North American B-25 Mitchell

The North American B-25, first flown August 19, 1940, was a successful medium bomber of World War II that enjoyed a long period of service as a bomber, trainer and high-speed transport after the war.  Total production amounted to 9,984 aircraft.  Of these, 6,608 were built at a plant in Kansas City, Missouri, and the rest at North American’s main plant in Inglewood, California.  In U.S. Navy service it was designated the PBJ and the Army reconnaissance variant was known as the F-10.

The B-25 was named after General William Mitchell (1879-1936), who commanded U.S. air forces in Europe during the First World War and advocated strongly for the role of air power, especially bombers, in the 1920s.

The B-25 was a simple, rugged aircraft whose chief advantage over its competitors was that from the outset it had ample engine power, allowing it to cope with the unforeseen extra armament, ordnance and equipment that was piled on it throughout the war while still maintaining good performance.

The B-25 served all of the Allied powers in every war theater during World War II.  However, in the public mind it is remembered almost exclusively for one propaganda raid, led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle, which struck targets in Japan from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet on April 18, 1942.  The strategic consequences of this raid are uncertain and probably often overstated, but it was a significant morale builder (at least for two months, until the U.S. won the much more important Battle of Midway) and the technical and piloting achievement of flying these large, heavy bombers from the one of the small carrier decks of the time was impressive.

Late in World War II, the B-25 was monitored into an attack gunship with several configurations of heavy gun armament installed in the nose in place of a bombardier’s station.  The concentrated firepower of several B-25s equipped with such armament was very effective against ground targets and light shipping.

The B-25 is also known for being the aircraft that crashed into the north face of the Empire State Building in New York in foggy conditions on July 28, 1945.  The accident killed 11 people in the building in addition to the 3-man crew of the bomber.

After the war, the B-25 served as a trainer in the U.S. Air Force and was widely distributed to other air forces around the world.  Brazil, Canada and Taiwan were among the most significant of several postwar users.  In civil use, it became a high-speed executive transport, sprayer, and firefighting tanker.  Thanks to its longevity in both civil and military service, many survived to become the property of private owners.

A key event in the preservation history of the B-25 was the production of the 1970 film Catch-22, based on Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel.  Heller had been a B-25 bombardier in Italy during World War II and this experience provided the setting for the novel.  Filming the movie required assembling 17 airworthy B-25s and a large stockpile of spare parts in Mexico, and upon their return to the United States, these formed the beginning of an airworthy B-25 population that presently numbers approximately 50 aircraft.  It is not unusual to see three or four B-25s together at World War II themed airshows.  Several B-25s also fly in Europe.  Static examples are preserved in museums around the world, including the national or military collections of the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Switzerland.

B-25 40-2168 “Proud Mary” / “Miss Hap / Avirex Express”

The oldest surviving B-25 is one of a handful of early production examples which, when originally built, looked different from all subsequent B-25s, having straight wings with constant dihedral all the way to the wing tips, rather than the distinctive gull-like cranked wing found on later B-25s.  During World War II, however, the machine was rebuilt to later B-25 configuring.  It was used during the war as a staff transport for General Henry “Hap” Arnold, commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces.  He later co-founded the Rand Corporation and Pan American airlines.  After the war, the aircraft served as an executive transport for various companies until restored in the 1970s, still in transport configuration.  Current owner the American Airpower Museum has gradually converted it back into a bomber, adding the glass nose and armament seen on it today.  It wears the names “Miss Hap” (referring to its past as Arnold’s transport) and “Avirex Express” (Avirex being the clothing company whose profits enabled AAM founder Jeff Clyman to start collecting warbirds).  The black engine nacelles with yellow cowlings are markings applied to most USAF B-25s still in service in the late 1940s.

B-25D 41-29784 “Fertile Myrtle”

The D model B-25 was the first to see widespread operational service.  This one was extensively modified after World War II into an executive transport and used as such by several companies into the 1970s.  Given a military paint scheme, it now hangs over the cafe seating area aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, a floating museum in Charleston, South Carolina.  The expression “Fertile Myrtle” is traditional American idiom for a woman who has had many babies, and the name was bestowed on several aircraft (mainly bombers and transports) in different operational theatres during World War II and into the 1950s.

