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North American Mitchell II of No.98 Squadron, 19 April 1944
A North American Mitchell II of No.98 Squadron taking part in an attack on German targets in Northern France on 19 April 1944.
Records of Naval Operating Forces
Finding Aids: Harry Schwartz, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of Naval Operating Forces," NM 18 (1963) supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.
Security-Classified Records: This record group may include material that is security-classified.
Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, RG 24.
Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, RG 38.
Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library, RG 45.
General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1798-1947, RG 80.
Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, RG 181.
Records of Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II, RG 331.
313.2 Records of Squadrons
313.2.1 Records of the Asiatic Squadron
Textual Records: Letters sent by Rear Adm. J.C. Watson, mainly as Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Asiatic Station, 1898- 1900 and by the Flag Secretary, 1900. Private correspondence of Commodore J.C. Watson, 1898-99. Annual report of the Commander in Chief, 1904-5.
313.2.2 Records of the Bering Sea Squadron
Textual Records: Letters sent by the commanding officers of U.S.S. Yorktown, 1892-93, and Mohican, 1893-95. Letters received, 1893.
Related Records: Additional records of U.S.S. Mohican Under 313.9.3.
313.2.3 Records of the European Squadron
Textual Records: Letters sent, 1869-1905. Telegrams sent, 1893- 94.
313.2.4 Records of the North Atlantic Squadron
Textual Records: Records of successive commanders in chief, U.S. Naval Forces on North Atlantic Station, including letters sent, 1865-1905 telegrams sent, 1874-78 letters received, 1873-78, 1896-1905 correspondence, 1898-99 reports of naval engagements, 1898 and a journal of Rear Adm. William T. Sampson, 1898. Letters sent by the Eastern Squadron, 1898. Records of the Flying Squadron, consisting of letters sent and issuances, 1898. Letters and endorsements sent by the Caribbean Squadron, 1902-4, and the Atlantic Training Squadron, 1904-5. Letters sent by the Special Squadron, 1902 the 1st Squadron, 1904-5 and the Cruiser Division, 1905. Letters sent and received by the Key West Naval Base, 1898.
313.2.5 Records of the South Atlantic Squadron
Textual Records: Letters and telegrams sent, 1892-96, and received, 1893-94. Letters, telegrams, issuances, and radio communications sent, 1899-1901. Radio and cable communications sent, 1903. Letters sent, 1904-5. Endorsements sent, 1903. Intelligence reports, 1904.
313.2.6 Records of other squadrons
Textual Records: Reports of earthquake relief operations of a detached squadron at Kingston, Jamaica, January 1907. Letters sent by the Squadron of Evolution, 1889-92. Records of the Nicaraguan Expeditionary Squadron, 1909-10, consisting mainly of general correspondence and telegrams.
313.3 Records of Fleets (Organization of 1906)
313.3.1 Records of the Atlantic Fleet
Textual Records: General report of fleet operations, 1909. Formerly security-classified intelligence reports of voyages of armed guard vessels received by the cruiser and transport force, 1917-18. Letters and endorsements sent by the Second Division, 1st Squadron, 1906-7. Letters sent by Rear Adm. C.H. Hockson, Special Service Squadron, 1907. Letters and endorsements sent by the 3d Squadron, 1905-6. Records of Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, including cablegrams and telegrams, 1917-19 issuances, 1917-18 historical files, 1917-18 Admiralty Orders, 1917-18 records of courts of inquiry, 1918-19 records relating to aircraft, 1917 muster rolls, 1917-19 press notices, 1917-18 publications, 1913-25 records of naval air stations, 1918-19 records of Destroyer Division Twenty-Six, 1925 general correspondence of Naval Air Station Ireland, 1918 reports of seaplane and motor inspection, 1918 beach log sheets, 1918 general correspondence of U.S. Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service, 1918 records of Commander Cruiser and Transport Force, 1914-19, including war diaries, 1917-19 records of the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, 1918-19 and general correspondence of Commander Torpedo Flotilla, 1912.
Maps and Charts (20 items): Ports in CA, HI, and Japan, visited on an around-the-world cruise, 1907-8 anchorages on the Hudson River, NY, and on Culebra Island, PR, 1912-18 and locations of North Sea mines, 1918. See ALSO 313.10.
313.3.2 Records of the Pacific Fleet
Textual Records: Letters sent, 1904-5. Letters and reports received, 1908-10. Flag journals, 1908-11.
313.3.3 Records of Naval Forces, Europe
Textual Records: General correspondence, 1917-19.
313.4 Records of the United States Fleet (1922-41)
313.4.1 General records
Textual Records: Formerly confidential correspondence of the Commander in Chief, 1939-40 (86 ft.), with registers, 1936, 1940. General correspondence, 1928-35. Miscellaneous records, 1937-38.
313.4.2 Records of Battle Force
Textual Records: General correspondence of Commander Battle Force, 1941. Records of Commander Battleships, Battle Force, including general correspondence, 1934-44 issuances, 1938-43 muster rolls, 1930-45 joint army-navy intelligence and geographic studies, 1942-44 and inspection reports, 1938. Records of Commander Battleships Division Two, consisting of general correspondence, 1937-42 and records of gunnery exercises, 1935-42. Records of Commander Cruisers, Battle Force, including general correspondence, 1932-42 and issuances, 1936- 41. Records of Commander Destroyers, Battle Force, including confidential correspondence, 1940 general correspondence, 1935- 42 subject file, 1934-39 and additional records, 1939-41. Records of Commander Minecraft, Battle Force, consisting of general correspondence, 1937-39 and miscellaneous records, 1921- 39. General correspondence and miscellaneous records of Commander Communication Mobile Target Division One, 1937-40.
Charts (87 items, in Washington Area): Tracking charts for Fleet Problem XXI, Parts 2 and 3, 1940. See ALSO 313.10.
Architectural and Engineering Plans (81 items, in Washington Area): Plans of the Battle Force Engineer, consisting of blueprint plans of battleships, including U.S.S. Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia, 1934-36 (80 items) and plans for a sky lookout support, 1940 (1 item). See ALSO 313.10.
313.4.3 Records of Aircraft, Battle Force
Textual Records: Records of Commander Aircraft, Battle Force, including general correspondence, 1935-42 subject file, 1934-42 serial file, 1939-42 issuances, 1936-41 reports, 1937-40 airplane jackets, 1937-40 gunnery exercises, 1935-42 ships general information books, 1928-37 ship silhouettes and recognition reports, 1941-42 personnel files, 1936-42 and financial and accounting records, 1936-40. Records of the Operations Officer, 1938-41. Correspondence of the Flag Lieutenant, 1936-37. Correspondence of the Material Officer, 1937-42. Records of the Engineering Officer, including correspondence, 1934-38 letter file, 1939-40 technical orders, 1938-39 correspondence of the Structures Branch, 1934-39 and correspondence of the Material Structures and Engineering Branch, 1939-41. Records of the Communications Officer, 1931-39. Records of the Supply Officer, consisting of general correspondence, 1936-41 serial file, 1939-42 and a miscellaneous file, 1936-41. Records of the Medical Officer, consisting of general correspondence, 1936-40 reports, 1934-39 circular letters, 1935-38 and miscellaneous records, 1934-37. General correspondence of the Fleet Air Detachment Officer, 1939-41. Records of Commander Carrier Division 2, including general correspondence, 1936-42 issuances, 1941-42 and additional records, 1937-38. Records of Commander Patrol Wing, 1942. Records of Scouting Squadron 3, 1937-43. Records of Fighting Squadron 3, 1941-43. Records of Fighting Squadron 5, 1937-42.
Charts (12 items, in Washington Area): Electric power demand curves, various aircraft, n.d. See ALSO 313.10.
Architectural and Engineering Plans (980 items, in Washington Area): Blueprint plans of aircraft carriers U.S.S. Lexington, 1931-35 (108 items) Ranger, 1937-39 (25 items) Saratoga, 1928- 39 (25 items) Wasp, 1942 (18 items) and Yorktown, 1933-39 (27 items). General plans, including battleships U.S.S. Tennessee and West Virginia aircraft carriers U.S.S. Ranger, Saratoga, and Wasp and cruiser U.S.S. Vincennes, 1923-41 (100 items). Blueprint plans submitted by the following commercial aircraft companies: Douglas, 1935-36 (13 items) Grumman, 1935-37 (57 items) Northrop, 1941 (7 items) Pratt and Whitney, 1931-35 (215 items) Curtiss, 1934-35 (3 items) Chance Voight, 1928, 1935-36 (5 items) Wright, 1932, 1933-35 (45 items) Bendix Brake, 1935 (2 items) and General Electric, 1941 (1 item). Plans submitted by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, n.d. (2 items) Naval Aircraft Factory (Philadelphia Navy Yard), 1935-38 (18 items) and Bureau of Aeronautics, 1935 (9 items). Plans of U.S.S. Lexington, 1928 (46 items) and 1936 (18 items). Machinery plans, U.S.S. Ranger, n.d. (54 items), and Saratoga, n.d. (54 items). General plans, U.S.S. Saratoga, 1936 (17 items). Naval Operating Base San Diego supply depot annex, 1931 (4 items) and air station hydrographic survey, 1932 (1 item). Engineering Office set of Bureau of Construction and Repair blueprint plans of ship alterations, 1934-36 (106 items). See ALSO 313.10.
Photographic Prints (26 images, in Washington Area): Engine parts, VS-1 aircraft, 1935 (25 images), and VB-5 aircraft, 1935 (1 image). See ALSO 313.13.
Photographic Negatives (8 images, in Washington Area): Nozzle rings and diaphragms, U.S.S. Langley, 1935 (6 images). Airplane wing diagram, SU-4 aircraft, n.d. (1 image). Antivibration clamps on flight wing, BG-1 aircraft, 1935 (1 image). See ALSO 313.13.
313.4.4 Records of Scouting Force
Textual Records: Records of Commander Scouting Force, consisting of formerly security-classified correspondence, 1928-40 general correspondence, 1938-43 subject file, 1939-42 damage control exercises, 1937-39 and logbooks, 1938-45. Records of the Supply Office, 1932-42. Correspondence and other records of the Engineering Section, 1940-42. Logbooks of Scouting Squadrons 53, 1943-45 3-D14, 1941-42 and 3-D15, 1943-44. General correspondence of Commander Cruisers, Scouting Force, 1930-40. Records of Commander Scouting Squadron 6, including general correspondence, issuances, and logs, 1934-40. Records of Commander Aircraft, Scouting Force, including general correspondence, 1937-42 serial file, 1937-41 issuances, 1938- 42 employment schedules, 1941 records relating to gunnery exercises, 1934-42 reports received from the Anacostia Naval Air Station, Washington, DC, 1931-39 reports relating to aircraft, 1930-37 records of the Flag Secretary, 1938-41 records of the Supply Office, 1937-41 and records of the Gunnery Office, 1939. Records of Commander Submarines, Scouting Force, consisting of general correspondence, 1932-42 serial file, 1932-41 miscellaneous correspondence, 1936 and reports of tactical exercises, 1941.
Charts (5 items, in Washington Area): Atlantic Coast, North Pacific, Howland Island, Panama Canal, and HI, 1933-42. See ALSO 313.10.
Aerial Photographs (48 items, in Washington Area): Johnston Island, 1941 (1 item). Palmyra Island, 1941 (2 items). San Clemente Island, 1940 (1 item). Maraki Island of Gilbert Islands, 1942 (44 items). See ALSO 313.10.
Photographs (238 images, in Washington Area):Experimental submarine periscope photography, U.S.S. Cuttlefish, Seal, and Tambor, off the coast of HI, September 1941. See ALSO 313.13.
313.4.5 Records of Base Force
Textual Records: Records of Commander Base Force, including general correspondence, 1931-42 serial file, 1932-41 issuances, 1939-41 ships characteristics cards, 1936 reports of enlisted personnel, 1930-38 and records of the Admirals Mess, 1935-40. Correspondence and other records of the Flag Lieutenant, 1931-34, and Flag Secretary, 1938-44. Records of the Force Material Officer, 1938-41. Issuances of the Senior Medical Officer, 1937. Logs of the Flag Watch Officer, 1938. Records of the Senior Patrol Officer, consisting of Shore Patrol Arrest Reports (San Francisco, CA), 1936-37 and patrol logs, 1933-36. Intelligence file of the Confidential Office, 1942. Records of Force Athletic Officer, 1938-40. Log of Captain of the Yard, Pearl Harbor, 1936- 41. Captain's office file, U.S.S. Vestal, 1938. Records of Commander Aircraft, Base Force, including general correspondence, 1930-42 serial file, 1933-36 issuances, 1933-34 records of the Flag Secretary, 1935-36 records of the Radio, Radar Section, 1942-43 and records of the Engineering Section, 1925-39.
Maps (16 items, in Washington Area): Destroyers base, Naval Operating Base, San Diego, CA, 1939 (1 item). Military facilities, New York Harbor area, 1939 (1 item). New York railroad terminal, n.d. (1 item). Long Beach, CA, 1937 (1 item). Guantanamo, Cuba, 1932 and n.d. (5 items). Hampton Roads, VA, 1938 (1 item). Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, VA, 1938 (5 items). Berthing facilities, Norfolk, VA, 1934 (1 item). See ALSO 313.10.
Charts (23 items, in Washington Area):Air navigation, U.S. cities and states and Central and South America, 1939-40. See ALSO 313.10.
Architectural and Engineering Plans (46 items, in Washington Area): Plan of an oiler, 1937 (1 item). Plans of U.S.S. Argonne, Bagaduce, Cimarron, Lark, Natchez, Navaho, Partridge, Relief, Robin, Sonoma, Vestal, and Wright, 1940-41 (45 items). See ALSO 313.10.
Aerial Photographs (1 item, in Washington Area): Destroyers base, Naval Operating Base, San Diego, CA, 1939. See ALSO 313.10.
313.4.6 Records of the Asiatic Fleet
Textual Records: Records of Commander Aircraft Squadron, Asiatic Fleet, including general correspondence, issuances, and miscellaneous reports, 1930-32.
313.4.7 Records of the Atlantic Squadron
Textual Records: Formerly confidential general correspondence, 1936-40.
313.5 Records of Naval Operating Forces, World War II and Later
Note: The bulk of the records embraced under this subgroup constitutes a single accession that is as yet largely unprocessed and undescribed. The records relate principally to naval operating forces within the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets at different levels of the organizational hierarchy. They are physically arranged in three major sequences: "Blue Series," 5,967 boxes "Top Secret Flag Files," 168 boxes and "Red Series," 10,148 boxes. Records of specific components cited below may be found in any or all of the three sequences.
313.5.1 Records of the United States Fleet
Textual Records: Records of the Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet, 1952-53.
313.5.2 Records of the Atlantic Fleet
Textual Records: Records of Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet, 1940-61 Commander Service Force, Atlantic Fleet, 1941-58 Commander Operational Development Force, Atlantic Fleet, 1945-56 and Commander Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, 1943-59.
Records of Commander Battleship Cruiser Force, Atlantic Fleet, 1949-54. Records of Commander Cruiser Force, Atlantic Fleet, including general correspondence, serial file, gunnery exercises, and miscellaneous records, 1939-44 mailgrams, 1940-42 and additional records, 1943-48. Records of Cruiser Division Seven, Atlantic Fleet, 1942-45. Records of Commander Cruiser Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, 1957-61.
Records of Commander Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, 1941-58.
Records of Commander Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet, including general correspondence, 1941-42 quartermaster logs, 1943-46 and additional records, 1939-61. Records of Commander Submarine Squadron 6, 1938-55 Commander Submarine Squadron 10, 1941-45 Commander Submarine Squadron 50, 1942-43 and Commander Submarine Division 61, 1943-44.
Records of Commander Mine Force, Atlantic Fleet, 1946-57 Commander Mine Squadron 8, 1943-52 Commander Mine Squadron 20 (and Destroyer Squadron 20), 1943-45 Commander Mine Division 50, 1942-44 Commander Mine Division 82, 1951-53 and Commander Escort Minesweeping Group, 1944.
Records of Commander Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet, 1941-61 Commander Amphibious Training Command, Atlantic Fleet, 1942-58 Commander Amphibious Squadron 10, 1958-63 Commander 3rd Amphibious Force, 1944-45 Commander 11th Amphibious Force, 1943-45 and Amphibious Control Squadron 2, 1954-57.
Records of Commander Naval Air Force, Atlantic Fleet, 1942-61 Fleet Air Wings, Atlantic Fleet (Naval Air Facility Weeksville), 1949-53 Commander Fleet Air Quonset Point, RI, 1943-58 Commander Fleet Air Wing 7, 1942-45 Commander Fleet Air Wing 12 (Key West), 1943 Commander Fleet Air Norfolk, VA, 1944 Commander 2d Carrier Task Force, 1944-45 Commander Antisubmarine Defense Force Atlantic, 1952-61 and Commander Naval Air Transport Service Command Ferry Wing, 1943-47.
Records of Commander Naval Forces Northwest African Waters, 1943 Commander Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, 1942- 58 Commander Fleet Air Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, 1952- 55 Commander Naval Forces Mediterranean, 1943-48 Commander Mideast Force, 1951-56 Commander Task Group 80.1, 1945 and Commander Battleship Division 2, 1956-57.
313.5.3 Records of the Pacific Fleet
Textual Records: Records of Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, 1940-61, including miscellaneous operations and maintenance files, 1943-44 and a microfilm copy of incoming and outgoing mail logs, 1940-44 (16 rolls). Records of Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet, including general correspondence, 1938-45 records relating to ships, 1938-45 compass record of U.S.S. Amber, 1941 Captain's Night Order book, 1943-44 and additional records, 1938-60. Records of Commander Service Squadron 1, 1959- 61. Records of Commander Training Command, Pacific Fleet, 1943- 58.
Records of Commander Battleship Cruiser Force, Pacific Fleet, 1942-49 and Commander Cruiser Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet, 1949-59.
Records of Commander Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet, 1940-50.
Records of Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, 1931-59 Commander Submarine Flotilla 1, 1949-55 and Commander Submarine Squadron 7, 1951-53.
Records of Commander Mine Force, Pacific Fleet, 1941-56 Commander Mine Squadron 3, 1949-52 Commander Mine Division 3, 1943-45 and Commander Mine Division 11, 1946-54.
Records of Commander Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons, Pacific Fleet, 1943-45 and Commander Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 1, 1940-45.
Records of Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, consisting of general correspondence, serial file, engine parts lists, and miscellaneous records, 1939-45 and additional records, 1943-57. Records of Commander Amphibious Training Command, Pacific Fleet, 1942-58.
Records of Commander Naval Air Force, Pacific Fleet, 1941-59 Commander Fleet Air Alameda, CA, 1942-59 Commander Fleet Air Seattle, WA, 1942-51 Commander Fleet Air Japan, 1950-54 Commander Fleet Air Hawaii, 1945-60 Commander Fleet Air Whidbey, WA (Fleet Air Wing 4), 1947-56 Commander Fleet Air Wing 14, 1942-48 Fleet Logistic Air Wing Pacific Fleet, 1947-57 and Naval Air Transport Service Pacific, 1942-48.
Records of Commander Blockading and Escort Force, Pacific Fleet, 1950-55 Commander Escort Carrier Force Pacific, 1944-45 and Commander 1st Carrier Task Force, 1944-45.
Records of Commanding General Fleet Marine Force Pacific, 1941- 58 Commanding General Air Fleet Marine Force Pacific, 1942-55 Commanding General 1st Marine Air Wing, 1952 and Commanding General 1st Marine Division, 1942-55.
Records of Commander Service Squadron Southern Pacific, 1942-45 Commander Amphibious Forces Southern Pacific, 1942-45 Commander Fleet Aircraft Southern Pacific, 1942-44 Commander Southwest Pacific, 1942 Commander Submarines Southwest Pacific, 1942-45 Commander Destroyer Flotilla West Pacific, 1950 Northern Pacific Forces, 1951-59 Commander Naval Forces Far East, 1945-57 Commander Naval Forces Japan, 1950-61 Commander Naval Forces Kyushu, 1945-46 Commander Naval Forces Marianas, 1942-54 Naval Forces Western Pacific, 1945 Commander Naval Forces Philippines, 1944-45 Commander Naval Forces Ryukyu Islands, 1945 Commander Formosa Patrol Force (Fleet Air Wing 1), 1951-54 and Commander Taiwan Patrol Force (Fleet Air Wing 1), 1957-60.
Records of Underwater Demolition Team 13, 1951-54 Commander Battleship Division 1 (including records of Battleship Divisions 2 and 7), 1933-46 and Commander Task Force 71, 1945.
