THE FORGOTTEN FIGHTER
RCM&E|August 2020
THE FORGOTTEN FIGHTER
Whittaker admires Tim Ruck’s model of the Martin Baker MB-5, a superb design killed off by Air Ministry politics
Alex Whittaker

The Martin Baker MB-5 was a speculative venture designed to Air Ministry Specification F.18.39 for a fighter able to exceed 400mph in level flight. The MB-5 was developed (with substantial redesigning) from the ill-fated MB-3, which had crashed in 1941, killing its test pilot, Val Baker.

Although it had similar wings to the MB-3, with a wide track, retractable undercarriage, the MB-5 had an innovative steel tube fuselage. It first flew on the 23rd May 1944 and was powered by a Rolls Royce Griffon 83 2349hp V-12 engine. Armament was four 20mm Hispano cannon. Its test pilots described it as outstanding and some thought it better than the Spitfire. Sadly, due to Air Ministry politics and possibly the failure of the Griffon engine whilst the airframe was being demonstrated to Winston Churchill, the MB-5 never entered production. The single prototype is reputed to have met an ignominious end, shot to pieces by trainees at an Army Gunnery School.

These days Martin Baker are known for their ejection seats, rather than their aircraft.

THE MODEL

Tim Ruck is no stranger to the BMFA Scale Nationals. When he wheeled out his Martin Baker MB-5a few years ago at Barkston Heath it delighted everyone. The model really looked the part in fast low passes, with her smooth flight envelope and aggressive sit in the air. In fact, she has excelled over the years, despite often poor conditions. This is actually Tim’s second MB-5, since he first attended the BMFA Nats many moons ago with a simpler, smaller version.

PLAN

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August 2020