The Martin M-130 is the airliner that gave Pan Am the true ability to span the world’s oceans.

Often called a “China Clipper” after the most famous of the three M-130’s built for Pan American, this aircraft introduced the modern era of long-distance international air travel.  The M-130 provided scheduled commercial passenger service across the Pacific ocean from 1935 through World War II.

m-130-cutaway-web
Martin M-130 Cutaway. (click to enlarge)

Martin M-130 Passenger Accommodations

The M-130 could carry 46 passengers in daytime configuration, but in its more typical overnight service it provided sleeping accommodations for up to 30 passengers in three 10-berth compartments (one forward and three aft), with a 16-seat dining room/lounge compartment located amidships.

Passenger lounge on Martim M-130
Passenger lounge on Martin M-130
Sleeping berths on Martim M-130
Sleeping berths on Martin M-130
Passengers on M-130
Passengers on M-130

Martin M-130 Technical Details

  • Length: 90′ 10″
  • Wingspan: 130′
  • Empty Weight: 25,363 lbs
  • Max Gross Takeoff Weight: 52,252 lbs
  • Maximum passenger capacity: 41 (about 8 passengers between California and Hawaii)
  • Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radial engines; initially 830 hp, later 950 hp
  • Propellers: Hamilton-Standard constant speed (variable pitch)
  • Fuel capacity: 4,080 gallons
  • Crew: 7

A noteworthy and innovative feature of the M-130’s design was the use of fuselage-mounted sponsons (or seawings) rather than the more typical wing-mounted floats or pontoons.  Sponsons were an innovation by German aircraft builder Claude Dornier, who created a number of famous flying boats including the Wal and the DO-X.  In addition to providing stability on the water, the wing-shaped sponsons provided aerodynamic lift in flight, kept spray off the tail surfaces during takeoff and landing, and carried 950 gallons of fuel each.

The Martin M-130 Fleet

Three M-130’s were built:

  • NC-14714 – Hawaiian Clipper
  • NC-14715 – Philippine Clipper
  • NC-14716 – China Clipper

All three M-130’s were lost in accidents: The Hawaiian Clipper disappeared east of Manila under mysterious circumstances in July, 1938; the Philippine Clipper was flown into a mountain north of San Francisco in bad weather on January 21, 1943, killing its crew and a group of Navy officers including the Pacific submarine chief, Rear Admiral R.R. English; and the China Clipper itself sank at Port of Spain, Trinidad, on January 8, 1945.

Development and History of the Martin M-130 Clipper

Even before the first Sikorsky S-40 entered service in 1931, it was obvious that the plane — which Charles Lindbergh called a flying forest — would not provide the performance necessary to fulfill Pan Am’s ambitions, and the airline began searching a streamlined airliner that could truly span the oceans. Two manufacturers wanted the job; Igor Sikorsky wanted a chance to improve on his own S-40, and Glenn Martin wanted to establish his company in the commercial aviation business. Juan Trippe ordered planes from both.

Andre Priester
Andre Priester

The driving force behind Pan Am’s specifications for a new plane was Andre Priester, the Dutch immigrant who had worked for KLM and who became Pan Am’s detail-obsessed chief engineer. Charles Lindbergh, who had been so deeply involved with Pan Am’s earlier designs, had just undergone the trauma of his son’s kidnapping and murder on March 1, 1932, and was only minimally involved with the plans for the new clipper.

Pan Am wanted a plane that could fly 3,000 miles (long enough to reach Europe or Hawaii) while carrying a payload equal to its own weight, and the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company designed a plane that met the airline’s needs. Although the first Martin M-130 was delivered over a year behind schedule, and its $417,200 cost was almost twice that of the Sikorsky S-42 (and more than five times the $78,000 price of the leading airliner of the day, the Douglas DC-2), the M-130 had the speed, size, and range to carry mail and passengers profitably across the Pacific or Atlantic.

The first M-130, named China Clipper, was delivered to Pan American on October 9, 1935, just two days after its first test flight. A little more than a month later, on November 22, 1935, China Clipper left San Francisco on the first scheduled mail flight across the Pacific ocean.

Martin M-130 China Clipper
Martin M-130 China Clipper (click photos to enlarge)

Pan Am took delivery of a second M-130, named Philippine Clipper, on November 14, 1935, and a third and final M-130, the Hawaiian Clipper, on March 3, 1930. To the great disappointment of Glenn Martin, no additional M-130’s were ordered by Pan Am, and Martin suffered a significant financial loss from selling only three copies of the revolutionary aircraft his company had developed.

