North American B-25 “Mitchell”
The North American B-25 Mitchell is an American medium bomber that was introduced in 1941 and named in honor of Major General William “Billy” Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. Flown by many Allied air forces, the B-25 served in every theater of World War II, and after the war ended, many remained in service, operating across four decades. Produced in numerous variants, nearly 10,000 B-25s were built. These included several variants including the USN, and USMC PBJ-1 patrol bomber.
The B-25 became etched in the public lexicon as the bomber used in the 18 April 1942 Doolittle Raid, in which 16 B-25Bs led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle attacked mainland Japan after launching from the deck of the USS Hornet 600 miles off the coast of Japan. The attack came four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and would be the first blow to the Japanese Empire to avenge the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. The heroic mission would be a welcome morale boost to the American public during the early days of WWII where US combat success had been limited. It was also a blow to the Japanese psyche, as the Japanese had believed their home islands to be out of reach by enemy forces.
About Our North American B-25 “Mitchell”:
The American Airpower Museum North American B-25 Mitchell “Miss Hap” is the oldest example of the B-25 still in existence. Built in 1940-41 at the North American Aviation plant in Inglewood, CA, now adjacent to where LAX stands today, it was part of the first 24 built for the US Army Air Corps as part of President Roosevelts pre-war build up. One of the first B-25s delivered to the USAAC in February of 1941 at Mchord Field in Washington State, it was assigned to the 17th Bomb Group, 34th Bomb Squadron. It flew with the 17th BG through 1942 and participated in the famed pre-war exercise known as the Louisiana Maneuvers. It would go on to serve as an administrative and training aircraft until 1943 when it was return to the North American Factory in California where it along with its sister ship serial number 40-2165 it was converted into a VIP transport. Our tail 40-2168 would be presented to the USAAF for use as the personal transport for General Henry “Hap” Arnold, Commander of the USAAF during WWII. It would be stationed at Bolling Field from 1943-1944 during this time. After being replaced by a newer B-25J in late 1944 40-2168 would serve at different bases up and down the east coast in an administrative role ultimately being retired from service at the end of WWII. Purchased surplus is was owned by Howard Hughes in the 1950s, various civilian owners through the 1980s until purchased by Jeff Clyman, founder of the well-known flight jacket company Avirex Ltd, and Cockpit USA in 1989. It has since been donated to the American Airpower Museum by Mr.Clyman and has been flying in air shows throughout the country now for over 30 years.