Power was derived from two Liberty 12-A engines mounted between the upper and lower wing assemblies. Each engine developed a reported 400 horsepower and straddled the fuselage where three to four crewmembers were called upon to man the various open-cockpit stations. Armament was defensive and was made up of no fewer than 5 x 7.62mm machine guns in various positions about the fuselage including the bow nose mount. Offensive firepower consisted of up to 2,000lbs of ordnance. The undercarriage was of a fixed type and consisted of four wheels. First production examples were received in October of 1918.
The MB-1 was designed to replace the Handley-Page O/400 bomber series of British design and the Caproni bomber series of Italian design. The MB-1 came about at a time when the United States depended heavily on the purchase of foreign designs or all-out completed production models to maintain a workable military presence so the arrival of the MB-1 was quite a historic footnote for the nation. The system was called upon to fulfill the primary role of reconnaissance platform with a secondary role as a dedicated bomber. It would serve only a few short years in a military capacity before being replaced in frontline service by the aforementioned MB-2 series, which was in essence a further developed version of the MB-1 series.
A few modified MB-1 models existed and are worthy of note. These include an MB-1 with a 37mm cannon mounted in the 7.62mm bow-mount machine gun position. This particular MB-1 is designated as the GMC for "Glenn Martin Canon" and known by the serial AS62951. Additionally, the MB-1 with serial AS39059 sported a third Hispano-Suiza engine in the nose. A ten-passenger model existed as the GMP ("Glen Martin Passenger"). The MB-1 also served for a time as a mail carrier plane in the form of the T-1 in the post-war years.
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