Coulson’s website has this history of the aircraft: “The Hawaii and Philippine Mars are still in action. They are US national treasures, serving the US Navy from 1945 to 1958. Starting their careers operating between the California Coast and Hawaiian Islands during the Second World War, these aircraft are the only two that still operate today in commercial air service.
Of the five Martin Mars originally built, only these two remain. They were converted to water bombers in 1960 by a consortium of five BC timber companies. Since 1960 these aircraft have operated out of beautiful Sproat Lake, Port Alberni, BC, fighting over 4,000 wildfires and dropping an impressive 7,200 gallons per load.
Coulson Group purchased these aviation giants in 2007 and received its first US mission in the firestorm of 2007 in San Diego county. In 2008 the aircraft worked in Northern California and was based out of Lake Shasta. The Hawaii Mars’ performance proved to be safe, cost effective, and a highly productive asset to the fierce wildfires that continue to dominate the North American landscape.
Join us on a historical journey through 65 years of operations. Learn how the Hawaii Mars, equipped with new technology, is forging a new path for initial attack fire fighting.”
Just like the post on the Lancasters and Vulcan, we are seeing the last of special aircraft. Iconic and very special. Here is an amateur video of the Mars in action. Enjoy the sound of 72 cylinders and 10,000 HP. The Smithsonian also has neat Mars related content.