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North American B-25 “Mitchell” Bomber

Specifications:
  • Armament: Six .50-cal. machine guns; 3,000 lbs. of bombs
  • Engine: Two Wright R-2600s of 1,700 hp each
  • Maximum speed: 328 mph
  • Cruising speed: 233 mph
  • Range: 2,500 miles (with auxiliary tanks)
  • Ceiling: 21,200 ft.
  • Span: 67 ft. 6 in.
  • Length: 53 ft.
  • Height: 16 ft. 9 in.
  • Weight: 29,300 lbs. maximum

The North American Mitchell B-25 was a twin-engined medium bomber used in World War II, and manufactured by North American Aviation. The B-25 was named in honor of military aviation pioneer General Billy Mitchell.

After WWII, most B-25s were sent to long-term storage. The planes continued in service through the late 1940s and 1950s in a variety of training, reconnaissance and support roles.

Its principal use during this period was for undergraduate training of multi-engine aircraft pilots slated for reciprocating engine or turboprop cargo, aerial refueling or reconnaissance aircraft.

The B-25 first flew on August 19, 1940, and the U.S. Army Air Corps accepted the first five B-25s in February of 1941.

The B-25 saw duty in every combat area being flown by the Dutch, British, Chinese, Russians and Australians in addition to U.S. forces.

Although the North American Mitchell B-25 was originally intended for level bombing from medium altitudes, the plane was used extensively in the Pacific area for bombing Japanese airfields from treetop level and for strafing and skip bombing of enemy shipping.

North Ameican Mitchell B-25-J35 – 45-8811
B-25J-35 Mitchel 44-86893
B-25D-30 Mitchell 43-3318-KL.161

North American B-25J-20 Mitchell 44-29507

Built by North American. Constructors Number 108-32782. Delivered to the U. S. Army.

Stored at Davis Monthan AFB until at least August 1958.

On July 27, 1959 acquired by Fogle Aircraft Inc, Tucson, AZ and converted to a TB-25N and registered as N3698G. Next, to Aero Enterprises, Elkhart, IN from November 1959 until 1962.

Then acquired by Verco Tropical Fisheries, Columbus, OH, March 1962. The bomber was modified with a cargo hold fitted into the bomb bay in Michigan City, IN during December 1962. Next, owned by Robert R. Johnson, Fort Lauderdale, FL, February 1966 until 1968 when purchased by Austin Williams, West Palm Beach, FL.

From July 1972-1974 owned by Ernest G. Trapaga, Redondo Beach, CA. Then, sold to I.N. “Junior” Burchinall, Paris, TX, who owned the aircraft from September 1974-1979. Next, Rayez Adeline/Reyline Aviation, Kissimee, FL, Nov. 1979-1981.

During June 1981-1989 owned by Donald R. Webber/Aerial Solutions Inc, Baton Rouge, LA. Painted in the markings of “Cochise”.

On June 6, 1989 acquired by the Duke Of Brabant Air Force, Netherlands and moved to Amho Corp, Wilmington, DE, December 1989-2002. Registered as N320SQ. Also registered as PH-XXV, but never taken up.

On May 25, 1990 arrived at Eindhoven, Netherlands and operated by Duke Of Brabant Air Force based at Gilze Rijen Air Base. Registered as N320SQ (reference to RAF Dutch 320 Squadron). From 1990 – 1999 painted in the markings of RAF B-25 “Lotys II” HD346 / ND-V.

During 1999, painted in the marking of ML-KNIL Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF) B-25C “Sarinah Plesiran ‘Neer.?” N5-149. In 2009, registered as PH-XXV and owned by Dutch Air Force Historic Flight. Since 1990, this bomber flies regularly in European air shows and events.

North American B-25J-35 Mitchel 44-86893

The B-25J-35-NC SN 44-86893 now flying as “Red Bull” was accepted on August 7, 1945. Over the next two years she was used between Ft. Dix, Mitchell Field, New York and Newark, New Jersey performing administrative duties within the Air Transport Command.

In June l947 she was sent to Olmstead AAF, Pennsylvania where she was modified for electronic testing. She was used at Griffiss AFB, New York for testing radar systems for the Air Defense Command. She received additional modifications and electronics and was reclassified an ETB-25K and used for more radar testing and calibration.

She was attached to the 6520th Air Base Group at Hanscome AFB, Massachusetts for a couple of years until this unit was moved to Laurel, Mississippi. The last assignment for her was to the 412th Fighter Group that was operating out of Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan in 1956 through 1957. Here, she was used for instructional purposes for radar intercept crews. In December 1957 she was retired and sent to storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.

On October 8, 1958, she was sold to Abe Sellards of Safford, Arizona who converted her into a tanker aircraft. The US Forest Service used the B-25 as a firefighting tanker for only a couple of years before the type was banned in 1962. During this operational time she flew as tanker 34C.

