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North American B-25 Mitchell Medium Bomber

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Most Numerous American Medium Bomber, the B-25


B-25 Mitchell - WWII American bomber

B-25 Mitchell in flight. USAAF photo.

The twin engine B-25 Mitchell was the most numerous American medium bomber built, and was constructed in both solid and glass nosed versions.


Although it served predominantly in the Pacific, it saw service in nearly all fronts of World War II. It was used by the U.S. Army Air Corps, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps., and also by the air forces of Great Britain, the Commonwealth countries, and the Soviet Union.


B-25 Made an Excellent Gun Platform


U.S. Marine Corps PBJ-1D Mitchell with "hose nose" radar

Radar installed in the hose nose on the Marine Corps PBJ-1D. From USMC photo.

Between 1940 and 1945, several versions were built to improve the aircraft, and increase in its power. Most improvements involved additions to its armaments.


It became apparent that the B-25 made an excellent gun platform and the later versions were armed with up to 14 machine guns. 


This arrangement made the B-25 useful for strafing both land and sea targets. The gunship nose modifications occurred in both the field and at the factory, creating flying arsenals. Some were even equipped with a 75-mm nose cannon. Some Mitchells had search radar installed under the belly, or in the hose nose. See photo above..



B-25 Mitchell skip bombing

B-25 using skip-bombing.
USAAC photo.

Skip-bombing with the B-25

The B-25 crews also used a high risk technique called skip-bombing, in which they dropped a conventional bomb at sea, allowing it to skip across the top of the water until it exploded into an enemy ship.


B-25s and the Doolittle Raid

The B-25 Mitchell is probably most famous for being the bomber used in the Doolittle Raid on April 18, 1942.



B-25s on deck of USS Hornet (Doolittle Raid)

B-25s on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in route to bomb the Japanese mainland. U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photo

Although this first U.S. attack on Japan did minimal damage, it boosted American moral and convinced the Japanese to invade Midway in hopes of forestalling further American attacks. The ensuing battle at Midway in June of 1942, was a major Japanese defeat.


Proved Durable and Dependable

By the end of WWII, the B-25 Mitchell earned a reputation of being both durable and dependable, and was reportedly one of the best ground attack planes of the war.


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* B-25 Mitchell facts

Category Medium bomber
Manufacturer North American Aviation
Introduced 1940
Used in
WWII by
US Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Soviet Air Force
Number built 9,984
Cruising speed 233
Max. speed 328 mph
Altitude 24,200 service ceiling
Range

2,500 miles
(with auxiliary tanks)

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