Famous B.C.-based Martin Mars water bomber listed for $5 million

The Hawaii II water bomber is being sold through Platinum Fighter Sales out of California. (Platinum Fighters)

Selling a piece of aviation history is a lot like selling a house, according to the man auctioning B.C.’s famous Martin Mars water bomber.

“Someone comes and makes an offer, then it’s accepted,” Simon Brown, president of Platinum Fighter Sales, says over the phone from his Los Angeles home. Just 24 hours after listing the Hawaii Mars II for $5 million, Brown says he woke to six different emails from prospective buyers.

The Martin Mars bomber is the largest flying boat to enter Allied service during the Second World War, then was later assigned the role of a transport aircraft. After the prototype XPB2M-1R flew in 1942, the U.S. Navy ordered 20 more aircraft, only five of which were made.

A Canadian company, Forest Industries Flying Tankers, purchased the aircraft in 1959, converting them to use in firefighting operations. The recently listed Hawaii Mars II was purchased by B.C.-based Coulson Forest Products Ltd. in 2007, and has been stored in Sproat Lake, Port Alberni since it’s last flight in 2016.

Brown estimates it will take upwards of three months to get the plane ready for flight, and laughs at the idea of purchasing it himself.

“Even if someone gave this to you, the upkeep is going to be huge,” says Brown, guessing the care will cost $100,000 per year. “You’ll need a full time crew to maintain this airplane and where are you going to keep it? Obviously you need a big lake or body of water.”

Brown believes the iconic red and white plane could end up in a museum, though its former owner Wanye Coulson would like to see it continue to fly as a hobby aircraft.

“Today, Hawaii Mars II remains the only airworthy example of its type in the world,” the listing reads. "A unique part of aviation history is now available for the discerning buyer, or donor.”

Most recently, the Hawaii Mars II delighted enthusiasts at the EAA’s 2016 Air Venture, simulating fire attacks on the Oshkosh Airfield.