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Where is Flak-Bait?

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The Museum’s Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder Flak-Bait and its crews survived 207 operational missions over Europe, more than any other American aircraft during World War II. Recognizing that significance, the U.S. Army Air Forces saved it from destruction after the war. The newly-created U.S. Air Force transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1949 and the B-26 joined the collection in 1960. Flak-Bait’s forward fuselage section went on display in Gallery 205-World War II Aviation when the Museum opened in July 1976. Museum specialists have transported it, along with the rest of the artifact that has been in storage at the Paul E. Garber Facility, to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Flak Bait

Millions of visitors have been able to enjoy seeing the forward fuselage section of Flak-Bait during its thirty-eight years of display in Gallery 205-World War II Aviation. You can see where in earlier years visitor’s hands wore off the olive drab paint just past the Plexiglas nose.


Flak Bait Cockpit

This is the view of the radio (left) and navigator positions inside Flak-Bait’s forward fuselage section as you look toward the cockpit. [Photo by Eric Long, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM 2014-02562).]

Martin factory workers completed the B-26 in April 1943 and the Army Air Forces assigned it to the 449th Bombardment Squadron of the 322nd Bombardment Group. Lt. James J. Farrell gave the bomber its name by combining the word for German anti-aircraft artillery, “flak,” with his brother’s nickname for their family dog, “Flea Bait.” Between August 1943 and the end of the war, Flak-Bait and its crews accumulated 725 hours of combat time against Nazi Germany. Over the entire artifact, there are over 1,000 patched flak holes earned in missions that included sorties in support of Allied operations during the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge.

Flak Bait on its 200th Mission

On April 17, 1945, Flak-Bait’s 200th mission was leading the entire 322nd Bombardment Group on a mission to bomb Magdeburg, Germany. [Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM A-42346)]

Flak-Bait’s Crew

Flak-Bait’s crew poses with the bomber after the April 17, 1945 mission. The celebratory 200 Missions “bomb” just under the pilot’s cockpit is not the one found on the artifact today. This one was either superimposed on the aircraft or the photograph. [Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM 77-2694)]

Few Marauders survive today out of the 5,266 produced by Martin. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace, and a private collector in Florida retain complete Marauders in their collections. There are three others undergoing rebuilding and restoration at museums in the United States.

Flak-Bait’s history, provenance, rarity, and original condition make it an extraordinary World War II artifact. The Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory, and the vast space of the Boeing Aviation Hangar of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center make it possible to treat Flak-Bait and put it on display as a complete airplane. The overall treatment theme is to preserve the artifact’s structural, mechanical, and cosmetic features, but the project will require a combination of techniques ranging from conservation to, when warranted, restoration. The project’s completion will mark the first time Flak-Bait will be fully assembled since the end of World War II.

Jeremy Kinney is the curator for the Martin B-26B-25-MA Marauder Flak-Bait.

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29 thoughts on “Where is Flak-Bait?

  1. I would like an email address to send some information about an airplane that President Eisenhower flew in..

    It should be sent to the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hange and then to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

  2. I recently traveled from Indiana with my son to see Flak Bait. See my Great Uncle is James Farrell – and my father was named after his Uncle Jim. My son is 10 years old and is obsessed with history. It was going to be a wonderful moment for him. We arrived the week after it was moved. To say he was crushed would be an understatement. We hope to make it back when it is unveiled in it’s full glory, just sad we missed it. Thank you for taking such good care of it all these years, and fingers crossed we make it to the unveiling.

  3. I believe a past maintenance instructor of mine was assigned to Flak Bait as ground crew. Dave Rich was his name and I wonder if his name can still be found on the nose wheel left gear door. Does this door still exist? I’ve seen a picture of him next to the aircraft in a display case at Southern Illinois University Aviation Technology in Carbondale, Illinois. I never saw the gear door as it had been removed when the aircraft was displayed downtown at the NASM in DC. He was an excellent and experienced instructor who worked on this piece of military history.

  4. My father went to work for Martin as an engineer right out of college in 1940. He spent the war working on the B-26. The record low loss rate of the B-26 speaks volumes for the value of the work done by him and his colleagues at Martin. Thank you for finding a way to rebuild and display the complete Flak Bait. As with so many war tributes, I just wish the people most involved had lived to see it happen.

  5. Hi Mike, We are in the process of determining that now and hope to have an idea of what is required and how long it will take to preserve the artifact soon. We’ll certainly share more about Flak-Bait here on the blog and post updates via Facebook and Twitter as soon as we know more. (

  6. My father James Corlew of Tennessee was a gunner/engineer on Flak Bait. I live in northern Virginia and look forward to seeing it again. There was a plaque with the names of the men associated with this plane and I hope it will be with there too.

  7. My dad, Frank H. Merry was a radio operator, side gunner, with the 451st Squadron, 322 Bomb Group, flying out of England, France, then Begium. He flew 63 missions and was an alternate crew member flying in Flak Bait many times. We traveled to DC to see the Flak Bait at the Air and Space Museum in the 1980’s.
    Dad walked to the dislpay, looking at the radio operator’s seat, a seat which he once occupied, he quietly recited the serial number of the famous Maruder imprinted on the opposite side of the fuselage, to the wonder and amazement of the family, friends and strangers surrounding him. Dad passed in 2007.

  8. Bill Berner, Carole Corlew, and Brian F. Merry,
    If you have any photos or artifacts from your fathers, we’d love to see them!
    Best and Happy Holidays!

