North American B-25 Mitchell History

The original prototype for the North American B-25 Mitchell, the NA-40, was destroyed during initial flight tests in 1939, but the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was so impressed that it called for major design changes to be incorporated and had enough faith to place an order for 184 of the new NA-62, the first of which flew in August 1940. By the end of the year twenty-four had been delivered, all except the first nine having the gull-winged appearance that was a characteristic of the bomber. They were followed in 1941 by forty B-25As, then by one hundred and nineteen B-25s with dorsal and ventral gun turrets.

The North American B-25 Mitchell was A mid-wing 67 ft 7 in (20 mm)-span aircraft with two 1,700 hp R-2600 radials, the B-25, had a five-men crew, a five-gun armament and carried 3,000 lb (1,360 kg) of bombs. The range was 1,350 miles (2,100 km), and it had a maximum speed of over 300 mph (482 km/h). To solve the stability problems, dihedral on the outer wing panels was deleted.

First operational unit was the 17th Bombardment Group, which began to receive its North American B-25 Mitchell aircraft in 1941. Production continued with one thousand six hundred and nineteen B-25Cs and two thousand two hundred and ninety B-25Ds from early 1942, and in April that year B-25Bs flying off the USS Hornet made their epic raid on Tokyo.

The B-25E and F were experimental models, production continuing with the B-25G, which carried two 0.50 in guns alongside a 75 mm cannon in a new`solid`nose. Four hundred and five B-25Gs were built, and a hundred and seventy-five earlier Mitchells were modified to carry a total of the 0.50 in guns. An even more heavily armed `gunship` was the B-25H, one thousand of which were produced with the 75 mm nose cannon and fourteen 0.50 in guns; this entered operational service in February 1944, joining the earlier multi-gunned North American B-25 Mitchell bombers on anti-shipping strikes in the Pacific battle areas.

Mitchells in US service operated predominantly in the Pacific war zone, but large numbers were supplied elsewhere during the war. Two hundred and forty-eight North American B-25Hs and four hundred and fifty-eight B-25Js were transferred to the US Navy from 1943 as PBJ-1Hs and -1Js, most being operated by Marine Corps squadrons. Eight hundred and seventy Mitchells of various models were supplied to the USSR under Lend-Lease; twenty-three Mitchell Is (B-26B) and five hundred and thirty-eight Mitchell IIs (B-25C and D) were received by the RAF; and others were supplied to Brazil (twenty-nine), Chine (one hundred and thirty-one) and the Netherlands (two hundred and forty-nine). Over 9,700 North American B-25 Mitchell bombers of all marks were built, of which 800-plus were delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF).


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