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B-25J Mitchell "Show-Me"


AIRCRAFT HISTORY


Delivered to the USAAF as 44-31385 in January of 1945, our B-25J stayed in service as a trainer up until it was retired and put into storage at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ in 1958.

In 1959, 44-31385 (being assigned to the Aircraft Disposal Office) was sold to its first private owner officially changing its call sign to N3481G.

During 1969 in Seymour, IL the bomber was damaged on the ground by a windstorm and did not fly again until 1975.

It found its home with the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force in 1982 and was officially renamed "Show Me" with a civil registration of N345TH.

Thus began its life as a living history aircraft and one of the few elite bombers of the Ghost Squadron.


GENERAL HISTORY

The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. It was used by many Allied air forces in every theater of WWII, and remained in service for years after the war concluded.

The B-25 first gained fame as the bomber used in the 18 April 1942 Doolittle Raid, in which 16 B-25Bs led by the legendary Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, attacked mainland Japan four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The mission gave a much-needed lift in spirits to the Americans, and alarmed the Japanese who had believed their home islands were inviolable by enemy troops. While the amount of actual damage done was relatively minor, it forced the Japanese to divert troops for the home defense for the remainder of the war. The raiders took off from the carrier USS Hornet and successfully bombed Tokyo and four other Japanese cities without loss. However, 15 subsequently crash-landed enroute to recovery fields in Eastern China. These losses were the result of the task force being spotted by Japanese fishing vessels forcing the bombers to take off 170 mi (270 km) early, fuel exhaustion, stormy nighttime conditions with zero visibility, and lack of electronic homing aids at the recovery bases. Only one landed intact; it came down in the Soviet Union, where its five-man crew was interned and the aircraft confiscated. Of the 80 aircrew, 69 survived their historic mission and eventually made it back to American lines.

Following a number of additional modifications, including the addition of Plexiglas windows for the navigator and radio operator, heavier nose armament, and deicing and anti-icing equipment, the B-25C was released to the Army. This was the second mass-produced version of the Mitchell, the first being the lightly-armed B-25B used by the Doolittle Raiders. The B-25C and B-25D differed only in location of manufacture: -Cs in Inglewood, CA, -Ds at Kansas City, KS. A total of 3,915 B-25Cs and Ds were built by North American during World War II.

Because of the urgent need for hard-hitting strafer aircraft, a version dubbed the B-25G was developed, in which the standard-length transparent nose and the bombardier were replaced by a shorter solid nose containing two fixed .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns and a 75 mm (2.95 in) M4 cannon, one of the largest weapons fitted to an aircraft. The cannon was manually loaded and serviced by the navigator, who was able to perform these operations without leaving his crew station just behind the pilot. This was possible due to the shorter nose of the G-model and the length of the M4, which allowed the breech to extend into the navigator's compartment.

The B-25G's successor, the B-25H, had even more firepower. The M4 gun was replaced by the lighter T13E1, designed specifically for the aircraft. The 75 mm (2.95 in) gun fired at a muzzle velocity of 2,362 ft/s (about 720 m/s). Due to its low rate of fire (approximately four rounds could be fired in a single strafing run) and relative ineffectiveness against ground targets, as well as substantial recoil, the 75 mm (2.95 in) gun was sometimes removed from both G and H models and replaced with two additional .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns as a field modification. The -H also mounted four fixed forward-firing .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose, four more fixed ones in forward-firing cheek blisters, two more in the top turret, one each in a pair of new waist positions, and a final pair in a new tail gunner's position. Company promotional material bragged the B-25H could "bring to bear 10 machine guns coming and four going, in addition to the 75 mm cannon, a brace of eight rockets and 3,000 lb (1,360 kg) of bombs."

The B-25H also featured a redesigned cockpit area, with the top turret moved forward to the navigator's compartment (thus requiring the addition of the waist and tail gun positions), and a heavily modified cockpit designed to be operated by a single pilot, the co-pilot's station and controls deleted, and the seat cut down and used by the navigator/cannoneer. The radio operator was moved to the aft compartment, operating the waist guns. A total of 1,400 B-25Gs and B-25Hs were built.