Maps and Charts (3,310 items):Strategic, tactical, and operations maps and charts, including flak maps, air and gunnery target maps, briefing charts, approach charts, and photomaps, of World War II contested areas in the Pacific, compiled or collected by the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet/Commander in Chief Pacific Ocean Areas (CINCPAC/CINCPOA), 1942-45 (1,125 items). CINCPAC/CINCPOA plans and related reports pertaining to naval operations in the Pacific and the occupation of Japan, 1944-47 (100 items). War patrol track charts of U.S. Navy submarines in the Pacific whose names began with letters G through W, 1943-45 (1,400 items). Tracks of ships overlays relating to the Pacific and the Malay Archipelago, 1944-46 (450 items). Action plots relating to naval operations in the western Pacific, 1944-45 (225 items). Air search plans in the Pacific, 1944-45 (10 items). See ALSO 313.10.
313.5.4 Records of numbered fleets (Atlantic)
Textual Records: Records of Commander 2d Fleet, 1946-56. Records of 4th Fleet, 1942-46 6th Fleet, 1947, 1951-59 8th Fleet, 1942- 45 and 10th Fleet, 1946. General correspondence of the 12th Fleet, 1944-45.
313.5.5 Records of numbered fleets (Pacific)
Textual Records: Records of the 1st Fleet, 1945-56 3d Fleet, 1944-46 and 5th Fleet, 1943-45. Records of the 7th Fleet, 1941- 60 Commander 7th Fleet, 1958-60 Commander Service Force, 7th Fleet, 1944-45 Fleet Marine Force, 7th Fleet, 1958-63 and Commander Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron, 7th Fleet, 1943-46.
313.5.6 Records of Naval Forces Europe
Textual Records: Records of Commander in Chief U.S. Naval Forces Europe, 1939-61 and Commander Naval Forces Europe, 1939-44. Records of Commander Naval Forces Germany, 1944-57 and Commander U.S. Ports and Bases Germany, 1944-45. Records of Commander Amphibious Bases United Kingdom (Commander Task Force 127), 1943- 45 and Naval Advanced Amphibious Base Portland, Weymouth, Dorset, 1944-45.
313.5.7 Records of Fleet Air organizations
Textual Records: Records of Commander Fleet Air West Coast, 1942- 49. Records of Commander Fleet Air Wing 4, 1941-45 Commander Fleet Air Wing 5, 1944-56 and Commander Fleet Air Wing 14, 1949- 54. Records of Fleet Airship Wing 1, 1954-61.
313.5.8 Records of miscellaneous activities
Textual Records: Records of the Naval Attache for Air, London, 1943-44. Records of Commander Task Force 24, 1941-46 Commander All Forces, Aruba, Curacao, 1942-45 Carrier Division 19, 1944- 46 Commander Battleship Squadron 1, 1944-45 Commander Mine Squadron 2, 1942-45 Commander Transport Squadron 12, 1943-45 Commander Submarine Squadron 3, 1939-45 Commander Southeast Pacific/Commander Cruiser Division 3, 1942-48 Marine Air Group 33 (1st Marine Air Wing), 1945-54 Commander Fleet Training Group Western Pacific, 1949-50 and Commander Blimp Headquarters Squadron 2, 1943-44. Logbooks of Airship Squadron 1, June 1- October 31, 1961 (in Philadelphia). Records of Airship Squadron 3, 1959-60 (in Philadelphia).
313.6 Records of Pacific Ocean Area Activities
1921-59 (bulk 1939-59)
313.6.1 Records of the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS)
Textual Records (in San Francisco, except as noted): Records of MSTS Pacific Area, including subject files, 1950-56, 1959 records relating to arctic operations, 1955-57 and (in Washington Area) general correspondence, command locators, and originator locators, 1958. Subject files of MSTS Mid-Pacific Area, 1949-50. Records of MSTS San Francisco, including subject files, 1949-55 and organization charts, 1951-54. Subject files of MSTS Pearl Harbor, 1950-54. Correspondence of MSTS Service Office, Guam, 1956.
313.6.2 Records of Naval Bases (NB)
Textual Records (in San Francisco): Subject files of NB 926 (Guam), 1949-51.
313.6.3 Records of Naval Advance Bases (NAB)
Textual Records (in San Francisco, except as noted): Subject file of NAB 208 (Upolu, Western Samoa), 1943-44. Records of NAB 825 (Roi and Kwajalein, Marshall Islands), 1946. Records of NAB 60 (Russell Islands of Solomon Islands), 1943-44 (in Washington Area).
313.6.4 Records of Naval Operating Bases (NOB)
Textual Records (in San Francisco): Subject files and other records of NOB 1504 (Midway Island), 1942-50.
313.6.5 Records of Naval Stations (NS)
Textual Records (in San Francisco): Records of the NS at Tutuila Island, American Samoa, including correspondence and subject files, 1921-49 formerly security-classified correspondence of the Commandant/Governor of American Samoa, 1941-45 yard files, 1943-45 station logbooks, 1942-51 and records of the Naval Government Unit, 1949-51. Records of NS 824 (Kwajalein, Marshall Islands), 1943-47, 1950-52. Subject files of NS 926 (Guam), 1951- 52. Subject files of NS 3080 (Midway Island), 1950-55.
313.6.6 Records of Naval Air Stations (NAS)
Textual Records (in San Francisco): Subject files of NAS 30 (Puuene, Maui, Hawaiian Islands), 1942-45. Records of NAS 309 (Palmyra, Caroline Islands), 1939-47. Subject files of NAS 824 (Kwajalein, Marshall Islands), 1950. Records of NAS 926 (Guam), consisting of subject files, 1949, 1952-54 and correspondence, 1955. Subject files of NAS 939 (Orote, Guam), 1945-49. Records of NAS 943 (Agana, Guam), consisting of subject files, 1944-56 station logs and administrative files, 1951 and correspondence, 1950-52. Records of NAS 958 (Kagman Point, Mariana Islands), 1944-47. Subject files of NAS 3245 (Tanapag, Saipan, Marshall Islands), 1946-50.
313.6.7 Records of Naval Air Facilities (NAF)
Textual Records (in San Francisco): Subject files of NAF 807 (Ebeye Island, Marshall Islands), 1944-47. Records of NAF 3247 (Tinian, Mariana Islands), 1946-47. Records of NAF 3410 (Moen Island, Truk Islands), 1943-47.
313.6.8 Records of Submarine Bases and Submarine Advance Bases
Textual Records (in San Francisco, except as noted):Records of Submarine Base 128 (Pearl Harbor), consisting of correspondence, 1951-58 subject files, 1951-58 and (in Washington Area) additional records, 1948-59. Records of Submarine Advance Base 3234 (Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands), 1940, 1942-45.
313.6.9 Records of miscellaneous activities
Textual Records: Records of the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific Ocean Areas (JICPOA), 1942-46. Records of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, 1923-51 and Commander Marshalls/Gilberts Area, 1942-46. Subject files of Fleet Logistical Support, Pacific, 1949-50 (in San Francisco).
Aerial Photographs (1,020 items): JICPOA aerial reconnaissance of areas in Japan the Ryukyu Islands and Luzon, Philippine Islands, 1944-45. See ALSO 313.10.
313.7 Records of Naval Sea Frontiers
Textual Records: General correspondence and war diaries of the Eastern Sea Frontier, 1941-50. Records of the Gulf Sea Frontier, consisting of formerly security-classified and unclassified correspondence, 1940-46 subject files, 1942-45 and war diaries, 1942-45. Formerly security-classified correspondence of the Caribbean Sea Frontier, 1942-46. Formerly security-classified war diaries of the Northwestern Sea Frontier, 1942-46. General correspondence of the Hawaiian Sea Frontier, 1942-46.
313.8 Records of the U.S. Naval Support Force, Antarctica
313.8.1 Administrative records
Textual Records: Records of the Division of History and Research, including administrative records and a research file, 1955-72 and correspondence, letters sent, and subject files, 1971-72. Correspondence and miscellaneous subject files of the Historical Officer, 1972-74. Record set of USNSFA publications, 1955-68. Records of the Office of Public Affairs, including subject files, 1947-91 bulletins of the U.S. Anarctic Projects Officer, 1959-65 and issues of the Anarctica Sun Times, an inhouse newspaper, 1975-97.
313.8.2 Operational records
Textual Records: Reports of Operation Windmill, 1947-48, and Operation High Jump, 1947. Clippings from Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. newspapers, 1957-61. Reports and reference files of Task Force 68 (Operation High Jump), 1946-47. Subject files, logistics planning files, staff studies, reading files, dispatches, and other records of Task Force 66 (Operation High Jump II), 1948-50. Reports of Task Force 48 concerning U.S.S. Atka Antarctic Expedition, 1954-55. Correspondence, subject files, project files, and reports of Task Force 43 (Operation Deep Freeze), including records relating to U.S. Navy exploratory flights in Antarctica, 1955-94.
Maps (15 items):USNSFA annotated base maps of Antarctica and an accompanying published report relating to the army-navy trail party of Operation Deep Freeze II, 1956-57. See ALSO 313.10.
Aerial Photographs (1,557 items, in Washington Area): Operation Deep Freeze, maintained by the Photographic Officer, Task Force 43, consisting of a general series, 1955-69 (200 items) "Task Force Activity" series, 1956-61 (457 items) and "U.S. Navy XAM" series, 1959-69 (900 items). See ALSO 313.10.
Motion Pictures (35 reels, in Washington Area): Antarctica, 1939- 65 (29 reels). Australian Expedition, taken by U.S. observer Isaac Schlossbach, 1955-56 (6 reels).
Sound Recordings (10 items, in Washington Area): Task Force 43 (Operation Deep Freeze), n.d.
Photographs (64,502 images, in Washington Area): Operation Deep Freeze, maintained by the Photographic Officer, Task Force 43, 1960-80. See ALSO 313.13.
Photographic Prints (89,740 images, in Washington Area): Operation Deep Freeze, maintained by the Photographic Officer, Task Force 43, consisting of a general series, 1955-69 (52,800 images) "Task Force Activity" series, 1956-61 (11,338 images) "U.S. Navy XAM" series, 1959-69 (22,647 images) and "U.S. Navy XAC" series, 1959-69 (2,955 images). See ALSO 313.13.
313.9 Other Records
313.9.1 Records of the U.S. Auxiliary Naval Force
Textual Records: General correspondence, 1898. Letters received regarding the purchase of auxiliary vessels for use by the navy, 1898. Letters sent by Headquarters Second Coast Defense District, Boston, 1898. Letters sent and received by Headquarters Fourth Coast Defense District, Philadelphia, 1898.
313.9.2 Combined records of two or more naval forces
Textual Records: Letters sent by the Squadron for Special Service and Navy Review Fleet, 1892-93. Letters and endorsements sent by the South Atlantic Squadron and Combined European and South Atlantic Squadrons, 1902-3. Letters, cables, radio dispatches, and endorsements sent by the South Atlantic Squadron, North Atlantic Squadron (Caribbean and Second Squadrons), and Third Division, Atlantic Fleet, 1903-6.
313.9.3 Records of individual vessels
Textual Records: Records of U.S.S. Alliance, consisting of letters sent, 1878-87, and received, 1904, by commanding officer. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Atlanta, 1888-89. Formerly security-classified general records of U.S.S. Augusta, 1935-44 (85 ft.). Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Brooklyn, 1896-1906. Letters received by commanding officer of U.S.S. Culgoa, 1902-5. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Dale, 1857-59. General correspondence of U.S.S. Iowa, 1897-98. Letters sent and received by commanding officer of U.S.S. Iroquois, 1902-6. Dispatches sent and relayed by U.S.S. Louisiana, 1908-9. War diary and dispatches of commanding officer of U.S.S. Marblehead, 1941-44. Records of U.S.S. Massachusetts, consisting of letters sent by commanding officer, 1871, and chief engineer, 1896-99. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Midnight, 1864-65. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Mohican, 1888-90. Records of U.S.S. Monongahela, consisting of letters sent by commanding officer, 1875-76, and paymaster, 1902. Letter books of U.S.S. Niagara relating to the Atlantic Cable, 1856-58. Expenditure book of U.S. Gunboat Pembina, n.d. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Pensacola, 1874-76, 1879-84. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Pinta, 1883-90. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Quinnebaug, 1883-85. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Tallapoosa, 1886-88. Correspondence register of U.S.S. Texas, 1906-8. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Thetis, 1889-94. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Vixen, 1849-51. Deck notes and rough log of U.S.S. Ward, 1941-42. Letters sent and received by U.S.S. Wasp, 1871-75. Letters sent by commanding officer of U.S.S. Wyoming, 1878-80.
Related Records: Additional records of U.S.S. Mohican Under 313.2.2.
313.10 Cartographic Records (General)
See Maps and Charts Under 313.3.1 and 313.5.3.
See Maps Under 313.4.5 and 313.8.2.
See Charts Under 313.4.2, 313.4.3, 313.4.4, and 313.4.5.
See Architectural and Engineering Plans Under 313.4.2, 313.4.3, and 313.4.5.
See Aerial Photographs Under 313.4.4, 313.4.5, 313.6.9, and 313.8.2.
313.11 Motion Pictures (General)
313.12 Sound Recordings (General)
313.13 Still Pictures (General)
See Photographs Under 313.4.4 and 313.8.2.
See Photographic Prints Under 313.4.3 and 313.8.2.
See Photographic Negatives Under 313.4.3.
Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.
This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.
North American Mitchell II of No.98 Squadron, 19 April 1944 - History
North American B-25J Mitchell_N6123C_Zeltweg_The Flying Bulls
Collings Foundation B-25J "Tondelayo" on final approach to Moffett Federal Airfield (NUQ) on May 26, 2018.
Photograph taken from the parking lot of the Sunnyvale Municipal Golf Course.
Lens: Nikon 80-200mm f/4 AI-S, manual-focus
Named in honor of aviation pioneer Major General William "Billy" Mitchell, the B-25 Mitchell was nicknamed Billy's Bomber.
To view a hi-res version and for more information visit my website:NAS Patuxent River Air Expo 2016
Here is a HDR from the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (FlyingHeriage.com, FHCAM, FHC) December 2019 Free Thursday event. This is of the highly restored North American B-25J Mitchell I've even gotten to go inside: flic.kr/s/aHskr4ztNu
I wanted to take maximum advantage of the sunset light shining thru the first and main hangar of FHCAM. Sure hope I did here.
PHOTO CREDIT: Joe A. Kunzler Photo, AvgeekJoe Productions, growlernoise-AT-gmail-DOT-com
WW2 Thunderbolt, Mitchell, Flying Fortress, etc. - American Hangar, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, England
copyright © 2003 Chris Chennell
copyright © 2003 Chris Chennell
Prestwick 22 May 1963. Scanned from my father's original slide. Copyright Jim Cain.
copyright © 2003 Chris Chennell
2 × Wright R-2600-92 Twin Cyclone 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 1,700 hp (1,267 kW) each
North American B-25J Mitchell
Venezuelan Air Force / Fuerza Aérea Venezolana
Museo Aeronáutico De Maracay
Thought I'd create some High Dynamic Range or HDR fun while hanging out at Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (aka FHCAM, FHC, Flying Heritage) the first weekend in April. Even starting a photo album up at flic.kr/s/aHskvTUWdZ if you're interested.
Also a couple of years ago, I got to go inside the B-25J Mitchell and write about it for Warbirds News: goo.gl/dy0iPD Please enjoy and share responsibly.
PHOTO CREDIT: Joe A. Kunzler Photo, AvgeekJoe Productions, growlernoise-AT-gmail-DOT-com
Gets my heart pumping every single time. Awesome time was had, considering the weather broke just in time for Flying Heritage Collection's (FHC's) 2nd Skyfair.
Finally on 18 January, I'm starting to drop some photos from FHC's 2015 Skyfair. Enjoy.
PHOTO CREDIT: Joe A. Kunzler Photo, AvgeekJoe Productions, growlernoise-AT-gmail-DOT-com
Thought I'd overlay on top of an HDR some "Kodachrome" tones for a historically toned HDR for the ages. Hope folks approve.
Also, I have a photo album up at flic.kr/s/aHskvTUWdZ if you're interested of my April 2018 visits to FHCAM. Also a couple of years ago, I got to go inside the B-25J Mitchell and write about it for Warbirds News: goo.gl/dy0iPD Please enjoy and share responsibly.
Finally, I ask you to please come out to a FHCAM Fly Day this summer please:
PHOTO CREDIT: Joe A. Kunzler Photo, AvgeekJoe Productions, growlernoise-AT-gmail-DOT-com
Aircraft: North American B-25 Mitchell (NL1042B)
Unit: Greatest Generation Aircraft - Vintage Flying Museum
Base: Meacham Field - Ft Worth, TX
The distinctive emblem of the 490th Bomb Squadron adorns both sides of the nose of the FHC’s B-25J.
pictionid75313510 - catalog0902880 - title- crowell corwin photo collection north american b-25j 44-30748 n8195h at brown field - filename0902880.tifThis image may be protected by copyright. -- Repository: San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive
Figure this photo was just crying out for the Kodachrome treatment. Hope folks approve. and understand I have to hold on the really good stuff with the FHC demos in Seafair until Warbirds News gets a report to publish and publishes.
PHOTO CREDIT: Joe A. Kunzler Photo, AvgeekJoe Productions, growlernoise-AT-gmail-DOT-com
Happy to show the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM, FHC, Flying Heritage) North American Aviation B-25J Mitchell with a Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone exposed in HDR as the hangar doors are open. Cheers!
Thought I'd create some High Dynamic Range or HDR fun while hanging out at Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (aka FHCAM, FHC, Flying Heritage) the first weekend in April. Even starting a photo album up at flic.kr/s/aHskvTUWdZ if you're interested.
Also a couple of years ago, I got to go inside the B-25J Mitchell and write about it for Warbirds News: goo.gl/dy0iPD Please enjoy and share responsibly.
PHOTO CREDIT: Joe A. Kunzler Photo, AvgeekJoe Productions, growlernoise-AT-gmail-DOT-com
American Medium Bombers of WWII Part I
Douglas Aircraft developed the Model 7B twin-engine light attack bomber in the spring of 1936. The prototype flew for the first time in October 1938. However, due to budget constraints U. S. Army Air Corps officials decided not to purchase the aircraft.
French officials had no such hesitation. In 1939, they ordered 270 of what was now designated the DB-7. Belgium also ordered an unspecified number. When France fell to Germany in 1940, the DB-7s as well as remodeled DB-7As and Bs were shipped instead to Great Britain and redesignated the Boston I, II, and III.
Ironically, Air Corps leaders had already changed their minds by late 1939 following the passage of the bountiful Military Appropriations Act of April 1939. They ordered 63 DB-7s as high-altitude attack bombers with turbosupercharged Wright Cyclone radial engines. The Air Corps redesignated this aircraft the A-20.
After initial flights of the aircraft, the Air Corps decided it did not need a high-altitude light attack bomber but rather a low-altitude medium attack aircraft. To this end, only one A-20 was built and delivered. The final 62 contracted aircraft were built as P-70 night-fighters, A-20A medium attack aircraft, or F-3 reconnaissance aircraft. The lone A-20 was used later as a prototype XP-70 for the development of the P-70 night-fighter version of the Havoc.
Construction of the A-20A, the first production model, began in early 1940. By April 1941, 143 had been built and delivered to the 3d Bomb Group (Light 3BG). The aircraft was 47 feet, 7 inches long with a wingspan of 61 feet, 4 inches. It had a gross takeoff weight of 20,711 pounds. Powered by two Wright R-2600-3 or -11 Cyclone radial engines producing 1,600 hp, it had a maximum speed of 347 mph, a cruising speed of 295 mph, and a maximum ferry range of 1,000 miles. It had nine .30-caliber machine guns: four forwardfiring in a fuselage blister, two in a flexible dorsal position, one in a ventral position, and two rear-firing guns in the engine nacelles. It had a maximum bombload of 1,600 pounds.
In October 1940, Douglas and Air Corps officials concluded a contract for 999 B models. Although it used the same Wright 2600-11 engines as the last 20 -A models, it was lighter and armed like the DB-7A. The A-20B had two .50- caliber machine guns in the nose and only one .50-caliber gun in the dorsal mount. Its fuselage was 5 inches longer it had a 2,400-pound maximum bombload, a maximum speed of 350 mph, a cruising speed of 278 mph, and a 2,300-mile ferry range. Eight were sent to the Navy as DB-2 targettowing aircraft, and 665 were delivered to the Soviet Union as Lend-Lease aircraft.
Douglas built 948 C models, 808 at the Douglas plant in Santa Monica, California, and 140 under contract at the Boeing plant in Seattle, Washington. The C was patterned after the A model. Its Wright R-2600-23 Cyclone radial engines provided this heavier aircraft a maximum speed of 342 mph. Like all Havoc models, it had four crew members-a pilot, navigator, bombardier, and gunner. Originally built to be Royal Air Force and Soviet Lend-Lease aircraft, the Cs were diverted to the U. S. Army Air Forces once the United States entered World War II.
