North American B-25 Mitchell

A Medium Bomber With A Ferocious Attitude

The B-25 is best remembered for the daring Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April 1942 when 16 B-25B's were launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. However, in addition to standard medium-level bombing the aircraft was also adept and well suited to low level (i.e. tree top) attacks as illustrated so well in this video.

On a hazy summer day the B-25 banks around at just over tree-top height to run in and attack the enemy position again...   Photo: © Historical Aviation Film Unit


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Billy Mitchell's Namesake

The North American B-25 Mitchell is an American twin-engine, medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation (NAA). It was named in honor of Major General William "Billy" Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation.

Introduced in 1941 the aircraft was used by many Allied air forces, and it served in virtually every theatre of World War II. Many of the more than 9800 examples of the type built remained in service after the war, with the last military user (Indonesia) retiring their last B-25's in 1979.

The majority of B-25s in American service were used in the war against Japan in the Pacific Theatre, and also in the Asian (China-Burma-India) theatre. The type's excellence in performing low-level ground attack roles was realised in the Pacific Theatre where the thick jungle cover reduced the effectiveness of medium-level bombing

Further refining the low-level attack tactics used on land, and using 'skip bombing' techniques, the B-25 was also developed into a very successful anti-shipping attack aircraft, with the result that many enemy ships were sunk by the type.

The Royal Air Force was the only service to use Mitchells in the north-western European Theatre (the USAAF operated the type in the Mediterraen and Italy), with over 900 examples of the type being operated from August 1941 onwards.

The RAF issued B-25's to No 342 Squadron which was made up primarily of Free French aircrews, and by 1945 No. 320 Squadron which operated mainly with personnel formerly serving with the Royal Dutch Naval Air Service was also using the Mitchell.





Periodically this B-25 hops across the Engish Channel (from The Netherlands), and is displayed at events in the UK. This video shows the aircraft at The Victory Show (Cosby, Leicestershire), a couple of years ago during an overcast and hazy day. Watch the video and listen to the awesome rumble of the twin Wright R-2600-92 Twin Cyclone 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engines.


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This B-25 is now operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight, and it wears the colours of B-25C-15 (s/n N5-149) which was assigned to the Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF), and which flew with No. 18 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron Royal Australian Air Force. No 18 Squadron generally flew bombing raids against Japanese targets in the East Indies.





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