×
Aviation & Aerospace - Airpower 2024 - Aircraft by Country - Aircraft Manufacturers Vehicles & Artillery - Armor 2024 - Armor by Country - Armor Manufacturers Infantry Small Arms - Warfighter 2024 - Small Arms by Country - Arms Manufacturers Warships & Submarines - Navies 2024 - Ships by Country - Shipbuilders U.S. Military Pay 2024 Military Ranks Special Forces by Country

Martin-Baker MB.5


Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter Prototype


United Kingdom | 1944



"The Martin-Baker MB.5 design was the best to come from the company during World War 2 - though only a single prototype was ever realized."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/14/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Flag of Image from the Martin-Baker company image archives.
Firepower
Performance
Survivability
Versatility
Impact
Martin-Baker, who would go one to become a well-known aircraft ejection seat-maker, originally was in the business of aircraft-making, establishing operations in 1929 and becoming the "Martin-Baker" brand in 1934. Its first foray into aircraft design became the civilian market MB.1 which incorporated weigh-savings construction and low-maintenance/operational requirements to produce a lighter, cheaper-to-produce airframe for serial manufacture. The sole prototype was lost to a fire but paved the way for a series of military fighter-minded machines to come.

The MB.2 continued the construction techniques employed in the MB.1 and was evolved along the lines of a possible fighter for service in the Royal Air Force (RAF). The design was not adopted after it showed little improvement over competing types already in service which led to the MB.3, the most modern offering to date for Martin-Baker and, again, developed to a standing Air Ministry fighter requirement. However, just one of the three ordered MB.3 series aircraft flew and this sole example crashed during a test flight - taking the life of company co-founder Valentine Baker with it. From there, the MB.4 was briefly entertained on paper as a Rolls-Royce Griffon-powered fighter retaining many of the physical features of the earlier MB.3. However, this fighter only appeared in drawings and was never seriously furthered.

The culmination of the MB line arrived with the MB.5 - the definitive model in the Martin-Baker wartime family of fighter prototypes - and continued the evolution of the aircraft that began with the MB.1 some time earlier. Its sole prototype actually emerged from the MB.3's development for it was formed from the second - incomplete - prototype that was revised to a newer standard and finished as the impressive MB.5. The aircraft was constructed during early 1944 with the prospect that this product could still fulfill a fighter requirement for the Air Ministry - even though several major participants, namely the Supermarine Spitfire, were holding their own in the advancing war.

The key shift in the MB.5's design approach was the installation of the Rolls-Royce Griffon 83 series liquid-cooled engine of 2,340 horsepower - the most powerful to be fitted to any Martin-Baker aircraft up to this point. Indeed, the Griffon was originally intended for the MB.3 but the powerplant remained in-development and the Merlin was substituted instead (even then, the finalized MB.3 ultimately carried a Napier-branded engine). First flight of the MB.5 prototype was finally had on May 23rd, 1944.

The resulting design was sleeker and more modern in appearance than even the MB.3 before it. The fuselage was well-streamlined from "spinner to tail". The engine, mounted ahead of the single-seat cockpit, drove a pair of three-bladed propeller units in contra-rotating fashion. Up to this point, Martin-Baker fighters employed either two- or three-bladed propeller units in conventional arrangements. The cockpit itself was fitted slightly ahead of midships and utilized a largely unobstructed canopy which provided excellent vision for the pilot. An air scoop was featured under the belly (ala the North American P-51 "Mustang" fighter) and the tail unit incorporated a single vertical tail fin and mid-mounted horizontal planes as seen in previous Martin-Baker aircraft. The undercarriage was wholly retractable as it was in the MB.3, their design somewhat reminiscent of the Supermarine Spitfire (though with a noticeably wider track).

Article Continues Below Advertisement...
ADVERTISEMENTS
The MB.5's first flight proved it a largely sound aircraft though stability issues soon crept in. This forced a reworking of the rear fuselage section which led to a new tail fin of larger surface area being fitted to help eradicate the encountered longitudinal stability. In 1944 the call came down from the Air Ministry that the MB.5 would not be accepted for adoption nor serial production though it remained in testing even as the war in Europe came to a close during May of 1945.

As impressive as it appeared, the MB.5 also became recognized as an impressive performer with a listed maximum speed of 460 miles per hour and a service ceiling reaching 40,000 feet. Rate-of-climb was 3,800 feet-per-minute and operational range was out to 1,100 miles. The MB.5 was exhibited in the first post-war aircraft flying collection at RAE Farnborough in October 1945 but its flying time was eventually marred by the main section of canopy coming loose on approach and an engine issue stained its impressive display in front of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill himself. Despite this, the aircraft was landed safely with no loss of life.

Evaluation of the aircraft continued as the months ticked on and it grew an excellent reputation as a responsive and high-performance aircraft. The pilots lucky enough to fly her placed her in high regard - its stability perfected and its agility unmatched. Some observers critiqued diving speeds and others its rate-of-climb when compared to contemporaries but few could find any major fault in the overall product. Even throughout the latter part of the 1940s, the MB.5 was still being flown at a time when many in-development wartime projects had been given up to the scrap heap.

An official review cited some failings in the aircraft but these were not shared by test pilots for some considered it the best piston-engined aircraft to ever fly. It is noteworthy that the airframe was never outfitted and flown with the intended cockpit armoring or its battery of 4 x 20mm Hispano Mk II cannons in the wings so it's true performance figures would (and could) never be realized (performance under combat loads was a very different beast to judge an aircraft by).

Its flying days ended sometime in the late 1940s (its last flight may have occurred in 1947) to which the airframe remained under RAF ownership and may have (rather unfortunately) been expended as a target or in some other unflattering training exercise. Such came the end of the impressive MB.5.

Even so, the design endeavors of the MB series were quite a journey for the Martin-Baker company. It ended its aircraft-making days when it shifted priorities to pilot safety and became an industry stalwart in providing ejection seats for many jet aircraft of the Cold War period (1947-1991). The company continues in this respect.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Martin-Baker MB.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter Prototype.
1 x Rolls-Royce Griffin 83 V-12 liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 2,340 horsepower driving 2 x three-bladed propeller units in contra-rotating fashion.
Propulsion
460 mph
740 kph | 400 kts
Max Speed
39,993 ft
12,190 m | 8 miles
Service Ceiling
1,100 miles
1,770 km | 956 nm
Operational Range
3,800 ft/min
1,158 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Martin-Baker MB.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter Prototype.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
37.7 ft
11.50 m
O/A Length
35.1 ft
(10.70 m)
O/A Width
14.8 ft
(4.50 m)
O/A Height
9,237 lb
(4,190 kg)
Empty Weight
12,092 lb
(5,485 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Martin-Baker MB.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter Prototype .
PROPOSED (never fitted):
4 x 20mm Hispano Mk II cannons in wings.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Martin-Baker MB.5 family line.
MB.5 - Base Series Designation; sole prototype completed and ultimately scrapped.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Martin-Baker MB.5. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): Martin-Baker - UK
National flag of the United Kingdom

[ United Kingdom (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (460mph).

Graph Average of 375 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the Martin-Baker MB.5
Image from the Martin-Baker company image archives.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
AIR-TO-AIR COMBAT
X-PLANE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Martin-Baker MB.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter Prototype appears in the following collections:
HOME
AVIATION INDEX
AIRCRAFT BY COUNTRY
AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURERS
COMPARE AIRCRAFT
AIRCRAFT BY CONFLICT
AIRCRAFT BY TYPE
AIRCRAFT BY DECADE
WWII AIRCRAFT
X-PLANE AIRCRAFT
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.


©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)