More G models were produced than any other A-20 version. Douglas built 2,850 in 45 block runs. The major differences were new and varying armaments, most notably the addition of four forward firing 20mm cannons in the nose. After block run number five, these were again replaced with six .50-caliber machine guns.
Douglas built 412 H models, 450 J models, and 413 K models. They were heavier at 2,700 pounds and had Wright R-2600-29 Cyclone supercharged radial engines producing 1,700 hp and flying at 339 mph. They carried 2,000 pounds of bombs internally and 2,000 externally.
A-20 production ended in September 1944. Douglas and other plants built 7,230 A-20s. They served in every theater of war and with the USAAF, the RAF, as well as the Australian, Soviet, and several other Allied air forces. More A-20s were built than any other attack-designated aircraft to serve in World War II.
Douglas A/B-26 Invader
In June 1941, Douglas Aircraft contracted with the U. S. Army Air Corps to produce two prototype twin-engine medium attack aircraft to replace the Douglas A-20 Havoc-the XA-26 attack version, and the XA-26A night-fighter, which was later canceled in favor of the Northrop P-61.
The XA-26 first flew on 10 July 1942 and was accepted by the U. S. Army Air Forces on 21 February 1944. It had twin Pratt and Whitney R-2800-27 radial engines producing 2,000 hp each. It was 51 feet, 2 inches long with a wingspan of 70 feet. Its gross weight was 31,000 pounds and had a maximum bombload of 5,000 pounds. Its maximum speed was 370 mph, its cruising speed 212 mph, and it had a range of 2,500 miles. It had a crew of three, a clear nose structure, two forward-firing .50-caliber machine guns, and two aft barbettes (dorsal and ventral).
As testing continued, the USAAF ordered a third prototype designated the XA-26B that featured a solid nose. After numerous experiments with various nose armaments, the early production A-26Bs had six .50-caliber machine guns, and later Bs had eight guns mounted in the nose.
The first production model was the A-26B. Douglas built them at Long Beach, California, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, delivering 1,355 from 1943 to 1945. The production model was similar to the prototypes, except it carried 6,000 pounds of bombs, could reach a maximum speed of 355 mph, cruise at 284 mph, and had a range of 3,200 miles. Deliveries began in August 1943. The first B models saw combat on 19 November 1944. In 1945, Douglas made minor armament and engine changes to the A-26, and later production models were designated A-26C. Once in combat, all 2,502 A-26B/Cs produced by the time contract ended in the mid-1945 used the nickname Invader.
The B models remained in service after the war, and in 1948 the U. S. Air Force dropped the attack designation and redesignated them the B-26. During the Korean War (July 1950-July 1953), between 90 and 111 B-26s stationed in Japan flew nearly 70,000 sorties, dropping nearly 100,000 tons of bombs on enemy targets.
The B models were also converted into CB-26B cargo transports, TB-26B trainers, VB-26B staff transports, DB-26Bs (which towed the Ryan Q-2A Firebee drone), the EB-26B Wingless Wonder drag parachute test aircraft, and the RB-26B reconnaissance aircraft. Some flew until the 1970s.
In the early 1960s, the Air Force, realizing the advantages of the B-26 design in reconnaissance and counterinsurgency roles, employed B models in Vietnam. Crashes due to structural failure forced the Bs to be retired. To fill the void, a B-26C (S/N 44-35684) was modified with Pratt and Whitney R2800-103W engines, larger propellers, and a 8,000-pound bombload. It was designated the YB-26K Counter Invader.
The test program was so successful that the Air Force ordered 40 modified B-26Ks. On Mark Engineering Company produced the K models in 1963 and 1964. They first saw combat in 1966. Based in Thailand, they proved highly effective flying interdiction and counterinsurgency missions over the Laotian Panhandle in support of Operation STEEL TIGER. Since the Thai government restricted the number of bombers using Thailand’s bases, the Air Force redesignated the Ks A-26As.
Throughout three major wars, the Douglas A/B-26 models performed their various roles effectively. Whether as an attack aircraft, medium bomber, or light bomber, they were one of the longest-serving and best aircraft in U. S. Air Force history.
The North American B 25 Mitchell
North American’s response to the US Army Air Corps’ Circular Proposal 38-385 for a twin-engined attack bomber was the NA-40, a shoulder-wing design with a tricycle landing gear and capable of carrying a 1,200 lbs (544 kg) bomb load. Armament consisted of 7.62 mm (0.30 in) machine-guns in nose, dorsal and ventral positions. The prototype, built at the Inglewood factory, was first flown by Paul Balfour in January 1939, powered by two 1,100 hp (820 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S6C3-G engines which were soon replaced by Wright CR-2600-A71 Cyclones each rated at 1,300 hp (969 kW). In this form the aircraft became the NA-40-2 and in March it was delivered to Wright Field for USAAC evaluation, crashing two weeks later as the result of pilot error.
The USAAC was impressed by the promise of the NA-40, however, and North American was asked to continue development of the aircraft for the medium bomber role under the company designation NA-62. September 1939 saw the completion of the basic design of the NA-62 and in that month the type was ordered into immediate production under a USAAC contract for 184 aircraft designated B-25. Several improvements were incorporated, including the widening of the fuselage to allow the pilot and co-pilot/navigator to be seated side-by-side in a cockpit faired into the fuselage, rather than in the tandem glasshouse of the NA-40 the relocation of the wing to a mid-position and an increase operating weights and bomb load. New engines were also specified, these being 1,700 hp (1268 kW) Wright R-2600-9 Cyclone radials, and a tail gun position was added.
The B-25 was named after the controversial proponent of US air power, William ‘Billy’ Mitchell, and the first production machine was flown on 19 August 1940. Nine B-25s were completed with the original root-to-tip dihedral before flight tests revealed a degree of directional instability, which was remedied by a reduction in the dihedral angle on the outer wing panels.
The introduction of self-sealing fuel tanks and crew protection armour plating, from aircraft number 25, resulted in redesignation to B-25A. Forty B-25As were built, and this variant was the first to see operational service, with 17th Bombardment Group (Medium) at MeChord Field, scoring the type’s first kill on 24 December 1941 when a Japanese submarine was sunk off the US west coast.
Some 120 B-25Bs were manufactured, this model having power-operated dorsal and ventral turrets, each with two 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns. B-25Bs were among the US reinforcements sent to Australia in 1942, serving with the 3rd Bombardment Group’s 13th and 19th Squadrons, and were also used for the Tokyo raid, led by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, on 18 April 1942. For this attack 16 modified aircraft, with an autopilot, fuel tankage increased by more than 60 per cent to 1,141 US gallons (4319 litres) and the ventral gun turret and Norden bombsight removed, took off from the carrier USS Hornet for an 800 mile (1287 km) flight to their targets at Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama and Nagoya, flying on to China where most force-landed.
Two USAAF contracts, for 63 and 300 aircraft, were placed for the B-25C which had an autopilot, R-2600-13 engines and additional bomb-racks under the wings and fuselage which could carry, respectively, eight 250 lbs (113 kg) bombs and a 2,000 lbs (907 kg) torpedo for anti-shipping strikes total offensive load was 5,200 lbs (2359 kg).
Other B-25C contracts included a Dutch order for 162, intended for service in the Netherlands East Indies, although these were never delivered there (and probably diverted to the Royal Air Force), and two Defence Aid-financed contracts, each for 150 and intended for delivery to China and the UK. The basically-similar B-25D was built in a US government- owned but North American-operated factory at Kansas City, where the company manufactured two batches of 1,200 and 1,090 aircraft.
Two machines from the B-25C line were modified for experiments into wing de-icing, these being the XB- 25E with a hot-air system and the XB-25F which used electrically heated elements.
Developed for attacks on Japanese shipping, the B-25G carried a 75 mm M4 US Army cannon mounted in the nose, the cannon being provided with twenty-one 15 lbs (6.8 kg) shells. The armament was supplemented by a pair of 12.7 mm (0.50 in) guns which were used also to aim the heavier weapon. in addition, the dorsal and fully- retractable ventral turrets each contained two machine guns. Five B-25Cs were, in fact, completed as B-25Gs, and 400 were subsequently built at Inglewood. This version was initially assigned to the US Far East Air Forces, entering service with the 498th Squadron in February 1944.
The Mitchell with the greatest firepower was the B-25H, of which 1,000 were built at Inglewood. The 75 mm cannon was of the lighter T13E1 model and the four 12.7 mm (0.50 in) guns, also mounted in the nose, were augmented by two similar guns in blisters on each side of the fuselage below the cockpit. The twin-gun dorsal turret was relocated to a position just aft of the cockpit, and armament was completed by a 12.7 mm (0.50 in) gun in each of the waist positions and two in the tail. Additionally, the B-25H could carry a 3,000 lbs (1361-kg) bomb load and a torpedo, as could the B-25J in which the glazed nose with its bomb aiming station was reintroduced, reducing the nose armament to one hand-operated and four fixed 12.7 mm (0.50 in) guns. Some later aircraft had a solid nose with eight 0.50-in (12.7-mm) guns, bringing the total of these weapons to 18. Underwing racks could carry eight 5 in (127 mm) rockets. The USAAF contract was for 4,805 B-25Js, but as the war ended 415 were cancelled and 72 were completed but not delivered all were manufactured at Kansas City.
For reconnaissance duties the F-10 version was introduced in 1943, 10 being converted from B-25Ds. Armament was removed, additional fuel tanks fitted in the bomb bay, and cameras installed in the rear fuselage and in the nose.
Sixty B-25Ds, B-25Gs, B-25Cs and B-25Js were converted during 1943-4 for use as advanced trainers under the designations AT-25A, AT-25B, AT-25C and AT-25D. They were later redesignated TB-25D, TB-25G, TB-25C and TB-25J more than 600 of the last model were converted after the war and between 1951 and 1954 117 and 40 Mitchells were respectively converted to TB-25K and TB-25M standard, as flying classrooms for instruction in the use of Hughes E-1 and E-5 fire-control radar. The final training versions were the TB-25L and TB-25N multi-engine conversion trainers, of which Hayes Aircraft Corporation produced 90 and 47 examples respectively.
US Navy Mitchells, of which delivery began in January 1943 with an initial assignment to VMB-413, comprised 50 PBJ-ICs, 152 PBJ-IDs, one PBJ-IG, 248 PBJ-IHs and 255 PBJ-IJs, the letter suffix identifying the equivalent B-25 variant.
The advent of the Mitchell allowed the Royal Air Force to replace the Douglas Bostons and Lockheed Venturas flown by No. 2 Group on daylight operations. The first 23 aircraft, delivered in May and June 1942, were B-25B Mitchell Is, three of which were subjected to evaluation and acceptance trials at the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment of this batch one was retained in Canada and another crashed before delivery. The rest were flown to Nassau in the Bahamas where No. 111 Operational Training Unit had been established on 20 August, based at Windsor and Oakes Fields. Between May 1943 and June 1945, No. 13 OTU also flew Mitchells from Bicester, Finmere and Harwell in Britain.
As deliveries of B-25C Mitchell lis built up through the second hall of 1942, Bahamas-trained crews returned to the United Kingdom to form the first squadrons, originally to have been Nos. 21 and 114. In fact, the first two operational units were Nos. 98 and 180 Squadrons, formed at West Raynharn on 12 and 13 September, respectively. The Dutch-manned No. 320 Squadron gave up its Lockheed Hudsons for Mitchells at Methwold in March 1943, and No. 226 replaced its Bostons at Swanton Morley in May. All four squadrons flew Mitchells until after the cessation of hostilities.
After initial problems with the Mitchell’s armament had been solved, RAF operations began on 22 January 1943 when six aircraft from No. 98 Squadron and six from No. 180 attacked oil installations at Ghent. The four squadrons of No. 2 Group continued their formation attacks throughout 1943 and 1944, operating increasingly in a tactical role following the Allied invasion of France in June 1944. Nos. 98, 180 and 320 Squadrons moved up to Melsbroek, Brussels in October, while No. 226 took up residence at Vitry-en-Artois. The last No. 2 Group Mitchell operation of the war was flown on 2 May 1945 when 47 aircraft attacked marshalling yards at Itzehoe. RAF Mitchell operations outside of Europe included those of Nos. 681 and 684 Squadrons, flying in a photographic reconnaissance role in India from 1943 to 1945.
RAF serial batches covered 886 Mitchells, comprising 23 B-25B Mitchell Is 432 B-25Cs and 113 B-25Ds, both of which were known as Mitchell lls and 316 B-25J Mitchell Ills. The remaining two were B-25Gs, with the 75 mm gun, and one of them, with armament removed, was probably the last in service in the United Kingdom, flying with the Meteorological Research Flight at Farnborough as late as 1950.
In addition to the Dutch-manned No. 320 Squadron, RAF Mitchell units manned by foreign nationals included No. 305, whose Polish crews converted from Vickers Wellingtons at Swanton Morley in September 1943, and No. 342 (Lorraine) Squadron which exchanged its Bostons for Mitchells at Vitry-en-Artois in March 1945. After disbandment as RAF units both the French and Dutch took their aircraft home.
No. 320 Squadron was reformed at Valkenburg as a Dutch navy patrol/search and rescue unit on 29 March 1949, its initial equipment including Mitchells which, replaced by Lockheed Harpoons when the squadron changed role to maritime patrol, were passed on first to No. 5 Squadron, formed on 7 May 1951, and then to No. 8 Squadron on 10 March 1952.
During the war the Dutch had flown Mitchells at the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School at Jackson, Missouri and with No. 18 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force, formed with Dutch personnel at Canberra on 4 April 1942, and operating throughout the campaigns to recapture the Pacific islands. Control passed to the Netherlands on 15 January 1946 and, based at Bandoeng in Java, the squadron was soon in action again, in the conflict with the Indonesians. After the ceasefire, which resulted in the disbandment of the Netherlands East Indies air force on 21 June 1950, Mitchells were handed over to the new Indonesian government to form the equipment of the bomber flight of No. 1 Squadron. The RAAF acquired 50 Mitchells, including B-25Ds and B-25Js, which were flown by Nos. 2 and 119 Squadrons.
The Mitchells supplied to the Chinese air force remained in service throughout the postwar struggle which led to the communist overthrow of the Chiang Kai-shek government, some captured aircraft being used by the Sino-Communist forces while others escaped to Taiwan. A total of 807 Mitchells was supplied under Lend-Lease to the USSR, although eight were lost in transit.
In Central and South America, Mitchells were supplied to Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay. Signature of the Rio Pact of Mutual Defense in 1947 resulted in the United States supplying B-25Js to Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Peru and Venezuela.
Among Commonwealth air forces, the Royal Canadian Air Force received a small number of Mitchell lls from the Royal Air Force in May 1944 and these, modified to the standard of the USAAF F-10 version with cameras installed in the nose, equipped the Photographic Flight at Rockcliffe, Ottawa. The unit was unofficially designated No. 13 (Photographic) Squadron, as part of No. 7 (Photographic) Wing, although this title was not formally promulgated until 15 November 1946. The squadron was renumbered as No. 413 (Photographic) Squadron on 1 April 1947 and the Mitchells served alongside Avro Lancaster Xs until withdrawn in October 1948.
Auxiliary squadrons formed after the war includes Nos. 406 and 418 Squadrons, based at Saskatoon and Edmonton respectively. Both were light bomber units, flying Mk 11 and Mk 111 Mitchells until they were retired in 1958. VIP-configured Mitchells were used by No. 412 Squadron between 1956 and 1960.
THE AAF fought during World War II with aircraft which were all either in production or under development prior to 7 December 1941. An unavoidable time lag exists between the conception of a weapon and its tactical use, and this is particularly true of such a complex machine as the modern combat plane. Despite intensive efforts during the war to shorten the interval, the lag was rarely less than three and often as much as five or more years. The major wartime achievements in research and development--for example, jet propulsion--had their chief effect on the tactical strength of the air force only after the war was over. But if the AAF necessarily fought with prewar types of aircraft, a multitude of modifications made the AAF's 1945 planes far superior to their 1941 and 1942 predecessors.
The more highly publicized planes, such as the B-17 and the P-47, became familiar to the American public according to a conventional mode of designation that combined a letter as the symbol of function with a numeral to indicate sequence within a type. In these designations, A stood for Attack, B for Bombardment, C for Cargo (transport), F for Photographic, L for Liaison, P for Pursuit (fighter), and T for Training (the prefix of P, B, or A indicated Primary, Basic, and Advanced). The men who flew in combat, and who thus knew at first hand the desperate need to counter each tactical or technical advance by the enemy, gave closer attention to the letter appended after the numeral to indicate the model, for the B-17E incorporated improvements over the earlier B-17D. Only as a plane reached the state of obsolescence did the AAF leave off in a continuing effort to improve its performance and its equipment.
In the development of improved equipment the primary responsibility
might lie in agencies outside the AAF. The application of radar to problems of navigation and target identification undoubtedly represented the most significant advance of the war years, but for the development of radar devices of all sorts the AAF looked to the Signal Corps until late in 1944. Similarly, the Ordnance Department of the Army carried the responsibility for armament employed in aircraft--a field in which the chief progress during the war came in the use of guns of heavier caliber and in larger numbers. Although an armament conference of Air Corps leaders meeting in December 1939 had emphasized the need for development of weapons specifically designed for use in the airplane, the AAF in 1941 was still basically dependent, bombs alone excepted, upon adaptations of weapons originally designed for ground or naval use. 1 Of these the .50-caliber machine gun ranked first in importance. But if responsibility in significant areas of development was thus divided, there was no division in so far as the airplane itself was concerned. For the airframe, for its armor, and for its motive force, and for such developments as the power-driven turret and a central control of firepower, the responsibility was clearly fixed within the AAF.
The military aircraft of World War II was a monoplane with one to four engines and an aluminum airframe housing a mass of equipment for the purposes of navigation, armament, communication, and crew accommodation. The power plant and its accompanying propeller were the keys to aircraft performance, for speed, range, altitude, and rate of climb depended in large measure on the power and efficiency of the propulsion unit. The race to increase the power ratings of existing engines and to develop new ones was among the most significant competitions of the war.*
World War II aircraft were powered by multicylinder, reciprocating
* The improvement achieved is suggested by the following table:
|Original Take-off||1945 Take-off|
|Engines||Horsepower Rating||Horsepower Rating|
|Pratt & Whitney R-1830||950||1,350|
|Pratt & Whitney R-2800||1,800||2,100|
The maximum horsepower actually in use in 1945 was somewhat lower than shown above because the engines with the 1945 take-off ratings were usually not yet incorporated in combat models.
engines. Heavier planes which required more powerful engines became still heavier with the installation of larger engines. In the effort to secure maximum power with a minimum weight, engines, like the planes they served, went through many changes. The Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine* went through six major and some eighteen minor variations, making a total of twenty-four models, none of them completely interchangeable. 2 Although the P-35 and P-36, standard fighters of the late 1930's, had been powered by air-cooled radial engines, the P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, and P-51 were all originally designed around the liquid-cooled in-line or V-type engine. 3 The liquid-cooled engine was more compact than the air-cooled radial engine, and it had a larger horsepower output per unit of frontal area, an important consideration in aircraft design.&dagger In addition, liquid-cooled engines consumed fuel more efficiently than did air-cooled ones. 4
Two developments perfected during the 1930's--the supercharger and the controllable-pitch constant-speed propeller--played important parts in increasing the efficiency of the aircraft engine. The controllable-pitch constant-speed propeller could be set to maintain any chosen engine speed and thereby permitted maximum utilization of available engine power under all conditions. The supercharger, a device for increasing the mass air charge of an internal combustion engine over that which would normally be drawn in by the pistons, is used to compensate for the lower density of air at high altitudes. It was the supercharger, either as an integral part of or as a separate unit attached to increasingly powerful engines, which permitted the
* The AAF designated its engines thus by letter and number-the letter R indicating a radial arrangement of the cylinders, the letter V an in-line V-type arrangement. The number was fixed by the cubic-inch piston displacement.
&dagger The only American manufacturer of liquid-cooled engines for military purposes in 1939 was the Allison Division of General Motors, which was just bringing its V-1710 engine into production. The success of the British with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine and the obvious desirability of having another source of production persuaded the Air Corps to initiate production of the Merlin engine in the United States in 1940. The Packard Motor Car Company manufactured the engine as the V-1650, beginning in 1941, after an "extraordinarily rapid and excellent job of redrawing the engine to conform to American production standards and practices." But because the air-cooled engine had certain advantages over the liquid-cooled one, including less vulnerability, more durability, and easier maintenance, the Air Corps did not rule out its use in fighter planes. The development of the R-2800 engine (used with great success in the P-47) by Pratt & Whitney provided an outstanding air-cooled engine with a potential great enough eventually to make it at least the equal in performance of any liquid-cooled engine.
operation of AAF bombers and fighters at greater speeds and higher altitudes.
