No. 9347. Martin-Baker M.B.2 (P9594 c/n MB.2) Royal Air Force
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Martin-Baker M.B.2

10/31/2009. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "Designed by James Martin with the collaboration of Captain Valentine H. Baker, the M.B.2 was built to conform to the requirements of Specification F.5/34, but funded as a private venture.

Conceived for manufacture in large numbers by semi-skilled workers at low cost, the M.B.2 employed a steel-tube structure with fabric skinning, was powered by a Napier Dagger III 24-cylinder H-type engine with a rated output of 798 hp at 5,500 ft (1,675 m), and carried an armament of eight 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Browning guns in the wings.

The depth of the fuselage was virtually constant from nose to tail and vertical tail surfaces were eliminated, the rudder being hinged to the sternpost behind the elevators. First flown by Captain Baker on 3 August 1938, registered G-AEZD and marked M-B-I, the M.B.2 demonstrated serious directional instability and a rudimentary fixed tailfin was immediately introduced.

While tested at Martlesham Heath, a level speed of 320 mph (515 kmh) was recorded with full armament, but official reports of trials, while enthusiastic concerning its engineering design, pronounced the M.B.2 unstable about all axes and generally unpleasant to fly. An unorthodox feature was the retractable crash-pylon which automatically extended behind the pilot's head in the event of a nose-over.

In March 1939 it was handed over to the RAF, s/n P9594, while in May 1939 more orthodox vertical tail surfaces (shown above) were fitted, these markedly improving handling, but the RAF evinced no interest in the fighter, development being discontinued, and the aircraft was broken up at Denham."

Created October 31, 2009