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 61-80
Sven, 20.09.2015

Can anyone shed any light on the design faults found in the original Canberra?

Bill Ragsdale, 20.04.2015

Reply to Ronald Ostendorf: I was a B-57 crew chief at Randolph A.F.B. back in 1955. I can't remember the date or the pilot that was killed but can remember the details of a B-57 that crashed in that time period. We had dispatched 2 B-57's on a training mission (a student pilot in one plane and an instructor in the other) but only one plane returned from the training flight. I met the arriving plane and after climbing to the opened canopy I noticed the instructor pilot was very shaken up and couldn't shut the engines off. I helped him with shut down and asked him where the plane with the student pilot was. He said the other plane had crashed due to a pilot error. The student was flying as a simulated flame out with one engine (#2) at idle when he made a rt. bank causing the plane to roll to the rt. side and go nose down. The instructor pilot told the student to reduce power to the #1 engine and level the plane out but the student got nervous and instead applied 100% power to the #2 engine while still in a dive and crashed without ever trying to level the plane out. I don't remember either pilots names or even if this was the same time frame but could have very well been the same one as we had many B-57's at Randolph A.F.B. for training. The B-57 was my favorite plane to crew chief on through my 6 year career. I hope this might give you some information you are seeking about your brother.

Jack Penrose, 28.01.2015

I operated the tow target system in the B57E at Tyndal AFB from 57 to 59. 23Tow Target Squadron.

Wayne Walker, 10.01.2015

I was Crew Chief in the 90th Bomb Squad. 1959-1961 @ Johnson and Yokota A.B. Japan. I do remenber the TDY'S to K-8 and also Robert Manns and Chuck Ramsey.
I worked with some of the Post 8th guys at Lockheed Flight Test in Marietta Ga. I sometimes wonder how many are still living.

Randall Benjamin, 09.01.2015

That was killed not filled..they had some long wing before I got there. I never saw one. We had a couple of EB-57 As. I think most were Ds and Es, but I think some were Bs and Cs . It has been a while so don't hold me to that. They had ejection seat mods done which caused a problem for the A models an that got rid of them.

Randall Benjamin, 09.01.2015

I was a aircraft electrician in the 4677th DSES at Hill and Malstrom from 1971 - 1973..I've read some things about the B-57 that I didn't know. They had just lost one in the Salt Lake when I got there. Then one crashed after takeoff , caused a forest fire, and the last trying to land on one engine. All were filled, not all were from our squadron .

Robert Manns, 23.12.2014

Nav in the 8th '60-63. I've logged time in 29 A.C but the 57 was my favorite. Probably because I had the best 57 driver on the planet- Chuck Ramsey-- I've got models of Yellow A (925)[2} & R (879) in which we won "Top Gun". Both destroyed at Bien Hoa I understand. We went to K8 regularly and often. Through a method not admitted to,we determined that low-level over water should not be below 55' --due to the cant of the engines, flying below that resulted in a "wake" on the water very visible from the air. Lots of great memories from that tour. Thanks, Chuck!

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.

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