By the end of hostilities all heavy bombers had achieved a ceiling of more than 30,000 feet and that of the B-29 approached 40,000. Similarly, speed had been increased and range extended. The 300 miles per hour maximum and 600 miles combat range of the P-36 in 1939 contrasted sharply with the almost 500 miles per hour of the P-51H and the better than 2,000-mile range of the P-47N in 1945. In 1939 the B-17B was credited with a high speed of 268 miles per hour and a combat range of 1,000 miles. In 1945 the B-29B, more than twice as large as the B-17B, had a top speed of almost 400 miles per hour and a combat range approaching 4,000 miles. 5 The intervening years, whatever the failures may have been, had been nevertheless years of startling achievement.
It is difficult to draw a satisfactory line between the most general description of a plane and detailed tabulation of specific models. The difficulty becomes the greater because so much of the critical data on performance acquires practical meaning only when considered in relation to the varied requirements of combat. Performance characteristics are generally given in terms of maximum capabilities under ideal conditions and can be misleading as to performance under battle conditions. An aircraft may have a top speed of 300 miles per hour, a ceiling of 30,000 feet, a maximum or ferrying range of 3,000 miles, and a maximum bomb load of 8,000 pounds, but it cannot achieve all of these maximums in a single flight, even under ideal conditions. In order to fly 3,000 miles, it must carry a maximum fuel load and no bombs, and it must cruise at a moderate rate of speed to conserve fuel. The effective range under battle conditions, for example, thus becomes something quite different from the full potential considered without reference to military obligations. Statistics of maximum performance in the several categories nevertheless offer useful guidance as to the relative potential of different planes for any type of employment.*
* It may be helpful for the reader to bear in mind the following definitions. The range of a plane is the total distance it can fly without refueling. Its maximum range is a ferrying range, which is to say that the additional range is secured by using all available space for added fuel. The combat range is necessarily somewhat less than the maximum range because the plane is combat-loaded--that is, it carries bombs and other items required for combat in lieu of additional fuel. The tactical radius of a plane is the maximum distance it can fly away from its base with a normal combat load and return without refueling, allowing for all safety and operating factors. For practical purposes during World War II, tactical radius was considered to be three-eighths to two-fifths of the combat range. These figures were considerably less than half the combat range because of allowances for certain factors--including fuel reserves, time required for assembly of formations, and time in the combat zone--which were not included in the computation of combat range. Both combat range and tactical radius vary with the loading of the plane.
All told, the AAF employed more than a hundred aircraft models during World War II. At its peak strength in July 1944, it had on hand 79,908 planes of all types. 6 In the following pages the more important of these planes will be discussed in terms of their conventional classification.
Attack and Bombardment
Although opinion in the AAF placed special stress on strategic bombardment as the prime mission of an air force, the dominant view in the War Department General Staff was officially stated as late as October 1938 in these terms: "the Infantry Division continues to be the basic combat element by which battles are won, the necessary enemy field forces destroyed, and captured territory held." 7 It followed that the primary function of Army aviation was the support of groulxl forces in battle. And from this emphasis came the influences which gave shape to the A-20, the A-26, and the more famous B-25 and B-26, all of them designed basically for a supporting mission.
The attack plane, first so designated in 1922 and frequently described as a light bomber, was designed for immediate support of ground troops. Because it was to operate chiefly at low altitude, a premium was placed on high speed and maneuverability. Armed with bombs and machine guns, its development during the war years tended to carry the plane closer to the classification of the medium bomber, especially after fighter aircraft proved particularly effective in the combined functions of a fighter-bomber. The medium bomber, considered to be a "pure bombardment type," was intended to operate at medium altitudes of 8,000 to 14,000 feet and primarily against depots, fortified positions, railroad yards, and other such targets along or behind the battle line. 8 Carrying a heavier bomb load and enjoying the advantage of greater range, the mediums could supplement the work of light bombers and might assist the long-range heavy bombers against the nearer targets in a strategic bombardment effort.
The A-20, or the Havoc, was developed from the Douglas DB-7, originally designed for the French Air Force in 1937. Its prototype was test-flown in 1938 production began the next year and during 1940 the Air Corps accepted almost 300 A-20's, most of them for release to the British, who called the planes Bostons and put them to good use in North Africa. 9 The AAF used the A-20 in most theaters of operations during the war, and had a peak inventory of more than 1,700 of the planes in September 1944, but of the 7,385 A-20's accepted between 1940 and 1944, a substantial number were allocated to the British and the Russians. 10 Production of A-20's was discontinued late in 1944, when the superior. A-26 became available in sufficient numbers to begin replacement of the A-20 in combat units. 11
The A-20, of which there were eight major models, was a mid-wing all-metal monoplane powered by two Wright R-2600 engines. With improved engines, the airframe weight of the plane increased from 8,600 pounds in 1941 to 10,800 pounds in 1944, while the maximum weight (including bombs and crew) increased from some 21,000 pounds to 30,000 pounds. The armament was also increased--from seven .30-caliber machine guns in 1941 to as many as nine .50-caliber machine guns in 1944-45. Some of the later A-20's carried five .50-caliber machine guns and up to twelve 5-inch rockets. The bomb load was increased from a maximum of 2,400 pounds in 1941 to 4,000 pounds in 1944-45, carried both internally and externally. There was little increase in the maximum speed (325 miles per hour) or the tactical radius of the A-20 during the war, largely because of the increase in weight without a proportional increase in engine power. The normal tactical radius with 2,000 pounds of bombs was 250 miles. 12 It carried a three-man crew.
The early success of the German Stuka led AAF leaders to consider redesigning the A-20 as a dive bomber, but the technical difficulties proved to be too great. Efforts to convert Navy dive bombers to meet Air Corps needs were then pushed, but when the chief product of these efforts, the single-engine A-24 (Navy SBD-3), was combat-tested in New Guinea, it was considered by Army airmen to be too slow, too limited in range, and too vulnerable to enemy fighters. 13 In the spring of 1942 it was decided that the P-51, a new fighter that had gone into production the preceding year and for which the AAF as yet had no major plans, could be converted
into a dive bomber. With added diving brakes* and external wing bomb racks carrying up to 1,000 pounds, and with changes of armament and engine, the modified P-51 became the A-36. 14 By early 1943 two groups had been equipped for service in the Mediterranean, where they performed well enough but where experience also demonstrated that the value of this specialized plane had been overestimated. The more versatile fighter-bomber--a straight fighter equipped with bomb racks--proved much more useful. By V-J Day the A-36 had completely disappeared from AAF inventories. 15
The B-25 (Mitchell) and the B-26 (Marauder), each operating with six-man crews, served as the AAF's medium bombers during the greater part of World War II. North American had initiated design on the B-25 in February 1938 and production began in February 1941, without benefit of an experimental prototype plane. 16 Similarly, the Air Corps bought the B-26 from the Glenn L. Martin Company right off the drawing board in 1939: a production contract was signed in September of that year, the first plane flew in November 1940, and manufacture got under way at approximately the same time as that of the B-25. 17 Since the Mitchell was being produced in quantity at an earlier date, it was the first to reach the combat areas in substantial numbers. 18 After its use on Doolittle's Tokyo raid in the spring of 1942, only the highly publicized B-17 was better known to the American public. In all, the AAF accepted 9,816 B-25's and 5,157 B-26's a large number of the B-25's accepted were intended for British and Russian use. The peak AAF inventory for the B-25 was 2,656 in July 1944, and for the B-26, 1,931 in March 1944. After January 1944 B-25 and B-26 groups within the AAF were approximately equal in number. B-26 producrion ceased in April 1945 and B-25 production came to an end shortly after V-J Day. 19
Both planes were twin-engine all-metal midwing monoplanes. In 1941 the Mitchell's two R-2600 engines gave it a maximum take-off power rating of 3,400 horsepower as compared with the Marauder's 3,700. In 1945 the raring for the Mitchell had not been increased, but that of the Marauder had been stepped up to 4,000. During the same period the airframe weight of the B-25 was increased from 11,600 pounds to 13,000 pounds and the maximum weight from
* Apparently the brakes were not satisfactory, for they were wired shut and all dives were made without brakes.
25,000 to 35,000 pounds. The Marauder, a larger plane to begin with, grew from an original airframe weight of 14,100 pounds to almost 17,000 pounds, while its maximum went from 33,000 pounds to more than 38,000. The five machine guns mounted on the 1941 models of the two planes were increased to as many as fourteen .50-caliber guns on some B-25's and twelve on the other plane. Some of the B-25's were equipped with a 75-mm. cannon in the nose of the plane in addition to a half-dozen machine guns. The B-26 was the first American bomber designed with a gun turret, and the B-25 had turrets incorporated, beginning with the B-25B. Normal bomb loads were about 2,400 pounds in 1941 and 4,000 pounds in 1945. 20 As with the A-20, the speeds of the B-25 and B-26 were not measurably increased during the war. The maximum speed for the B-25 at normal combat weight in 1945 (33,500 pounds) was 285 miles per hour, and for the B-26 (at 37,000 pounds) it was about the same. Because of the considerable differences in total weight and in bomb loads carried, it is difficult to compare accurately the 1941 and 1945 ranges of these planes. By 1945 the combat range of the B-25 with a 3,200-pound bomb load was 1,200 miles and for the B-26 with a 4,000-pound load, 1,100 miles. 21 The significant factor in medium bombardment operations, it might be noted, is the size of the bomb load and not the range.
The B-25 ranked consistently as a favorite among AAF pilots, but the B-26 was promptly dubbed the "Widow Maker" and the "Flying Prostitute." Trouble experienced from the first delivery of the plane early in 1941 so persisted that only one combat group (the 22d Bombardment Group, soon sent to Australia) had been equipped with the B-26 by December of that year. 22 As accidents, some of them fatal, continued, General Arnold at the end of March 1942 appointed a special investigating board headed by Maj. Gen. Carl Spaatz to determine whether production should be continued. The board recommended several changes in the plane's design (the chief being a larger wing) and continued use of the plane. 23 Manufacture of the B-26, which had been suspended until necessary changes had been made, was resumed in May, but in July and once again in October 1942 the AAF gave serious consideration to scrapping the B-26 in favor of some other type of plane. 24 But Maj. Gen. George C. Kenney, on the basis of experience in SWPA, commended the plane to Arnold, 25 and before the end of the year B-26 units were
operating successfully in North Africa. After tripping over one final hurdle, a tragic miscarriage of one of the earliest B-26 missions from England that led to further discussion of abandoning the plane, 26 the B-26 won full approval. A "hot" plane with a fast landing speed, it more than proved its worth after experience and intensified training taught pilots how to handle it.
Despite its designation, the A-26 (Invader), which first appeared in combat in 1944, was the most advanced medium bomber used by the AAF during the war. Douglas began designing the plane in January 1941, building the new model on the best features of the DB-7 and the A-20 but with plans for a much greater range and bomb load. Flown first in July 1942, the A-26 went into production in September 1943. By May 1945 six A-26 groups had been committed in overseas theaters. Acceptances of the plane reached almost 2,500 by August 1945. 27
The Invader was an all-metal midwing monoplane powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines, the same power plant used in the B-26. With a combat weight of 35,000 pounds, the A-26 could fly at 360 miles per hour, more than 60 miles faster than the other medium bombers. Its combat range reached 1,000 miles, with a bomb load of 4,000 pounds and a three-man crew. Formidably armed with eighteen .50-caliber machine guns and fourteen 5-inch rockets, the plane had a maximum bomb load of 6,000 pounds, two-thirds of it carried internally. 28
As early as 1942 the AAF planned to replace all other mediums with the A-26.* But production delays, for which AAF Headquarters was inclined to blame the Douglas Company, kept acceptances to a total of only twenty-one planes by 1 March 1944. Arnold's insistence that he wanted the plane "for use in this war and not for the next war" helped to overcome certain shortages of machine tools, and after July 1944 production mounted steadily. 29 Though a late comer, the A-26 compiled a distinguished combat record and, after a period of uncertainty in 1944, won ready acceptance from the crews who flew it. In the postwar period, the A-26 became the Air Force's standard tactical bomber. Redesignated as the B-26 in 1947, it was to be heavily relied on three years later in Korea.
* Experiments were also made to test the possibility that a converted version of the plane might do as a night fighter.
The Big Bomber
Interest among American airmen in the development of a "big bomber" extended back to the early 1920's. Plans for a night bomber with a cruising radius up to 1,000 miles, and a payload of 10,000 pounds, had led in 1923 to the Barling bomber--the largest plane built in the United States up to that time. A triplane with a gross weight of more than 42,000 pounds, its six Liberty 12-A engines proved unequal to the task of achieving a speed even of 100 miles per hour nor could they lift the plane across the Appalachians for the 400-mile flight from Dayton to Washington. But the venture provided useful engineering data, emphasizing especially the ratio that must be observed between the size of a plane and the power generated by its engines. 30 For the remainder of the decade nothing more ambitious than a twin-engine plane was attempted. By the 1930's, however, great progress had been made in the field of aerodynamics and improvements of design had brought the monoplane with its many advantages. Public policy, moreover, opened the way between 1931 and 1935 for the Air Corps to undertake responsibilities of coastal defense that would justify the development of a long-range bomber.
The planners showed some tendency, again, to get ahead of the engineers. The Materiel Division in 1933 set the objective in terms of a plane with a range of 5,000 miles at a speed of 200 miles per hour with a bomb load of 2,000 pounds. War Department approval having given the development plan official status as Project A, contracts of 1934 and 1935 with Boeing resulted in the construction of one experimental model, completed in the fall of 1937 as the XB-15.* Its gross weight of 70,000 pounds was too great for its four 1,000-horsepower engines its top speed of 190 miles per hour was less than had been hoped for, and its high fuel consumption did not permit it to approach the range projected for it. An Air Corps proposal to modify the plane and produce a model called the YB-20&dagger was disapproved by the Assistant Secretary of War. 31 Another contract of 1935, this time with the Douglas Aircraft Company, produced in June 1941 the XB-19--the largest of all bombers prior to the B-36. Neither the four 2,200-horsepower motors originally installed
&dagger The prefix Y indicated planes intended for service testing.
nor the four of 2,600 horsepower each subsequently tried provided the lift required by its 160,000 pounds maximum gross weight. 32 The B-19, like the B-15, served only to test, and thus to advance, the engineering knowledge that went into the construction of other and more successful planes.
The B-17, built by Boeing to less ambitious specifications submitted in a design competition for a multiengine bomber in 1933-34, was the first of the Air Corps' "big bombers." Flown originally in July 1935, the plane had a gross weight of 40,000 pounds and four 750-horsepower engines. The tragic loss, through crash and burning, of the first model in the fall of 1935 forced the Air Corps, which had been much impressed by the plane's performance, to reduce a planned purchase of sixty-five of the aircraft to only thirteen, all of which had been delivered by August 1937. 33
Convinced that it had in the B-17 the best bomber in the world, the Air Corps was anxious to purchase the plane in quantity for equipment of the GHQ Air Force. Procurement estimates for fiscal year 1938, submitted to the War Department in 1936, recommended the establishment of at least two B-17 groups--one to be stationed on the east coast and one on the west. Place should be found in the 1938 budget for fifty B-17's, in supplement to the twenty-six already authorized for 1937, and for eleven Project A planes as tokens of a policy of continuing development and production. But a special study by G-4, prepared at the request of the Secretary of War, brought in June 1936 a most discouraging statement of War Department policy. 34 Concentration on the big bomber, an offensive weapon, was inconsistent with national policy and threatened unnecessary duplication of function with the Navy, whose eleven carrier-based bombing squadrons equaled the combined total of such forces elsewhere in the world. No country had at the time, or was likely to have in the near future, aircraft capable of mounting an air attack on the United States. And since aircraft of medium range were "capable of attacking" any hostile naval or land-based aviation within effective range of our vital strategic areas, the request for the much more expensive long-range planes lacked logic. The B-18, then the standard two-engine bomber, was equal to any mission assigned the Air Corps and was much less expensive. Not only did the study advise against the purchase of the requested B-17's but, in a reversal of the attitude more recently governing policy, the paper argued
against the development of "long-range, high-cost, bombardment airplanes" of the Project A type. Until the international situation indicated a "need for long-range bombardment aviation," the Air Corps should be equipped with "airplanes of reasonable performances rather than to have nothing as a result of our efforts to reach for the ideal."
These views as to Army aircraft requirements were to prevail against Air Corps arguments until the logic of events destroyed the assumptions on which the analysis was based. When President Roosevelt added the weight of his own insistence upon a greatly expanded program of aircraft production in the autumn of 1938,* the Air Corps' only long-range bombers were the original thirteen B-17's. An early addition to bomber strength was promised by a total of forty aircraft on order at the end of that year. 35 General Andrews, commanding the GHQ Air Force, had recommended in 1937 that his bombardment units henceforth should be equipped only with four-engine bombers, 36 but that force would not begin to be equipped with the B-17 until the summer of 1939. 37 During the calendar year of 1940 .factory acceptances of heavy bombers totaled 60 aircraft (53 B-17's and 7 B-24's) for 1941 the total reached 313 (144 B-17's and 169 B-24's). 38 At the opening of hostilities in December of that year, official figures for heavy bombers on hand in the AAF were just under 300. 39
Although the Air Corps by 1938 had won approval of the B-17 as a standard model for use in combat units, the War Department as late as October of that year specified that production of four-engine bombers should not be included in estimates for fiscal 1940 and 1941. 40 Also, in response to a request for funds to underwrite the development of a pressurized-cabin bomber with a ceiling of 30,000 feet and a range of 4,000 miles, the War Department had replied in August 1938 that "experimentation and development for fiscal years 1939 and 1940 will be restricted to that class of aviation designed for the close support of ground troops. . . . " 41 But the President's newly awakened interest in aviation soon removed all such barriers to the attainment of Air Corps hopes. Valuable time had been lost, but the experimental models of the B-17 already gave proof that the day of the big bomber had come.
The delay in getting the plane into quantity production must be
attributed in part to continuing experimentation for the improvement of its performance. Series A, B, C, and D all predated Pearl Harbor--the planes which carried destruction to Germany were B-17E's, F's, and G's, and chiefly the last two. The B-17B, the first assigned to combat units, had an airframe weight of 18,700 pounds, a maximum gross weight well in excess of 40,000 pounds, and could carry a maximum bomb load of 8,800 pounds--which it rarely did. Powered by four Wright R-1820-51 engines of 1,000 horsepower each, the plane had a maximum speed of 268 miles an hour and a cruising speed of 230 miles per hour at an altitude of 25,000 feet at 10,000 feet the speeds were 233 and 176 respectively. Obviously, operation at high altitudes was extremely important if maximum speed was to be obtained, not to mention the additional encouragement to raise the ceiling subsequently provided by enemy fighter planes and anti-aircraft. The B-17B had a maximum range of 3,000 miles, but its combat range with a bomb load of 2,400 pounds was less than 1,500 miles.* This meant a radius of little more than 600 miles. For armament the plane carried only five flexible machine guns, all of them .30-caliber initially--hardly enough to justify its popular designation as the Flying Fortress. 42
The installation of superchargers on the B-17B raised the ceiling 10,000 feet over that of the original 1935 model. Further refinements of supercharger and engine (the horsepower reached 1,200 during the course of the war) gave the B-17G in 1945 an operating ceiling of more than 30,000 feet and a top speed of some 300 miles per hour. 43 The problem of increasing range without sacrificing bomb load continued to challenge the attention of engineers and combat leaders alike. From the early B-17's of 1939 to the B-17F and G, the fuel capacity was more than doubled--from 1,700 gallons&dagger to more than 3,600 gallons. This doubling of fuel capacity could not result in a comparable extension of range, for the fuel and other changes added their own weight to the load that must be carried, but the radius of action was markedly extended. While the B-17C and D were credited with a range of 1,280 miles carrying a bomb load of 2,400 pounds, the B-17F and G, with a bomb load of 4,000
* Prewar statistics on range of aircraft were generally found to be exaggerated when actual wartime experience brought home to the AAF the great host of factors affecting combat radius of action.