B-25D 43-3308

Built for the RAF as a Mitchell Mk. II and seconded to the Royal Canadian Aircraft during the war as KL156, this B-25 served as a transport in Panama and Bolivia until its return to the U.S. in the 1980s.  It was displayed for some years at the U.S. Marine Corps. museum at Quantico, Virginia, as seen here, and has since been loaned to the B-25 Preservation Group in Texas.  It has worn the registrations N8011, HP-428 and CP-915.

B-25D 43-3318 “Grumpy”

Built as a Mitchell Mk. II, this plane was supplied to the Royal Canadian Air Force as KL161 during the war, and served as a transport in that service until 1961.  Its next career was as a firefighting aircraft in Alaska.  In the 1980s, it was restored as a warbird and was a popular airshow attraction in England for some years, eventually returning to Washington state where it is now operated by the Historic Flight Foundation.  Registered N88972, It wears Royal Air Force camouflage and the markings of 98 Squadron (codes “VO”), one of the few RAF units to fly B-25s operationally. In fact, despite the U.S. Army’s extensive use of B-25s in other war theaters, only the British flew B-25s on operational bombing missions from the United Kingdom into occupied Europe.

B-25D 43-3634 “Gallant Warrior” / “Yankee Warrior”

The Yankee Air Museum‘s B-25 was also built as a Mitchell Mk. II and assigned the RAF serial KL148, but was diverted to the U.S. Army Air Forces who sent it to the Mediterranean, where it flew operational missions in 1944 and 1945.  After the war it finally was turned over to the Canadians who operated it as a transport in the RCAF until 1962.  In the late 1960s it was acquired by Glenn Lamont of Detroit, who maintained it until he donated it to the newly formed Yankee Air Force (now the YAM) at Willow Run, Michigan.  This gallery of N3774 spans a few decades, with the earliest photos from the 1970s showing it basically still in RCAF transport configuration, with solid transport nose, no armament, and the white upper fuselage that formed part of the RCAF paint scheme.  The YAM has progressively converted it back to a bomber, as shown in the later photos, with a clear bomber nose and gun turrets.  The markings are generally representative of operation B-25Ds but are not authentic to this airframe’s combat history.  

B-25H 43-4106 “Barbie III”

The B-25 saw extensive use as a gunship for attacking ground targets with a variety of heavy armament concentrated in the nose.  Some of these attack variants were modified by enterprising crews in the field, but eventually factory versions were produced.  Most potent was the B-25H model, which carried a 75 mm cannon and eight .50 calibre machine guns pointing forward.  The one authentic B-25H flying today with this armament is maintained by an organization called History Flight, which exhibits it at airshows around the eastern United States from its bases in Florida and Vermont (click here for their web site).  N5548N’s past service includes a stint with the Dominican air force.   

B-25H 43-4432 “City of Burlington”

B-25H’s that survived the war were, of course, stripped of their nose armament and mostly converted into transport aircraft of various kinds.  Such was the case with the Experimental Aircraft Association’s N10V, which received extensive executive transport modifications until converted back to bomber appearance for the filming of Catch-22 in 1968.  The first photo below shows the aircraft in 1969 after the filming, wearing the name “Berlin Express.”  A few years later it was acquired by EAA which restored it to B-25J bomber configuration, named it “City of Burlington” (after a town in EAA’s home state of Wisconsin) and flew it for some years.  I do not believe it has flown recently.

B-25H 43-4643

Photgraphed some time in the 1960s, this B-25 was owned by movie stunt pilot and cinematographer Paul Mantz and was used to film a number of movies, including Catch-22.  After disposal by Mantz to other owners, it is said to have been used for drug running and was wrecked in a crash in Colombia in the late 1970s.

B-25H 43-4999 “Dog Daize”

Nicely restored to static display condition at the New England Air Museum is B-25H N3970C, which has been with the museum since 1970.  Besides “Barbie III” above, this is the only other B-25H still displayed with its unique cannon armament.  