The final version of the Mitchell, the B-25J, looked much like the earlier B, C and D, having reverted to the longer nose. The less-than-successful 75 mm (2.95 in) cannon was deleted on the J model. Instead, 800 of this version were built with a solid nose containing eight .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns, while other J-models featured the earlier "greenhouse" style nose containing the bombardier's position. Regardless of the nose style used, all J-models also included two .50 in (12.7 mm) guns in a "fuselage package" located directly under the pilot's station, and two more such guns in an identical package just under the co-pilot's compartment. The solid-nose B-25J variant carried an impressive total of 18 .50 in (12.7 mm) guns: eight in the nose, four in under-cockpit packages, two in an upper turret, two in the waist, and a pair in the tail. No other bomber of World War II carried as many guns. However, the first 555 B-25Js (the B-25J-1-NC production block) were delivered without the fuselage package guns, because it was discovered muzzle blast from these guns was causing severe stress in the fuselage ; this was cured with heavier fuselage skin patches. While later production runs returned these guns, they were often removed as a field modification for the same reason. In all, 4,318 B-25Js were built.

The B-25 was a safe and forgiving aircraft to fly. With an engine out, 60° banking turns into the dead engine were possible, and control could be easily maintained down to 145 mph. However, the pilot had to remember to maintain engine-out directional control at low speeds after take off with rudder - if this was attempted with ailerons, the aircraft would snap out of control. The tricycle landing gear made for excellent visibility while taxiing. The only significant complaint about the B-25 was the extremely high noise level produced by its engines; as a result, many pilots eventually suffered from various degrees of hearing loss. The high noise level was due to design and space restrictions in the engine cowlings which resulted in the exhaust "stacks" protruding directly from the cowling ring and partly covered by a small triangular fairing. This directed exhaust and noise directly at the pilot and crew compartments. Crew members and operators on the airshow circuit frequently comment that "the B-25 is the fastest way to turn aviation fuel directly into noise". Many B-25s now in civilian ownership have been modified with exhaust rings that direct the exhaust through the outboard bottom section of the cowling.

Far East

The majority of B-25s in American service were used in the Pacific. It fought on Papua New Guinea, in Burma and in the island hopping campaign in the central Pacific. It was in the Pacific that the aircraft’s potential as a ground attack aircraft was discovered and developed. The jungle environment reduced the usefulness of standard level bombing, and made low level attack the best tactic. The ever-increasing amount of forward firing guns was a response to this, making the B-25 a formidable strafing aircraft.

In Burma the B-25 was often used to attack Japanese communication links, especially bridges in central Burma. It was also used to help supply the besieged troops at Imphal in 1944.

In the Pacific the B-25 proved itself to be a very capable anti-shipping weapon, sinking many of the ships being used to reinforce the Japanese position. Later in the Pacific war the distance between islands limited the usefulness of the B-25, although it was used against Guam and Tinian. It was also used against Japanese-occupied islands that had been bypassed by the main campaign, as happened in the Marshal Islands.

Middle East and Italy

The first B-25s arrived in Egypt just in time to take part in the battle of El Alamein. From there the aircraft took part in the rest of the campaign in North Africa, the invasion of Sicily and the advance up Italy. In Italy the B-25 was used in the ground attack role, concentrating on attacks against road and rail links in Italy, Austria and the Balkans. The B-25 had a longer range than the A-20 Havoc and A-26 Invaders, allowing it to reach further into occupied Europe. The five bombardment groups that used the B-25 in the desert and Italy were the only US units to use the B-25 in Europe.

Europe

The U.S. Eighth Air Force, based in Britain, concentrated on long range raids over Germany and occupied Europe. Although it did have a small number of units equipped with twin-engined aircraft, the B-25 was not amongst them. However, the RAF received nearly nine hundred Mitchells, using them to replace Douglas Bostons, Lockheed Venturas and Vickers Wellington bombers. The Mitchell entered active RAF service on 22 January 1943. At first it was used to bomb strategic targets in occupied Europe. After the D-Day invasion, the RAF used its Mitchells to support the armies in Europe, moving several squadrons to forward airbases in France and Belgium.

On Saturday, 28 July 1945, at 0940 (while flying in thick fog), a USAAF B-25D crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building, hitting between the 79th and 80th floor. Fourteen people were killed — 11 in the building, along with three occupants of the bomber.

Information thanks to Wikipedia.com

At any given time there are 30-40 B-25's still flying with another 50 or so on static display. 

 

 
 
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