&dagger In 1941 the B-17B's had a maximum fuel capacity of almost 2,500 gallons.
pounds, had a combat range of better than 2,000 miles. 44 The B-17B carried two .30-caliber and three .50-caliber machine guns in 1941 in 1945 the B-17F and G carried twelve .50-caliber machine guns, four of them housed in upper and lower power-driven turrets, features not found in the earlier models. Other additions included protective armor, bullet-proof windshields, and various types of equipment for communication, navigation, and flight control. The bomb loading depended on the type of bomb carried--the B-17F and G could carry only two 2,000-pound bombs, but there was room for eight 1,600-pound or 1,000-pound bombs. The quantity of smaller bombs that could be loaded varied. 45
A typical mission by B-17's in the European theater in 1944-45 would take them to Berlin, Munich, or Leipzig. From their airfields in East Anglia the bombers would have a practical radius of some 600 to 700 miles with a bomb load of 4,000 to 5,000 pounds. Longer missions were occasionally flown to targets like Danzig and Warsaw, but these were with reduced bomb loads. For most combat purposes then, the effective combat radius of the B-17 may be stated as less than 800 miles. 46
The B-17, although the first of the country's heavy bombers, was not produced in as great quantity as was the B-24. Between January 1940 and 31 August 1945 the AAF accepted a total of 12,692 B-17's and 18,190 B-24's.* The peak AAF inventory for B-17's was 4,574 in August 1944, and for B-24's, 6,043 in September 1944. 47 The maximum number of overseas combat groups was thirty-three for the B-17 in September 1944 and forty-five and one-half for the B-24 in June 1944. Both planes were used in virtually every theater of war, but, in general, the B-17's were concentrated in the European and Mediterranean theaters and the B-24's in the Mediterranean and Pacific theaters. 48
The B-24 represented one of the earliest products of President Roosevelt's intervention in behalf of air power in the autumn of 1938. Taking advantage of the new authority for heavy bomber development, General Arnold in January 1939 asked the Consolidated Aircraft Company to produce a four-engine bomber with a 3,000-mile range, a top speed above 300 miles per hour, and a ceiling of 35,000 feet. These specifications exceeded current B-17
* Of these last, a large number went to Allied countries, and the Navy took nearly 1,000 (see Vol I, 551 n ).
characteristics, and it was hoped that a superior plane might be the result. On the basis of preliminary engineering data, the Air Corps contracted in March 1939 for a prototype to be produced by the end of that year. 49 Drawing heavily upon experience with the B-15 and the B-17, Consolidated had the new plane ready for its first test-flight at San Diego in December. Already the Air Corps, losing no chance to speed its preparation for war, had contracted for seven YB-24's and thirty-six B-24A's. 50 The plane went into production in 1941.
Like the B-17, the B-24 underwent many modifications. Production models actually reached the B-24M, and model N was under development at the close of the war. Quantity production came with model D, and on the battle fronts D, H, and J became the most familiar. The B-24D carried the turbosupercharger. Additional armor, self-sealing fuel tanks, power-operated gun turrets, and improved flight equipment may be listed among the major changes. Ten .50-caliber machine guns replaced the original three .50-caliber and four .30-caliber guns. The maximum bomb load rose from 8,800 pounds to 12,800. 51 The speed remained comparable to that of the B-17.
The most distinctive feature of the B-24 was its twin-tail construction. As early as 1942 the AAF felt that a single-tail B-24 would provide greater stability, and Consolidated undertook to try the change. Test models flown in 1943 produced results that led in April 1944 to a decision that all future B-24's would have the single tail. 52 Actually, the Navy got most of the newly designed Liberators,* and on Army fields the familiar twin-tail remained the distinguishing feature of the B-24. An ungainly looking ship on the ground, it had a grace of its own in the air. The number of B-24's produced during the war years, which reached a higher figure than that for any other U.S. combat aircraft, testifies to the plane's continuing utility in a wide variety of roles, including those of tanker and transport as well as bomber.
The B-17 and the B-24 inevitably invited comparison. Coming along four to five years after the B-17, the B-24 possessed an initial advantage. It carried a larger bomb load than the B-17 and could carry the load farther with a crew of the same size-ten men. Listed in the charts originally as having a range of 2,850 miles with a 2,500-pound bomb load, experience showed that it did have a longer reach than any other compering plane. 53 It was this advantage that gave the
* Called Privateers or PB4Y2's.
B-24 the call over the B-17 for service in CBI and SWPA, where Kenney's Fifth Air Force used it for the 2,400-mile round trip attacks on Balikpapan in 1944,* and where regularly, if less spectacularly, it extended the coverage of overwater search. Against the German Air Force, however, combat experience showed the plane to be lacking in armament and armor. Attempts to remedy these and other short-comings increased the weight of the plane and altered flight characteristics in such a way as to render it less stable. Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, commanding the Eighth Air Force, made his preference for the B-17 clear in a letter of January 1945. 54 By that date the increased range of the B- 17 some time since had robbed the B-24 of its chief advantage. 55 Against the Luftwaffe , the capital enemy, the rugged and steady B-17 remained the natural pick.
The B-29, whose size and performance justified its classification as a Very Heavy (VHB) or Very Long-Range (VLR) bomber, was the largest bombardment plane employed by any belligerent during World War II. Flying first from China and later from the Marianas, the plane repeatedly proved its capacity to deliver payloads up to 15,000 pounds against Japanese targets at a distance of as much as 1,600 statute miles from base. The story of the plane, and of the tactical and technical changes which made this achievement possible, has been recounted in an earlier volume of this series.&dagger Here it will be sufficient to summarize somewhat briefly for the convenience of the reader.
Having acted to assure the necessary provision of bombardment planes built to more modest specifications, the AAF turned its attention to the realization of a goal as old as Project A&Dagger--the building of a really big bomber. Practical experience argued against any attempt to take too high a hurdle at once, and the original specifications submitted to manufacturers in January 1940 were below those for the as yet unfinished B-19. Contracts for experimental models were completed with Boeing and Consolidated on 6 September 1940, the projected models receiving designations, respectively, as the XB-29 and the XB-32. 56 Both planes were test-flown for the first time in September
* See Vol. V, 316-22. In the war against Germany, the plane's most famous mission was that flown from Africa against Ploesti in August 1943 (see Vol. II, 477-84).
&dagger In Vol. V, Sections I and IV. See especially Chap. for the origins of the VLR project.
1942, but successive delays in getting the B-32 into production gave it an insignificant place in the combat history of the war.* In contrast, though there were discouraging delays, the B-29 set a remarkable combat record within four years of the original experimental contract. Boeing made the first delivery, of seven planes, in July 1943. By the end of August 1945 acceptances had reached a total of 3,763. AAF inventories that month showed 2,132 of the aircraft on hand, of which number over 1,000 then belonged to the Marianas-based Twentieth Air Force. At the end of the war forty B-29 groups had been organized, and of these twenty-one had reached their combat stations in the Pacific. 57
This remarkable record could not have been achieved except for the willingness of Arnold and Lovett to gamble. In the first move of "the three-billion-dollar gamble," the AAF entered into a contract for the plane's production long before it had been flight-tested in September 1942 contracts had been let for 1,644 planes. 58 The full extent of the risk may be somewhat more exactly suggested by noting that the materials, measured by weight, required for one B-29 airframe equaled the requirement for eleven P-51's. 59 It was a gamble not so much with money, of which a wartime plenty existed, as with the allocation of scarce materials and manufacturing facilities. Boeing's existing plants were heavily committed to production of the indispensable B-17, so that for the B-29 program new factories at Renton in Washington and at Wichita in Kansas had to be built. It having been recognized that Boeing, even with greatly expanded facilities, could not carry the full load, the Bell Aircraft and Glenn L. Martin companies took part of the load at newly constructed and government-financed plants located, respectively, at Marietta, Georgia, and at Omaha, Nebraska.&dagger. 60
The old problem of providing a motive force adequate to the size of the plane-which doubled the weight of the B-17-was ultimately solved by the Wright R-3350 engine. Even with a maximum horsepower almost double that generated by the engines of the B-17, the R-3350 could not meet the demand until further streamlining of the plane had been accomplished. The first quantity production order for the plane had been closed in 1941, but efforts to correct defects and
&dagger At the end of August 1945 the production record stood as follows: Wichita, 1,595 Renton, 998 Marietta, 652 Omaha, 515. The original three B-29's had been built at Boeing's Seattle plant.
to improve performance of the engine continued to be a major factor affecting plans for combat use of the plane for three years thereafter. In the B-29 the AAF secured at last its pressurized-cabin bomber. Among other new features, the chief was a central fire-control system. The usual armament was twelve .50-caliber machine guns, or ten machine guns and a 20-mm. cannon, all mounted in power-driven turrets. 61 Three models were used in combat: the B-29, B-29A, and B-29B. The bomb load--up to 20,000 pounds--was all carried internally. The crew included eleven men. A maximum fuel capacity of 9,548 gallons gave the B-29B a maximum range well over the 5,000-mile goal of Project A. 62 The justifiable satisfaction with which the AAF at war's end viewed the combat record of this plane came in no small part from the confirmation that record gave to a long-cherished faith in the practicability of the big bomber.
The B-32, only other very heavy bomber produced during the war, had been viewed essentially as insurance against failure of the B-29. 63 The first two XB-32's were shaped in no small part by Consolidated's experience with the B-24 like it, both were twin-tailed. Flight tests, beginning in September 1942, having revealed aerodynamic difficulties calling for redesign, the third experimental model was a single-tail plane. It performed more satisfactorily, and the AAF during 1943 and 1944 placed production orders for just under 2,000 of the aircraft. 64 In other words, the decision was to gamble on the hope of the plane's continued development, a natural decision in view of continuing uncertainties regarding the B-29 and of the advantage, in any case, of having two planes instead of one. 65
Unhappily, the development of the B-32 lagged far behind that of the B-29. Not until August 1944 did the AAF put its first B-32 to service tests.* Not counting the three experimental models, only 13 B-32's had been accepted by the end of 1944 total production by the end of August 1945 had reached 118. 66 Only fifteen of these planes saw combat, in the western Pacific with the Far East Air Forces just at the close of the war.
The ultimate failure of the B-32 had been predicted by the NACA in 1942, to the great resentment of officials of the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. 67 Nevertheless, the hope persisted at AAF Headquarters into the fall of 1944 that the plane had "nothing basically wrong which cannot be fixed." 68 By late 1944, however, the operational
experience of the Twentieth Air Force had removed all doubts as to the worthiness of its Superfortresses, and Arnold's A-3 advised in December that a need no longer existed for the B-32 "as insurance against failure of the B-29.". 69 In February 1945 the Acting Chief of Air Staff, Brig. Gen. Patrick W. Timberlake, added the opinion that the "B-32 in its present form is not an acceptable bomber." He cited two outstanding unsatisfactory features: the inability of the bombardier to see properly during the bomb run and the weight of the plane. 70 By summer it had been decided to limit production to a total of 214, of which 40 were to be used for training and the remainder for a variety of projects, including the equipment of one combat group in the Pacific. In October 1945 the AAF terminated its B-32 contracts and directed that all B-32 planes be declared excess and disposed of. 71 The moral perhaps is simply this: in heavy bomber development, where engineers necessarily work on the frontiers of experience and knowledge, success is achieved only at the cost of some failures. And those who in the hour of national emergency provided the B-17, the B-24, and the B-29 need offer no apologies for the B-15, the B-19, or the B-32.
The chief fighter planes used by the AAF during World War II were the P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, and P-51. In the earlier part of the war two groups in ETO were equipped with the British Spitfire,&dagger and in the last year of hostilities the P-61, a night fighter, became a familiar item of AAF equipment. One other plane, the P-63, was manufactured in quantity,&Dagger but it was never used as a first-line combat plane and most of the output was sent to the U.S.S.R. on lend-lease.
During the 1930's the Air Corps fell behind other nations in the development of fighter-type aircraft. This lag is explained in no all part by a primary interest in the long-range bomber. Not only did that interest hold first claim on limited funds, but progress in the development of larger bombardment planes affected assumptions governing plans for fighter aircraft. The bombers built in the 1930's
* After May 1942 this was the official designation for planes variously designated theretofore as pursuit, interceptor, or fighter.
&Dagger The AAF accepted 3,273 P-63's before the end of the war, but its peak inventory, in August 1944, for this plane was only 339.
flew at speeds equal to or even in excess of those achieved by contemporary pursuit models, and this fact, as GHQ Air Force explained early in 1940, "advanced the thought that airplane design had reached the point where a large airplane could be made to go as fast as a small one and that the defensive armament of the large plane was more than a match for the small plane.". 72 From this line of reasoning may be traced one of the major blunders of the AAF--its failure to provide in advance for the need of escort fighters in its heavy bomber operations. The big bomber, it was assumed, could. take care of itself, and thus no need even existed for developing a fighter of sufficient range to serve as an escort plane. Conversely, the proponents of the self-defending big bombers argued that the role of the fighter as an interceptor would decline, an argument which may help to explain another glaring deficiency of the war years--the lack of an effective night fighter, whose job is basically that of interception, until late in the war. How far the point should be pressed is debatable, but there can be no doubt that Air Corps doctrine in prewar years assumed "the ascendancy of bombardment over pursuit" and that this assumption hindered the development of pursuit aircraft. 73
At the opening of hostilities, pursuit units of the Air Corps depended chiefly upon two planes, the P-39 (Airacobra) and the P-40 (Warhawk).* Both of them were approaching obsolescence despite the fact that they had been in production for not more than eighteen months on 7 December 1941. 74 Especially disappointing was the P-39, whose low ceiling, slow rate of climb, and relative lack of maneuver-ability put its pilots at a decided disadvantage wherever they fought.&dagger The P-40 proved to be a much better plane. Though a slow climber, given time it could reach altitudes permitting superior skill and tactics to offset the advantages of the enemy. The record set with the P-40 by more than one commander, but especially Chennault in China, was very creditable, but as other planes became available a continuing equipment of P-40's was an unfailing mark of low priority. That the plane's record owed much to the fact of its employment chiefly against the Japanese rather than the German Air Force is indisputable.
In 1936 and 1937, the years in which the P-39 and the P-40 had
* The two planes constituted more than half of all AAF fighters until July 1943, and prior to September of that year more than half of all those committed overseas. By August 1944 all P-39 groups had been converted and in July 1945 only one P-40 group remained in operation.
&dagger See Vols. I, II, and IV, passim , but especially IV, 24, 41-42, 262-63.
been designed, the job indicated for them by national policy was one of coastal defense and of support for ground combat. 75 And for those jobs the planes were not badly designed. No potential enemy promised to put high-level bombers over our coasts, and against an amphibious assault the rugged qualities of the two planes at low levels should have made them most useful in beating off the assaulting forces. In low-level strafing and bombing, the P-39 and P-40 repeatedly showed their worth during the war as Kenney reported from the Southwest Pacific, each of the planes could "slug it out, absorb gunfire and fly home." 76
The Bell P-39 and the Curtiss P-40 were both single-engine mono-planes. The P-40 was slightly larger in dimensions, but the airframe weights of the later models of the two planes were about the same--approximately 4,000 pounds--and the combat weights were identical. The P-39 was unique in having its Allison V-1710 engine mounted behind the pilot's cockpit instead of in the nose of the plane, a feature some pilots regarded as making the plane more vulnerable. A 37-mm. gun mounted in the nose fired through the hollow driveshaft. By contrast with the radical design of the P-39, the P-40 was essentially a further development of the P-36. The P-40 gained greatly improved performance by installation of a liquid-cooled Allison V-1710 engine in place of the P-36's air-cooled R-1830 engine. 77 Like other combat planes used during World War II, the P-39 and the P-40 increased in weight. The later models of the P-39, beginning with the D, had an airframe weight almost 50 per cent greater than that of the XP-39 and the increase in combat weight was almost as great. The increase in airframe weight of the P-40 ranged up to ro per cent, but the increase in combat weight was almost 20 per cent. These changes resulted chiefly from the installation of armament, armor, and additional equipment. The P-39, starring with two .30-caliber and two .50-caliber machine guns and one 37-mm. gun, had two .50-caliber guns added to later models. The original P-40 carried only two machine guns, but most combat models carried six .50-caliber machine guns. 78
The P-39D, first Airacobra produced in quantity, had a maximum speed of 368 miles per hour at an alritude of 13,800 feet. Later models showed no real improvement, though the increased horsepower of their engines did compensate for the increased weight. The story is much the same with the P-40, which held to a standard of 350 miles per hour at an altitude of 15,000 feet. Climbing speed tended to fall
as weight was added, and the ceiling remained low. Both the P-39 and the P-40 were credited with service ceilings, ranging throughout the various models, from 31,000 up to 38,000 feet in practice, they rarely, if ever, reached these ceilings, certainly not in combat. The Allison V-1710 engine used in the planes had a critical altitude* of about 12,000 feet and lost power at higher altitudes. Combat at altitudes above 15,000 feet was rarely attempted. 79 The over-all limitations of the two planes were such that the addition of superchargers seemed inadvisable in view of the promise that superior planes could be substituted.&dagger
The first of these superior planes to make its appearance was the Lockheed P-38 (Lightning)--a high-flying twin-engine fighter of outstanding qualities. Designed in 1937 for high-altitude interception, the plane was Lockheed's first venture into military production. Air Corps tests of the experimental model began in January 1939, just as the Presidential program was giving a new impetus to all plans for aircraft production. In April an order for thirteen service-test models was placed in September a production order for sixty-six planes was negotiated. A second order, this time for 607 planes, followed in August 1940, despite the fact that the first service-test model was yet to be delivered. Production continued to lag: delivery of the 13 planes first ordered was not completed until June 1941 total deliveries reached only 39 by the middle of August and, while acceptances in November went up sharply to 74 planes, the AAF inventory on the eve of Pearl Harbor showed no more than 69 P-38's.&Dagger For these delays, the AAF was inclined to blame Lockheed, and suspicion existed that the company preferred to concentrate on its own commercial Lodestar and on British orders for the Hudson. 80 Whatever the fact, the delay was costly.
This plane, whose second engine proved a comforting feature to its pilots, achieved a top speed ranging upward from 390 to 414 miles
* Critical altitude is altitude at which the greatest speed is attained by the airplane in level flight using military rated power and with all design gross weight items installed.
&dagger Between 1940 and 1944, when acceptances ended, a total of 9,558 P-39's and 13,738 P-40's were accepted. Peak AAF inventories show 2,150 P-39's in February 1944 and 2,499 P-40's in April of that same year. As these figures suggest, the greater number accepted were eventually shipped to our Allies, among whom the Russians valued especially the P-39 for its effectiveness in low-level support of ground troops.
&Dagger It should be noted, however, that there was usually a time lag between acceptance of a plane and its appearance in inventories.
per hour. Its rate of climb gave the pilot an even chance and its range was such as to encourage the AAF to experiment in 1942 with flying P-38 units to their station in England.* As a fighter-bomber with a bomb load of 2,000 pounds, the plane had an average combat range of 600 to 700 miles. On escort duty, with no bombs and a maximum fuel load, later models approached a range of 2,000 miles, though for practical purposes 1,500 miles was about the limit. In ferrying, the reach might be 2,500 miles. 81 The two V-1710 engines of models J and L each generated 1,450 take-off horsepower, thus providing a power unit equal to the plane's size, which at the start was double that of the P-39 or the P-40. The usual armament of four .50-caliber machine guns and one 20-mm. gun was supplemented as needed by an external bomb capacity reaching 3,200 pounds. Fuel capacity was expanded from the 310 gallons of the earlier models to a remarkable 1,010 in the later series. The P-38 was the first fighter to be equipped with turbosuperchargers, permitting operation at greater speed at high altitude. 82
It was also the first AAF fighter that could in any way be compared with the Messerschmitt 109 or the British Spitfire.&dagger Seeing service in all theaters, the plane effectively performed the varied functions of a fighter and in a modified version proved especially useful for photo reconnaissance. By the spring of 1944 there were thirteen P-38 groups overseas. Total acceptances from the factory reached 9,536 at the end of August 1945. Peak production had been reached in August 1944. The highest point of inventory came in March 1945. 83
The AAF had come by the end of the war to depend still more heavily upon Republic's P-47 (Thunderbolt). In fact, after January 1944 groups equipped with P-47's represented better than 40 per cent of all AAF fighter groups serving overseas after March of that year inventories never showed less than 5,000 of the planes on hand. The top listing in May 1945 was 5,595. At summer's end in 1944 the AAF had 31 P-47 groups, a total which reflected the rapid rise in production from 532 planes in 1942 to 4,428 in 1943 and over 7,000 in 1944.&dagger 84
&dagger The Me-109G had a maximum speed of 400 miles per hour at altitude and a range of over 600 miles. The Spitfire IX had a maximum speed of 406 miles at altitude and a range of 425 miles.
&dagger 3,559 were added before August 1945. Republic produced all P-47's except for 354 by Curtiss-Wright.
The Thunderbolt had been designed in 1940, at a time when the Air Corps had become fully alerted to the need for a plane that would compare with the best European models. The original experimental model was powered by a liquid-cooled engine, but there were doubts in 1940 that engine production could keep up with the demands of a program depending upon liquid-cooled engines for all Air Corps fighters. Accordingly, it was decided to switch to a new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 air-cooled engine, even though this called for redesign of the plane and a consequent delay in its production. 85 The XP-47B with its air-cooled engine first flew in May 1941 the first production article was not accepted until the following December. Meanwhile, testimony of the high hopes entertained for the plane was given by employment of such leading Air Corps pilots as Col. Ira C. Eaker in its test-flights. 86 For a time it was hoped that the plane could benefit from combat-testing by making the P-47 available to the RAF in the Middle East. But technical difficulties affecting production plans led Arnold in September 1941 to notify the British that it would be inadvisable to try the plane in combat until "teething troubles" with "a combination of a new airplane, a new engine and a new supercharger" had been overcome. At that time an overoptimistic estimate set May 1942 as the earliest date on which the plane might be ready 87 actually, the AAF found it impossible to get the P-47 into combat before April 1943.* Production had begun to move in the preceding spring. The first P-47 group was equipped in November 1942 and in January reached England, where two more months were required to straighten out difficulties with the engine and with communications equipment. Thereafter, the P-47 came fast.