B-25J 43-27712 “Spirit of Al Penn”

After hanging around the Pima Air Museum on outdoor display for a few decades, B-25J 43-27712 was brought indoors and fully restored.  The paint scheme seems to be that of a wartime training aircraft.  I dont’ know who Al Penn was. 

B-25J 43-27868 “Yellow Rose”

The Commemorative Air Force maintains this B-25J, N25YR, at its base in San Marcos, Texas.  It was rescued from agricultural spraying work by noted warbird collector and CAF benefactor John Stokes in the 1970s.  The name derives from the popular folk song “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” which has caused yellow roses to be associated with that state, although the official state flower is the bluebonnet.  The paint scheme that appears on this B-25 is typical of field-applied USAAF camouflage in desert areas of the mediterranean, where tan paint was sometimes added in an irregular pattern over the factory standard solid olive drab to camouflage the aircraft better against sandy terrain.  The British-style “fin flashes” on the tail were also a typical marking of this theater.

B-25J 43-28059 “Apache Princess”

After serving as a firefighting tanker for some years after the war, B-25 N1943J was acquired by Kermit Weeks and restored meticulously in California over a long period of time.  Today it is displayed at Weeks’s Fantasy of Flight collection and is one of the finer restored B-25s.  An Apache Princess was the title of a 1903 novel by Charles King, an Army general and writer of adventure stories.  This aircraft’s paint scheme is generally accurate, the original “Apache Princess” having been 43-28152 of the 501st Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force, in the Phillippines in 1945.  This unit was named the “Air Apaches” and wore an American Indian head emblem on its tail fins. 

B-25J 43-28204 “Pacific Princess”

The house B-25 of Aero Trader, a company in Chino, California that is the top restorer of B-25s, is a former fire tanker and star of Catch-22 registered N9856C.  This B-25 was also launched from the modern aircraft carrier USS Constellation for the making of the Doolittle raid scene in the 2000 film Pearl Harbor.  It appears at west coast airshows and is often on view outside the Aero Trader shop at Chino airport.

B-25J 43-35972 “Maid in the Shade”

The Commemorative Air Force operates former agricultural sprayer N125AZ in the original markings in which it flew 15 combat missions from Serraggia, Corsica, with the 437th Bomb Squadron of the 319th Bomb Group, except that the nose art and name “Maid in the Shade” are not authentic.  The aircraft is entrusted to the CAF’s Arizona Wing, based in Mesa, near Phoenix; their web site is here.  

B-25J 44-28738

The fuselage of this partial B-25, formerly an insect sprayer registered N3441G, is a static exhibit at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Nebraska.

B-25J 44-28925 “How Boot That”

B-25 N7687C is a combat veteran Mitchell that was used for research purposes in the 1960s, appeared in the Catch-22 film, and then was installed as a memorial in a cemetery in Pennsylvania.  In the 1990s it was restored for the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in its original military colors.  The paintwork on the nose was applied by the same artist who painted the original artwork during the war, and although the aircraft is airworthy, the museum keeps it grounded solely to preserve the paint. 

B-25J 44-28932 “Tondelayo”

The Collings Foundation’s touring group of impeccably restored bombers includes the B-25 N3476G, a former fire tanker painted to represent B-25D 41-30669 “Tondelayo” of the 500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group based in Nadzab, New Guinea, in 1943.  The original “Tondelayo” differed from the restoration both in being a different B-25 variant and in having its nose glazing painted out and additional guns installed to make a field-modified gunship.  “Tondelayo” was a character played by Hollywood siren Hedy Lamarr in the 1942 film “White Cargo,” about an Arab native woman who attracts the romantic attention of two white colonizers in North Africa. 

B-25J 44-28938 “Old Glory”

After serving through the 1960s as a fire tanker, B-25 N7946C became a warbird in the early 1980s.  This is how it looked in the 1990s, painted in generic USAAF markings with the inauthentic nose art “Old Glory.”  (Sentimental-patriotic names and nose art such as this are usually an affectation of latter-day restorers; such themes were rare in wartime nose art.)  The machine is currently registered to a California owner. 

