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View Full Version : Do You Like Seaplanes? The JRM Mars Tour 2008



jolly_magpie
09-12-2008, 12:52 AM
I have been threatening this for three years, hope it's worth the wait.

Near the logging town of Port Alberni, Vancouver Island Canada there's a
seaplane base on Sproat Lake, home to two elegant giants from the golden
age of aviation. I am fortunate to live near them and have heard their thunder flying over me a few times.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=port+a...&t=h&z=16&iwloc=addr (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=port+alberni&ie=UTF8&ll=49.287949,-124.934442&spn=0.010049,0.035813&t=h&z=16&iwloc=addr)

In this Google Maps view, they are riding at anchor. The base is to the
North, at the end of Bomber Base Road. Hangar space would not be practical
for these aircraft, they ride out the winter on their beaching gear.

Here's a quick rundown:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JRM_Mars

Youtube Doco

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1y6Tnczjuw

Short Version

Contracted in 1938, built from 1943-1947. After the war they were used to
ferry cargo across the Pacific. Parked in 1956, the surviving four [of
five built] were purchased as firebombers. Two crashed, today the surviving pair are the only working four engine flying
boats in the world.

As a side note I will be making an attempt to find the wreckage of
Caroline Mars near Parksville, at some point. It's somewhere in dense
forest, like all the wooded areas around here. Wish me luck!

-----------------------

On August 31st, I was headed to Tofino for the day and saw that the base
was open for tours. After paying 10$ we got a private tour.

Here's the entrance to the base. There's a gift shop and waiting area just
around the corner. Behind is one arm of Sproat Lake.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3011/2850406878_cd344f8f1a_o.jpg

Around the corner is this amazing sight. Philippine Mars is hunkered down
for the season after helping out in California. Hawaii Mars is down there
still, testing out a system where Cobra choppers use IR to locate the
fire, bird dogs mark it and then the Mars does the big job.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3104/2850406940_4012e4cdd1_o.jpg

Freshly painted is this spare nose section, this would have been the
eighth Mars built. They got tons of spare parts when they purchased the aircraft.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3255/2850406974_81e68c249e_o.jpg

You cannot back away enough to get it all in! What a monster....

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3136/2850407022_14c1862427_o.jpg

Here's the beaching gear. Beefy! Just behind the hull step are the pipes that extend to scoop up water. The tanks fill in 30 seconds!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3216/2849574643_37490d8884_o.jpg

The livery of the new operator. These planes changed hands in 2006.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3208/2850407098_377bf22b98_o.jpg

The two big hatches over the beaching gear are the dump doors in
Philippine Mars. Hawaii Mars was converted later and has a slightly
different dump system that dumps out of the bottom. These are also the only waterbombers in the world that can take salt water!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3269/2849574695_e975f49264_o.jpg

Here's a closer view of the starboard side dump doors. Pressure relief overflow doors are the small white vents under the wing.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3057/2849574733_7e1309f393_o.jpg

Wright Cyclone, R-3350. The No 2 engine on the left was removed to install in Hawaii
Mars.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3198/2849574773_4ff260a706_o.jpg

Shall we go inside??? Note the two open hatches above the cockpit.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3050/2850407220_e7ec74f807_o.jpg

The lower deck had the tanks and this small area that led to the bow
compartment. Photography was difficult, it was hard to back up enough to
get a good picture.

Not shown are a couple of big 200 gallon tanks that held different fire
******ant agents, which can be custom-mixed "on the fly" by the crew.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3169/2849578727_d20fa4a65d_o.jpg

Up a short ladder and it's heaven.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3089/2849580071_d0c1d7f555_o.jpg

Here is our guide on the flight deck. The two steel poles are the top of the ladder
down to the lower deck.