It was a powerful plane. Its engine with more than 2,000 horsepower put the P-47 ahead in this category of all single-engine fighters of the AAF and gave it rank with any other contemporary single-engine fighter in the world. With its superchargers, the plane climbed fast and performed admirably at high altitude. Its stubby appearance bespoke a ruggedness exceeding that of any other AAF fighter, and no plane of the war proved itself more versatile. With a powerful armament of six to eight .50-caliber machine guns and the additional capacity for six 5-inch rockets with a 2,000-pound bomb load, or for ten rockets without bombs, the P-47 proved that the fighter-bomber provided the best answer to the long quest for an outstanding attack
plane. 88 Though employed with satisfaction in all major theaters, the Thunderbolt probably deserves to be remembered chiefly for its work in the Ninth Air Force as a fighter-bomber following the invasion of western Europe in 1944.* It had no peer as an escort plane except for the P-51. The original fuel capacity of a little over 300 gallons severely restricted its radius of action, but the addition of belly and wing tanks brought the full load in the P-47N up to 1,266 gallons for ferrying purposes. Combat fuel loading usually ranged from 300 to 600 or 700 gallons, depending on the need. Beginning in 1943 with a combat range of about 500 miles as a fighter-bomber and 1,000 miles as an escort fighter, the P-47 in its later models extended the figures to 800 and 2,000 miles. Top speed, meanwhile, had increased from some 425 miles per hour to 460. The rate of climb below 25,000 feet fell off as a result of increased combat weight, model N weighing 3,000 pounds more than D, the first series in large production. 89
The story of the P-51 came close to representing the costliest mistake made by the AAF in World War II. By 1943 it was becoming all too clear that the big bombers would require the protection of full fighter escort if an effective campaign of strategic bombardment against Germany was to be maintained at Prewar assumptions as to the "ascendancy of bombardment over pursuit" long since had been dropped, but understandably there continued to prevail an opinion which had been formally expressed in 1940 in these terms: "no fighter plane can be designed to escort heavy and medium bombardment to their extreme tactical radius of action and there engage in offensive combat with enemy interceptor fighter types on equal terms." The escort plane, it was concluded, "in order to have the range and speed of the aircraft it accompanies, may be as large and at least as expensive as such aircraft." 90 In 1941, when plans for the giant B-36 were under discussion, it was suggested that an escort of comparable size might have to be provided, 91 and AWPD/ 1, the AAF's basic war plan of that same year, recommended for solution of the more immediate problem a plane that was essentially a modified bomber. As the Eighth Air Force began its bombing operations in August 1942, a special board headed by Brig. Gen. Alfred J. Lyon recommended modification
* See especially Vol. III, Chaps. 7 and 8.
&dagger For this story, with notice of the early correction of prewar assumptions regarding the capacity of the big bomber to take care of itself, see Vol. II, passim , but especially pp. 229-31, 267-68, 334-37.
of the B-17 and B-24 to provide needed "destroyer escort planes."* This led to an unsuccessful experiment by the Eighth Air Force in 1943 with the YB-40, a modified B-17 sent over in the hope that it might meet the growing need for long-range escort.&dagger
Meanwhile, the answer lay in two developments which in origin were unrelated to the search for an escort plane. The great distances over which planes had to be delivered to widely scattered combat zones, together with a critical shortage of shipping for the purpose, had forced the AAF in 1942 to give close attention to possibilities for extending the range of its planes to a point that would permit the ferrying of as many of them as possible to their combat stations. To this impulse there was quickly added the need for the longer range required to meet developing combat demands in the several theaters. As a result, by 1943, and in many different places within the AAF, experimentation was demonstrating possibilities for the extension of fighter ranges which surprised American, British, and enemy combat commanders alike.&Dagger The problem was largely one of increasing fuel capacities, and the most important of immediate aids to this end was found in the disposable fuel tank, a device known for many years and to which the AAF had given close attention since 1940. 92 As the engineers concentrated on all aspects of the problem, increased range came to be the single most distinguishing feature in the development of AAF planes during World War II. And of all fighter types none had the potentiality displayed by the P-51, a plane which the AAF had been slow to appreciate.
It had been designed by North American for the British in 1940, as a substitute for the P-40's asked for by the RAF. The P-51 had its genesis in improvements contemplated by the Air Corps for the P-40, and Curtiss turned over to North American useful technical data. But the Air Corps' plans had come to depend on the P-38 and the P-47 accordingly, the Air Corps took only a limited interest in the P-51, stipulating that it be provided with two free articles in the event production for the British was attempted. Production got under way in the latter half of 1941 in accordance with relatively modest orders
&Dagger This extension, though the impulse came from an interest in ferrying, proved to be of importance primarily to tactical operations. With the help of deck-loading, it was possible to send most fighters by ship.
from the British, who first put the plane to work in their Army Cooperation Command for ground support. The RAF was quick to recognize the Mustang as "the best American fighter that has so far reached this country," and began to compare it favorably with the Spitfire, currently rated as the world's best fighter. 93 Our assistant military attache in London, Maj. Thomas Hitchcock, reported to Washington in the fall of 1942 that the P-51 was "one of the best, if not the best, fighter airframe that has been developed in the war up to date." Dropping into the vernacular of his interest as a famous horseman, he advised "development of the Mustang as a high altitude fighter" by "cross-breeding it with the Merlin 61 engine." 94 Others, including Eddie Rickenbacker and AM Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, confirmed Hitchcock's report, 95 and within a month Arnold could notify President Roosevelt that the Rolls Royce engine was being tested in the P-51 and that approximately 2,200 of the planes already had been ordered by the AAF. 96
This was in November 1942, and the extensive changes attendant upon the substitution of a new engine held up production through the following winter. 97 Not until November 1943 did the AAF get a P-51 group to the United Kingdom, and it flew its first long escort mission on 13 December--490 miles to Kiel and back--which was the record to date. In the following March the Mustangs accompanied the heavies all the way to Berlin. Considering the late start, the production record was a remarkable one. By August 1944 the production rate had passed that of the P-47, and by the close of the war, a year later, the AAF inventory of the plane had reached the huge total of 5,541. 98 The Eighth Air Force had converted all save one of its fighter groups to P-51's, the P-47's going to the Ninth Air Force everywhere the strategic forces held first claim. Following the capture of Iwo Jima in February 1945, the Mustangs added to their already secure reputation as the world's best escort by aiding the B-29's in their mounting assault on Japanese targets.* After the war Arnold frankly admitted that it had been "the Air Force's own fault" that this superior plane had not been employed earlier. 99
A single-engine, low-wing monoplane, the P-51 was much lighter than either the P-38 or the P-47. Though the combat range of the original P-51, built to meet the short-distance needs of the RAF, had not exceeded 400 miles, it reached 1,800 miles with the P-51H, which
had a top speed of 487 miles per hour. Its service ceiling of better than 40,000 feet made it a truly high-altitude fighter. The plane normally carried six .50-caliber machine guns, and it could take rockets or bombs up to 2,000 pounds. 100
The Northrop P-61 (the Black Widow), which saw service during the last year of the war, was the first American plane specifically designed for service as a night fighter, for which a need had been repeatedly felt from the early days of hostilities. Design had been begun by Northrop in November 1940 at the instigation of the Air Corps, and a formal contract for two experimental articles was signed in January 1941. Subsequently, orders were placed for more than 2,000 planes, but only 682 had been delivered by August 1945. The first XP-61, though test-flown on 26 May 1942, was not delivered to the AAF until July 1943 deliveries on production contracts began late in 1943. P-61 squadrons were in acrion with the Ninth Air Force in the European theater before D-day and appeared in the Mediterranean and Southwest Pacific theaters during the summer of 1944. The coal-black plane proved itself capable of a variety of night missions, operating as an intruder* as well as an interceptor. 101 An attempt to modify a late model P-61 for use as a long-range day fighter was made in 1945, but the development was overtaken by the end of the war and subsequently dropped. 102
The Black Widow was an all-metal monoplane with a twin fuselage and a twin tail, somewhat resembling the P-38 but much larger. It had two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines, each of which developed more than 2,000 horsepower. In size, the P-61 was more nearly comparable to the medium bombers than the fighters. Its wing span and length were greater than those of the A-20, and its combat weight of 28,000 pounds was at least 2,000 pounds more than that of the A-20. It was almost three rimes as heavy as the P-51 and almost twice as heavy as the P-47 at combat weight. Its internal fuel capacity of 640 gallons was supplemented by two or four wing tanks, each of which held 165 or 310 gallons of fuel. This gave some of the P-61's a fuel capacity of 1,880 gallons--a capacity which was rarely, if ever, used. The original combat range of 700 to 800 miles went up to better than 1,000, and the ferrying range ultimately doubled that figure. Its armament consisted of four .50-caliber machine guns and four 20-mm.
* Intruder missions were usually night nuisance raids by single planes against enemy targets.
World War II Database
ww2dbase The original design for the B-25 Mitchell medium bombers was drafted with Britain and France as the intended customers, but they opted for A-20 Havoc bombers from Douglas Aircraft Company instead. In 1939, the United States Army Air Corps evaluated the design and was satisfied with the prototype aircraft's performance. The original prototype, code named NA-40B, crashed on 11 Apr 1939, but the US Army liked the little they had observed thus far, and decided to order the design into production without further testing. Out of the modified design, now named NA-62, the production B-25 Mitchell bombers were born. Some of the changes with NA-62 include a new wing shape and a larger tail fin. The first B-25 bombers entered service with the US Army in 1940.
ww2dbase Among their early missions was the Doolittle Raid in Apr 1942, where United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet steamed close to Japan and launched US Army B-25 Mitchell bombers on an attack on Japanese cities it was meant to be an attack at the Japanese morale and at the same time a morale booster for the Americans. Headed by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, 16 lightly armed B-25 Mitchell bombers took off at the dawn of 18 Apr 1942 and bombed Tokyo and other cities. Actual damage inflicted was minimal, and 15 out of the 16 were destroyed in crash-landings in China after the mission, but the boost of American morale was significant. The lone B-25 bomber that survived the mission landed in Russia, and the aircraft was confiscated by the Soviets.
ww2dbase In the Pacific War, B-25 Mitchell bombers were frequently used at low altitude, acting as ground attack aircraft instead of as medium bombers. These strafing aircraft were first devised in the field by the likes of Major Paul Irving "Pappy" Gunn, who initially modified A-20 Havoc bombers but later also submitted requests to perform similar modifications to B-25 bombers by adding guns and eliminating any unnecessary weight and space as his request was approved by George Kenney, Kenney would also claim design credit, noting that he had further contributed to Gunn's designs. The resulting B-25G aircraft each had additional machine guns and a 75mm M4 cannon, the largest caliber weapon ever equipped in an American bomber. A later variant, B-25J, increased the number of machine guns to 18. Finally, B-25 bombers sometimes served as troop transports in the South Pacific.
ww2dbase Although B-25 bombers were noisy and caused hearing problems for the pilots and crew after the war, they were were well loved by their crew for that they could absorb significant amounts of damage and still maintain manageable flight characteristics.
ww2dbase 9,984 were built between 1941 and 1945 6,608 of them were built at North American's Fairfax Airport plant in Kansas City, Kansas, United States.
Bruce Gamble, Fortress Rabaul
Ted Lawson, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Last Major Revision: Jun 2007
B-25 Mitchell Timeline
|29 Jan 1939||The NA-40 prototype aircraft took its first flight it was judged underpowered and unstable.|
|11 Apr 1939||The NA-40B prototype aircraft was destroyed in a crash during testing at Wright Field, Ohio, United States. The entire crew survived the crash.|
|19 Aug 1940||The North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber took its first flight.|
|30 Jun 1941||The Netherlands Purchasing Commission placed an order with North American Aviation to purchase 162 B-25C bombers for the Dutch government-in-exile. These aircraft were intended for the Dutch East Indies to counter the growing Japanese threat.|
|3 Jan 1942||The B-25D variant of the B-25 Mitchell aircraft took its first flight all B-25D aircraft were built at Kansas City, Kansas, United States.|
|22 Jan 1943||The RAF conducted its first combat operation using the new Mitchell Mk.II bombers. Six aircraft from No. 98 and No. 180 Squadrons were sent out to attack oil installations at Ghent in Belgium. One aircraft was shot down by flak over the target and two others were lost when attacked by Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters. Following this disaster the RAF's Mitchell squadrons were stood down to concentrate on developing new tactics to fend off enemy fighters.|
|14 Mar 1944||United States Marine Corps Squadron VMB-413 equipped with PBJ-1 bombers (B-25 Mitchell bombers which had been purchased by the US Navy but subsequently transferred to the Marine Corps) commenced combat operations from Stirling Island, New Hebrides. Ultimately the USMC would form sixteen B-25 Squadrons, nine of which would see action in World War II.|
|28 Jul 1945||A B-25D bomber crashed into the 79th and 80th floor on the north side of the Empire State Building in New York City, New York, United States at 0940 hours in a weather related accident. The air crew of 3, along with 11 people in the building, were killed the damage was estimated to be about US$1,000,000.|
|Machinery||Two Wright R-2600 radial engines rated at 1,850hp each|
|Armament||12x12.7mm machine guns, 2,700kg of bombs|
|Wing Area||57.00 m²|
|Weight, Empty||9,580 kg|
|Weight, Loaded||15,200 kg|
|Weight, Maximum||19,000 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||442 km/h|
|Speed, Cruising||370 km/h|
|Rate of Climb||4.00 m/s|
|Service Ceiling||7,600 m|
|Range, Normal||2,170 km|
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Visitor Submitted Comments
1. Hobilar says:
19 Aug 2007 03:22:42 AM
870 North American B25C or B25D Mitchell were also shipped to the Soviet Union under Land Lease
2. Bill says:
23 Apr 2011 12:47:39 PM
OJT, OR ON THE JOB TRAINING:
Of Doolittles Fifteen pilots on the April 1942 raid against Japan, five won their wings before 1941. And all but one of the Sixteen co-pilots were less then a year out of flight training.
Sixteen North American B-25 Mitchell Bombers,
Eighty Crewmen, Bomb Japan Immortality
The idea of a raid against Japan, was on the mind of US Navy Captain Francis Low, thinking
under the right conditions Army Bombers could bomb Japan launched from an aircraft carrier. The raid was later carried out by
Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle
The 1944 film Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo was
based on the book by Captain Ted W. Lawson
one of the Doolittle raiders.
It was a reasonably accurate depicition of the mission. It is available on VHS and DVD
3. Ltc. Christie USMC/USAF Retired says:
20 Apr 2013 10:45:18 AM
It would be historically significant if the lone B-25 that survived the Doolittle Raid by flying to Russia still exists.
4. David Stubblebine says:
20 Apr 2013 06:45:04 PM
Re: Doolittle bomber interred at Vladivostok [B-25B #40-2242]-
The best information available is that this aircraft was scrapped in the USSR in the 1950s.
5. Bill says:
13 Jul 2015 10:10:38 PM
This was the first version of the Mitchell aircraft s/n B-25C-NA, 41-12800. A total of 1,625 the B-25 was named the Mitchell in honor of General Billy Mitchell who fought for a strong air force and independent of the army.
6. juli cook says:
15 Aug 2015 01:41:05 AM
My dad was a B25 pilot flying the hump Burma the 10th air corp 1943 / 45 dustys flying tool box was the name of his plane.I would love to see it.dad pased away in 2005 his name was Richard cook algona Iowa.if enyone has a photo it would be great.
7. dintizs jake says:
9 Dec 2015 08:04:26 AM
I was fix it all a and p flight enginer I was major general jarred v. crabb personal take with guy flew with him in pacific then came occupied japan lost my scrap book due to water damage an one have photos? jake
8. lucky dog says:
23 Mar 2016 08:44:08 AM
What happened to the Mitchell B-25 Bomber named The City of Girard Ohio?
9. Gary Lewis says:
15 Aug 2016 06:42:24 PM
What happened to the Mitchell B-25 Bomber named The City of Girard Ohio?
I believe this was merely a publicity photo for the Home-front, I image that after the photo was done, another cities name was plastered on the B-25 to show the citizens their efforts of the WAR BONDS drive and where the money was going. Just my two cents LD
10. Pete says:
27 Mar 2017 03:05:41 PM
This is a reply to comment 7. by dintizs jake, above, and quoted below:
My Dad flew with General Crabb as his copilot - and was HQ V Bomber Command Operations Officer - for awhile late ཨ to early ཀྵ. Please contact me if you are still looking at this site, at [email protected]
I do have some photos. Hope to hear from you!
7. dintizs jake says:
9 Dec 2015 08:04:26 AM
I was fix it all a and p flight enginer I was major general jarred v. crabb personal take with guy flew with him in pacific then came occupied japan lost my scrap book due to water damage an one have photos? jake
11. Paul says:
3 Apr 2017 03:37:17 AM
My Dad was a pilot officer between 1942 and 1945 and was a bomber over Germany, have his original log book which is full of his RAAF history, Miss him very much, he passed in 2006
12. Lawrence John Roth says:
29 May 2017 05:13:43 PM
My uncle was lost on a crash of a B25C # 42-53461 on Feb.27, 1943. His name was SSGT John F. Roth, listed as Flight Engineer. Member 487th Bomb Squadron,340th Bomb Group. Crashed into jungle 18 miles S of Cayenne French Guiana. I just found this out. How do I found his duties on this plane and type of Mission they were on. found flight leg from Trinidad to Belem,Brazil. Crew members listed on a site I found. Looking for more details.
13. David Stubblebine says:
30 May 2017 05:59:12 PM
Lawrence Roth (above):
This is a difficult puzzle to crack. I found out only a little more than what you have listed. I found one listing that said 6 were killed but little else. I also found in the 487th squadron history that the air echelon departed Battle Creek, Michigan on 18 Feb 1943 and arrived Kabrit, Egypt between 10-29 Mar 1943 with nothing mentioned in between. So it would seem that a crash in French Guiana on 27 Feb 1943 was part of the ferry flight to North Africa. The flight leg from Trinidad to Belem would fit with that. There should have been a Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) filed in this case and I found one source that says MACR 16019 is associated with this crash but I can find no record of this MACR on the internet (except that the report number appears in the National Archives microfilm catalog). There should be more available on this somewhere so keep digging. If you haven’t already, request a copy of his service record (http://ww2db.com/faq/#3).
14. Lawrence John Roth says:
31 May 2017 12:11:24 PM
I am going to send in for service records. Maybe find out some more. I have his serial # 35288474 Found some info under find a grave marker website. Find A Grave Memorial # 159360934. Lists all crew and a passenger on board. Just remember my father saying some burned artifacts sent to house befor he himself was drafted.
15. Anonymous says:
17 Aug 2017 12:23:14 AM
My wife's grandfather flew 81 combat missions as a pilot in a B-25 in WW-2. Just wondering if this is considered a lot of missions?
16. Thomas Wik says:
16 Sep 2017 02:05:30 PM
My father Rapheal John Wik born feuary 12 1921 flew 55 missions during WWII Europe and Africa . That's all I know. Would like to know more.
17. john says:
15 Feb 2018 03:19:55 AM
Hello. Some time ago I came upon a comprehensive listing of downed craft, specifically B25s lost over France. I cannot remember the site so I wondered if someone can point me in the right direction please. I would appreciate any help. Thank you, kind regards, John
18. Terence Curtis says:
14 Sep 2018 02:20:18 AM
My father Flying Officer John Curtis flew 49 missions with 180 Sqd RAF operating out of Dunsfold England and Melsbroek Belgium after D Day. He survived the war and had a great carreer as an Airline Pilot post WWII. Is there anybody out there that served with him in 180 Sqd
19. Anonymous says:
19 Nov 2018 11:42:43 AM
I don't know if this will be helpful or not, but there is a children's book called Tail-end Charlie written by Mick Manning. He recounts his father's time as a tail-gunner in 180 Sqd from 1944-5.
All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.
North American Mitchell II of No.98 Squadron, 19 April 1944 - History
- BOC: December 17, 1943.
- Assigned to the 3rd Air Force Staging Wing, Hunter Army Airfield, GA, December 18, 1943.
- Modified for North African operations.
- Began its ferry flight to Corsica by way of Brazil, and Morocco, February 5, 1944.
- Arrived Alesan Field, Corsica, April 19, 1944.
- Flew its first combat mission the day it arrived!