The M-130 became firmly associated with Pan Am’s pioneering conquest of the Pacific ocean, and the name “China Clipper” became famous around the world. Unfortunately, the plane’s performance, although far greater than that of any previous aircraft, posed a challenge for profitable passenger operations; the fuel load required to reach Hawaii from California prevented Pan Am from carrying more than about eight passengers on that leg, which was the lynch pin of the airline’s Pacific service. And while far more comfortable than any other long-distance airliner before the introduction of the Boeing B-314, and offering speed which greatly out-paced crossing the Pacific by ship, the M-130 was still considered somewhat noisy and cramped for long distance flights, and it was eventually replaced by the larger and more comfortable B-314.

38
Leave a Reply

avatar
20 Comment threads
18 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
28 Comment authors
Carol SchaferDarrell MillerGuy NoffsingerRinGeorge E. Warren Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Carol Schafer
Guest
Carol Schafer

Hi, I’m from the Clearlake area and highly interested in the clipper flying boats. I have studied them quite a lot, because they used to land in Clear Lake when SF was fogged in or for other reasons. I did not know until yesterday that one of these magnificent crafts had crashed quite near my home town. I would love to have a piece of it, or see the crash site, or pictures of the artifacts, crash site, etc. just because I lived there. I have a postcard (of my father’s) showing the Anza Clipper (Boeing) in Clear Lake also.… Read more »

Darrell Miller
Guest
Darrell Miller

Norm, I would love to see any photos you can post. I’m just starting the research on building the M-130. I have some twenty some airplanes in difference stages and close to 100 models, my wife hates this ” mess” her words!
Blue Skies
Darrell

Darrell Miller
Guest
Darrell Miller

Curt, I just found this web site. And yes your model is worth good money. Depending on who the manufacturer was. If you still have this I would be interested in it. If not I still would be interested in pictures. Thank you in advance and “Blue Skies!”
Darrell

Guy Noffsinger
Guest

Great website! I’m actually leading an investigation into locating the remains of the passengers and crew of Pan Am’s Hawaii Clipper (NC-14714) and your website helped steer me on a proper flight path (www.lostclipper.com).

Thanks!

GT Noffsinger

Rin
Guest
Rin

Is ther anyone that have any info about the Martin M-130 or Boeing B-314 regaring purchase or auctions or maby a “graveyard”

(u and contact me on [email protected] if u prefer)

George E. Warren
Guest
George E. Warren

Jamie, I just have to say the same!! This site is to me what candy is to a kid. And, I never thought so many people cared about, and were still thinking about flying boats!!!! I thought I was pretty much alone. My Dad worked on them at Dinner Key, Miami, and had a reverence for them like some have for religion. As a little kid not even in school yet, if I referred to them as a ‘seaplane’ he would correct me as many times as he had to until I finally understood the difference. I am interested in… Read more »

Cece Boyer Myers
Guest
Cece Boyer Myers

My uncle, Carl “Kid” Rogers died in the China Clipper accident at Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1945. I was not yet born and know so little about him. I do know that he was passionate about flying and dreamed of becoming a pilot when he was young. I have a scrapbook he put together about avation, a couple of Pan Am items and a copy of the letter sent to my aunt, Ruby Sibole Rogers, notifying her of the accident and the failed attempts to find his body. Any additional information would be welcome.

Thank you,
Cece Boyer Myers

Philip Kemp
Guest
Philip Kemp

I’d be interested in your metal model of the M-130 China Clipper. Do you have any pictures of it?

Thanks!

Curt
Guest
Curt

I have found a cast aluminum china clipper martin model. great shape. does anyone know if its worth anything. It is on a cast aluminum stand, all four props. I just buffed it out and it shines.

Lowell Ed Wilcox
Guest

Hi! I’m Lowell “ED” Wilcox, retired from FAA out of Ukiah Field Office. Friends and I did two Memorials on the Philippine Clipper. My wife Penny and I have been in Alaska for 12 years and have been away from Philippine Clipper activity. We have many artifacts from the crash site and we have the airworthy certificate which survived the crash and fire which it has traces of. We have a model of the clipper which we had in our museum at the Ukiah Flight Service Station. Their are no models that are specific for the Philippine Clipper, only the… Read more »

Lowell Ed Wilcox
Guest

Hi! I’m Lowell Ed Wilcox, I retired from FAA back in 1996 and did many trips to the Philippine Clipper crash site located a mile from my work site, Ukiah VORTAC. The FAA Regional Office in L.A. has a large Martin 130 hand made model which was outstanding. The builder did an outstanding job in the construction of showing the corrugated skin. If your in that area look up the office and see. I would love to see your Martin 130 when your finish, I know how extensive your project is. Good luck on getting your parts…..

