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A Brief History of the B-25 Bomber

The B-25 Mitchell was a twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. Used by numerous Allied air forces around the world, it flew in every theater of World War II, was used by several other air forces after the war ended, and remained in active service for forty years.

The B-25 was named after General Billy Mitchell, a U.S. military aviation pioneer. Nearly 10,000 B-25s in numerous models were built over the course of its production run.

The B-25 first gained notoriety as the bomber used in the Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942. In that operation, 16 B-25s commanded by Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle attacked mainland Japan, four months after the attack of Pearl Harbor. The mission was a vital morale-booster for America, and unnerved the Japanese, who had until then considered their home islands beyond the reach of enemy forces. Though the amount of actual damage inflicted by Doolittle was relatively minor, it forced the Japanese to divert troops for homeland defense for the rest of the war.

In addition to being a very safe airplane to fly, the B-25 was a stupendously sturdy aircraft able to withstand terrible enemy punishment. One particularly striking example of this was a B-25C of the 321st Bomb Group, which was nicknamed "Patches" because its crew chief painted all the aircraft's flak hole patches with high-visibility zinc chromate primer. By the end of the war, "Patches" had flown over 300 missions, was belly-landed six times, and had managed to collect over 400 patched holes.

By the time the US Air Force was established in 1947, most B-25s had been relegated to long-term storage. A select number remained in service through the late 1940s and 1950s however, in a variety of training, recon, and support roles.

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Specifications

Role

Medium bomber

Manufacturer

North American Aviation

Designer

North American Aviation

First flight

August 19, 1940

Propulsion

Twin-engine

Wright R-2600-92 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine
1,700 hp each

Performance

Max speed

272 mph at 13,000 ft

Max cruising speed

230 mph

Service ceiling

24,200 ft

Max range (external tanks)

1,350 miles

Weight (empty)

19,480 lbs

Max takeoff

35,000 lbs

Dimensions

Wing span

67 ft 7 in

Length

52 ft 11 in

Height

16 ft 4 in

Wing area

610 sq ft

Seating Capacity

6

Armament

Guns

12–18 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns

Hardpoints

2,000 lb (900 kg) ventral shackles to hold one
external Mark 13 torpedo

Rockets

Racks for eight 5 in (130 mm) high velocity
aircraft rockets (HVAR)

Bombs

3,000 lb (1,360 kg) bombs

See a real B-25 at Museums...

Tucson, Arizona

Atwater, California

Reading, PA

Sevierville, Tennessee

Galveston, Texas

Addison, Texas (near Dallas)

Chantilly, VA (near DC)

Fargo, North Dakota

Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota

Polk City, Florida

Charleston Harbor, South Carolina

Warner Robins, Georgia

Peru, Indiana

South St. Paul, MN

Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Ashland, Nebraska

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B-25 World War 2 bomber named after Billy Mitchell.
Used in the Doolittle Tokyo raid.

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The B-25 at Kalamazoo, Michigan (Thanks delano dodds.)

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B-25 Mitchell Bomber - USAF.com