Martin B-57 Intruder
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Martin B-57 Intruder

The beginning of the Korean conflict on 25 June 1950 and the shortcomings of the weary Douglas B-26, a World War II production originally known as the A-26, accounted for the urgent procurement of a light tactical bomber. The new bomber became the Martin B-57, a by-product of the English Electric Canberra, the first British-built jet bomber, initially flown in 1949.

Adaptation of a foreign-made aircraft to American mass production methods, as well as the use of different materials and tools, could present many difficulties. Another problem, perhaps more critical, centered on the Wright J65 turbojets, due to replace the Canberra's 2 Rolls Royce Avon turbojet engines. The J65 was the U.S. version of the Sapphire, a British hand-tooled production currently scheduled for manufacturing by the U.S. Curtiss-Wright Corporation. The Air Force was fully aware of these potential pitfalls, but had no better option. It had an immediate requirement for a light jet bomber, with a 40,000-foot service ceiling, a 1,000-nautical mile range, and a maximum speed of 550 knots. The new bomber had to be capable of operating from unimproved airfields, at night and in every kind of weather, with conventional or atomic weapons. High altitude reconnaissance was another must. For such purposes, the B-45 was too heavy; the Navy AJ-1, too slow; and the Martin experimental B-51's range too short.

As a result of the outbreak in Korea, the Air Force reached a final decision. The desire for a night intruder was so strong that it took just a few days to set in motion the informal production endorsement of February 1951. Because of its experience with the XB-51, the Glenn L. Martin Company was recognized as the most qualified contractor to assume the domestic production of the British aircraft and to deal with the likely engineering difficulties involved in manufacturing a high-performance tactical bomber.

While the Air Force did not expect the B-57 venture to be free of problems, it did not foresee their magnitude. Testing of the 2 imported Canberras revealed design faults that could affect the safety, utility, and maintenance of the future B-57. Then, one of the British planes crashed; Martin's subcontractors could not meet their commitments; and the J65 prototype engines consistently failed to satisfy USAF requirements. In June 1952, further test flights had to be postponed for a year because of continuing engine and cockpit troubles. As a result, the Korea-bound B-57 did not fly before 20 July 1953, just 7 days before the conflict ended. Production of the crucial RB-57 was also delayed. The reconnaissance version entered service in mid-1954, after testing again confirmed that the more powerful J65 engines, added equipment, and other improvements had increased the aircraft's weight, in turn reducing the speed, distance, and altitude of both the B-57 and the RB-57.

Even though the Douglas B/RB-66s, on order since 1952, were expected to satisfy the tactical bombardment and reconnaissance requirements of the near future, the Air Force handled the disappointing B/RB-57 program with caution. The program was reduced, but there was no talk of cancellation. In keeping with procedures that unfortunately appeared to have become almost customary, steps were taken to ensure that the deficient B/RB-57s would be operational. This turned out to be expensive; later and considerably improved models still carried flaws, but in the long run the program's retention proved sound. In 1955, the B/RB-57s justified their costs when they served overseas pending the B/RB-66 deliveries which, as predicted, had fallen behind schedule. In 1956, much-needed RB-57Ds joined the Strategic Air Command, and various configurations of this model satisfied important special purposes.

Delivered too late for combat in Korea, the RB-57 in May 1963 and the B-57 in February 1965 began to demonstrate under fire in Southeast Asia the basic qualities justifying the Canberra's original selection. In 1970, other reactivated and newly equipped B-57s, known as Tropic Moon III B-57Gs, were deployed to Southeast Asia, where they made valuable contributions until April 1972. Finally, WB-57Fs, either modified RB-57Fs or former B-57Bs, were still flying high-altitude radiation sampling missions in 1973. Concurrently, EB-57Es, and related adaptations of the versatile B-57, continued to play significant roles, with no immediate phaseout in sight.

Martin B-57 IntruderA three-view drawing (478 x 762)

 ENGINE2 x Wright J65-W5, 3266kg
    Take-off weight24950 kg55006 lb
    Empty weight11790 kg25993 lb
    Wingspan19.51 m64 ft 0 in
    Length19.96 m66 ft 6 in
    Height4.75 m16 ft 7 in
    Wing area89.8 m2966.60 sq ft
    Max. speed937 km/h582 mph
    Ceiling14600 m47900 ft
    Range3700 km2299 miles
 ARMAMENT8 x 12.7mm machine-guns or 4 x 20mm cannons, 2700kg of bombs

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Mike, 27.08.2014

Trying to transport a 57, anyone know someone who has moved one?

Steve, 02.07.2014


I'm planning to vertically lift a museum EB-57 with a CH-53. I need to know where best to place the straps on the EB. Does anyone have any corporate knowledge?