  9. B.F. WORDEN,
    Yes, we would like to see the photo of your father with Flak-Bait very much!
    Best and Happy Holidays!

  10. Yes, I have photos of my father and several of his mates, whose names he wrote on the photos. I also have a small hometown newspaper clipping with a photo of him in Europe and a quote about the “furious aerial onslaught of Nazi front line objectives.” Where would I post them?

  11. Hi, my Father John “Jack” Hodgson from Madison, Wisconsin also was assigned to the 322nd BG and flew several missions in Flak Bait when his primary aircraft was being serviced (“the Old Vet”). Carol I think your Dad may have flown with my Father as well. He mentioned a crew member from Tennessee, I think he told me his friend lived in Dyersburg and the name is very familiar. My Dad passed in 2012. Robert Dupree who was his crew pilot was still alive and living in Texas. We wanted to take my daughter to see Flak Bait next summer but it is under restoration. When I visited last time my Father spoke with someone at the museum and they had said if he called ahead it might have been possible for him to see the other parts of the aircraft including the tail where he flew as a gunner. I also have a large collection of personal and bombing mission photos of the unit targets and at least one of Flak Bait in flight that was taken on a mission from a nearby plane.

  12. I think I got the names mixed up for the pilot. Robert Dupree was someone my father knew but was not his pilot. I have the crew list downstairs with his things somewhere. It may be on the older website Marauder Men too.

  13. Robert, it is thrilling to see your messages. My father was from Dickson, TN, and I bet he is the one your dad talked about. My dad talked about how much he admired Midwesterners because of his service, I’m not sure he was ever in the Midwest. I have a photo of my dad in front of a war bonds sign and he wrote in the names of the men with him: Goetz, Wis., Buckles, Ore., Freeman, R.I., Stone, Minn., Belleson, Minn.

    I attended the Smithsonian dedication of the Flak Bait plaque in the ’90s. It had the names of men who flew in the bomber. My dad had passed away but my brother, mother and I attended. I may have a photo of that plaque and will look for it. My brother has a copy of an essay daddy wrote about his service and I’ll get a copy. At the ceremony a very funny vet who said he was a mechanic told some stories about my dad and their pub visits which I loved (my mother not so much!). My dad was older and he said the men called him pops. My parents met after the war, her fiancé also was in the corps and is buried in France.

    My son did not get to meet his grandfather. But I was able to take him to see Flak Bait while it was on display. It was very moving to see the plane with all the bullet holes. I hope you can see it too someday.

  14. Upon re-reading, John, I see I called you Robert. It also sounds like you saw Flak Bait before it was removed. I hope your daughter gets to see it soon.

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  16. My father, Capt. Bill Fort, was the pilot on that historic 200th mission and that is him standing in the center back. The man to his left and all the kneeling men were his regular crew, while the man to his right in the coveralls and hat was the commanding Colonel who wanted to be part of that particular mission. He picked my father and his crew to fly Flak Bait for him that day. What you see was a publicity photo that was taken after the mission was completed. This was the only time my father and his crew flew Flak Bait, their own B-26 which they normally flew was named Shorty. Capt. Fort flew nearly 70 missions and was awarded the Silver Star for his actions on a bombing run Christmas day 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. He passed in 2013 at age 89.

  17. I went and visited the exhibit for Flakbait. I remember my grandfather who was the flight engineer for it. He also was the one who orignally painted the nose art on it. I. While he was stationed on that plane he received two purple hearts and a bronze star.

  18. I’m flak bait’s captain Jim Farrell’s daughter. Right now I’m in DC and tomorrow I’m going to the air and space museum near Dulles to see the work being done on the refurbishing and reconstruction of flak bait. I couldn’t be more proud and so delighted to read these posts. I’ll report back after.

  19. Hi Mr. Kinney,

    Back in December you replied to my early note asking about photos or artifacts. Although my father has always been a photographer, he took none at Martin during the war. That alone says a lot about the urgency of the task and the security concerns.
    I did find an estate sale in Bel Air, MD that included a Martin manufacturing plate (2×4″ oval) from a B-26B stamped with “121 gal” which is the capacity of the outboard gas tank. Pretty surprising to find anything left of any B-26. I have that plate.
    I read your comments in Air & Space mag about working with Flak Bait. Thank you for appreciating what we have in this plane. You are the right person for this job.
    Bill Berner

  20. Dear Bill,
    Thank you so much for the kind words! Preserving Flak-Bait is a trust that I, and the rest of the Project Team, take very seriously on behalf of the American people.
    It is great that you have a small memento of your father’s days at “Martins.”
    All the best,

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  22. I run a WWII living history/reenactment group in Ct. We do a military display in the Greenwich, Ct Town Hall each fall. I displayed an art print of Flak-Bait and was contacted by Mrs. James Farrell, widow of the first pilot, from Greenwich.We talked and she sent me some info about the bomber. I also met another pilot of Flak-Bait, Sherman Best also of Ct. he flew 13 missions in her. A friend of mine and I presented Mr. Best with an A-2 jacket with the Flak-Bait nose art on the back with his squadron and 9th AAF insignia. Then we went flying. Great experience flying with a real B-26 Pilot!

  23. Mark, thank you so much for sharing. What a great story and connection to Flak-Bait.

  24. “If it looks good, it will fly good, ” which General Doolittle , et al, proved. I pray Flak Bait will be finished by 2018 when I visit NASM for the first time since 2005. Thank you for restoring this aircraft and for sharing the testimonies of those who flew in it and their families..

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