|Mars C-FLYK, left, and C-FLYL at their Sproat Lake base in British Columbia, Canada in 2006|
Martin Mars was originally ordered for the US Navy in August 1938 and
flew for the first time in July 1942. Only five JRM-1s and one JRM-2,
with a higher weight, were built. The JRM-1s were then modified to the
higher weight and redesignated as JRM-3s. They were powered by four
Wright R3350 radial piston engines of 2,300hp each.
The type was withdrawn in 1959 and that would have been the end of the story had it not been for a group of logging companies in British Columbia, Canada, which formed Forest Industries Flying tankers Ltd and bought the four remaining aircraft to convert as water bombers.
Fairey Aviation in Canada carried out the conversions and with their capacity of 6,000 gallons they became the largest and most capable water bombers ever built. The four aircraft became two with one being written off in a crash in 1960 and another damaged beyong repair in a typhoon in 1962. The remaining aircraft, however, soldiered on, surviving the winding up of the operator, Timber West Flying Tankers, in 2001 but continued to operate for Coulson Flying Tankers based on Sproat Lake, near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.
The aircraft were retired in 2013 with one acquired by the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola in Florida.
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