Carl Grimm, 22.04.2014

I was regular AF and was sent to an AF Radar Squadron on a Kansas ANG base at Hutchinson, Ks in Sept. 1961. The KANG had RB-57s there and sometime either summer of I think '63 one crashed a few miles south of the base. Col Boggs was the ANG commander, but the 125 or so AF guys really had little to do with them other than they covered the main gate. Still enjoyed being up on one of the radar towers and watching those guys fly.

Perry Nuhn, 03.02.2014

1955-56 at Blytheville AFB, Arkansas. Flew as a Navigator-bombadier. Had around 250 hours. Airplanes were brand new and full of growing pains. But, after several years in the B-26 Intruder, the switch to the B-57 was easy and the airplane was sound. At the time few others operated at our altitudes and our only limitation was no pressure suits, so although the airplane could climb directly to 45,000 and seek above that we were limited to below 45,000 and obeyed that dictate mostly. In 1955, experience at high altitudes, jet streams and related gear was still a frontier. At low-level the airplane was a winner and had lots of loiter time for route recce and quick acceleraion when required. It too proved its combat capabilities in Vietnam.

Mike Sterzer, 24.08.2013

With reference to Ed's comment, I witnessed the 1964 Beavercreek High School, Ohio crash of the fuselage of the 57 in question. The plane's wings and engines had come off at closse to 50,000 feet. the crew ejected and survived. The crash broke a window or two in the school. The plane hit nose first at an angle in a three-sided court yard. Miraculous!

ed douglas, 29.07.2013

I remember when a RB-57 crashed at our high school in Jan of 1964. That was too close. It hit the ground between two wings of the school.

deaftom, 10.06.2013

Following up on my earlier post about two special B-57Es that were stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in the early 1960s as VIP-taxis under "Project Flagstaff": I have recently learned that at least 7 B-57Cs and 4 B-57Es were at Andrews at various times during the years 1956-1962, under something called "Star Flight". I have been unable to find anything about Star Flight, other than it was operated by the 1001st Operations Group. Was this a precursor to Project Flagstaff? Project Flagstaff had only two B-57s, while Star Flight apparently had as many as eleven, possibly even more. Can anyone give any information on Star Flight?

Darold Davis, 30.05.2013

Terry Doppler, i remember you. I was in the hyd shop the same time. It would be interesting to touch bases again.I was in 3rd FMS 59 / 60.

Larry Parker, 29.11.2012

Served as Radar tech at Yokota AFB from 63 thru 65. Loved the B-57s. Went to K8 alert pad and froze my arse off.
I now am retired and want drawings specs etc. so that I can build an EDF version for my RC club.

James Colovin, 01.11.2012

8th Bomb 61 to 63. Yokota AB. Started out as third wiper. Ended up as crew chief on Yellow Quebec. Lots of TDY. Anybody out there remember K8 during the Cuban crisis?

Hello Ken Ester

Yes, I was there off and on at K8, also during the Cuban Crises. Did you go to Clark Air Force Base as well? Was your name on the form of Yellow Quebec? Do you have any pictures of Yellow Quebec? Do you remember the numbers on Yellow Quebec? Do you, by chance, remember Major Kenny?


Bill Preston, 14.07.2012

Johnson AB 54-58 8TH SQD aNY OF YOU GUYS STILL ALIVE? Dick Garcia Glen Pearson,Col JIM Sedberry Fred Briggs Remember the new 1957 Cadillac.I HAVE A MODEL B-57b tail #33894.Had a great time in Japan.I would like to hear from anybody from that time.

Steven Beeny, 16.06.2012

Dear all,

I am writing a book on the Canberra aircraft in international service, and would love to talk to you about your memories of working or flying the B/RB-57 Canberra. Certainly many of the stories posted on here would be perfect for the book, and any contributions would be fully credited. Please contact me if you are interested and would like more details at my email address (replace the '=' with an @).
Kind regards,
Steven Beeny

Ray Sorrell, 01.05.2012

While working as an engineer at The Glen L. Martin company one of my assignments was finalizing the installation design for the Power Rudder Boost System. I have a fond memory of trying to get inside of the plane with a mockup of a part of the "Boost" system and encountering factory workers (a man and a woman) in the way "having fun"! Whoops.