B-25J 44-29123

Dick Kamm photographed TB-25N trainer #302 at Keesler Field during his Air Force training in 1947.  This aircraft survived to be registered N9869C and sold to the Bank of Mexico in 1958, but its ultimate fate is unknown.

B-25J 44-29199 “In the Mood”

“In the Mood” is a former sprayer registered N9117Z that has gone through many owners.  Photographed in the 1980s when it was resident at Chino, California, it has since moved to Colorado as part of the National Museum of World War Two Aviation.  Marked generically with “Air Apaches” tail insignia, this B-25’s nose art does not represent any specific wartime B-25.  “In the Mood” was the title of a very popular swing song recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1939 and performed countless times as the band’s signature song.  One of America’s most famous recordings, it is sure to be heard at any event where 1940s music is played.  Numerous bombers during World War II were named after the song.

B-25J 44-29465 “Guardian of Freedom”

This B-25 was owned in the 1970s by Glenn Lamont along with B-25D 43-3634 (see above).  N25GL is now with the Lyons Air Museum in Santa Ana, California. 

B-25J 44-29507

After a cargo-hauling career in the 1960s registered N3698G, this B-25 went to Isaac Burchinal, in whose care it was photographed in the 1970s.

After spending time with a few American owners it found its way to the Netherlands, where it is registered PH-XXV and operated by the Duke of Brabant Air Force to commemorate Dutch crews who flew the B-25 in the Netherlands East Indies possessions in the Pacific during World War II. 

B-25J 44-29812

This B-25 was surplused in 1958 and spent 42 years displayed in Paul Bunyan Land, a tourist attraction in Brainerd, Minnesota.  It was restored and placed on display at the National World War II Museum in 2010.  The plane is painted to represent a gunship b-25 of the 490th Bomb Squadron operating in Burma.

B-25J 44-29835 “Rowdy’s Raider”

N3676G served as a fire tanker before being acquired by the Confederate Air Force in the 1960s.  It is shown here at the CAF’s then-base in Harlingen, Texas.  Later, it was acquired by the USAF and today is installed as a static display at the Airman Heritage Museum in Lackland, Texas.

B-25J 44-29838

TB-25N 44-29838 is shown at Keesler Field, Louisiana, in 1947 while being used for training duties.  This aircraft was not preserved.  Standard USAF markings of the day include the large “buzz numbers” BD-838 on the nose to aid in identifying the plane from a distance.

B-25J 44-29861

Also at Keesler Field, configured similarly to 44-29838 above, is 44-29861 which also was not preserved.

B-25J 44-29869 “Miss Mitchell”

The Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force operates N27493 “Miss Mitchell” in markings generally representative of late-war Mediterranean service.

B-25J 44-29939 “Briefing Time”

One of the finest B-25s flying when it emerged in the 1970s was Gene Fisher’s beautiful “Briefing Time.”  Shown in the first photo in the 1960s in California when with Tallmantz aviation, N9456Z starred in Catch-22 and when restored by Fisher, was one of the first B-25s to feature accurate interior, full armament, and a meticulously detailed paint scheme (although the gray undersides should be natural metal).  The original “Briefing Time” served in Italy with the 489th Bomb Squadron, 57th Bomb Wing, 340th Bomb Group of the 12th Air Force.  The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, which now owns this B-25, claims that with all of its original military equipment, including a full load of real bombs, it is the heaviest B-25 flying today. 

B-25J 44-30129 “Wild Cargo”

B-25 N7947C acquired the name “Wild Cargo” during the 1960s, when it was used by an Ohio company to transport alligators and snakes for a wild animal farm.  The name stuck, and was applied to the aircraft when restored by the Military Aviation Museum which currently owns it.  

B-25J 44-30210 “Big Bad Bonnie”

Former tanker N9455Z picked up its name “Big Bad Bonnie” during filming for the movie Hanover Street in England.  After the shoot, this B-25 remained on the European warbird circuit for some years.  Returning to the United States, it was loaned for a time to the March Field Museum in California for static display, as shown here during the late 1980s.  Later it was returned to Chino airport, where it was repainted to imitate Doolittle’s 40-2344 as shown in the final photo below. 