All the 30's furniture is intact, the desk on the right was the radio
operators'. Note the pencil sharpener!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3074/2850412632_eed1e217c0_o.jpg

The flight engineer's panel. Throttle, mix and air levers ahoy. On the
left is the dump and mix panel. The small circular window gives the
engineer a direct view of the port side engines.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3283/2849580131_89c3c57735_o.jpg

Crank this sucker up!!!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3232/2850412694_4b0f3cbcc4_o.jpg

These control locks must come off somehow.... The toggle switches on the
yoke are the water dumps.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3142/2850412742_70a87bd67e_o.jpg

Big old trim wheels.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3012/2849580311_1cc2b3afc6_o.jpg

The panel. Now THIS is an airplane!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3256/2850412894_651e090af3_o.jpg

Stand up in the pilot's seat and the open windows give a terrific view
aft.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3115/2850412836_13300f899d_o.jpg

Looking forward. Note the parking spot for Hawaii Mars, in paint. The
trucks are used to haul them around.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3047/2849580385_4148af8b9c_o.jpg

These magnificent engines bid you goodbye!!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3173/2849580431_1034356edc_o.jpg

jolly_magpie
09-12-2008, 12:52 AM
I have been threatening this for three years, hope it's worth the wait.

Near the logging town of Port Alberni, Vancouver Island Canada there's a
seaplane base on Sproat Lake, home to two elegant giants from the golden
age of aviation. I am fortunate to live near them and have heard their thunder flying over me a few times.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=port+a...&t=h&z=16&iwloc=addr (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=port+alberni&ie=UTF8&ll=49.287949,-124.934442&spn=0.010049,0.035813&t=h&z=16&iwloc=addr)

In this Google Maps view, they are riding at anchor. The base is to the
North, at the end of Bomber Base Road. Hangar space would not be practical
for these aircraft, they ride out the winter on their beaching gear.

Here's a quick rundown:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JRM_Mars

Youtube Doco

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1y6Tnczjuw

Short Version

Contracted in 1938, built from 1943-1947. After the war they were used to
ferry cargo across the Pacific. Parked in 1956, the surviving four [of
five built] were purchased as firebombers. Two crashed, today the surviving pair are the only working four engine flying
boats in the world.

As a side note I will be making an attempt to find the wreckage of
Caroline Mars near Parksville, at some point. It's somewhere in dense
forest, like all the wooded areas around here. Wish me luck!

-----------------------

On August 31st, I was headed to Tofino for the day and saw that the base
was open for tours. After paying 10$ we got a private tour.

Here's the entrance to the base. There's a gift shop and waiting area just
around the corner. Behind is one arm of Sproat Lake.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3011/2850406878_cd344f8f1a_o.jpg

Around the corner is this amazing sight. Philippine Mars is hunkered down
for the season after helping out in California. Hawaii Mars is down there
still, testing out a system where Cobra choppers use IR to locate the
fire, bird dogs mark it and then the Mars does the big job.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3104/2850406940_4012e4cdd1_o.jpg

Freshly painted is this spare nose section, this would have been the
eighth Mars built. They got tons of spare parts when they purchased the aircraft.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3255/2850406974_81e68c249e_o.jpg

You cannot back away enough to get it all in! What a monster....

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3136/2850407022_14c1862427_o.jpg

Here's the beaching gear. Beefy! Just behind the hull step are the pipes that extend to scoop up water. The tanks fill in 30 seconds!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3216/2849574643_37490d8884_o.jpg

The livery of the new operator. These planes changed hands in 2006.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3208/2850407098_377bf22b98_o.jpg

The two big hatches over the beaching gear are the dump doors in
Philippine Mars. Hawaii Mars was converted later and has a slightly
different dump system that dumps out of the bottom. These are also the only waterbombers in the world that can take salt water!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3269/2849574695_e975f49264_o.jpg

Here's a closer view of the starboard side dump doors. Pressure relief overflow doors are the small white vents under the wing.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3057/2849574733_7e1309f393_o.jpg

Wright Cyclone, R-3350. The No 2 engine on the left was removed to install in Hawaii
Mars.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3198/2849574773_4ff260a706_o.jpg

Shall we go inside??? Note the two open hatches above the cockpit.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3050/2850407220_e7ec74f807_o.jpg

The lower deck had the tanks and this small area that led to the bow
compartment. Photography was difficult, it was hard to back up enough to
get a good picture.

Not shown are a couple of big 200 gallon tanks that held different fire
******ant agents, which can be custom-mixed "on the fly" by the crew.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3169/2849578727_d20fa4a65d_o.jpg

Up a short ladder and it's heaven.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3089/2849580071_d0c1d7f555_o.jpg

Here is our guide on the flight deck. The two steel poles are the top of the ladder
down to the lower deck.

