Close up of Flak-Bait nose art on the fuselage

History: Flak-Bait

The Museum's Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder Flak-Bait survived over 200 operational missions over Europe, more than any other American aircraft during World War II. 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 for German anti-aircraft artillery, "flak," 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 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. Statistically, Flak-Baitflew 725 hours in combat and covered 177,460 miles while consuming 157,850 gallons of gasoline. Living up to its name, the bomber accumulated over 1,000 patched holes from combat damage.

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 at the Paul E. Garber Facility. In 2014, museum specialists transported the entire artifact to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Flak-Bait’s crew poses with the bomber after its 200th mission on April 17, 1945.