Martin-Baker MB.2 Fighter Prototype
Largely recognized as an ejection seat-maker today, Martin-Baker began as an aircraft-maker prior to World War 2.
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Before the Martin-Baker name became associated with ejection seats in jet-powered aircraft, it established itself as an aircraft maker just prior to World War 2 (1939-1945). The company was formed by (Sir) James Martin as "Martin's Aircraft Works" during 1929 and became the "Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd" in 1934 when Martin partnered with Captain Valentine Baker. Their first joint venture become the civilian market-minded Martin-Baker "MB.1".
Martin-Baker introduced to Britain its first true modern low-wing monoplane form at a time when biplanes were still making up the air service. Its early work on aircraft brought along an all-new construction scheme which simplified both manufacture and maintenance while also proving a weight-saving measure. The aircraft that became the MB.1 aeroplane used a Napier "Javelin" 6-cylinder inline piston engine of 160 horsepower to drive a two-bladed propeller. The cockpit was wholly enclosed for a most modern appearance though the undercarriage used fixed main legs. In testing that occurred during 1935, the aircraft clocked speeds of 125 miles per hour. However the design was not evolved past this sole flyable prototype but nonetheless influenced the still-to-come designs to emerge from the company.
The MB.2 itself was in the works as early as 1935 and its construction began in the following year. The fuselage qualities of the MB.1 were employed into the new aircraft to produce a lightweight form with inherently good aerodynamic qualities. Again the aircraft was being worked on under the guise of a private venture but thought eventually turned to it fulfilling the standing Air Ministry's Specification F.5/34, which appeared in November of 1934, calling for a modern frontline fighter capable of speeds reaching 275 miles per hour and with a service ceiling up to 33,000 feet.