The Martin-Baker Mk.2 is a British ejection seat designed and built in the early 1950s.
In 1935 James Martin and Captain Valentine Baker formed the ‘Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd’. During a test flight in 1942, Captain Baker was killed. His death caused Martin to investigate a means of assisted escape for pilots. He found the best means would be by forced ejection of the seat with the occupant sitting in it. The first “live” ride was made in January 1945, the subject being shot up a test rig to a height of 4 feet 8 inches.
The Mk.2 seat was designed as an improved version of the first Martin-Baker seat. Improvements included relocation of the main parachute and dinghy, automatic parachute deployment and man/seat separation systems to assist incapacitated crews.
Operating the face-blind firing handle initiates firing of the main gun – a telescopic tube with two explosive charges that fire in sequence. As the seat moves up its guide rails an emergency oxygen supply is activated and communication leads are automatically disconnected.
A drogue gun is fired and extracts two small drogue parachutes to stabilise the seat’s descent path. A barostatic mechanism prevents the main parachute from opening above an altitude of 10,000 ft (3,000 m). A time delay mechanism operates the main parachute below this altitude. The seat then separates from the occupant for a normal parachute descent.
Modern rocket-powered seats can cope with a variety of difficult ejection scenarios, including zero airspeed, zero altitude, inverted, high-g, and underwater.
Martin-Baker has manufacturer over 70,000 ejection seats that have saved 7400 lives. Ejection Seats have been used over 12000 times to date.