The Martin AM Mauler (originally XBTM) was a single-seat carrier-based attack aircraft built for the United States Navy. Designed during World War II, the Mauler encountered development delays and did not enter service until 1948 in small numbers. The aircraft proved troublesome and remained in frontline service only until 1950, when the Navy switched to the smaller and simpler Douglas AD Skyraider. Maulers remained in reserve squadrons until 1953. A few were built as AM-1Q electronic-warfare aircraft with an additional crewman in the fuselage. In the 1930s and early 1940s, the Navy divided carrier-borne bombers into two types: the torpedo bomber and the dive bomber, each with crews of two or three men. Wartime experience showed that pilots could aim bombs and torpedoes without assistance from other crewmembers as well as navigate with the aid of radio beacons and the development of more powerful engines meant that faster aircraft no longer needed a rear gunner for self-defense. Furthermore
With the prospect of flying the AD-1 Skyraider and AM-1 in carrier operations, the US Navy assigned the Maulers to Atlantic Fleet squadrons. Attack Squadron 17A (VA-17A) was the first unit to get the AM-1 and received its 18 aircraft in March and April 1948. It was redesignated VA-174 on 11 August and began carrier qualification trials aboard USS Kearsarge on 27–28 December and completed them aboard USS Leyte in January 1949 with all assigned pilots completing their day qualifications. During this latter deployment, the squadron participated in the unsuccessful search for a British South American Airways Avro Tudor airliner missing in the Caribbean. The squadron made a brief deployment aboard USS Midway, one of the largest carriers in the US Navy, in early 1949. The longer flight deck of the Midway-class carriers made landings easier for the AM-1 pilots and the squadron did not have a single landing accident during its deployment. Upon its return, the unit transferred its aircraft to VA-44 and VA-45, both newly assigned to Midway, and converted to the Skyraider before being disbanded in January 1950
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Many of the AM-1Q electronic-warfare variants were assigned to Composite Squadron 4 (VC-4), based at NAS Atlantic City, and were detached in small groups for each Atlantic Fleet carrier deployment. Little is known about their service and the squadron is last known to have had Maulers assigned on 1 October 1950.
Although the Skyraider was a third smaller and carried a third less bombload, it proved more reliable in service and easier to fly and land, and Navy pilots preferred it. In 1950 the decision was made to use the Mauler only from shore-based units and later that year all but Naval Reserve units abandoned the type. The aircraft operated with reserve squadrons until 1953
The Martin AM Mauler (originally XBTM) was a single-seat carrier-based
attack aircraft built for the United States Navy. Designed during World War II,