B-25H Mitchell
43-4106/N5548N
"Barbie III"



Home based at Falcon Field, Mesa (Phoenix) is meticulously restored B-25H Mitchell 43-4106/N5548N. Operated by the Warbirds Unlimited Foundation in her 1943 WWII combat configuration, Barbie III can be seen flying on a regular basis, honouring the memory of WWII veterans and performing 30 minute flight experiences.   

The B-25 Mitchell is probably one of the most recognizable and famous twin-engined bombers from WWII, immortalised on 18th April 1942 when 16 B-25Bs, led by Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, launched off the carrier USS Hornet to carry out a symbolic attack against mainland Japan, bombing Tokyo and four other cities without loss; however, 15 of the aircraft subsequently crashed in China, whilst en route to their recovery airfields. Fortunately, 71 of 80 aircrew survived their historic mission and eventually made it back to American lines.

First flown in 1939 as the North American NA-40, and later in its production form in August 1940 as the NA-62, the B-25 served in every theatre of war during WWII and post war with numerous Airforces, eventually recording some 40 years of service. The B-25 is the only American military aircraft to have been named after a specific person and at the close of its production, nearly 10,000 B-25s in numerous models had been built. A number of B-25s also served as executive transports, test platforms and as camera ships for the movie industry. In the present day, the B-25 can claim to be one of the most popular and numerous twin engined warbirds.


B-25H - Mitchell with a Punch


Although the B-25 was originally designed to bomb from medium altitudes in level flight, increasing use in the Pacific theatre on low level straffing and bombing missions against Japanese airfields and shipping resulted in the the heavily armed B-25H, used to devestating effect from 1943-1945.

The fixed nose armament was increased to four nose-mounted .50-cal. machine guns and four more .50-cal. machine guns in fuselage mounted pods. The 75mm cannon was changed from the G model's M4 to the lighter T13E1 75mm cannon – this was designed specifically for the aircraft and fired with a muzzle velocity of 2,362 feet per second. 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 75mm gun was sometimes removed from both G and H models and replaced with two additional .50-caliber machine guns as a field modification.

The first of 1,000 production B-25Hs flew on 31st July 1943. In operational service, the five-man crew consisted of the pilot, navigator/gunner/radioman, flight engineer/top turret gunner, waist gunner/camera operator and tail gunner. Three of five crew members had multiple jobs; there was no co-pilot or bombardier and only one waist gunner. The last H model built was covered with the signatures of the North American Aviation factory workers and nicknamed 'Bones'. The aircraft remained this way throughout its combat life while assigned to the 12th Bomb Group in the Pacific.



 


 

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© On Target Aviation 2008