North American B-25

Page 4

For these Marines, 25 B-25C-20 and 25 B-25C-25 bombers were redesignated PBJ-lC when delivered in February/April 1943, while 49 B-25D-20, 25 B-25D-25, and 78 B-25D-30s delivered from June 1943 to February 1944 became the PBJ-1D in the Marines. Instead of the belly turret, a retractable APS-3 radar scanner was added, although another modification mounted the radar in the nose. They were followed by one B-25G-5, 248 B-25Hs (which had the radar on the right wingtip), and 255 B-25Js with PBJ-1G,-1H, and -1J designations by June 1945. One PBJ-1H made experimental deck landings and takeoffs from the carrier, Shangri-La, on November 15, 1944.

NORTH AMERICAN PBJ-1J   (B-25J-25 for Marines)

The Mitchell in Allied Forces
The Mitchell was the only medium bomber supplied to the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease. Soviet fliers who came to the U.S. in September 1941 were given five B-25As to test, but considered them inadequate, and also found the B-26 unsuitable. Five B-25Bs were substituted in November, and shipped to North Russia by sea.

Beginning in March 1942, 128 B-25Cs started from Florida to be delivered by air through Africa and Iran. Four were lost on the way, but 103 arrived by the end of 1942, and Russian pilots flew 124 from Tehran in 1942- 43. They first served the 37th Bomber Air Regiment (BAP) in summer 1942, which, joined by the 16th and 125th BAP, became the 222nd DBAD (Long-range Bomber Division) on Sep­tem­ber 29, 1942. This division’s combat success with B-25Cs earned it the title of 4th Guards BAD-DD in March 1943. NORTH AMERICAN B-25J-25 for VVS

Another 733 Mitchells arrived in Russia via the Alaska-Siberia route, including B-25C-5/25, B-25D-20/25, B-25DP (Soviet term for B-25D-30/35), and B-25J models. Two more Guards divisions, the 14th and 15th, were added to the long-range bomber force (ADD) in 1944, and the Baltic Fleet’s reconnaissance regiment, the 15th OMRAP, also used Mitchells. A single B-25G arrived in September 1943, but after testing, its cannon was removed and it became a transport for the Northern Fleet’s reconnaissance regiment. The VVS also acquired a dozen B-25s landed by the 77th Bomb Squadron in Kamchatka from September 1943 to July 1945.

The Royal Air Force mainly used the B-25 to attack German-occupied Europe from the United Kingdom in 1943-44. Deliveries began in May 1942 with 23 B-25Bs, named the Mitchell I. Three were flown to Britain for tests, one stayed in Canada, one crashed before delivery, and the rest served the operational training unit at Nassau, in the Bahamas.

Five B-25Cs flown from Florida to India for Dutch airmen in April 1942 eventually became, with their crews, part of an RAF recon squadron there, but the first RAF Mitchells in combat were 68 B-25Cs flown across the North Atlantic in July-August 1942. Named the Mitchell II, they were issued to No. 98 and No. 180 squadrons in Septem­ber, and flew their first combat mission on January 22, 1943.

As deliveries increased in 1943, the RAF converted three more squadrons, No. 226, 305, and 320 (Dutch Navy pilots), to the Mitchell II, including both the B-25C and B-25D. Replenishments after August 1944 were of the Mitchell III (B-25J) model. By the time Lend-lease deliveries were completed in April 1945, the RAF had been allocated 23 B-25B, 162 B-25C, 285 B-25D, two B-25G, and 266 B-25J models; 738 aircraft, less those lost in transit.

NORTH AMERICAN B-25J interior cutaway

The Netherlands East Indies squadron (No. 18) operating with the Australian Air Force (RAAF) replenished its original 18 B-25Cs with eight B-25C-15s in April 1943, followed by 34 B-25D and 39 B-24J Mitchells by June 1945. The RAAF received 30 B-25D and 20 B-25J bombers for No. 2 Squadron from January 1944 to August 1945.

An operational training unit with 15 B-25Ds was set up in 1943 for Chinese airmen in India, but about 120 B-25H and Js were not delivered to China itself until 1945. Canada received 13 B-25D-20/25, 55 B-25D-30/35, and 83 B-25J models during the war, and Brazil got six B-25Bs in 1942 and 21 B-25Js in 1944.

The war’s end also finished AAF B-25’s combat career, and their place in this book, but for many years they were flown around the U.S. in both civil and military work. Dutch bombers opposed Indonesian independence and Chinese Mitchells fought in the civil war until 1949. Canada and eight Latin American countries were supplied with many war-surplus B-25Js in 1947-52.

In 1950/53, the USAF converted B-25Js to new training configurations: the TB-25K to TB-25N models prolonging the Mitchell’s service life until 1960. Thousands of memories were left behind by the B-25, from the Tokyo raid to a spectacular crash into the world’s tallest sky­scraper, the Empire State Building, on July 28, 1945. Build­ing damage was limited.


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