WWII-Era ‘Philippine Mars’ Transport Seaplane Headed to Arizona Museum

The Martin JRM-1 flying boat has no landing gear and operates only from water.

The ‘Philippine Mars’ is one of only five Martin JRM Mars flying boats produced. [Courtesy: Coulson Aviation]

One of the world’s largest flying boats is being retired—to the desert. The Philippine Mars, one of two remaining Martin JRM Mars World War II U.S. Navy transports, has been acquired by the Pima Air and Space Museum near Tucson, Arizona.

The aircraft is owned by the Coulson Group in Port Alberni, British Columbia, and spent decades fighting wildfires up and down the west coast of North America. An earlier deal to send the aircraft to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, fell through but the airplane was painted in navy blue in anticipation of that move.

The 'Philippine Mars' with three sisters in the background, circa 1947, operated out of Naval Air Station Alameda, California. [Courtesy: Naval History and Heritage Command]

“We are pleased to have the Philippine Mars join our museum where we will preserve this World War II-era aircraft for decades to come,” said Scott Marchand, CEO of Pima Air and Space Museum.

A sister ship, Hawaii Mars, which fought fires up until 2015, will be sent to the B.C. Aviation Museum in Sidney, B.C., near Victoria.

“As a fitting tribute to their years of service and years of hard work by many people in B.C. and the U.S., we are pleased to see both Mars aircraft landing to rest at world class institutions in 2024,” said Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson.

What’s not clear is how the massive flying boat will get to Tucson. It has no landing gear and operates only from water. It needs a relatively big body of water to take off and land, and there is no such open water in the immediate area of the museum.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on AVweb.

Russ Niles
Russ NilesContributor
Russ Niles has been a journalist for 40 years, a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb in 2003. When he’s not writing about airplanes he and his wife Marni run a small winery in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

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