Staff Writer (Updated: 5/11/2016):
The Baltimore was developed under the A-23 designation following its origination from the preceding A-22, which served as the Martin Maryland (detailed elsewhere on this site). The A-23 was given a revised, deeper fuselage design for more internal volume as well as uprated engines to help improve performance and first flew on June 14th, 1941. While the initial customer for the A-23 was the French (the USAAC passed on the design), the Fall of France in May of 1940 precluded its deliveries and a resources-strapped Britain accepted the order. As such, the name of Baltimore was bestowed on the line and the name stuck with the design for the entirety of its service career. A-23s arrived in the latter portion of 1941 and were baptized in combat over the skies of the Middle East.
Initial models were the Baltimore Mk I which fitted 2 x Wright GR-2600-A5B radial piston engines of 1,600 horsepower each. These aircraft featured a defensive armament arrangement of some 10 x 7.7mm machine guns though only two were set in trainable mountings at dorsal and ventral gun positions (the remaining stock were in fixed mountings on the wings and fuselage including a pair of aft-firing guns). 50 of the type were eventually produced.
This mark was then followed by the Mk II which added two more 7.7mm machine guns, one to the trainable dorsal and ventral positions. 100 of the variant were produced.
The Mark III arrived by mid-1942 and featured a power-assisted Boulton-Paul dorsal turret which could be arranged with either quad (4) or dual (2) 7.7mm machine guns. The Mk III was also fitted with 2 x Wright GR-2600-19 "Cyclone" radial piston engines capable of 1,660 horsepower each providing the Baltimore with a maximum speed of over 300 miles per hour. Fuselage design made the Baltimore Mk appear very tall and narrow which restricted internal operating spaces for the four crewmembers (pilot, navigator/bombardier, radio operator and dedicated gunner). The nose assembly was consistent with other America-designed bombers of the time and featured a heavily glazed cone leading up to the stepped cockpit. Wings were mid-mounted on the fuselage with a dorsal turret seated along the fuselage spine, facing rear, and ahead of the single vertical tail fin. Bomb bay doors made up nearly the entire length of the fuselage underside. The Mk III was produced across 250 examples in all.