The Glenn L. Martin Company was an American aircraft and aerospace manufacturing company that was founded by the aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin. The Martin Company produced many important aircraft for the defense of the United States and its allies, especially during World War II and the Cold War. Also, during the 1950s and 60s, the Martin Company moved gradually out of the aircraft industry and into the guided missile, space exploration, and space utilization industries.

Glenn L. Martin Company was founded by aviation pioneer Glenn Luther Martin on August 16, 1912.  Martin started out building military trainers in Santa Ana, California, and then in 1916, Martin accepted a merger offer from the Wright Company, creating the Wright-Martin Aircraft Company in September.  This new company did not go well, and Glenn Martin left it to form a second Glenn L. Martin Company on September 10, 1917. This time based in Cleveland, Ohio. (Later, its headquarters would be moved to Baltimore, Maryland.)

Martin's first big success came during World War I with the MB-1 bomber, a large biplane design ordered by the United States Army on January 17, 1918. The MB-1 entered service after the end of hostilities, but a follow up design, the MB-2, was also proved successful and 20 were ordered by the Army Air Service, the first five of them under the company designation and the last 15 as the NBS-1 (Night Bomber, Short range). Although the War Department ordered 110 more, it retained the ownership rights to the design and put the order out for bid. Unfortunately for Martin, the production orders were given to other companies that had bid lower, Curtiss (50), L.W.F. Engineering (35), and Aeromarine (25).  The design was the only standard bomber used by the Air Service until 1930 and was used by seven squadrons of the Air Service/Air Corps: four in Virginia, two in Hawaii, and one in the Philippines.

During the 1930s, Martin built flying boats for the U.S. Navy, and the innovative Martin B-10 bomber for the Army. The Martin Company also produced the noted China Clipper flying boats used by Pan American Airways for its transpacific San Francisco to the Philippines route.

During World War II, a few of Martin's most successful designs were the B-26 Marauder and A-22 Maryland bombers, the PBM Mariner and JRM Mars flying boats, widely used for air-sea rescue, anti-submarine warfare and transport. The 1941 Office for Emergency Management film Bomber was filmed in the Martin facility in Baltimore, and showed aspects of the production of the B-26.

The Martin Company built a total of 531 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses and 1,585 B-26 Marauders at its Omaha, Nebraska, plant at Offutt Field. Among the B-29s manufactured there were the Enola Gay and Bockscar which dropped the two, war-ending atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Postwar efforts in aeronautics by the Martin Company included two unsuccessful prototype bombers, the XB-48 and the XB-51, the successful B-57 Canberra tactical bombers, both the P5M Marlin and P6M SeaMaster seaplanes, and the Martin 4-0-4 twin-engine passenger airliner.

The Martin Company moved forward into the aerospace manufacturing business, and it produced the Vanguard rocket, which was used by the American space program as one of its first satellite booster rockets as part of Project Vanguard. The Vanguard was the first American space exploration rocket designed from scratch to be an orbital launch vehicle — rather than being a modified sounding rocket (like the Juno I) or a ballistic missile (like the U.S. Army's Redstone missile). Martin also designed and manufactured the huge and heavily-armed Titan I and LGM-25C Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). Martin Company of Orlando, Florida, was the prime contractor for the U.S. Army's Pershing missile.

The Martin Company was also one of two finalists for the Command and Service Modules of the Apollo Program. Unfortunately for Martin, NASA awarded the design and production contracts for these to the North American Aviation Corporation.

The Martin Company went further in the production of even larger booster rockets for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Air Force with its Titan III series of over 100 rockets produced, including the Titan IIIA, the more-important Titan IIIC, and the Titan IIIE. Besides hundreds of Earth satellites, these rockets were essential for the sending to outer space of the two space probes of the Voyager Project to the outer planets the two space probes of the Viking Project to Mars, and the two Helios probes into low orbits around the Sun. (closer, even, than Mercury (planet).

Finally the U.S. Air Force required a booster rocket that could launch heavier satellites than either the Titan IIIE or the Space Shuttle. The Martin Company responded with its extremely large Titan IV series of rockets. When the Titan IV came into service, it could carry a heavier payload to orbit than any other rocket "except" for NASA's Saturn V rocket — which was no longer in production and thus was a machine from history. Besides its use by the Air Force to launch its sequence of very heavy reconnaissance satellites, one Titan IV, with a powerful Centaur rocket upper stage, was used to launch the heavy Cassini space probe to the planet Saturn in 1997. The Cassini probe has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004, successfully returning mountains of scientific data.

The halting of production of the Titan IV in 2004 brought to an end production of the last rocket able to carry a heavier payload than the Space Shuttle, with the Shuttle program itself slated to end as early as 2011.

The Martin Company merged with the American-Marietta Corporation, a chemical products and construction materials manufacturer, in 1961 to form the Martin Marietta Corporation. In 1995, Martin Marietta, then the nation's 3rd-largest defense contractor, merged with the Lockheed Corporation, then the nation's second largest defense contractor, to form the Lockheed Martin Corporation, becoming the largest such company in the world.

Source: Wikipedia