The history, provenance, and state of preservation of the Museum's Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder Flak-Bait make it an exceptionally rare and significant World War II artifact. The medium bomber and its crews flew more missions than any other American aircraft during World War II.

Object Record

History

After its completion at the Glenn L. Martin Company's Baltimore factory in April 1943, the Army Air Forces assigned Marauder 41-31773 to Lt. James J. Farrell of the 449th Bombardment Squadron, 322nd Bomb Group. Farrell gave the bomber its name Flak-Bait by combining the word “flak” for German anti-aircraft artillery with the nickname for his brother's dog back home, "Flea Bait."

Between August 1943 and the end of the war, Flak-Bait and its crews flew against Nazi Germany. Their missions included sorties (an attack made by coming out from a defensive position) in support of the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. Flak-Bait flew its historic 200th mission in April 1945 when it led the 322nd Bombardment Group to Magdeburg, Germany.

Watch Brief History Video
By the Numbers
200+

operation missions over Europe

725

hours of combat against Nazi Germany

1,000

patched holes from combat

177,460

miles covered (enough to circumnavigate the globe seven times)

Missions Flak-Bait's D-Day Missions How Many Missions Did Flak-Bait Survive? Flak-Bait's 200th Mission

After the War

Recognizing the significance of Flak-Bait, the Army Air Forces saved it from destruction after the war and sent it back to the United States in 1946.

The U.S. Air Force officially transferred Flak-Bait to the Smithsonian in 1960. Flak-Bait's forward fuselage section went on display in the World War II Aviation exhibition when the Museum in Washington, DC, opened in July 1976 while the rest of artifact remained in storage. In 2014, museum specialists transported the entire artifact to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.  

Preservation

The Museum is in the process of on preserving Flak-Bait. With the exception of work performed on the forward fuselage section in the 1970s, it has received no treatment of any kind since the end of World War II. The completion of this multi-year project will mark the first time Flak-Bait will be fully assembled since the end of World War II, exhibiting all of the accrued wear and tear from combat operations.

The Plan

Overall, the treatment approach will require the preservation, conservation, stabilization, rehabilitation, and, when warranted, restoration of the artifact's structural, mechanical, and cosmetic features. This will be the last opportunity to provide a thorough technical evaluation of the artifact and the required preservation treatments for many decades to come. With this perspective, our plan is to perform thorough, in-depth treatments aimed at providing optimal long-term protection for the aircraft while disturbing as little original material as possible.

Preserving Flak-Bait's Fabric Panels Saving Doped Fabric Reversing the 1970s Restoration