by Jamie F. Dodson

Flying Boats - The Martin M-130

 "China Clipper"

'Martin M-130 China Clipper, Shadows on the Sand, 1935' Water Color By IAN MARSHALL,
Flying Boats, The J-Class Yachts of Aviation

     The China Clipper was the Martin M-130 flying boat NC14716 used by Pan American Airways for its San Francisco to Manila route. It was built by the Glenn L. Martin Company. Second of the huge trans-oceanic flying boats used by Pan American Airways System between the wars, the Martin Model 130 resulted from the same specification to which Sikorsky had evolved the S-42. Unlike the Sikorsky design, however, the Martin 'China Clipper', as it was to become known, truly possessed the long over-water capability that the airline required

     On November 22, 1935 it took-off from Alameda, California in an attempt to deliver the first airmail cargo across the Pacific Ocean. On November 29, the airplane reached its destination, Manila, after traveling via Honolulu, Midway Island, Wake Island, and Guam, and delivered over 110,000 pieces of mail.

The crew

     The inauguration of ocean airmail service and commercial air flight across the Pacific was a significant event for both California and the world. Proving flights were made in late 1935 and early 1936, China Clipper making the first ever commercial double crossing of the Pacific between November 22,1935 and December 6,1935. The full, regular trans-Pacific M-130 service opened on October 21,1936, the flight spanning five days and occupying a total of 60 hours actual flying.

     Three M-130s were built, China Clipper, the Philippine Clipper and the Hawaiian Clipper. The Hawaiian Clipper disappeared over the Japanese controlled Pacific July 28, 1938 without a trace. By 1940 the surviving pair of M-130s had accumulated some 10,000 flying hours each equal to an average daily utilization of 5 1/2 hours and had flown 12,718,200 passenger miles (20,467,930 passenger-km) in addition to express and mail flights

     Interestingly, just prior to the China Clipper's maiden flight, two Japanese nationals were caught aboard the aircraft as they were attempting to sabotage the plane's radio direction finder. The incident was kept quiet in an effort to avoid publicity. See Classic Pacific Seaplane History at: Historical Background: The 1930's Cold War that preceded the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the Pacific War

The small images below link to large picture files.
They may take a while to load - especially with dial-up connections.

Skyway to Asia - The Epic Struggle for the Pacific Airways

Martin M-130 Pictures and Graphics
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M-130 Cut-a-way China Clipper in Long Beach Harbor China Clipper Maintenance
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China Clipper Hong Kong Take-off! China Clipper Maintenance December, 1935. Courtesy of William Larkins China Clipper Dimensions

Copyright 2007-2008. Jamie Dodson. All rights reserved.

Created....... March17, 2007

Updated.......January 29, 2008