S. Navy PBM-5 Mariner
Role Patrol bomber flying boat
National origin United States
Manufacturer Glenn L. Martin Company
First flight February 18th, 1939
Introduction September 1940
Retired 1964 (Uruguay)
Primary users United States Navy
United States Coast Guard
Royal Australian Air Force
Argentine Navy
Produced 1940–1949[1]
Number built 1,366
Developed into Martin P5M Marlin

The Martin PBM Mariner was a twin-engine American patrol bomber flying boat of World War II and the early Cold War era. It was designed to complement the Consolidated PBY Catalina and PB2Y Coronado in service. A total of 1,366 PBMs were built, with the first example flying on February 18, 1939, and the type entering service in September 1940, with the last of the type being retired in 1964.

A Mariner, otherwise noted for its WW2 and post-War service, was the type that vanished searching for Flight 19. Flight 19 vanished in the Bermuda Triangle, it and the Mariner that searched for it were never found with its 14 crew, though it was thought to have suffered a mid-air explosion. Another noted crash was the 1946 Antarctica PBM Mariner crash in December 1946.

Design and development

A transport Mariner takes off in 1942

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 and PB2Y Coronado. It received an order for a single prototype XPBM-1 on 30 June 1937.[2]

To test the PBM's layout, Martin built a 38 scale flying model, the Martin 162A Tadpole Clipper with a crew of one and powered by a single 120 hp (89 kW) Chevrolet engine driving two airscrews via v-belts; this was flown in December 1937.[3][4] This was followed by an initial production order for 21 PBM-1 aircraft on December 28, 1937.[5] The first genuine PBM, the XPBM-1, flew on 18 February 1939.[2]

The aircraft had multiple gun positions including single mounts at each midship beam and stern above the tail cone. Additional guns were positioned in the nose and dorsal turrets, each fitted with two-gun turrets. The bomb bays 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. Martin also developed the even larger 4-engined Martin JRM Mars in this period.[6]

Operational history

A U.S. Navy PBM-1 of Patrol Squadron 56 (VP-56) in 1940.
A PBM-5 on the deck of USS Norton Sound in April 1945 off Saipan
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).
PBM Mariner leaves a wake (August 1943)

The first PBM-1s entered service with Patrol Squadron Fifty-Five (VP-55) of the United States Navy on 1 September 1940.[5] Prior to the USA's entry into World War II, PBMs were used (together with PBYs) to carry out Neutrality Patrols in the Atlantic, 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.[7] PBMs were responsible, wholly or in part, for sinking a total of ten U-boats during World War II.[7] PBMs were also heavily used in the Pacific War, operating from bases at Saipan, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and the South West Pacific.[8]

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.[9]

PBMs continued in service with the U.S. Navy following the end of World War II, flying long patrol missions during the Korean War.[10] It continued in front line use until replaced by its successor, the P5M Marlin. The last Navy squadron equipped with the PBM, Patrol Squadron Fifty (VP-50), retired them in July 1956.[11]

The British Royal Air Force acquired 32 Mariners, but they were not used operationally, with some returned to the United States Navy.[12] A further 12 PBM-3Rs were transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force for transporting troops and cargo.[13][14]

The Royal Netherlands Navy acquired 17 PBM-5A Mariners at the end of 1955 for service in Netherlands New Guinea.[15] 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.[16]

On 5 December 1945, a PBM Mariner took off from Eastern Florida to search for a missing Flight 19 (five TBM Avengers on a training flight), and was not heard from again. Twenty minutes after takeoff the airplane vanished from radar. A vessel in the area reported seeing a fireball and found an oil slick, but no remains of the crew or aircraft were found. The aircraft and crew remained missing but it is suspected it suffered from a mid-air explosion.[17][18]

The 1946 Antarctica PBM Mariner crash occurred on 30 December 1946, on Thurston Island, Antarctica when a United States Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner crashed during a blizzard.[19][20] Buno 59098 was one of 4 aircraft lost during Operation Highjump.[20]

One of its replacements in US service was the Martin P5M Marlin.


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.[3]
PBM-1 (Model 162)
Initial production version. 5× .50 inch (12.7 mm) machine guns. Two R-2600-6 engines; 21 built.[3]
XPBM-2 (Model 162)
Conversion of one PBM-1 as experimental catapult-launched long-range strategic bomber.[21]
PBM-3 (Model 162B)
Improved version. 1,700 hp (1,270 kW) R-2600-12 engines; 32 built.[21]
PBM-3R (Model 162B)
Unarmed transport version of PBM-3. 18 new build plus 31 converted from PBM-3.[21]
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.[22]
PBM-3B (Model 162C)
Designation for ex-RAF Mariner GR.1A after return to U.S. Navy.[22]
PBM-3S (Model 162C)
Dedicated anti-submarine aircraft with reduced armament and weight for improved range. Six were prototyped from the PBM-3C with radar and standard armament less the dorsal turret. Later a light weight nose armament was fitted (2× fixed 0.50 in machine guns in nose. Retained were single machine gun in port waist position.; 62 conversions plus 94 built as new plus .[23][24]
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.[23]
PBM-4 (Model 162E)
Proposed version with two 2,700 hp (2,015 kW) Wright R-3350 engines; unbuilt.[25]
PBM-5 (Model 162F)
Version with 2,100 hp (1,566 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines;[26] 628 built.[25]
Variant of PBM-5 with improved radar.[26]
Lightened anti-submarine variant of PBM-5.[25]
Improved anti-submarine aircraft with revised radar installation.[25]
PBM-5A (Model 162G)
Amphibian version of PBM-5, with retractable tricycle undercarriage; 36 built plus four conversions.[25]
Mariner I
British designation for 32 PBM-3B supplied to the Royal Air Force.


