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Martin MB-2 / NBS-1

Night Bomber Aircraft

The Martin MB-2 was an improved version of the Martin MB-1 biplane bomber and served primarily as a night bomber for the United States air service.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 4/3/2018
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1920
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Manufacturer(s): Martin Company / Curtiss / Lowe, Willard and Fowler / Aeromarine - USA
Production: 130
Capabilities: Ground Attack;
Crew: 4
Length: 42.65 ft (13 m)
Width: 74.48 ft (22.7 m)
Height: 15.75 ft (4.8 m)
Weight (Empty): 7,231 lb (3,280 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 12,037 lb (5,460 kg)
Power: 2 x Liberty 12-A liquid-cooled V-12 engines producing 420 horsepower each.
Speed: 99 mph (160 kph; 86 kts)
Ceiling: 7,710 feet (2,350 m; 1.46 miles)
Range: 404 miles (650 km; 351 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 391 ft/min (119 m/min)
Operators: United States (retired)
The Martin MB-2 series of twin-engine bombers holds a distinct footnote in the history of United States bomber production as it was the first such system to be mass-produced with US origins. During the First World War, it was common practice for the US (and other nations) to purchase established machines or designs for license production to help fill the voids in their own military-waging inventories. As such, the Martin Company stepped in with the first US-designed bomber in the MB-1. Though produced in limited numbers before the war's end, the MB-1 led to a further developed model in the MB-2, which was slated to become the primary bomber of the United States Army Air Service (the predecessor to the modern day Air Force) and entered full-scale production after June of 1920.

Design of the MB-2 followed closely that of the preceding MB-1 with a biplane wing assembly housing two engine nacelles alongside a fuselage with seating for up to four personnel. Power was derived from a pair of Liberty 12A liquid-cooled V-12 engines of some 420 horsepower each. Self-defense was provided through the use of 5 x 7.62mm Lewis type machine guns positioned about the design. The offensive payload of the MB-2 consisted of up to 1,800 pounds of internal ordnance and an additional 2,000 pounds of external munitions. A distinct feature of the MB-2 series was also its ability to have its wings folded from wingtips to the area of the engines for ease of storage.

Production of the MB-2 was handled by a variety of contractors though it was an original Martin design. At the time, such was the policy of the US Army Air Service to enlist the help of low-bidding agencies to handle production. The companies involved included the Martin Company (production of the first 20 examples), Curtiss production of 50 examples), Lowe, Willard & Fowler (production of 35 examples) and Aeromarine (production of 25 examples). The MB-2 would stay in service until it was gradually replaced by the Keystone series of bombers becoming available in the coming decade.

The MB-2/NBS-1 saw service solely with the United States of America.


2 x 7.62mm Lewis machine guns in bow position
2 x 7.62mm Lewis machine guns in upper rear fuselage
1 x 7.62mm Lewis machine gun in lower rear fuselage

Up to 3,800 lb of internal (1,800 lb) and external (2,000 lb) conventional drop ordnance.

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Cockpit Picture

Variants / Models

• MB-1 - Base Model on Which the MB-2 is derived from.
• MB-2 - Martin Company Designation
• NBS-1 - Military Production Designation designating role of "night bomber" in its naming convention.
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