Ken Ester, 10.01.2012

8th Bomb 61 to 63. Yokota AB. Started out as third wiper. Ended up as crew chief on Yellow Quebec. Lots of TDY. Anybody out there remember K8 during the Cuban crisis?, 08.01.2012

I Was Crew Chief On B57B 533894 From 56 Thru 59 She Was Wiped Out
In Nam In 64 She Won The Bombing Contest In 58 & was The Sqdn
COs ACFT She Was A EASY Ac To Keep In Commison I have a picture
of Her & was Able to Get It Redone In Colar My Tour At Johnson
Air Base Was The Best Four Years Of My 24 in The 8th bomb & the
air force I Wood Do It Again In aHeart Beat
Pardon My Spelling

Don Hawthorne, 15.11.2011

Trained as a B-57/B-66 Bomb/Nav at Mather AFB. Trained in B-25's, map reading at 1500 feet to sense high speed over the ground. Graduated and sent to the first squadron of RB-57's at Shaw AFB. First flight in the 57 was at 30'000 feet. Sure didn't look like it did at 1500 feet. 'Doc' Auble was my AC. Would like to hear from anyone who might know his where abouts

J Farrenkopf, 28.10.2011

My father was crew chief on a B57 that was part of Operation Red Wing in the Pacific in 1956. I think his plane flew in or around the atomic cloud to get radiation samples. He never talked much about it and all I remember is that he "disappeared" for about 9 months when I was little. He also had a plane involved in Operation Dominic in 1962 at Christmas Island. He didn't talk about this much either. I think the pilots name when he was in the pacific was Capt W.L. Mitchell. If anyone knows any more about this I would like to hear more. He also had a B57D that flew out of Dayton Ohio and had targets painted on the wings (I think it was for some kind of photo reconnaisance). The pilot did some kind of maneuver he shouldn't have (according to my dad) and pulled a wing off. The plane crashed in a school yard in Beavercreek Ohio. The pilot's name was Levere (I think) and the tail number was 53-3973.
My dad spent most of his career working on B-57's and always really loved the planes.

Richard Dabney, 10.09.2011

I arrived at CLark AB, RPI, Sep 67. Assigned to the 8th TBS. The 8th was at Phan Rang AB, Viet Nam; we connected within 4 days. The 8th & 13th would rotate from Clark to Phan Rang every 56 days (2months combat pay), and finally went PCS to Phan Rang Jan 68, just before TET!!! The B-57 was a genuine threat to the VietCong! Often returning with tree limbs and body parts on the engine cowlling. There was no mistaking the low roar of the J57 which had such a low rpm. Starter Breach Caps became shrapnel, pennetrating revenment walls. As Crew Cheif, I did have one memorable flight over Phan Rang (back seat). Sam Miller, Charlie Scott, Vega, James Day, Marty Daniels...I'll always remember Maj Zok's mustach! In 68, we had the "oldest Navigator" in the USAF! We were a unique squadron, the 8th/13th, and the B-57 was a unique, formidable aircraft! So many names have escaped me. The memories are cristyl clear! Thank!

Jack Murphy, 01.06.2011

Worked the B57B/C at Hill AFB Utah 461st Bomb Wg, 765th BS went PCS to Blytheville AFB Arkansas with the same a/c went tdy to eglin firepower demo grounded because of the snatch units not being cocked killed a lot of great Korea Era pilots and AOBs. Ferried a pilots car back to his widow in SC killed at Wendover AFB Utah. part of the arm-disarm crew tdy to Wendover as it was illegal to land armed at Hill AFB...Funny watching the a/c start at Wendover and the Fire Guys chasing it thinking it was on fire..Worked on the first 18 aircraft at Hill. Sure was a beauty. Flew in the Tow version at Wheelus AFB Libya loved it for comfort.....
Worked as a Weapons Mechanic loaded "THE BOMB" went to school on the B/C at Lowery AFB Co on de bomb...Many fine memories great a/c to work except playing with the drop tank squibs hated doing that pulled at least a hundred ejection seats back seat to get the shoran reciever out scared as I was the first mech to remove the seat many frinds got burns from the lap belt seat initiator cable was very short a very clean probably the cleanest aircraft except the RR RB-211 on the L1011s I worked on at Pan Am...Many great memories it was a very slippery plane to walk on the wings fell quite a few times

Bob Baxter, E-4 retired, 29.05.2011

I was a crewchief, 8th bomb suad stationed Yakota Japan supporting missions at the K-8 base in south korea until the base was closed in 1963. Overnight we moved the 8th, 13th & 90th bomb suardons to Clark AFB and TDY'd planes and crew to Bien Hoa, Viet Nam. This was our home flying shorties into the north as well as cambodia. In 1965 our base got hit with an attack over 40 mechanics and destroying over 30 aircraft. My two year tour was up after this and was transfered to Egland AFB to be trained on the F-4's that were being delivered fron the factory. Not a fun duty with no extra combat pay we were considered TDY and noy part of the war in Viet Nam.

1-20 21-40 41-60

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