Mars Water Bomber

Posted: 16th September 2011 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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After an action-packed week here at The Hollow, we’re very happy to be back and posting!  Mrs. Toad encountered an injury earlier this week, causing me to have to care for her and thus we haven’t been able to focus on the photography tasks much.  We certainly hope everyone understands, and now we’re back…  thanks for all your support and concern, folks, it really means so very much to us.

Today we’re going to take a look at something that I have been very much looking forward to sharing with everyone.  Today we look at the Mars Water Bomber, currently owned by Coulson Flying Tankers.  They have created an entire museum dedicated to these historic and iconic planes, and we had a chance to visit and take some photographs over the course of the summer.

Mars Water Bomber - Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

Mars Water Bomber – Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

Situated on Sproat Lake, on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada sits the home of the current Mars Water Bomber fleet.  I understand that two of the planes remain in active service and the entire fleet has been the source of world-wide attention for years.  In 2007 one of the bombers made the voyage to California, to assist with the fire fighting needs.  In the museum, there is a photo and mention of one of the planes making a flyover of Airforce 1 while the current president (I believe it was George Bush, but I could be wrong on that point) stood below watching the flyover.

Mars Water Bomber - Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

Mars Water Bomber – Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

Tours are now available at times, and on the day we visited we were too late to partake in them.  It appeared to us that a boat ferried visitors to and from the parked bomber on the lake, allowing everyone a chance to get on-board an active plane and really take in some of the details.

Mars Water Bomber - Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

Mars Water Bomber – Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

Originally designed for war service, by the time the initial planes were completed the Navy had changed plans and accepted the 5 units originally built.  Accidents beset some of the planes, including crashes, fires, typhoons and other events over the years, pruning the fleet down to what we believe are the final 2 units that are slated for active service.  The entire in-depth history of the planes can be found on Wikipedia.

Mars Water Bomber - Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

Mars Water Bomber – Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

Sproat Lake itself is a magical place.  A very large lake situated in the relative center of Vancouver Island, it is surrounded by our vast forests.  This scene as presented created such a typical picture of island-living and I just love the colors and details that pop here.

Mars Water Bomber - Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

Mars Water Bomber – Sproat Lake, BC, Canada

The Philippine Mars is currently undergoing updates to make it safer and more in-line with modern safety features.  We understand it’s slated to resume service in the near future.  In this picture we get a stronger sense of the size and scale of this flying boat.  It is amazing to consider that this unit can scoop up 30 tons of water in one 22 second scoop…  and when this payload of water drops on an active fire, many have coined the term “a huge water blanket” to describe the effect.

Thanks for taking the time to visit us here today, we sincerely appreciate that.  As always we encourage all our visitors to leave us comments as we truly love to hear from all our visitors.



  1. Welcome Toad. I hope that Mrs. Toad is feeling much better. I’ve missed your posts and I can see you came back swinging. Great post today and the photos are incredible. Sproat Lake looks majestic.

    • Thank you ever so kindly, Edith, that truly means so very much to us my friend! She is definitely on the mend today, just a couple more days here and she will be better than ever, thank you! We sure do appreciate the thoughtfulness & concern here, you’re the best!!

  2. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Glad to see everything is working out with Mrs Toad. You have certainly made up for your absence with this post. Great images. Love the colors, scenery and especially the planes. Have a great and restful weekend.

  3. avatar Fred Norris says:

    Hey Toad love the pictures and your storyline.Glad to hear Mrs Toad is back on her flippers!

  4. Excellent images – we could use one of these puppies here in Southern California

  5. avatar newd7000user says:

    That is so impressive! The lake is beautiful I really like the first image very nice composition

  6. avatar Jim Nix says:

    looks great Toad and I hope the Mrs. is feeling much better!

  7. avatar Heather says:

    Oh my sweet airplane!!! That is a GEM!

    Give each other a hug for me! Mrs.Toad you are one tough cookie sister!!

  8. avatar Jim Denham says:

    What an awesome bird! Looks great on that lake too! Well done!

  9. avatar ChrisdMRF says:

    Nice set of images Toad old chap, love those old planes

  10. avatar John S. Mead says:

    Glad to hear Mrs. Toad is happily on the mend! Your post about these great planes means a lot to me as we’ve had the worst fire season EVER here in Texas with over 3.7 million acres burned. That’s a piece of real estate almost the size of the US state of Connecticut! Planes such as these have played a huge role in limiting the damage. Overall this year we’ve had over 22,000 fires with a loss of 5400 homes!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh my God, John, that’s crazy my friend!! I did not know it was that bad for you guys down there, I am so very sorry to hear this. We, too, in a typical summer have really bad forest fire issues, which is exactly why this plane went from a military purpose to fire fighting. We have a lot of pride in these planes here, and I am so happy you had a chance to see our photos. Thank you for your visit and the great comments, it really means a lot to us. Best wishes with your issues and we really hope the stops now that fall and winter are approaching.

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