- Flew 7 combat missions between April 23, 1944 and May 4, 1944.
- Assigned to the No. 5 Operational Training Unit, Boundary Bay, BC, October 18, 1944.
- Transferred to the No.22 Reserve Depot, Boundary Bay, BC, January 21, 1945.
- Moved to Trenton, Ontario for storage, June 12, 1945.
- Assigned to No.2 Air Command at RCAF Gimli, Manitoba for storage.
- Transferred to RCAF Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan for storage, September 20, 1945.
- Transferred to No.10 Reserve Depot for storage at RCAF Moose Jaw, June 4, 1946.
- Transferred to the Northwest Air Command, Edmonton, Alberta, January 27, 1947.
- Assigned to the 418 Auxiliary Squadron, Edmonton, Alberta, March 21, 1947.
- Registered as CF-NWV.
- Flown to St. Thomas for conversion for agricultural operations but was instead stored there.
- Stored, unconverted, 1962-1969.
- Registered as N3774.
- Ferried from St. Thomas to Detroit, October 10, 1969.
- Restored to airworthy, 1969-1975.
- First flight, August 25, 1975.
- Flew as 33634/148/Gallant Warrior.
- Flown as 33634/9C/Yankee Warrior.
- Restored to military configuration, 2000-2003.
- Fitted with glass nose, replacing solid nose.
- First flight July 2003.
As "Gallant Warrior" during the 70s, escorted by little friends.
Office of War Mobilization
By late 1942 it was clear that Nelson and the WPB were unable to fully control the growing war economy and especially to wrangle with the Army and Navy over the necessity of continued civilian production. Accordingly, in May 1943 President Roosevelt created the Office of War Mobilization and in July put James Byrne — a trusted advisor, a former U.S. Supreme Court justice, and the so-called “assistant president” — in charge. Though the WPB was not abolished, the OWM soon became the dominant mobilization body in Washington. Unlike Nelson, Byrnes was able to establish an accommodation with the military services over war production by “acting as an arbiter among contending forces in the WPB, settling disputes between the board and the armed services, and dealing with the multiple problems” of the War Manpower Commission, the agency charged with controlling civilian labor markets and with assuring a continuous supply of draftees to the military (Koistinen, 510).
Beneath the highest-level agencies like the WPB and the OWM, a vast array of other federal organizations administered everything from labor (the War Manpower Commission) to merchant shipbuilding (the Maritime Commission) and from prices (the Office of Price Administration) to food (the War Food Administration). Given the scale and scope of these agencies’ efforts, they did sometimes fail, and especially so when they carried with them the baggage of the New Deal. By the midpoint of America’s involvement in the war, for example, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works Progress Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration — all prominent New Deal organizations which tried and failed to find a purpose in the mobilization bureaucracy — had been actually or virtually abolished.
North American Mitchell II of No.98 Squadron, 19 April 1944 - History
During World War II, the U.S. Navy (USN) acquired 706 North American Aviation (NAA) B-25 Mitchell medium bombers >from the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF). These aircraft, designated PBJ by the USN, equipped a total of sixteen U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) bombing squadrons during the war, eight of which served in the Pacific. This article describes the various B-25 models and their use by the USMC.
The feeling of many U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) officers in the late 1930s was that strategic bombing was the primary mission of an air force. (NOTE: The USAAC was superseded by the USAAF on 20 June 1941.) However, the official view of the U.S. War Department, stated as late as October 1938, was that "the Infantry Division continues to be the basic combat element by which battles are won, the necessary enemy field forces destroyed, and captured territory held." In the USAAC, the attack aircraft was designed for immediate support of ground troops and since they operated at low altitude, speed was of the essence. In 1938, the six USAAC attack squadrons based in the U.S. were flying the Northrop A-17, a single-engine aircraft with a top speed of 220 mph (354 km/h) and a bomb load of 654 pounds (297 kg). To meet their obligation to provide close air support (CAS) for the infantry, the USAAC issued requirements for a new twin-engined light bomber with a range of 1,200 miles (1,930 km), the ability to carry a 1,200 pound (544 kg) bomb load and to be used exclusively in the attack mode.
NAA entered their model NA-40 in this competition. (For a brief history of NAA, see NJ, North American.) This was NAAs second multi-engined aircraft the first was the Model NA-21 which had been entered in the 1936 competition for a high-altitude bomber. The NA-21 lost in a competition to the Douglas B-18A simply because of cost the cost of the B-18A was almost half of the NA-21. The USAAC purchased the one and only NA-21 in 1939 designating it XB-21.
In the light bomber competition, the NAA Model NA-40 competed with the Douglas Model DB-7 which had been under development as a private venture since 1936. Again, the NAA entry lost to the Douglas Model DB-7 which was ordered by the USAAC as the A-20, designated BD, q.v.,in USN service.
On 12 January 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the U.S. Congress and, describing USAAC aircraft as "antiquated weapons," urged the Congress to appropriate US$300 million (US$3.7 billion in year 2000 dollars) for the purchase of new airplanes. With the influx of money, the USAAC developed requirements for another class of tactical aircraft, the medium bomber. These aircraft were intended to operate at medium altitudes of 8,000 to 14,000 feet (2,438 to 4,267 meters) to bomb depots, fortified positions, railroad yards and other targets along or behind the battle line. Having a heavier bomb load and greater range than the light bomber, the medium bomber could supplement the work of light bombers and could also assist the long-range heavy bombers against the nearer targets in a strategic bombardment effort.
The USAAC issued Air Corps Proposal Number 39-640 on 11 March 1939 for a medium bomber with a bomb load of 3,000 pounds (1,361 kg), a range of 2,000 miles (3,219 km) and a top speed over 300 mph (483 km/h). Burnelli, Consolidated, Douglas, Martin, NAA, Stearman and Vought-Sikorsky entered designs the Martin Model 179 was the winner of the competition followed by the NAA Model NA-62 and the Douglas entry and the USAAC placed orders for all three aircraft. The Douglas entry was an improved B-18A but only 38 aircraft were built as the B-23 Dragon. The Martin Model 179 was a very advanced aircraft for the day but Martin estimated that they could only deliver 201 aircraft in the next 24-months and the USAAC ordered 201 Model 179s as B-26s, designated JM, q.v., by the USN. The desire of the USAAC to possess modern aircraft was so great that an order for 184 NAA Model NA-62s, designated B-25s, was placed on 20 September 1939 this was the first of 9,815 B-25s built during the war. When the USAAC/USAAF started approving names for aircraft, the B-25 was named Mitchell in honor of Colonel William L. "Billy" Mitchell (1879-1936), an outspoken air power advocate who was court martialed, convicted, and resigned his commission in 1926.
The standard procedure in the prewar USAAC was for the manufacturer to build and test experimental type aircraft at their own expense with no guarantees of government contracts until the aircraft was proven the USAAC would then order two or three experimental aircraft and if these looked promising, thirteen service test aircraft would be ordered and distributed to active duty units for testing. Finally, if the service test aircraft looked promising, a production contract would follow usually two or three years after the flight of the first experimental aircraft. These procedures were abandoned with the B-23, B-25 and B-26 because of the world situation and orders were placed for both aircraft based entirely on paper projections.
The 184 aircraft ordered in 1939 were delivered as 24 B-25-NAs, 40 B-25A-NAs and 120 B-25B-NAs, all of which went into service with the USAAC/USAAF. All bore the same NAA Model number, NA-62. The 24 B-25-NAs were twin-engined, all-metal, mid-wing monoplanes with twin fins and rudders. The landing gear was a hydraulically operated tricycle type with all wheels retracting aft, the main landing gear into the underhung engine nacelles and the nose wheel and tail skid into the fuselage. Power was provided by two 1,700 hp (1,268 kW) Wright R-2600-9 fourteen-cylinder, two-row, air-cooled radial engines with two-speed superchargers. The first nine B-25-NAs had wings with constant dihedral but stability problems caused NAA to redesign the wing starting with the tenth aircraft. The resulting wing outboard of the engine nacelles had zero dihedral giving the aircraft its characteristic gull wing. Four different styles of twin fins and rudders were tried before the final version was selected. The aircraft carried a crew of five, pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, navigator/radio operator and one gunner.
The first B-25-NA was delivered in February 1941 and even for the day, the armament was very weak, three flexible, hand held 30-caliber (7.62 mm) machine guns located in the nose, waist and aft ventral position and a flexible 50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun in the tail. The tail gunner knelt in a glazed area the aft end of the glazed area featured clam shell doors permitting the machine gun to be traversed. The B-25-NA was declared obsolete in 1942 and all survivors were redesignated RB-25-NAs, the R indicating restricted, i.e., non-combat, usage.
The second production version, 40 B-25A-NAs, were improved B-25-NAs designed to make the aircraft combat ready the improvements included additional armor protection for the crew and self-sealing fuel cells. The armament remained the same as the B-25-NA. All B-25A-NAs were redesignated RB-25A-NAs in 1942.
The third production version, 120 B-25B-NAs, were improved B-25A-NAs the improvements were in the aircraft armament. The B-25B-NA was equipped with two Bendix electrically operated turrets with two 50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns located aft of the bomb bay. The dorsal turret was manned while the remotely operated ventral turret, sighted with a periscope, retracted into the fuselage. There were many problems with the ventral turret if lowered too quickly, the retracting micro switches of the turret were frequently damaged preventing the turret from retracting into the fuselage thus increasing drag and reducing speed. The turret also collected mud on unimproved airfields and because of these problems, it was frequently removed in the field. With the addition of these turrets, the 50-caliber (12.7 mm) tail gun was removed along with the armor plate in the tail.
The B-25B-NA gained fame when on 18 April 1942, Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle led 16 B-25Bs from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) in a raid on Japan. Although the raid caused minimal damage, the boost in American morale was tremendous. All B-25B-NAs were redesignated RB-25B-NAs in 1943.
Let us digress at this point to describe how and why the USN and USMC acquired B-25s. During the interwar years, the USN had always used multi-engined seaplanes as patrol bombers the main advantage of this type of aircraft was that airfields were nonexistent in many parts of the world and a seaplane could land on the water and be supported by a ship. The disadvantages of the seaplane were that they were slow and lacked defensive armament, range and bomb load.
One of the axioms of World War II was that as soon as territory was occupied or conquered, the winning force would build airfields for landbased aircraft to support both offensive and defensive operations. When the U.S. entered World War II, the USN realized that landbased aircraft were superior to seaplanes in antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations and approached the USAAF with a request for Consolidated B-24 Liberators. The USAAF was reluctant to agree to sharing the production of these aircraft because of their own lack of long-range heavy bombers. However, an agreement was finally reached on 7 July 1942 whereby the USAAF would transfer a specified number of Consolidated B-24 Liberators, designated PB4Y, q.v., in USN service B-25s and Lockheed B-34 Venturas, designated PV, q.v., in USN service. Part of this agreement concerned two Boeing aircraft, the PBB Sea Ranger, q.v., a twin-engine seaplane, and the B-29 Superfortress.
In 1941, NAA had agreed to assemble B-29s at a new plant located at Fairfax Airport in Kansas City, Kansas after an order for 1,200 B-25Ds had been completed. At the time, the USN had placed an order with Boeing for 57 PBB-1 Sea Rangers to be built at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington. Part of the agreement reached between the USAAF and USN in 1942 was that the PBB-1 would be cancelled allowing Boeing to build the B-29 in the Renton plant thus freeing the NAA plant in Kansas City for the production of B-25s. However, it would be February 1943 by the time the first B-25 would be available for the USN and by that time, they had begun to receive the B-24s and B-34s and they had no need for the B-25. However, the USMC was looking for a medium bomber that had a greater range than the single-engined aircraft they were using Marines agreed to take the B-25s and use them for "night heckling" missions or CAS of beachheads and landings. This was nothing new for the USMC they were accustomed to receiving obsolete or surplus equipment from the Navy or Army.
The fourth production model, the B-25C-NA, was the first aircraft received by the USMC which designated it PBJ-1C. Note that this designation did not follow the standard USN designation system all B-25s in USMC service were designated PBJ-1 followed by an alpha character which was identical to the USAAF's Series Letter, e.g., the PBJ-1C was a B-25C, the PBJ-1H was a B-25H, etc. The 1,625 B-25Cs were ordered as follows:
- 863 NAA Model NA-82s were ordered on 24 September 1940 605 were delivered as B-25C-NAs and 258 as B-25C-1-NAs.
- 162 NAA Model NA-90s were ordered for the Netherlands East Indies Air Force in early 1942 but were diverted to the USAAF as B-25C-5-NAs
- 300 NAA Model NA-96s were ordered on 25 June 1942 200 were delivered as B-25C-20-NAs and 100 as B-25C-25-NAs 50 B-25C-20-NAs and 25 B-25C-25-NAs were delivered to the USMC as PBJ-1Cs beginning in February 1943.
The major differences between the B-25B-NA and the B-25C-NA were (1) the use of upgraded R-2600-13 engines, (2) the addition of deicer and anti-icing systems, (3) a revised tail skid, (4) strengthening of the outer wing panels, (5) a cabin heater in the left wing and (6) a revised brake system and bomb racks. Starting with the 384 th B-25C-NA, the fuel capacity was increased and a navigator sighting blister was installed aft of the cockpit. Effective with the B-25C-5-NA, the single flexible 30 caliber (7.62 mm) machine gun in the nose was replaced with two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns, one fixed and one flexible. Finally, the B-25C-25-NAs featured (1) a "clear vision" windshield, (2) a 215 US gallon (814 liter) self sealing fuel cell in the bomb bay and (3) a 335 US gallon (1,268 liter) metal fuel tank in the bomb bay on every second aircraft. All of these aircraft were delivered between December 1941 and 1943.
All of the aircraft described above, B-25-NA through B-25C-NA, were built at NAA's plant at Los Angeles Municipal Airport (Mines Field), California which is now Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The fifth production model, the B-25D-NC, was built at the Kansas City, Kansas plant and was essentially identical to the B-25C-NA. The 2,290 aircraft were ordered as follows:
- 1,200 NAA Model NA-87s were ordered on 28 June 1941 and were delivered as 200 B-25D-NCs 100 B-25D-1-NCs 225 B-25D-5-NCs 180 B-25D-10-NCs and 495 B-25D-15-NCs.
- 1,090 NAA Model NA-100s were ordered on 21 August 1942 and delivered as 25 B-25D-20-NCs, 315 B-25D-25-NCs, 500 B-25D-30-NCs and 250 B-25D-35-NCs. These aircraft were delivered between February 1942 and March 1944. The USMC acquired 152 B-25D-NCs, 25 B-25D-15-NCs 49 B-25D-25-NCs 61 B-25D-30-NCs and 17 B-25D-35-NCs, as PBJ-1Ds.
Modifications to the B-25D-NCs included (1) the addition of the navigator's scanning blister, external wing bomb racks and provision for a torpedo rack installation starting with the B-25D-1-NC (2) replacement of the 30 caliber (7.62 mm) machine gun with two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns starting with the B-25D-5-NC and (3) installation of a "clear vision" windshield, a 230 US gallon (871 liter) self sealing fuel cell in the bomb bay and a 325 US gallon (1,230 liter) metal fuel tank in the bomb bay on every second aircraft, and installation of armor plate behind the co-pilot on the B-25D-20-NC.
The XB-25E-NA was a B-25C-10-NA modified to test thermal deicing equipment. The program centered around the development of an engine exhaust gas to air heat exchanger to prevent the buildup of ice on the wings and tail surfaces of the aircraft. The aircraft was modified by NAA in 1943 and the XB-25E-NA continued in ice research until February 1953.
The B-25F designation was not assigned to any aircraft.
Before continuing with the descriptions of the various B-25/PBJ models, we must stop to consider the man who was responsible for changing the mission and configuration of the B-25. That man was Paul I. "Pappy" Gunn. Paul Gunn was born in Arkansas in 1900 and enlisted in the USN in 1917. In 1925, he completed flight training and became a Naval Aviation Pilot (NAP), i.e., an enlisted man rated as a pilot, and became known as a outstanding flyer. After serving 20 years in the USN, Gunn retired as a chief petty officer and moved his family to the Philippines where he became a pilot and operations manager for Philippine Airlines.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Philippine Airlines was absorbed by the USAAF's Far East Air Force (later Fifth Air Force) in the Philippines and Gunn, at age 41, was commissioned a captain in the U.S. Army. His first assignment was planning for the evacuation of military personnel from the Philippines to Australia Gunn was one of the USAAF pilots who made it to Australia but his wife and four children were captured by the Japanese and were interned in the Philippines until the islands were recaptured by the U.S. in 1945.
The advantages of using light and medium bombers at low altitude in strafing missions soon became evident in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). For bombing, the parafrag bomb, a 23 pound (10.4 kg) fragmentation bomb with an instantaneous fuze and a parachute attached, was developed. These bombs were released at low altitude and the parachute on the bomb permitted the aircraft to escape without being damaged by the exploding bombs. Another strategy that was tested and adopted was skip bombing which required a low-level approach and dropping a bomb so that it "skipped" across the water into the side of a ship. These low level missions were often flown against well defended targets and the bomber crew needed additional armament in the nose of the aircraft. In the fall of 1942, "Pappy" Gunn and an engineering officer at Amberly Field, Queensland, Australia modified a Douglas A-20A Havoc by installing four 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose and a single 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun in a blister pack on each side of the forward fuselage. The A-20 was a short range aircraft and this liability was improved by the installation of two 450 US gallon (1,703 liter) fuel tanks in the bomb bay just leaving space for parafrag bombs. These modified A-20s were very successful but the installation of the two fuel tanks in the bomb bay reduced the bomb load thus reducing the aircrafts effectiveness.
The B-25 was slower than the A-20 but had greater range so "Pappy" Gunn and Jack Fox, an NAA field service representative, began looking at modifying the fourth B-25C-NA as a strafer. The modifications consisted of (1) removing the bombardier's equipment and installing four 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns with 500 rounds per gun (rpg) in the nose (2) installing two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in blister packs on both sides of the forward fuselage (3) installing three Douglas A-20A fragmentation bomb racks in the right side of the bomb bay leaving the space on the left side for bombs or fuel and (4) removing the remotely operated ventral turret. The modified B-25 strafers could carry 60 parafrag bombs together with six 100-pound (45.4 kg) general purpose (GP) bombs in the bomb bay.
The modified aircraft, now named Pappy's Folly, was flown to New Guinea for testing by an operational squadron. The crews were impressed and by the end of February 1943, 12 B-25s had been converted to strafers in Australia. The modified A-20 and B-25 strafers proved their worth during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in March 1943 when a squadron sank four Japanese cargo ships and two destroyers in 15 minutes. As a result, the modification of B-25s into strafers went into high gear and by the end of August 1943, five squadrons were equipped with these aircraft. By the time the modification program was shut down in September 1943, 175 B-25Cs and Ds had been modified. The leaders of the USAAF's Thirteenth Air Force in the Solomon Islands were also impressed and they began modifying their B-25Cs and Ds into strafers they were followed by the Seventh Air Force in the central Pacific, the Ninth Air Force in Egypt, and the Tenth Air Force in India and Burma which also converted B-25Cs and Ds into strafers.
"Pappy" Gunn left the USAAF in 1946 as a colonel and returned to the Philippines. For additional information about him, read "Kenney, General George C. The Saga of Pappy Gunn. New York, N.Y.: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1959. 133 pages."
Attempts to mount a cannon in an aircraft date back to 1910 when the Frenchman Gabriel Voisin mounted a 37 mm cannon in one of his biplanes. Work continued in the 1930s and early 1940s on an aircraft mounting a 75 mm gun but none went into production. NAA began work in early 1942 on a cannon firing B-25 and the USAAF gave them the go ahead to equip an aircraft with the 75 mm M4 cannon. With approval from the military, the last B-25C-1-NA was modified as the XB-25G-NA. The modifications consisted of replacing the greenhouse nose with a solid nose that was 26 inches (66 cm) shorter and the installation of the cannon, with 21 rounds of ammunition, and two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose. The XB-25G-NA first flew on 22 October 1942 firing of the cannon began the next day. The cannon was manually loaded by the navigator and fired by the pilot.
An order for 400 B-25Gs, which were B-25Cs with the new nose, was placed on 25 June 1942 100 were delivered as B-25G-1-NAs, NA Model NA-93 200 were delivered as B-25G-5-NAs, NA Model NA-96 and 100 as B-25G-10-NAs, also NA-96s. All were built at the Los Angeles plant. The remote controlled ventral turret was removed effective with the 100 th B-25G-5-NA. In addition to these aircraft, the NAA modification center at Kansas City modified five B-25C-15-NAs and 58 B-25C-20 and -25s and they were redesignated B-25Gs. These aircraft were delivered between May and August 1943 with one going to the USMC as a PBJ-1G.
