The Fight For Mars

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Built in Baltimore in the early 1940s, the last two remaining four-engine Martin Mars seaplanes, now owned by TimberWest of Vancouver, British Columbia, are up for sale -- but the owners may be among a local minority that would like to see the aircraft go. And so it is that while the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum seeks your support for a fundraising effort to "bring one home," governments of more combustible provinces in Canada have maneuvered to seek funds to retain the immense and unique water bombers. The fully operational Martin Mars airplanes can each carry 60,000 pounds of water, and that puts them in a very elite (and hard to replace) class of water-hauling aircraft. But at 65 years of age, their abilities may not be the only thing that's hard to replace. The aircraft in question have provided fire protection in both the U.S. and Canada without incident over the last 40 years but, for one museum, opportunity knocks. With the help of your dollars, the Maryland Aviation Museum could bring the "largest seaplane in history to enter production" back home to peaceful retirement at Middle River, Md., and Canada may have to pony up for a more modern firefighting aircraft. Bidding ended on New Year's Eve.