B-25J 44-30243

B-25 N17666 is shown at the now defunct Victory Air Museum in Illinois.  It has since become the property of the U.S. Marine Corps where it has been displayed at various locations, most recently on loan to the Pendleton Air Museum in Oregon.

B-25J 44-30254

This B-25 had a postwar life with the RCAF (serial 5211), as a fuel tanker and then as a firefighter.  These photos show it at the tail end of that service in the 1990s.  It was acquired by the Flying Heritage Collection which commissioned its usual spectacular restoration, and the plane, now registered N41123, flies from FHC’s Washington state base.

B-25J 44-30324 “I See No Problem”

This B-25, registered N3161G, appeared at many airshows while based in Minnesota during the 1970s.  It has been under restoration in California since 2008.

B-25J 44-30363 “Desert Doom”

This B-25, shown in a couple of different guises, has been a static display for many years at the Strategic Air and Space Museum and its predecessor, the Strategic Air Command Museum.

B-25J 44-30423 “Photo Fanny”

Planes of Fame‘s B-25 N3675G has been one of the hardest working B-25 warbirds.  It has flown in films and TV productions including Forever Young and Pearl Harbor and is an active aerial camera ship for Hollywood and to photograph the rest of POF’s planes in the air; thus the source of its current nickname.  For our international readers, “Fanny” in American idiom is both an occasional women’s name and a term for one’s rear end; it does not connote the distinctly more private part of the anatomy as it would in the UK. 

B-25J 44-30456 “Silver Lady” / “Russian to Get Ya”

Here are three very different incarnations from the long career of B-25 N747AF (previously N3512G, C-GTTS, N43BA, N125PF).  This Mitchell was used for executive cargo hauling through the 1960s, when the first photo below was taken in California.  It then went to Alberta where it was owned by maverick Canadian restore Robert Diemert.  In the 1980s, a Texas restorer turned it into “Silver Lady,” as shown in the middle photos.  Finally, in the late 2000s, it was completely restored for Lewis Air Legends and painted in accurate Soviet Air Force markings (except for some ridiculous nose art on the port side and the name “Russian to Get Ya,” which I avoided photographing) where it currently flies out of their Texas base. 

B-25J 44-30606 “Tootsie”

Here are three different looks at B-25 N201L over the years.  The first photo, from the 1960s, shows the plane as an executive transport, with curtains visible inside the fuselage gunners’ positions and other windows.  In the 1980s this machine was restored at Chino with a gunship nose and the distinctive “bat face” marking used by the 499th Bomb Squadron of the 345th Bomb Group in the Pacific. Later, N201L was modified with a bomber nose and an inaccurate Navy PBJ paint scheme and renamed “Tootsie.”  The plane is now registered to a Nevada owner, still marked as “Tootsie” as far as I know.

B-25J 44-30635

Several preserved B-25s are painted as B-25B 40-2344, Doolittle’s lead aircraft in the April 1942 Tokyo raid.  One is this B-25J, on show at Chanute Air Museum

B-25J 44-30734 “Panchito”

One of the most widely flown and popular airworthy B-25s is N9079Z, the beautifully restored Panchito, a former tanker/sprayer based in Delaware with an organziation called the Disabled American Veterans. The paint scheme is authentic, and the original World War II “Panchito” was named after the 1943-45 Disney cartoon character Panchito Pistoles, who appeared in Disney short films with the likes of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse.  The original “Panchito” was serial 43-28147 and flew with the 41st Bomb Group in the Pacific. 

e3B-25J 44-30742 or 44-86742

The two serials above are the most likely for TB-25N “742” photographed by Dick Kamm at Keesler Field in 1947.  Whichever aircraft it was, it was not preserved. 