Lowell Ed Wilcox
Guest

I and friends did two Memorials on the Philippine Clipper in Ukiah back in the late 80’s. I was stationed at Ukiah Airport working for FAA at Ukiah field office from 1980 t0 1996. We ex- cavated by hand at the site and uncovered many items; watches, brotch, coins, bullets, sun glasses, parts of the interior, military buttons, gold bridge [teeth] and much more. I have the Air Worthyness certificate that survied the fire and crash, it is scorched and has a readable tail number. The group of us including my wife Penny, spent many hours on the Philippine Clipper… Read more »

Julia Badham
Guest
Julia Badham

My father, Thomas Laughlin, was a navigator on this aircraft. He has fond and very clear memories of the flights from San Francisco across the Pacific. He is in declining health and I would love to find someone who may have flown with him.

CR
Guest
CR

Hi Mr. Havens, While I cannot provide a passenger manifest, I can provide photos of the cemetery records and grave sites for those who perished in the accident of the China Clipper in 1945. It took some doing as many today do not know of the incident. The cemetery records list the names of those buried there. Unfortunately the grave sites and records are not in good condition but I am willing to provide what I have. The photos and information were collected with the intention of providing them to the online museum of Trinidad & Tobago hosted on Facebook.… Read more »

Ted Hawkins
Guest
Ted Hawkins

My father, Bob Hawkins, did drawings and one model for Cleveland Models, back in the late 1930’s. It was around 13′ span, was rubber powered and cost a bomb even back then. Later, in the early 1970’s, he redid the plans for a 10 channel, radio control model for Ed Packard. At some point the original model was in the old Treasure Island Museum near San Francisco. I don’t know what happened to it after that. Dad passed away in 1975. I grew up with that model and never made a model airplane – that thing scared the hell outta… Read more »

Guy Noffsinger
Guest

Greetings Everyone, My name is Guy Noffsinger and I am 60% complete in producing the first documentary about the missing Hawaii Clipper and a companion book that will accompany the film when it is released in early 2012. I am seeking information and photos of Mark “Tex” Walker that was a pilot aboard the aircraft. I have been actively researching the event for over ten years now and have physically stood on the spot where the missing passengers and crew were buried. My first blog (is a bit rough but getting there) is located at http://www.lostclipper.com. Feel free to sign… Read more »

Guy Noffsinger
Guest

Hi Don,

Anyone get a copy of that photo? I used to be Navy and am producing a film about the Hawaii Clipper

joe jcovino
Guest
joe jcovino

hi jimmy…………i don’t know of the particular photo your refeering to…………..but…….i know that the british and american flying boats did fly into lisbon during the war ..the germans and italains used land base plains to fly into lisbon…………if there is a german flying boat in the picture its probaby blohm & voss ha 139 this was just a mail plane an was catapulted off a ship half way across the atlantic………………that was in 1938-1939 i hope this helps you somwhat…………….joe

DON BARKER
Guest

photo of sweet 16 avail — from orig usn photolab.. pay shipping. DB

DON BARKER
Guest

I have a very early photo (11/14) if anyone is interested in having it.
Orig Phto from USNAY Photo Lab #1 numbered photo.
PAY SHIPPING. thanks

ELMER HARBRON
Guest

OK JAMIE

WILL DO

ELMER

Jamie Dodson
Guest

I would try the University of Miami, Richter Library – http://www.library.miami.edu for a start.

Cheers! Jamie

Jamie Dodson
Guest

Elmer,

Please visit my website (www.nickgrantadventures.com) for some historical back ground on the Pacific Pan Am flying boats. On the left side, you see lines to various aspects of M-130s and S-42s. Also some of the Japanese efforts. You can contact me though my website.

Cheers! Jamie

h.a.c.van asten
Guest
h.a.c.van asten

As far as I know Noonan used “Dreisonstok” and according to records was not familiar with Morse code . Do you btw have the picture of arrival @ Honolulu 1st flight with “Noonan” 2nd fr.right , this being controversial , it would be somebody else of same appearance ? H.

ELMER HARBRON
Guest

I AM INTERESTED IN CORRESPONDING WITH ANYONE HAVING AN INTEREST IN THE OLD CLIPPERS.

ELMER HARBRON
Guest

OVER A PERIOD OF TIME I HAVE ACQUIRED A COUPLE BOOKS ON THE CLIPPERS AND ALSO A SOURCE FOR A PROFESSIONAL WOODEN MODEL OF THE M-130.

IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED ON THE SOURCE OR TITLES OF THE ABOVE YOU MAY E MAIL ME AND I WILL FORWARD THE INFO. Any other sharing of info will be most appreciated.