Sixty three of the B-25Gs were sent to the Fifth Air Force in the SWPA with the understanding that they could modify them if necessary. When they arrived, "Pappy" Gunn tested them against Japanese targets. He was pleased with the accuracy of the cannon, but he recommended that four, instead of two, 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns should be installed in the nose. After 300-400 rounds of ammunition had been fired in the cannon, the ground crew found that the "skin began to ripple and tear loose at the bomb bay, the leading edge of the wing cracked between nacelles and fuselage," and the blast obviously affected the adjacent primary structure. These problems were solved by "beefing up" the structure at critical points this required the addition of 97 separate items, 52 of them had to be fabricated locally. A total of 38 of the B-25Gs were modified in Australia and entered combat with the Fifth Air Force.
Although the B-25G was not overly successful in combat operations, the USAAF still wanted a cannon firing attack aircraft and this resulted in the seventh production version, the B-25H which featured many significant offensive and defensive changes. The 140 th B-25C-10-NA was modified and became the B-25H prototype. For test purposes, the aircraft's nose armament was identical to the B-25G, i.e., the 75 mm M4 cannon and two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns. The aircraft made it maiden flight on 15 May 1943 and production of the seventh version of the B-25, all built at the Los Angeles plant, began soon thereafter. The USAAF had already placed an order for 1,000 B-25Hs, NAA Model NA-98, on 21 August 1942. These aircraft were delivered as 300 B-25H-1-NAs 300 B-25H-5-NAs and 400 B-25H-10-NAs. The major differences between the B-25G and B-25H were (1) the elimination of a co-pilot, (2) the replacement of the 75 mm M4 cannon with the lighter 75 mm T13E1 cannon with 21 rounds of ammunition, (3) the installation of four 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose rather than two, (4) the installation of two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in blister guns on the right side of the fuselage, (5) the dorsal turret was moved forward to the navigator's position just behind the cockpit, (6) the installation of a Bell electro-hydraulic tail turret with two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns, and (7) the installation of two staggered waist gun stations with a 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun in each. Bombing and torpedo equipment remained unchanged but there were numerous changes with the radio, electrical and hydraulic equipment. Subsequent changes included (1) the installation of two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in blisters on the left side of the fuselage effective with the 301 st B-25H, and (2) removal of equipment necessary for dropping 2,000 pound (907.2 kg) bombs on the 431 st B-25H.
The first B-25H-1-NA came off the assembly line on 31 July 1943 and deliveries to the USAAF began in August 1943. The USMC received 248 aircraft, 52 B-25H-5-NAs and 196 B-25H-10-NAs. The last B-25H was accepted in July 1944.
The eighth and last B-25 was the NAA Model NA-108 produced as the B-25J all of which were built at the Kansas City plant. The B-25Js, or NAA Model NA-108s, were essentially B-25Hs with (1) a greenhouse nose with one fixed and one flexible 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun instead of a solid nose, (2) provisions for a co-pilot and a bombardier, (3) two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in blister packs on both sides of the forward fuselage, and (4) omission of the cannon and four 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose. This model could also carry three 1,000 pound (453.6 kg) bombs instead of two two 1,600 pounds (725.7 kg) armor piercing bombs and provision for six 325 pound (147.4 kg) depth charges on wing racks. A total of 4,318 B-25Js were built, in addition to 72 incomplete airframes, the most of any version. These consisted of 555 B-25J-1-NCs, 320 B-25J-5-NCs, 410 B-25J-10-NCs, 400 B-25J-15-NCs, 800 B-25-20-NCs, 1,000 B-25J-25-NCs, 800 B-25J-30-NCs, and 95 B-25J-25-NCs. Major changes in the various blocks included:
- The deletion of the ability to carry a 2,000 pound (907.2 kg) bomb was deleted on the 150 th B-25J-1-NC.
The first B-25Js were delivered between December 1943 and August 1945. The USMC received 255 aircraft, i.e., 14 B-25J-1-NCs 7 B-25J-5-NCs 7 B-25J-10-NCs 20 B-25J-15-NCs 84 B-25J-20-NCs 47 B-25J-25-NCs and 76 B-25J-30-NCs.
A total of 453 B-25Js were modified to eight gun strafers. These aircraft featured a solid nose with eight forward firing 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns giving the aircraft the capability of firing fourteen 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns forward (eight in the nose, four in the blister packs on the side of the aircraft and two in the top turret). The aircraft also had four other machine guns, two in the waist and two in the tail, that could be fired after passing over the target. A modified aircraft were one Block 17, 123 Block 22s, 78 Block 27s, 237 Block 32s and 14 Block 14s.
Production of the B-25 ceased shortly after V-J Day.
The USMC received the following aircraft:
- PBJ-1J: 255 aircraft: 14 B-25J-1-NCs 7 B-25J-5-NCs 7 B-25J-10-NCs 20 B-25J-15-NCs 84 B-25J-20-NCs 47 B-25J-25-NCs and 76 B-25J-30-NCs.
The USN accepted 188 PBJs in 1943, 395 in 1944 and 123 in 1945. These aircraft equipped 16 USMC squadrons, eight of which served in the Pacific. In 1945, four squadrons were decommissioned without having left the U.S. and four others were redesignated torpedo bomber squadrons and re-equipped with the Eastern Aircraft TBM Avengers, q.v.
The PBJ-1Cs were mainly used for training while the first Mitchell to see combat was the PBJ-1D. When operated by the Marines, the B-25s were heavily modified. Since two of their major missions were anti-shipping strikes and night heckling missions, many aircraft were equipped with radar. Initially, an AN/APS-2 airborne search radar system was installed in PBJ-1Ds the remote ventral turret was removed and a radome installed housing the radar antenna. As with the turret, the radome was retractable. Later, the AN/APS-3 airborne search radar system with the radome mounted on the nose above the bombardiers station was installed on PBJ-1Ds this configuration was nicknamed Hose Nose. NAA delivered versions of the PBJ-1J with the radar antenna housed in a pod on the starboard wing tip but the Marines felt that the nose mounted radar was superior because (1) it gave about 20 degrees more coverage, (2) better weight distribution and (3) ease of maintenance. Many of the PBJ-1Js received in the Pacific were modified into the Hose Nose configuration.
Armament was also an area where the PBJ-1Ds were heavily modified. Like the USAAF's Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces, these aircraft were modified into strafers by installing four fixed 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose and two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in blisters on both sides of the forward fuselage. Another modification was the installation of 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the small waist windows between the dorsal turret and the tail later PBJ-1Ds were modified with the larger "bay windows" of the B-25H and J. The last major modification was the addition of a tail turret with one 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun. The canopy of the tail gun was similar to that used on the B-25H and J.
The Marine PBJ squadrons served ashore as a garrison air force to attack bypassed Japanese bases and other installations. The primary operations were at night against shipping and land targets. In the South Pacific, five squadrons flew missions against Japanese installations at or near Rabaul (4.12S, 152.12E) on New Britain Island and Kavieng (2.35S, 150.50E) on the northwest coast of New Ireland Island in the Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville Island in the British Solomon Islands. One squadron, based in the Marshall Islands, was tasked with preventing resupply of bypassed Japanese bases in those islands while one squadron was based in the Mariana Islands, and later Iwo Jima and Okinawa, flying night anti-shipping missions. The eighth squadron departed the U.S. in July 1945 and ended the war based on Midway Island.
The last Marine Mitchell, a PBJ-1J assigned to Marine Bombing Squadron Six Hundred Twelve (VMB-612) at Marine Corps Air Depot (MCAD) Miramar, San Diego, California, was removed from the inventory on 31 January 1946. A brief history of the sixteen VMBs is listed below.
The eight squadrons that saw service in the Pacific were:
VMB-413 was the first Marine PBJ squadron formed. Commissioned at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina on 1 March 1943 the squadron moved to Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, San Diego, California in December 1943 after completing training. Departing the U.S. on 3 January 1944 with their PBJs tied down on the deck of the escort aircraft carrier USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) for transport to MCAS Ewa, Territory of Hawaii. The air echelon then flew their aircraft to Naval Operating Base (NOB) Espiritu Santo on Espiritu Santo Island, New Hebrides Islands (15.15S, 166.51E) arriving on 27 January 1944 with 13 PBJ-1Ds. After receiving familiarization training, VMB-413 moved forward to Stirling Island, Treasury Islands, British Solomon Islands (7.13S, 155.19E), on 7 March. Located about 30 miles (48 km) off the southwest coast of Bougainville Island, this base made it easy to fly bombing and heckling missions against targets on Bougainville and the huge Japanese base at Rabaul on New Britain Island. The squadron flew its first mission against a supply dump near Rabaul on 14 March and for the next week, joined USAAF and USN aircraft in attacking the Rabaul area. After these preliminary raids, VMB-413 switched to its primary function, night heckling raids against Japanese installations on Bougainville and Rabaul. The squadron returned to NOB Espiritu Santo in May 1944 for rest and recreation and then moved forward to Munda Airfield (8.00S, 157.15E) on New Georgia Island in the British Solomon Islands and commenced bombing and strafing heckling operations against the Kahili-Choiseul area of Bougainville Island. On 18 October 1944, the squadron moved to Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Emirau on Emirau Island (1.40S, 150.00E) in the St. Matthias Group of the Bismarck Archipelago. For the remainder of the war, the squadron flew missions against the bypassed Japanese forces on New Britain and New Ireland Islands. On 17 August 1945, the squadron was ordered to transfer to Titcomb Field, Malabang, Mindanao, Philippines Islands.
VMB-423 was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point on 15 September 1943. The squadron moved to MCAS Edenton, North Carolina in October 1943 and upon completion of their training, transferred to MCAS El Centro, California arriving on 3 January 1944 with their PBJ-1Ds. The ground echelon sailed for NOB Espiritu Santo in the cargo ship and aircraft ferry USS Hammondsport (AKV-2) and the escort aircraft carrier USS Prince William (CVE-31) arriving on 11 March 1944 the air echelon arrived on 10 April. After completing familiarization training, the air echelon was operating from Stirling Island by the middle of May their first combat mission on 14 May. Meanwhile, the ground echelon had been dispatched to Naval Auxiliary Air Facility (NAAF) Green Island (4.38S, 154.15E) in the Solomon Islands, located about halfway between Buka and New Ireland, and the air echelon joined them on 21 June by the end of June, the squadron had ten PBJ-1Ds. For the next year, the squadron carried out day and night air attacks against targets on New Britain and New Ireland Islands in the Bismarck Archipelago and suppled CAS for Australian troops on Bougainville Island. On 12 June 1945, the squadron moved to MCAF Emirau on Emirau Island where it conducted strikes against New Britain and New Ireland Islands until 10 August at which time it began a movement to Titcomb Field, Malabang, Mindanao, Philippines Islands arriving on 16 August just after the war ended.
VMB-433 was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point on 15 September 1943. The squadron trained at Cherry Point and at Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Field (MCAAF) Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (Peters Point Field) and upon completion, moved to MCAS El Centro and continued their training syllabus. On 26 May 1944, the ground echelon departed by ship for the Solomon Islands the next day, the air echelon departed and arrived at NAAF Green Island on 14 July for temporary duty this temporary duty consisted of flying with VMB-413 and VMB-423 to gain combat experience. In August 1944, the air and ground echelons were reunited at NOB Espiritu Santo where the squadron remained for the remainder of the war. On 16 August 1945, the squadron was ordered to Titcomb Field, Malabang, Mindanao, Philippines Islands.
VMB-443 was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point on 15 September 1943 and transferred to MCAAF Camp Lejeune on 20 October to continue training. In mid-January 1944, the air echelon and some of the ground echelon went to Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Boca Chica, Key West, Florida for torpedo training and tactics and then moved to MCAS El Centro in February in preparation for overseas assignment. The ground echelon sailed from San Diego on 18 May 1944 and arrived at NOB Espiritu Santo in June one month later, the ground echelon moved to MCAF Emirau and joined the flight echelon which arrived on 13 August. VMB-443 began flying both day and night missions against Rabaul and other bypassed Japanese installations on New Britain and New Ireland Islands until moving to Titcomb Field, Malabang, Mindanao, Philippines Islands in August 1945 after the war had ended.
VMB-611 was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point on 1 October 1943. After completing training, the squadron transferred to the West Coast and the air echelon sailed from San Diego for MCAS Ewa, Territory of Hawaii on 24 August 1944 with the PBJs tied down on the deck of the escort aircraft carrier USS Manila Bay (CVE-61) the ground echelon sailed for Hawaii on 23 September. While at NAS Barbers Point, Territory of Hawaii, the squadron's PBJs were equipped with underwing zero-length high velocity aircraft rocket (HVAR) launchers and Long Range Navigation (LORAN) equipment. In October, the air echelon flew from Hawaii to MCAF Emirau both air and ground echelons had arrived by December 1944. VMB-611 flew its first mission on 17 November, a night mission against Kavieg and for the next three months, the squadron flew night heckling missions and strikes against Vanakanau and Tobera on New Britain Island. On 17 March 1945, the ground echelon transferred to Moret Field, Zamboanga (6.54N, 122.05E) on Mindanao Island in the Philippine Islands where it was joined by the air echelon on 30 March. The squadron flew day and night combat missions in the southern Philippines until the end of the war.
VMB-612 was formed at MCAS Cherry Point on 1 October 1943. Beginning in January 1944, the squadron began experiments in low-altitude night-radar operations and alternated operations between NAAS Boca Chica and MCAAF Camp Lejeune for tactical training. In August 1944, the squadron departed the U.S. for Kagman Base on Saipan Island (15.10N, 145.45E) in the Mariana Islands arriving on the island in late October. The air echelon flew to Saipan via MCAS Ewa, Territory of Hawaii where the PBJ-1Ds were modified by the installation of an AN/APN-4 airborne Loran receiver, underwing HVAR rocket launchers synchronized to an AN/APQ-5 airborne radar bombsight, and AN/APN-1 airborne radio altimeters calibrated to give accurate reading between 500 and 1,000 feet (152 and 305 meters). Between 13 November 1944 and February 1945, the squadron flew anti-shipping strikes using rockets against Japanese ships and land targets in the Bonin and Volcano Islands area. After the invasion of Iwo Jima in February, the squadron undertook search missions to the Marcus Island area (24.18N, 153.58E) three nights a week, a mission of 1,450 miles (2,334 km). It was during this period that the squadron began to experiment with the Tiny Tim rocket. The subsonic Tiny Tim had a diameter of 11.75 inches (29.8 cm), a length of 10.25 feet (3.12 m), a firing weight of 1,284 pounds (582.4 kg), and a warhead with an explosive charge weighing 150 pounds (68.04 kg). The Marines modified a Mk 51 bomb rack to carry the rockets and installed two on the belly of the aircraft at the bomb bay. On 1 March, the squadron received three PBJ-1Js and in April 1945, the squadron moved to South Field on Iwo Jima (24.47N, 141.20E) in the Volcano Islands to continue anti-shipping missions. Now within striking range of the Japanese Home Islands, VMB-612 began bombing targets on Kyoto on 10 April. Anti-shipping missions at night, consisting of three PBJs, were unproductive and in the middle of April, daylight raids against the Home Islands commenced. While on Iwo Jima, the squadron had conducted tests and training using the Tiny Tim rocket the first combat mission with the Tiny Tim, an anti-shipping strike, was flown by a PBJ-1J on the night of 21/22 July from Okinawa but no targets were found. The squadron's final move began on 28 July Chimu Airfield on the eastern shore of Okinawa Island (26.31N, 127.59E) in the Ryukyu Islands. Operations with the Tiny Tims began in earnest on 11 August with one sortie followed by three sorties on 14 August and six sorties during the night of the 14 th . With the Japanese surrender, hostilities ceased at 1600 hours Tokyo time on 15 August 1945. The squadron continued experimentation with the Tiny Tims for the rest of the month.
VMB-613 was commissioned on 1 October 1943 at MCAS Cherry Point and transferred to NAS Boca Chica for torpedo training in February 1944, Returning to MCAS Cherry Point in March, VMB-613 moved to MCAF Newport, Arkansas in August for additional training. The air echelon departed MCAF Newport with their PBJ-1Ds for Dyess Field on Roi Island (9.24N, 167.28E), Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in October 1944 both air and ground echelons arrived in December and the squadron began operations against bypassed Japanese forces in the Marshalls in January 1945. The forward echelon deployed to Stickell Field on Eniwetok Island (11.30N, 162.15E) in Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands to conduct antisubmarine patrols between 11 January and 13 March 1945. In the spring of 1945, VMB-613 was chosen to test the PBJ-1H and became the only USMC squadron to operate this type of aircraft in combat. The problem was that there were few targets to use the 75 mm gun against and the aircraft was not very effective so on 19 May, four PBJ-1Hs were detached to Iwo Jima to conduct anti-shipping missions but returned to Roi on the 28 th without attacking any targets.
VMB-614 was commissioned on 1 October 1943 at MCAS Cherry Point. The squadron trained at Cherry Point plus NAAS Boca Chica and Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Newport. The squadron was initially equipped with PBJ-1C and -1D aircraft and effective in July 1944, with PBJ-1Hs equipped with AN/APG-23 airborne gun directing radar. The PBJ-1H was not a popular aircraft and they were replaced by PBJ-1Js modified with the eight gun nose for low altitude strafing missions. The air echelon departed California on 25 July 1945 followed by the ground echelon in early August both echelons arrived at Henderson Field, NAS Midway Islands (28.13N, 177.26W) by the end of August 1945.
The eight other squadrons that did not serve in the Pacific were:
VMB-453 was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point on 25 June 1944 by 31 December 1944, the squadron was equipped with six PBJ-1Ds, three PBJ-1Hs and five PBJ-1Js. VMB-453 decommissioned 20 February 1945 without seeing combat.
VMB-463 was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point on 20 July 1944 by 31 December 1944, the squadron was equipped with six PBJ-1Hs and two PBJ-1Js. VMB-463 was decommissioned on 28 February 1945 without seeing combat.
VMB-473 was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point on 25 July 1944 and moved to MCAAF Kinston, North Carolina on 15 December. By the end of December, the squadron was flying one PBJ-1C, one PBJ-1D and two PBJ-1Hs. The squadron was decommissioned on 15 March 1945 without seeing combat.
VMB-483 was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point on 26 August 1944 and moved to MCAAF Kinston in December by the end of the month, they were flying two PBJ-1Ds, one PBJ-1G, one PBJ-1H and two PBJ-1Js. The squadron was decommissioned on 15 March 1945 without seeing combat.
VMB-621 was commissioned on 10 April 1944 at MCAS Cherry Point by the end of December 1944, the squadron had one PBJ-1D, six PBJ-1Hs and one PBJ-1J. The squadron was redesignated Marine Torpedo Bomber Squadron Six Hundred Twenty One (VMTB-621) on 31 January 1945 and re-equipped with Eastern Aircraft TBM Avengers, q.v.
VMB-622 was commissioned on 10 May 1944 at MCAS Cherry Point. The squadron moved to MCAF Newport on 10 September and continued operational training by the end of December, the squadron was equipped with eight PBJ-1Hs and one PBJ-1J. In February 1945, the squadron moved to MCAS Mojave, California where it was redesignated VMTB-622 on 15 May 1945 and re-equipped with Eastern Aircraft TBM Avengers.
VMB-623 was commissioned on 15 May 1944 at MCAS Cherry Point by the end of December, the unit had two PBJ-1Ds and 12 PBJ-1Hs. The squadron began operational training with the PBJ but was redesignated VMTB-623 on 10 February 1945 and re-equipped with Eastern Aircraft TBM Avengers.
VMB-624 was commissioned on 20 June 1944 at MCAS Cherry Point. The squadron began operational training with PBJs and by the end of December had ten PBJ-1Hs and one PBJ-1J. On 15 February 1945, the squadron was redesignated VMTB-624 and re-equipped with Eastern Aircraft TBM Avengers.
The seven PBJ squadrons that saw combat in the Pacific suffered the loss of 45 aircraft, 26 in combat and 19 in non-combat operations, and 173 crew, 62 officers and 111 enlisted men.
POWERPLANT : Two 1,700 hp (1,268 kW) Wright R-2600-13 fourteen-cylinder, two-row, air-cooled radial engines with two-speed superchargers driving 12-foot 7-inch (3.84 meter) full-feathering, constant-speed Hamilton Standard three-bladed propellers
Tuskegee Airmen Legacy
By the time the 332nd flew its last combat mission on April 26, 1945, two weeks before the German surrender, the Tuskegee Airmen had flown more than 15,000 individual sorties over two years in combat.
They had destroyed or damaged 36 German planes in the air and 237 on the ground, as well as nearly 1,000 rail cars and transport vehicles and a German destroyer. In all, 66 Tuskegee-trained aviators were killed in action during World War II, while another 32 were captured as POWs after being shot down.
Watch the video: Historic Flight Foundation - B-25D Mitchell Flight Demo