B-25J 44-30748 “Heavenly Body”

This former spraying aircraft, N8195H, has been hanging around southern California ever since it completed the filming for Catch-22 in 1969.  It was a common sight at Van Nuys airport in the San Fernando Valley for many years, then was loaned to the March AFB Museum for display.  Today, the aircraft is still listed to a Van Nuys owner and sometimes startles travelers at Los Angeles International Airport by appearing in the pattern among the modern jetliners. The original “Heavenly Body” served with the 390th Squadron, 42nd Bomb Group “Crusaders”, 13th Air Force in the Pacific. 

B-25J 44-30761

Although it looked quote complete and intact when photographed in 1969 in the yard of the Air Museum, predecessor of today’s Planes of Fame, this B-25, N3398G, somehow deteriorated to incomplete and very rough condition.  It is now under restoration by a museum in California.

B-25J 44-30801 “Executive Sweet”

One of the Catch-22 movie B-25s, N30801 (formerly N3699G) was acquired shortly after the filming by the publisher of Challenge Publications, a stable of military and aviation-oriented publications that included Air Challenge and Air Progress.  Challenge restored the B-25 into one of the most accurate Mitchells then flying, and used it both as a photography platform and credibility builder within the warbird community that its magazines covered.  In the 1980s the aircraft was acquired by the American Aeronautical Foundation, which continues to operate it out of Camarillo, California; click here to visit its web site.  These photos show the aircraft in the silver paint scheme in which Challenge restored it; more recently, it has been repainted in the olive drab colors of the Air Commandos operating in the China-Burma-India theater.   

B-25J 44-30823 “Pacific Prowler”

This is a 1960s vintage photo of N1042B, a B-25 now flying in the Dallas, Texas area as “Pacific Prowler” (see the plane’s web site here).  When photographed, it was being used as an aerial camera ship for Tallmantz Aviation.  It filmed aerial scenes for Catch-22 and other products in the U.S. and Europe. 

B-25J 44-30832 “Bronco Bustin Bomber” / “Buck” / “Take Off Time”

Mitchell N3155G performed aerial survey work to earn its keep after World War II, and was resurrected as a warbird in the 1970s.  It is shown here in various guises it has worn since then.  In the 1980s and 1990s it wore odd green-over-tan camouflage with nose art depicting a woman riding a bucking horse and the name “Buck.”  By 2005, owned by the publisher of a short-lived warbird magazine, it acquired a green dragon painted on the nose, reminiscent of artwork on some wartime B-25 gunships.  Soon afterwards, it was acquired by collector Tom Duffy of New Jersey, who restored the plane and chose a generic silver paint scheme with the inauthentic, but plausible, nose art and name “Take Off Time.”  Duffy’s B-25 now appears at airshows on the U.S. east coast. 

B-25J 44-30979

In the yard of the Air Museum in Orange County, California, Dick photographed some B-25s stored there.  One was “Home Run”, which appeared in this paint for the made-for-TV film Sole Survivor.  This aircraft was later scrapped. 

B-25J 44-30988

After serving through the 1960s as an executive transport and then a radar test aircraft for Texas Instruments, N5865V was acquired by the predecessor of the Commemorative Air Force, which has owned it since the 1980s.  After some years of airshow flying, it was grounded for restoration and is currently being returned to its Navy PBJ configuration, where it was serial 35857.  In a few years it will be the only flying genuine PBJ, although there are other B-25s marked as such. 

B-25J 44-31004

After a fairly brief career as a sprayer registered N9463Z, this B-25 went to the Alabama Battleship Memorial, where it has been displayed since the 1960s as part of a collection of aircraft along side the battleship USS Alabama.  These are two of the paint schemes it has worn over the years.  The first is a generic 1942-era scheme, probably meant to represent one of the Doolittle raiders.  The second, worn today, features the “falcon head” insignia worn by the 498th “Falcon” Bomb Squadron, part of the 345th Bomb Group (the “Air Apaches”, hence the Indian-head tail marking). 

B-25J 44-31032 “Problem Child”

The USAF owns this B-25, previously on the civil register as N3174G and another Mitchell that participated in the Catch-22 filming, and displays it at the March Field Museum.  It is painted as “Problem Child” of the 42nd Bomb Group, 13th Air Force.

B-25J 44-31171

After being used for research and film work until the 1970s, B-25 N7614C was confiscated in Ireland and ended up in Britain’s Imperial War Museum, where it is displayed with other American types, restored to represent a PBJ, at the IWM’s Duxford facility.

B-25J 44-31385 “Show Me”

Former corporate transport N345TH is with the Commemorative Air Force and is operated by the organization’s Missouri Wing; hence the moniker “Show Me,” which is Missouri’s state slogan.  Restored in 345th Bomb Group “Air Apaches” markings, this aircraft, photographed here in the 1980s, flew again in 2009 after an extensive restoration, in a freshened-up version of this same paint scheme. 

B-25J 44-31508 “Chapter XI”

B-25 N6578D has had ups and downs over the years.  In the 1960s it was modified into an aerial camera ship and used to shoot the epic film Battle of Britain in England and Spain.  It then sat on the ground and became derelict for a while.  In the late 1970s it was restored and appeared on the airshow circuit as the beautiful “Chapter XI” (a reference to the U.S. bankruptcy law) with a Florida owner.  For the last several years,  however, it has languished outdoors in Franklin, Virginia, visibly deteriorating. 

B-25J 44-86698 “Ruptured Duck” / “Sunday Punch” / “Paper Doll”

Former Royal Canadian Air Force serial 5248, B-25 N543VT (now N325N) is shown in the 1970s at the Texas airfield of Isaac Burchinal.  Following some years there, it returned to tanker duty as a working airplane, then was restored to gun-nose configuration in Califorina and named “Sunday Punch.”  The plane finished another rebuild in 2014 for Fagen Fighters, now to bomber nose configuration and with the new name “Paper Doll.”  

B-25J 44-86699

The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum preserves this B-25, former RCAF 5244, in Royal Air Force 98th Squadron markings.  It went directly from Canadian military service to the museum in 1964.

B-25J 44-86725 “Super Rabbit”

Assigned serial 5243 with Canada’s air force, this B-25 then served the air forces of Venezuela (serial 5880) and Bolivia (541) before being returned to the U.S. in the 1980s.  By the 1990s it was restored and flying as N25NA “Super Rabbit” and went through several owners.  It is seen here when on display in the mid-2000s at the Evergreen Air Museum in Oregon.  Currently it is with an Oklahoma owner.

B-25J 44-86727

Serving through the war in Canada as Mitchel Mk. III 5230 of the RCAF, this B-25 did odd jobs through the 1960s and eventually was acquired by the U.S. Marine Corps, which painted it as a PBJ and put it on display at its base museum at El Toro Naval Air Station in southern California, where these photos were taken.  With the closure of that base and museum, this plane has moved to the Flying Leatherneck museum at Mirimar, near San Diego.

B-25J 44-86747 “Mitch the Witch”

B-25 N8163H was a fire tanker until the 1970s, when acquired by collector Robert Pond of Minnesota.  He restored the aircraft as “Mitch the Witch” and it flew with his collection for some years before being transferred and retired with the rest of the collection to the Palm Springs Air Museum, where it rests today.  “Mitch the Witch’s” paint scheme represents that of B-25D 42-87293, which flew in the south Pacific with the 38th Bomb Group and then the 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 71st Recon Group, in 1944.  In more recent years the aircraft, like several of the Palm Springs collection, has received inaccurate, garish nose art to replace the accurate artwork that it had in these photos. 

B-25J 44-86758 “Devil Dog”

B-25 N9643C is maintained by the Commemorative Air Force in U.S. Marines colors, posing as a PBJ.  In keeping with its Marines tribute, it has been named “Devil Dog” after an expression that American reporters attributed (probably wrongly) to German soldiers who fought against Marines during the First World War, and that has since become a proud Marine nickname. 