ELMER HARBRON
[email protected]

Dusty Whitney
Guest

Hi: I am the director of a museum near Ukiah California. Can someone please advise me where I can obtain (purchase) a model of the philippine clipper “flying boat for inclusion into a museum display? Many thanks, D. Whitney

richard roderick
Guest
richard roderick

Norm, A few years ago I scratch built a model of the the M130 flying boat from design drawings. It has a 43 1/2″ wingspan. I haven’t finished it because the supplier that I was buying from to provide the aluminum, air foil shaped struts disappeared. I’m stumped for now and I’m out of material. If you’d send me your email address I’ll sent you a photo of my Clipper as it is now. By the way I have two interests in this project. My dad was a VP at Pan American Intercontinental Hotels Corp and he knew Juan Tripp.… Read more »

Stanton Wyman
Guest
Stanton Wyman

Hi Elmer, I just read your short note about the Pan Am china clipper and your written test to take flying lessons. I am an airline captain with skywest airlines and have a deep deep love for aviation history……especially Pan Am and ww2 aviation . I was very close friends with the 26 th pilot hired at Pan Am, Kenneth V Beer. He flew with pan am from 28 to 1963. Truly an amazing man, especially when I say I played tennis with him when he was 99 years old. I would love to see pictures of you model since… Read more »

Jeff Staines
Guest
Jeff Staines

I have a 1935 First Flight Postal Cover from the Pan Am Clipper “Round Trip Flight” between California and Hawaii. Inside was stored since 1935 a newspaper clipping depicting some details of this flight with pictures of the crew, including Navigation Officer Fred Noonan. I will be happy to send scans of these documents for your viewing if you are interested.

W. Havens
Guest
W. Havens

Attempting to trace the history of NC-14716 that sank at Port of Spain, Trinidad, on January 8, 1945. Where could I find a crew/passenger manifest for 8 January 1945 when it crashed? Thank you for any help.

ELMER HARBRON
Guest
ELMER HARBRON

ONE OF MY FAVORITE AIRPLANES.

HAVE A PROFESSIONAL MODEL OF IT IN MY DEN.

I AM 81 YEARS OLD AND GREW UP IN THE GOLDEN AGE OF AVIATION.

FLY WITH THE CIVIL AIR PATROL AS A MISSION OBSERVER AND VOLUNTEER AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE.

AM CURRENTLY STUDYING TO PASS THE FAA WRITTEN TEST AND MAY TAKE FLYING LESSONS.

LOVE AVIATION AND FLYING

Rui
Guest
Rui

Hi James, by your description, you could be referring to a picture of 3 B314 moored at Horta, Azores (portuguese islands). If I am allowed to post web links here, this is a direct link to a portuguese blog dedicated to the B314 which includes the picture I am talking about:

http://narotadoyankeeclipper.blogspot.com/2008_11_01_archive.html

Regards

Ron Barrett, USAF Ret. Navigator
Guest

The China Clipper was a great step into the future for international travel in 1935. To do this, it required a flight navigator. Frederick Noonan was the lead for Pan AM. We are researching his work. Help is needed here: do you or any one you know have any pictures, letters, or articles on Navigator Fred Noonan that you can share with us all? Fred Noonan had to be one of the best and brightest navs to have ever flown and we wish to establish this factually. He used the “Agiton” celestial computations for celestial (which required an exceptional understanding… Read more »

Norman Kelley
Guest
Norman Kelley

I am a builder of classic model airplanes, including stick and tissue B-17, Lockheed Electra, Douglas DC-3; PBy, etc., all in 3/4″ = 1 foot. A China Clipper would have an 88″ wingspan. Cleveland Model Supply, which dates to the 1920’s, still supplies plans for this airplane, which I have ordered. I’ll report on the building of this model as it progresses if there is any interest.

James Armstrong
Guest
James Armstrong

Help!!! I’m desperately trying to find a photo I saw 4-5 years ago, not sure where. It showed three large seaplanes, definitely docked in Portugal, probably Lisbon. They were lined up in a row – one had USA flag on it, one had a big swastika, and I think the 3rd was British. I am sure this was just before or even during WW2, as Portugal was neutral. Any help will be greatly appreciated. The USA plane was likely a Pan Am Martin M-130 Clipper (“China Clipper” type. I knew a radio-navigator who flew into Portugal at this time. Thanx,… Read more »

Everett Stone
Guest

I was nine years old in 1935 in Wichita Falls, Texas. Quaker Oats Co. sent me a wood model of the China Clipper in return for box tops from Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat. Had to glue it together and paint it but over the years it “flew away.” I’m 83 now but about 10 years ago my wife presented me with a 30″x40″ painting of the Clipper and a postal envelope attached that flew on the Clipper’s maiden flight to Hawaii on 10/22/35 from San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge was less than half finished at that time.

Jamie Dodson
Guest

This is a wonderful site about an amazing airplane and airline. The airplane and the site are so simple, clean and elegant – good job! The ‘China Clipper’ evokes such nostalgia. Pan Am and the ‘China Clipper’ remain one of the world’s most recognized trademarks. Even 18 years after the airline’s demise. If you’d like to fly the original route for the 75th anniversary, you can sign up here. http://www.chinaclipper75.com/ It should be quite a trip.
Cheers! Jamie