B-25 Mitchell Bomber – Photos and Videos

 
 
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During the Second World War, the high adaptability of the B-25 Mitchell Bomber–named in honor of the pioneer of U.S. military aviation, Brigadier General William Lendrum Mitchell–paid off as it served extensively in missions including both high and low altitude bombing, tree-top level strafing, anti-shipping, supply, photo reconnaissance, and other support.

Production of this twin-engine medium bomber commenced in late 1939 by North American Aviation, following a requirement from the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) for a high-altitude medium bomber. By the end of the war, about 9,816 Mitchells were manufactured, with several variants.

North American B-25 Mitchell production in Kansas City in 1942

Generally, the Mitchell bomber weighed 19,850 pounds when empty, had a maximum take-off weight of 35,000 pounds, and was built to hold a crew of six comprising the pilot and co-pilot, a navigator who doubled as a bombardier, a turret gunner who also served as an engineer, and a radioman who performed duties as a waist and tail gunner.

It was powered by two Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 radial engines which dissipated about 3,400 hp, and performed with a top speed of 272 mph at 13,000 feet, although it was most effective at a speed of 230 mph.

North American Aviation factory workers mounting an engine on a B-25 bomber, Inglewood, California, United States, 1942.

Its performance range was 1,350 miles with a service ceiling of 24,200 feet.

Anywhere from 12-18 12.7mm machine guns, a T13E1 cannon, and 3,000 pounds of bombs comprised its armament. It had a 1,984-lb ventral shackle and racks, capable of holding a Mark 13 Torpedo and eight 127mm rockets for ground attacks, respectively.

B-25 Mitchell of the USAAF 12th Bombardment Group

The B-25 performed in all the theaters of the Second World War and was mainly used by the United States Army Air Force, Royal Air Force, Soviet Air Force, and the United States Marine Corps.

Mitchell bombers participated in campaigns in the Solomon Islands, Aleutian Islands, Papua New Guinea, and New Britain, among others. Owing to the tropical nature of the environment, mid-level bombing was less efficient, and thus the B-25s were adapted to serve as low-altitude attack bombers.

B-25 leaving installations aflame in the Wewak area, 13 August 1943.

During the Southwest Pacific campaigns, the B-25 enormously contributed to Allied victories as the 5th Air Force devastated the Japanese forces through skip-bombing attacks on ships and Japanese airfields.

In the China-Burma-India theater of the war, B-25s were widely used for interdiction, close air support, and battlefield isolation.

Crew member sweeping ashes off a B-25 of the 340th Bomb Group at Pompeii Field, Italy. Ash came from an eruption of Mt Vesuvius on 23 March 1944 that rained hot ash and brimstone on the area damaging several aircraft. Note the front wheel in the air.

B-25s also took part in campaigns in North Africa and Italy, providing air support for ground forces during the Second Battle of Alamein. They took part in Operation Husky, which was the invasion of Sicily, and accompanied the movement of Allied forces through Italy, where they were instrumental in ground attacks.

The B-25’s extraordinary capabilities as a bomber were first brought to the limelight following their performance in the Tokyo Raid of 18 April 1942, in which the hitherto impregnable home islands of Japan were attacked.

Doolittle Raid B-25Bs aboard USS Hornet

Their sturdiness and ease of maintenance under primitive environmental conditions were characteristics that aided the durability of the B-25s during the war. By the end of the war, they had completed more than 300 missions.

Several B-25s remained in service after World War II, including two that were used by the Biafran side in the Nigerian Civil War, before being retired in 1979.

More photos

North American Aviation plant, Inglewood, CA

 

From the radio operator’s position in a USMC PBJ Mitchell, Japanese POW 2Lt Minoru Wada looks for landmarks to find the Japanese 100th Infantry Division headquarters complex, 9 August 1945, Mindanao, Philippines.

 

B-25 Mitchell bombers of 321st Bomber Group, US 447th Bomber Squadron flying past Mount Vesuvius, Italy during its eruption of 18-23 March 1944.

 

B-25 Mitchell bomber of the 405th Bomb Squadron “Green Dragons” employing the skip-bombing technique against enemy shipping. Southwest Pacific, 1944-45.

 

Spectacular crash at Byoritsu oil refinery, Formosa, was photographed by a B-25 of the 5th Air Force’s 345th Bomb Group on 26 May 1945. Just as it released its string of parafrags B-25 NO. 192 was hit by flak from a camouflaged battery and trails smoke. A gaping hole is visible on the piolot’s side.

 

Aft flight deck of USS Hornet while en route to the launching point of the Doolittle Raid, April 1942. Note USS Gwin and USS Nashville nearby.

 

A U.S. Army Air Force North American B-25B Mitchell bomber taking off from the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) during the Doolittle Raid on 18 April 1942.

 

James Doolittle sitting by the wing of his wrecked B-25 Mitchell bomber, China, 18 April 1942.

 

B-25D ‘Red Wrath’ bombing anti-aircraft sites, Wewak & Boram, New Guinea, 16 October 1943.

 

Armorer cleaning the bore of a 75mm cannon mounted in a B-25G Mitchell bomber of the 820th Bomb Squadron, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands; March-April 1944.

 

PBJ-1 Mitchell bomber of Marine Squadron VMB-413 is hit in the port engine by anti-aircraft fire over Tobera, New Britain 5 May 1944. The aircraft crashed a short time later killing all 6 of the crew.

 

Five PBJ-1J Mitchells of Marine Squadron VMB-614 in a training flight over an undisclosed location in the US, 1944-1945. Note radomes on starboard wingtips.

 

US B-25J of 499th ‘Bats Outta Hell’ Bomb Squadron of 345th ‘Air Apaches’ Bomb Group attacking Japanese Type-C Escort Vessel No. 1, in Taiwan Strait south of Amoy (Xiamen), China, 6 April 1945.

Video

North American’s B-25G Mitchell from the AAF TAC Center, Orlando, Florida, April 17, 1944.

 

Armorers load four 1,000-lb MC bombs into the bomb-bay of a North American B-25 Mitchell, for an early morning sortie from B58/ Melsbroek, Belgium.

 

Loading bombs to B-25 Mitchell. Photo: FORTEPAN / National Archives

 

Abandoned B-25J bomber of 822nd Bomb Squadron of 38th Bomb Group of US 5th Air Force, 25 January 1949

Read another story from us: 40 Amazing Images of the Colorful “Assembly” Bombers

WAA Surplus with stored B-25’s, B-26’s and B-17’s etc. Photo: Bill Larkins / CC-BY-SA 2.0