B-25J 44-86777 “The Devil Made Me Do It” / “Martha Jean” / “Georgie’s Gal”

This B-25 N9167Z first appeared on the warbird scene in the late 1970s essentially as a stock postwar TB-25N, with its USAF paint and added shark teeth.  After some years it was restored to wartime bomber configuration and named “Martha Jean.”  In the early 2010s it was overhauled by its now-owner, the Liberty Aviation Museum of Ohio, with a new identity as “Georgie’s Gal.”  This spiffy B-25 can now be seen at airshows around the central and eastern United States, now registered N345BG.   

B-25J 44-86785 “Georgia Mae”

Trucking line magnate Wiley Sanders restored B-25 N5262V in the early 1980s, naming it “Georgia Mae.”  Though still apparently airworthy, it has not been seen as much in recent years.

B-25J 44-86791

This B-25 went to Australia after tanking service in the 1980s and was flown there, registered VH-XXV, by the Australian War Memorial for some years as a tribute to No. 2 Squadron of the RAAF, the only  Australian unit that flew the Mitchell.  In 1999 it returned to the U.S., registered N6116X, but has not flown in this country, being displayed at the Yanks Air Museum.  Its Australian markings have been replaced with U.S. insignia, but otherwise it retains the paint scheme and tiger nose motif that it had in Australia.   

B-25J 44-86797 “Old Gray Mare”

B-25 N3438G bounced around among several owners until acquired by Wiley Sanders (thus the initials on the tail) and restored in postwar Navy markings as “Old’ Gray Mare” in the 1980s.  It is now with an Arizona owner. 

B-25J 44-86843 “Passionate Paulette”

This is how many B-25s looked when serving as fire tankers in the 1960s, with extended water or fire retardant tanks built into their bomb bays.  N35067G was converted back to  bomber configuration to appear in Catch-22 and then ended up back under USAF ownership.  It has been a static display at the Grissom Air Museum since the 1970s. 

B-25J 44-86891

Looking a bit bedraggled on display at Castle Air Museum during the 1980s, ex-tanker N3337G wore Doolittle raider markings.  It has since been refurbished and repainted as a 345th Bomb Group aircraft with the new name “Lazy Daisy Mae” with nose art of the Li’l Abner comic strip character.   

B-25J 44-86893 “Fairfax Ghost”

B-25 was an ex-tanker registered N6123C and restored during the 1970s into the beautiful “Fairfax Ghost” with a Kansas City owner.  In the 2000s, it was sold to Austria and has become part of the stable of warbirds maintained by the Red Bull energy drink company in Salzburg.

B-25J 45-8835 “Betty’s Dream”

After a postwar career in avionics testing, B-25 N69345 became tanker 336, C-FDKU, in Canada.  The aircraft is pictured here immediately before and shortly after her transformation into “Betty’s Dream,” one of the better B-25s currently flying, with the bat head insignia of the 345th Bomb Group’s 499th Bomb Squadron.  Now registered N5672V, its current owner is the Texas Flying Legends collection. 

B-25J 45-8883

After an executive transport career that stretched into the early 1970s, B-25 N75755 was acquired by the young Canadian Warplane Heritage and registered C-GCWM, painted as No. 98 Squadron Mitchell HD372 VO-D.  Actively flown by the CWH ever since, the aircraft has progressively had more military equipment added.  In recent years the plane has acquired inauthentic nose art and had its codes changed to VO-F.

B-25J 45-8884 “City of Edmonton”

Restored in the late 1970s by Jerry Janes of British Columbia for a west coast branch of Canadian Warplane Heritage that never quite took off, B-25 C-GCWJ graced the skies for a few years in the attractive postwar colors of the Royal Canadian Air Force.  It is now in Minnesota wearing American markings and registered N5833B 

B-25J 45-8898 “Axis Nightmare”

This B-25 sat in outdoor storage for more than 20 years after it was surplused by the USAF, then restored in Florida during the 1980s.  Currently with the Tri-State Warbird Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio, it flies in a hodgepodge of British and American markings under the name “Axis Nightmare.”

Unidentified B-25 “177”

These photos show a young Dick Kamm posing with a TB-25N trainer identifiable only as “177” at Keesler Field in 1947.  Behind it, aircraft 170 as a serial that must end in 035, but its full identity cannot be detemined either. 


Back to North American