1944 B-25 Mitchell “Killer Bee”
SN – 44-86697 • FAA REG – N62163
The North American B-25 Mitchell is a medium bomber that was introduced in 1941 and named in honor of Major General William “Billy” Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. Used 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 a few limited models such as the F-10 reconnaissance aircraft, the AT-24 crew trainers, and the United States Marine Corps’ PBJ-1 patrol bomber.
The Air Corps issued a specification for a medium bomber in March 1939 that was capable of carrying a payload of 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) over 1,200 mi (1,900 km) at 300 mph (480 km/h) North American Aviation used its NA-40B design to develop the NA-62, which competed for the medium bomber contract. No YB-25 was available for prototype service tests. In September 1939, the Air Corps ordered the NA-62 into production as the B-25, along with the other new Air Corps medium bomber, the Martin B-26 Marauder “off the drawing board”. Early into B-25 production, NAA incorporated a significant redesign to the wing dihedral. The first nine aircraft had a constant dihedral, meaning the wing had a consistent, upward angle from the fuselage to the wingtip. This design caused stability problems. “Flattening” the outer wing panels by giving them a slight anhedral angle just outboard of the engine nacelles nullified the problem and gave the B-25 its gull-wing configuration. Less noticeable changes during this period included an increase in the size of the tail fins and a decrease in their inward tilt at their tops.
Dimensions & Capacity
Crew: 5 (one pilot, navigator/bombardier, turret gunner/engineer, radio operator/waist gunner, tail gunner)
Length: 52 ft 11 in (16.13 m)
Wingspan: 67 ft 7 in (20.60 m)
Height: 16 ft 4 in (4.98 m)
Empty Weight: 19,480 lb (8,836 kg)
Max Take Off Weight: 35,000 lb (15,876 kg)
Speed: 272 mph (438 km/h, 236 kn) at 13,000 ft (4,000 m)
Service Ceiling: 24,200 ft (7,400 m)
Range: 1,350 mi (2,170 km, 1,170 nmi)
Continued Design & Development
NAA continued design and development in 1940 and 1941. Both the B-25A and B-25B series entered USAAF service. The B-25B was operational in 1942. Combat requirements led to further developments. Before the year was over, NAA was producing the B-25C and B-25D series at different plants. Also in 1942, the manufacturer began design work on the cannon-armed B-25G series. The NA-100 of 1943 and 1944 was an interim armament development at the Kansas City complex known as the B-25D2. Similar armament upgrades by U.S-based commercial modification centers involved about half of the B-25G series. Further development led to the B-25H, B-25J, and B-25J2. The gunship design concept dates to late 1942 and NAA sent a field technical representative to the SWPA. The factory-produced B-25G entered production during the NA-96 order followed by the redesigned B-25H gunship. The B-25J reverted to the bomber role, but it, too, could be outfitted as a strafer.
NAA manufactured the greatest number of aircraft in World War II, the first time a company had produced trainers, bombers, and fighters simultaneously (the AT-6/SNJ Texan/Harvard, B-25 Mitchell, and the P-51 Mustang). It produced B-25s at both its Inglewood main plant and an additional 6,608 aircraft at its Kansas City, Kansas, plant at Fairfax Airport.
After the war, the USAF placed a contract for the TB-25L trainer in 1952. This was a modification program by Hayes of Birmingham, