I remember seeing one of the Martin Mars Water Bombers years ago on Sproat Lake, Vancouver Island. It is a huge airplane, 120ft long, 48ft wide with wing span of 200 ft and can carry 6,000 gallons of water. It is able to cover 3-4 acres in a single drop from approximately 150 ft.
The Martin Mars originally belonging to the US Navy but were sold for scrap in 1956. A couple of enterprising Canadian businessmen recognized that the Mars could be used to fight forest fires, so they closed the deal quickly before anyone else could see their potential and by 1960 they were in operation.
The first big forest fire they were called on to put out was on a steep hillside. They dropped 42,000 gallons of water in seven trips putting the fire out in just a few hours. Another fire was in old growth cedar and it was put out by dropping 132,000 gallons of sea water on it.
We Canadians consider this plane a hero, if an inanimate object can be considered so. This plane has often been the major contributing factor in saving large areas of our Province and we proudly send her back to California to assist in the fire fighting going on there.
Unfortunately these wonderful planes were retired since this post.