Her civil registration of N6123C was assigned in December of 1958. By May of 1959, she was converted to an agricultural sprayer. She was sold in November of 1965 to Aircraft Specialties of Mesa, Arizona. She was purchased by Cen-Tex Aviation in San Marcos, Texas and flown to Chino, California for storage. In May of 1977, she was purchased by Kansas City Warbirds of Kansas City, Missouri. She was ferried to Kansas City, Missouri and underwent a 7 year restoration. She flew as “Fairfax Ghost”.

On March 31, 1985, she flew the ceremonial last flight out of Fairfax Airport becoming the final B-25 to fly out of that historic location. In May of 1995, she was purchased by The Flying Bulls.

North American B-25D-30 Mitchell 43-3318-KL.161 “Grumpy”

The B-25D-30-NC SN 43-3318 now flying as “Grumpy” was delivered to the United States military on October 27, 1943. She arrived at La Junta, Colorado on November 1, 1943 where she was used as a trainer until transferred to Kelly Field, San Antonio for overhaul prior to transfer to the R.C.A.F. By January 16, 1945 she was transferred as Mitchell II KL 161 to Vancouver, British Columbia. Her initial assignment was Abbotsford, British Columbia where she was used to train crews to fly the B-24 Liberators in Southeast Asia.
 
For the next 17 years, she would sever with several R.C.A.F. Bases.
In early 1962, she was removed from the inventory of the RCAF. On February 16, 1962 she was sold to Joe Goldring of Vancouver, British Columbia and issued a provisional Canadian registration of CF-0GQ for a ferry flight from Claresholm, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia. In March of 1966 she was sold to Sports Air, Inc. of Seattle, Washington and assigned the current registration of N88972. Sold in December of 1966 to North Star Aviation in Fairbanks, Alaska, a 1000 gallon fire retardant tank was installed in the bomb bay in August of 1967.
 
In April of 1969 she was sold to Colco Aviation from Fairbanks, Alaska. In May of 1980 she was bought by Merrill Wein from Anchorage, Alaska. He spent 7 years working on the aircraft until it was moved to Aero Trader in 1987 for restoration. The aircraft was sold in October of 1987 to Robert Pond of the Duxford Fighter Collection in Duxford, England. In 2008 “Grumpy” was acquired by the Historic Fight Foundation and ferried back to the United States.

North American B-25-J35 Mitchell 45-8811

B-25-J35 Mitchell 45-8811has been resident in Europe since May 1992, being based both in France and Switzerland during that time.

Another long-term European resident, B-25J-35 45-8811 has only recently been acquired by Société de Développement et de Promotion de |’Aviation (SDPA), based at La Ferté-Alais, from the Swiss organisation Jet Alpine Fighter. One of the very last Mitchells to be built for the USAAF, this aircraft was delivered straight to the Reclamation Finance Center at Altus AFB, Oklahoma, from North American Aviation’s Kansas City plant in late 1945. The war was over, and the need for new piston-engined medium bombers had effectively vanished overnight following VJ Day.

Stored until December 1946, the aircraft was one of 600+ surplus B-25Js stripped of their bombing equipment by Hayes of Birmingham, Alabama, and converted into TB-25J pilot trainers through the fitment of additional seats and instruments behind the pilot/co-pilot stations. The aircraft’s subsequent service with the USAF remains unclear, and it was removed from the inventory and placed in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, in 1957.

On 13 June 1958, 45-8811 was sold to Maricopa Dust & Spray for just $1802, and in September of the following year it was acquired by Texas-based Dallas Aero Service. Fitted with a scanner after having had its bomb-bay specially modified, the aircraft was used by Texas Instruments as a flying test platform until the end of 1960. Over the next two decades the bomber passed

45-8811 is put through its paces at La Ferté-Alais in June 2007 whilst still owned by Jet Alpine Fighter of Sion, Switzerland through the hands of a series of owners in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, before ending up with Harry Doan of Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1978.

Flown by Doan from St Croix, in the British Virgin Islands, to his helicopter operation in Daytona Beach in 1980, Doan spent the next two years rebuilding the B-25. He had the bomber resprayed in its present camouflage scheme, much to the delight of his wife!

A participant in numerous air shows across the USA throughout the 1980s, the B-25 was sold to World Jet of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1991 and then to Flying Eagles of Wilmington, Delaware, several months later. The bomber was acquired by Franklin Devaux in early 1992 and exported to Dijon/Longvic, France, in May of that year.

Operated by Lafayette Aviation for several years on the European air show circuit, 45-8811 was progressively restored during the 1990s, having its flight controls replaced and its wings removed and checked. The airframe was also thoroughly treated with anti-corrosion products. Temporarily grounded at the end of 2000, the aircraft was bought by Jet Alpine Fighter in 2004 and overhauled by Edwards Brothers Aviation prior to its delivery to Sion, in Switzerland, in January 2005.

In early 2009 the B-25 was acquired by the SDPA – the French ‘Mecca’ of the historical aviation, La Ferté-Alais.

May 31, 2011:

Crew was performing a local flight around Melun-Villaroche Airport. Few minutes after take off, it seems that right engine fired. Pilot tried to make an emergency landing but aircraft hit power cables and crashed in flames in an open field. Both occupants were uninjured while the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.

Probable cause: In flight fire on right engine.