Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mitchell III - The B-25J Bomber

Today's Tribute to the WWII Planes features the 1945 North American B-25J-30-NC also nick named "Mitchell III" which was the plane featured in Sarah Barton's Wings of Angels Photo shoot. This beauty can be found at the Yanks Air Museum in Chino, California.

The North American B-25 Mitchell, a twin-engine bomber that became standard equipment for the Allied Air Forces in World War II, was perhaps the most versatile aircraft of the war. It became the most heavily armed airplane in the world, was used for high- and low-level bombing, strafing, photoreconnaissance, submarine patrol and even as a fighter, and was distinguished as the aircraft that completed the historic raid over Tokyo in 1942.

It required 8,500 original drawings and 195,000 engineering man-hours to produce the first one, but nearly 10,000 were produced from late 1939, when the contract was awarded to North American Aviation, through 1945.
Basically, it was a twin-tail, mid-wing land monoplane powered by two 1,700-hp Wright Cyclone engines.Normal bomb capacity was 5,000 pounds. Some versions carried 75 mm cannon, machine guns and added firepower of 13 .50-caliber guns in the conventional bombardier's compartment. One version carried eight .50-caliber guns in the nose in an arrangement that provided 14 forward-firing guns.

During its long career, the B-25 experienced a number of modifications. The first major change occurred with the G model that included a 75mm cannon and two fixed .50-cal. guns in the nose. The H model was the first to add additional forward firing .50-cal. guns in cheek blisters. In the J version, the most numerous variant, the aircraft returned to its initial arrangement as a level bomber, reverting to a transparent nose that included one flexible and two fixed .50-cal. guns.

Driven by requirements in the Pacific, however, field-modified Js and finally production versions once again featured a solid nose that housed eight fixed .50-cal. guns for low-level attack. In this configuration, the J model could devastate vehicles and shipping with up to 14 forward firing heavy machine guns. 

The B-25 would go on to gain national fame in the United States as the aircraft used by the famous "Doolittle Raiders", the end result having shown the American ability to bomb the heart of Tokyo from the USN carrier stationed in the Pacific (USS Hornet).

The B-25 was initially designed as a three-crew high-mounted wing bomber utilizing twin Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S6C-3 radial engines.By the end of its production run, the system would be overhauled to include 5 to 6 crew members in various gun positions, a shoulder mounted wing assembly, and twin Wright GR-2600-A71 radial engines. After over 9800 were produced, the Mitchell had evolved into a host of variants that included trainers, dedicated ground strike, reconnaissance and torpedo carriers.

The more identifiable B-25s were a twin-engine design with radials mounted underneath either wing element. The forward fuselage was a green-house type of design affording the forward-locating gunners and bombardiers a good field of vision. The pilot and co-pilot sat in a raised location just behind the nose assembly and had good vision forward, above and to the sides. A top dorsal turret was included and was mounted with twin .50 caliber machine guns. Waist gunner positions were added with single .50 caliber guns, as was a twin .50 caliber gun position in the tail. The b-25 made use of a powered-tricycle landing gear system and a decent internal bomb bay. Twin rudder assemblies differentiated the system from other similar looking twin-engine medium bombers of American design. 

Photo Credits; Michael Malak, Malak Photography.com, Yanks Air Museum.


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