All the 30's furniture is intact, the desk on the right was the radio
operators'. Note the pencil sharpener!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3074/2850412632_eed1e217c0_o.jpg

The flight engineer's panel. Throttle, mix and air levers ahoy. On the
left is the dump and mix panel. The small circular window gives the
engineer a direct view of the port side engines.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3283/2849580131_89c3c57735_o.jpg

Crank this sucker up!!!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3232/2850412694_4b0f3cbcc4_o.jpg

These control locks must come off somehow.... The toggle switches on the
yoke are the water dumps.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3142/2850412742_70a87bd67e_o.jpg

Big old trim wheels.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3012/2849580311_1cc2b3afc6_o.jpg

The panel. Now THIS is an airplane!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3256/2850412894_651e090af3_o.jpg

Stand up in the pilot's seat and the open windows give a terrific view
aft.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3115/2850412836_13300f899d_o.jpg

Looking forward. Note the parking spot for Hawaii Mars, in paint. The
trucks are used to haul them around.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3047/2849580385_4148af8b9c_o.jpg

These magnificent engines bid you goodbye!!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3173/2849580431_1034356edc_o.jpg

nsteense
09-12-2008, 01:49 AM
Waw, thanks for sharing those pictures! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

major_setback
09-12-2008, 03:00 AM
Those are very nice pictures. You must have had a great day.

Daiichidoku
09-12-2008, 07:03 AM
nice pics ,tyvm!

i know one of the Mars' lost a wing several years ago, plane and crew lost http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

BillyTheKid_22
09-12-2008, 07:10 AM
Very Nice and Picture!! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

p1ngu666
09-12-2008, 09:43 AM
nice http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/clap.gif

Swivet
09-12-2008, 11:54 AM
Nice pics Jolly,
Interesting you bring up Canada. I was just recently in Newfoundland in the town of Botwood and found an old British American Seaplane base. I didn't get any inside pics as it wasn't open for that but managed to take few other pics. It was a beautiful day and a great sunset....

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> </pre><pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> </pre>http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v190/Swivet/DVC00009.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v190/Swivet/DVC00011.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v190/Swivet/DVC00015.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v190/Swivet/DVC00044.jpg



A little History:

<span class="ev_code_GREEN">From the outbreak of World War II, 1940-1945, the Royal Canadian Air Force changed Botwood into a patrolling and bombing seaplane base, home to two squadrons of PBY Canso flying boats equipped with torpedoes and depth charges. A large concrete slipway, two hangars, a tarmac and four bunkers were constructed. The Canadian Army was garrisoned in the town, the army built barracks, a water system, and a full scale military hospital. The army was responsible for the manning of gun batteries at Philip's Head and Wiseman's Cove that protected the entrance to Botwood Harbor with 14" guns, as well as numerous anti-aircraft batteries throughout the community. At the war's end Botwood had been home to some 10,000 Canadian and British personnel and had become Canada's most important over-seas base.</span>

linkage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botwood,_Newfoundland_and_Labrador)

jolly_magpie
09-12-2008, 01:10 PM
Great Canso! There is one crashed in the bush near Long Beach, time for another visit soon. Last time I was in it I found LIVE .303 ammo! Handle with care!

The Carolina Mars went down in 1961, they botched the drop and dug a wing into the hillside, cartwheeling into the hill with 4 poor guys on board. I have a rough idea of the location and will try to find the wreck. I saw a picture of a guy standing in the bush with the huge tail towering over him, with visible USN markings. Trouble is the bush is so thick here you can barely go into it! It will be worth it though, I love hunting wrecks.

TSmoke
09-12-2008, 07:54 PM
The testing that was done in California was basically to see if it will fit their needs in fighting fires. If the tests were successful they are wanting to build more of them for this purpose.


It soaks a 4 acre chunk per drop.
Way cool if it happens.

jensenpark
09-12-2008, 11:38 PM
Magpie:

great pics. I was up in Tofino at end of July and drove by their spot...unfortunately with wife and kids in tow I couldn't pull in for a tour.

I've got some pics of the two of them over my friends house and vineyards in the big 2003 Kelowna fires...will post them up.

Some going right over my bud's house...as they fight off the fire just 100 feet from his place.