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Martin K-3 Kitten / K-4

James V. Martin was a consultant to the U.S. Air service, and an associate to General Billy Mitchell. He held patents on aerospace technologies including the retractable landing gear and once held the World's speed record of 70 mph in an airplane.
The Martin K-3 was brought out in 1911 as a scout. It was a biplane with a span of 18 ft and overall length of 13 ft 4 in. The Martin landing gear was manually retractable, the wheels folding backward and up between the wing spars into streamlined housings built against the sides of the fuselage.
The wheels used Ackermann flexible spokes for shock absorption. It was powered by an ABC Gnat 40 hp engine and weighed 350 lb. Its high speed was 185 mph. The 9-gallon fuel tank was supposed to provide a flight time of two hours.
When viewed from the side, the wing supports formed a letter "K" shape. The fuselage was all wood with plywood and fabric covering. The aircraft featured air tanks, and electrical power for flightsuit heating. The design included floating ailerons, wing trusses, K-struts and controlled vertical empennage.
Since J.V. Martin did not have a manufacturing facility of his own, building of the K-III and K-IV were contracted out to the Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation, though the J.V. Martin name is the one that applies.
The K.III Kitten was marketed as an "altitude fighter" for the U.S. Army. It is considered the first aircraft in the United States with retractable landing gear.
In December 1918, the aircraft was delivered to McCook Field where it was considered structurally unsound. Martin appealed to Congress in 1920 to no avail. The military refused to fly on it and returned Kitten to the inventor. Only in the spring of next year the plane was tested by a civilian pilot. In 60 test flights at Dayton, Ohio, the high altitude aircraft could only reach 295 ft of altitude.
The prototype K.III Kitten was donated to the National Air and Space Museum in 1924 and survives in the collection.




The 1921 J.V. Martin K.IV was a model III with a more powerful 60 hp Lawrance engine and floats. In 1921 3 with float landing gear were built and sold to the U.S. Navy as Navy KF-1.




Martin K-3 Kitten
Engine: ABC Gnat, 45 hp (34 kW)
Wingspan: 20 ft 2 in (6.15 m)
Wing area: 105 sq ft (9.8 m2)
Length: 13 ft 3 in (4.04 m)
Height: 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)
Empty weight: 350 lb (159 kg)
Normal takeoff weight: 300 kg
Fuel capacity: 9 US gallons (34 litres)
Maximum speed: 117 kn (135 mph, 217 km/h)
Cruising speed: 175km / h
Practical range: 335km
Practical ceiling: 7620 m
Capacity: 1
Undercarriage: retract tail
Martin K.IV / KF-1
Engine: 60 hp Lawrance



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