Authored By Dan Alex (Updated: 5/11/2016):
On August 26th, 1944, the prototype XBTM-1 completed its first flight. A second prototype was authorized and completed for additional flight testing thereafter. This was followed by some sixteen preproduction examples for formal evaluation and ironing out any recognized deficiencies in design. However, the war in Europe ended in May of 1945 with the Soviet capture of Berlin and the capitulation of Japan followed in August after the dropping of two atomic bombs, bringing about the formal end of World War 2. With the end of the war, the large procurement order that once numbered as many as 785 aircraft was decidedly trimmed down to a more manageable 132 production examples. This was followed in 1946 by a redesignation of the BTM-1 to AM-1 (generically as the "Martin AM Mauler"). The AM-1 proved fortunate, however, as many American aircraft projects were outright cancelled with the end of the conflict.
While initial deliveries to USN flight units began in July of 1947, technical issues with the tail hook design persisted which delayed the type's formal introduction until March of 1948. Once ironed out, the Mauler made a respectable - though limited - legacy for itself, proving a solid performer and handy hauler. It was noted that landing a fully-laden airframe required some skill even under experienced hands, particularly on the deck of a moving carrier. This was the cost of capability, however, for the Mauler was well-known for its ordnance-hauling capabilities cleared for up to a 4,500lb standard load out of externally-held ordnance though it was suggested that these airframes could field beyond double that if pressed as such.
Outwardly, the Mauler exhibited a typically designed propeller-driven aircraft frame with a front-mounted engine compartment, forward-set cockpit (under a clear view bubble canopy) and curved tail rudder atop the tapered empennage. The main wing assemblies were straight, low-mounted and set ahead of amidships with slight dihedral apparent. Horizontal planes were set low on the vertical tail fin to clear the airflow of the main wing elements. The radial piston engine powered a large, four-bladed propeller assembly, a deviation from the wide-accepted three-bladed types en vogue during the war. Perforated dive brakes were affixed to the trailing wing edges for the dive bombing/torpedo bombing roles. The undercarriage was wholly retractable and of the "tail-dragger" configuration with two main landing gear legs (single-wheeled) and a retractable tail wheel at rear. The tail hook intended to snag along one of the presented cables aboard American carrier decks was set under the tail in the conventional way and lowered when the aircraft was inbound and ready for landing. The main landing gear legs rotated and retracted flat against the wing undersides inboard of the wing's midway point. As a carrier-minded aircraft, the Mauler was purposely given a strong undercarriage and folding main wing units, the wings folding at their midway section, just outboard of the cannon housings.