CMR 1/144 JRM-3 ' Hawaii Mars'
KIT: CMR 1/144 JRM-3 ' Hawaii Mars'
KIT #: CMM12
PRICE: $90.00 from
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Resin kit with injected props and beaching wheels.


The Martin Company effectively scaled up their successful PBM Mariner patrol bomber design to produce the prototype XPB2M-1 Mars. After flight tests with the XPB2M between 1941 and 1943, she was passed on to the Navy. The original patrol bomber concept was considered obsolete by this time, and the Mars was converted into a transport aircraft designated the XPB2M-1R. The Navy was satisfied with the performance, and ordered 20 of the modified JRM-1 Mars. The first, named Hawaii Mars, was delivered in June 1945, but the with the end of World War II the Navy scaled back their order to just 5 more boats. Though the original Hawaii Mars was lost in an accident on Chesapeake Bay, the other 5 Mars were built with the last delivered in 1947.

Named the Marianas Mars, Philippine Mars, Marshall Mars, Caroline Mars, and a second Hawaii Mars, the 5 production Mars aircraft entered service ferrying cargo to Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. The last production airplane (the Caroline Mars) was designated JRM-2, powered by 3,000 HP Pratt & Whitney R-4360 engines, and featured a higher maximum weight and other improvements. On April 5, 1950, the Marshall Mars was lost near Hawaii when an engine fire consumed the airplane after her crew had evacuated. The remaining "Big Four" flew record amounts of cargo on the San Francisco-Honolulu route efficiently until 1956, when they were parked at NAS Alameda.

Civilian use

In 1959, the remaining Mars were sold for scrap. Dan McIvor, who represented a consortium of British Columbia lumber companies, recognized their potential value as water bombers and had them converted. A company called Flying Tankers Inc. was formed, and purchased the "Big Four" for aerial firefighting. The Marianas Mars crashed near Northwest Bay, British Columbia on June 23, 1961 during firefighting operations; all four crewmembers were lost. Just over a year later, on October 12, 1962, the Caroline Mars was destroyed by Typhoon Freda while parked onshore. The remaining Hawaii Mars and Philippine Mars had their conversions to water bombers accelerated and entered service in 1963.

The two surviving tankers are now operated by the Coulson Group, based at Sproat Lake near Port Alberni, British Columbia. When converted, the original powerplants were replaced with four Wright R-3350-24WA Cyclone engines of 2500 hp (1860 kW) each. The aircraft can carry up to 7,200 US gal (27,250 litres) of water, enough to cover an area of 4 acres (16,000 mē). They are used to fight fires along the coast of British Columbia, and even sometimes in the interior. They also make appearances at local airshows, demonstrating their water-dropping ability. Flying Tankers Inc. also flies the water bombers to other hotspots around the world if a need develops, such as in August of 2003 when a large forest fire threatened the city of Kelowna, British Columbia.

On November 10, 2006, TimberWest Forest Ltd. announced that they were looking for buyers of the Mars. A condition of this sale is that the purchasers will donate one back to Port Alberni when they are retired as a historical attraction. The Maryland Aviation Museum and British Columbia Aviation Council have initiated a joint effort to preserve the aircraft, one in Maryland and the other at their current location in Canada. On April 13, 2007, TimberWest has announced the sale of both Martin Mars aircraft to Coulson Forest Products, a local forestry company in Port Alberni. The Mars will remain in the Alberni Valley operating from their base at Sproat Lake. On October 25, 2007, Hawaii Mars ("Redtail") arrived at Lake Elsinore in Southern California, negotiated through a private contract, to assist with the firefighting efforts containing the California wildfires of October 2007.


The only way any of us would see this big fire bomber would be in 1/144 scale. Even in this smaller size, it will be a somewhat large model. The molding is first rate, as you'd expect from CMR. Detailing is excellent and the kit comes with a nice cockpit and seats, which should be quite visible through the clear cockpit canopy piece. Like most resin kits, it is not perfect as I found a couple of pieces, notably one side of the fin and one side of one wing with a lot of tiny pinholes. Most resin molding processes cannot eliminate these entirely, so they are to be expected. Often times little more than a thick coat of primer is needed to fill these. I also noticed that there will be a gap between the forward or aft section of the wing center section and the fuselage. Some plastic card will take care of that.

The kit will not be one of these fussy builds that many resin kit builders dread. There is no photoetch, for instance. The addition of this feature easily doubles the build time for me, so I'm please that there isn't any. Each flight surface is a single casting, making construction even more simple. None of these pieces showed any sign of warpage. There are four single casting engine cowlings that once cleaned up, will simply glue right on the nacelles. No engine detail, but in this scale it is hardly needed.

The propellers and the beaching wheels/gear are short run injected plastic. They are very nicely molded and  one would think they were resin if one didn't know. Like some resin parts, they are going to need to be cut from pour stubs and have the flash removed. As mentioned, the cockpit canopy and two 'bubble' windows for the very aft are provided. All the rest of the recessed window areas will need to be filled with something appropriate, like white glue or perhaps Krystal Klear.

Instructions are two grey-shade sheets of folded paper. One side has an exploded view with detail drawings of the kit parts for the construction steps. They are quite unambiguous and provide detail painting colors. Two of the other sheet sides are devoted to painting and decals. There are three very similar options, all for the Hawaii Mars. Yes, the Philippine Mars registration and unique markings are on the decal sheet, but not shown in the instructions. The main difference between the two is that the Philippine Mars has an all white fin and rudder. Markings are from the 1985, 2003 and 2007 seasons, showing the differences in what amounts to fin and outer float strut logos. The aircraft are basically white when looking from above and red when looking from below. The red is 'Sunfire Red' with an FS number of 21400. The 2003 and 2007 schemes have an additional red cheat line. All these and the anti-glare shield on the nose will have to be painted by the builder. I can foresee many 1985 schemes being done thanks to that additional cheat line! Should also mention that the lower wing area behind the engines is painted black. Decals are well printed and I hope that the white is opaque enough to deal with the red on which it will be placed. Were I CMR, I would add an additional sheet to this kit just to be sure.


I have to say that this looks like an excellent kit. It is the biggest water bomber currently in active service (the B.747 and DC-10 aircraft are experimental and limited to what fires they can be used upon). It is also the largest flying boat still in the air and must be a most impressive sight. I'm sure this kit will do very well and since CMR kits are all somewhat limited availability, I'd suggest grabbing one while the grabbing is good. This one is already on the bench.


May 2008

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