A 41 Sqn RAAF Mariner in 1944
A 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.
Martin PBM Mariner in US service in 1942
 United Kingdom
 United States

Surviving aircraft

Martin PBM 5-A Mariner on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum near Tucson, Arizona

Accidents and incidents

A damaged PBM Mariner is loaded on USS Chandeleur (AV-10)'s aft deck in Apia Harbor, Samoa, 15 February 1943.

Specifications (PBM-1)

3-view line drawing of the Martin PBM-5S Mariner
3-view line drawing of the Martin PBM-5S Mariner

Data from Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II[41]

General characteristics



See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ "PBM Mariner in Action."[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 318.
  3. ^ a b c Dorr 1997, p. 122.
  4. ^ "Martin Model 162A "Tadpole Clipper" | National Air and Space Museum".
  5. ^ a b Green 1968, p. 177.
  6. ^ "Martin Mariner, Mars, & Marlin Flying Boats". www.airvectors.net. Retrieved 2023-11-26.
  7. ^ a b Dorr 1997, p. 115.
  8. ^ Dorr 1987, p. 116.
  9. ^ "1943: Coast Guard Acquires Martin PBM-3/-5 Flying Boats."US Coast Guard. Retrieved: 8 Dec 2018.
  10. ^ Dorr 1987, p. 118.
  11. ^ Roberts 2000, Appendix 1, p. 671.
  12. ^ March 1998, p. 172.
  13. ^ A70 Martin Mariner Archived 2009-06-30 at the Wayback Machine. RAAF Museum:RAAF Point Cook. Retrieved: 24 May 2009.
  14. ^ Graham, Wynnum. "RAAF PBM-3S Mariners". www.adf-serials.com. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  15. ^ Hoffmann 2002, p. 74.
  16. ^ Hoffman 2002, pp. 76–77.
  17. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Martin PBM-5 Mariner 59225 Cape Canaveral, FL, USA". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 2023-11-26.
  18. ^ "The Mysterious Disappearance of Flight 19 All 14 airmen involved in Flight 19 were never seen or heard from again. By Frankie Witzenburg October 2021 Naval History Magazine".
  19. ^ "Decade Ago Sarasotan Was Off For Antarctica". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 30 December 1956. Archived from the original on 3 August 2021. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  20. ^ a b "United States aircraft losses in Antarctica". Antarctic Journal of the United States. 9: 3–4. 1974. Archived from the original on 2021-08-03. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  21. ^ a b c Dorr 1997, p. 123.
  22. ^ a b Dorr 1997, p. 124.
  23. ^ a b Dorr 1997, p. 125.
  24. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 320.
  25. ^ a b c d e Dorr 1997, p. 126.
  26. ^ a b Donald 1995, p. 184.
  27. ^ Hoffman 2003, pp. 29–31.
  28. ^ Blancard, Wendell (1972). The Almanac of World Military Power (Second ed.). Alexander Barker LTD. pp. 37, 38. ISBN 0835205878.
  29. ^ Hoffman 2003, p. 33.
  30. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 96.
  31. ^ "Mariner/Marlin - anywhere, anytime" 1993 Turner Publishing Company 1993.
  32. ^ "PBM-3/5 Mariner." United States Coast Guard. Retrieved: 27 May 2009.
  33. ^ Hoffman 2003, pp. 31–32.
  34. ^ a b "Martin PBM-5A Mariner." Archived 2010-01-08 at the Wayback Machine Pima Air and Space Museum. Retrieved: 2 August 2009.
  35. ^ Martin Mariner PBM-5 in Lake Washington." Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 7 August 2009.
  36. ^ "Martin PBM Mariner Patrol Bomber-BuNo 59172." Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine United States Navy, 29 March 2009. Retrieved: 7 August 2009.
  37. ^ "Martin 162A NX19168." airliners.net. Retrieved: 7 August 2009.
  38. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Martin PBM-5A Mariner P-303 Abadan Airport (ABD)". aviation-safety.net. Archived from the original on 2012-11-09.
  39. ^ Ranter, Harro and Fabian I. Lujan. "ASN Aircraft accident Martin PBM-5 Mariner CS-THB North Atlantic Ocean." Archived 2012-11-04 at the Wayback Machine Aviation Safety Network, 2005. Retrieved: 28 June 2011.
  40. ^ 1958 / NOV / 09 - Accident with the Seaplane - CS-THB - disappeared between Lisbon and Funchal GIAA Final Report (in Portuguese) Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ Bridgeman 1946, p. 245.


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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.

Further reading