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Martin China Clipper

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Martin China Clipper

Role Flying Boat
Manufacturer Glenn L. Martin Company
First flight December 30, 1934
Status retired
Primary user Pan American Airways
Number built 3

The Martin M-130 was a commercial flying boat designed and built in 1935 by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Maryland, for Pan American Airways. Only three M-130s were built: the China Clipper, the Philippine Clipper and the Hawaii Clipper. A fourth flying boat (designated as M-156) called the Russian Clipper was built for the Soviet Union which was essentially identical to the three Pan Am models except that it had a larger wing (giving it a longer range) and twin vertical stabilizers.

Martin designated them as the Martin Ocean Transports, but to the public they were all referred to as the China Clipper, a name which evolved into a generic term for Pan Am's entire fleet of large flying boats - the Martin M-130, Sikorsky S-42, and Boeing 314.[1]

Operational history

Designed to meet Pan American Airways President Juan Trippe's desire for a trans-Pacific aircraft,[2] the M-130 was an all-metal flying boat which employed streamlined aerodynamics and powerful engines, selling at US$417,000 a copy, to achieve Pan Am's specifications for range and payload. The M-130's first flight was on December 30, 1934.[3] On November 22, 1935, the China Clipper, piloted by Captain Edwin C. Musick and First Officer R.O.D. Sullivan flew the first trans-Pacific airmail route.[1] As illustrated on this page, a postage stamp, Scott Catalog C-20, was printed for use on the transpacific service. With extended service two more denominations were later issued. All three have the same design showing the M-130 in flight.

The Philippine Clipper inaugurated passenger service between the United States and Hong Kong on October 14, 1936. while later the same month, the Hawaii Clipper inaugurated scheduled trans-Pacific passenger service between California and the Philippines. The flight departed the United States on October 21, 1936, and the round trip to and from Manila required two weeks to complete.[1]

In July 1938, the Hawaii Clipper disappeared over the Pacific on a flight between Guam and Manila with the loss of nine crew and six passengers. No cause for the loss was determined.[4]

Their range and capacity made them prime candidates to fulfill the over ocean hauling needs of the military during World War II. Beginning in 1942, the two remaining planes were pressed into transport roles for the United States Navy. The Philippine Clipper which survived the Japanese attack on Wake Island following the attack on Pearl Harbor[5] crashed in January 1943 when it hit the side of a mountain as it descended to land in San Francisco. ComSubPac Admiral Robert H. English was killed, along with 18 others. [6]

The final M-130, the China Clipper, broke up and sank during landing at Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on January 8, 1945 killing 23 of those on board [7]

Specifications (Martin M-130)

Data from

General characteristics
  • Crew: 6-9 (Captain, First Officer, Junior Flight Officer, Engineering Officer, Assistant Engineering Officer, Radio Operator, Navigation Officer, plus cabin stewards)
  • Capacity: 36 day, 18 night passengers
  • Length: 90 ft 10 ½ in (27.7 m)
  • Wingspan: 130 ft (39.7 m)
  • Height: 24 ft 7 in (7.5 m)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 52,252 lb (23,701 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S2A5G Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines, 830 hp (708 kW) later 950 hp with hydromatic propellers each


See also

Related development

Related lists


External links

  • Martin M-130 photo gallery at the University of Miami Library
  • , January 1936
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