Anigrand #AA2113 1/72 Martin M-130 China Clipper

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Product Code: AA2113


Kit #AA2113. 1/72 scale. This is a highly-detailed resin kit of the Martin M-130 China Clipper, complete with decals.

In early 1930s, Pan Am asked the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore to design and build a flying boat that could fly across the Pacific Ocean with a useful passenger and cargo load. In 1934, three M-130s were built – Martin called them Martin Ocean Transports, but to the media and the public, those graceful aircraft were always referred to as the Martin (or Pan Am) China Clipper. They were given names – the China Clipper, the Philippine Clipper and the Hawaii Clipper, each designed to evoke the glamour and excitement of the far-off Orient. A one-off fourth aircraft, the Martin M-156 Russian Clipper, was built for the Soviet Union – it had a larger wing, with larger fuel tanks for longer range, as well as twin vertical stabilizers necessitated by the extra wing area.

A graceful all-metal sesquiplane design – it had a strut-braced but nearly cantilever main wing mounted high atop the fuselage, and a pair of short stub-wings – sponsons, really, along the line of what Dornier used instead of wingtip floats – that kept the plane stable on the water and added lift during flight. This clean four-engine design looked like the ultimate art-deco refinement of the too-angular Dornier DO-X of 1929. Unlike the underpowered Dornier, the Martin China Clippers were powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-1390-S2A5G Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines, each putting out 830 horsepower. This was increased to 950 horsepower when hydrodynamic propellers were installed.

In November 1935, less than a year after its first flight, the China Clipper flew the first trans-Pacific airmail route. A year later they began carrying passengers as well, from the US to Hong Kong via Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines.

Their range and load-carrying ability ensured that the two surviving Clippers would be drafted into the military during World War II. But even before they could be drafted, one of the Clippers got involved in a shooting war. It was at Wake Island, a stopping-off point between Honolulu and Manila, when the war broke out. Japanese planes strafed the moored Clipper, but did no serious damage, and the plane – after flying a strictly-unofficial scouting mission for the Marines, flew out a few civilians and key military personnel.

Beginning in 1942, the two remaining Pan Am Clippers were pressed into transport roles for the United States Navy. However, they were operated by Pan Am crews and specifically not given a Naval designations. Even though camouflaged in military colors, they maintained their "civilian" status, allowing them to continue to fly into neutral ports. They were often used on secret missions, carrying Allied spies or diplomats. The most critical of those secret missions involved flying uranium ore out of Africa on behalf of the top secret "Manhattan Project,” aiding in the creation of the first atom bombs.

Neither plane survived the war. The Philippine Clipper crashed into the side of the mountain near San Francisco Bay in 1943, killing Admiral Robert English – head of submarine operations in the Pacific at that time. The last survivor, the China Clipper itself, broke up and sank while landing at Port of Spain in Trinidad Tobago in 1945.

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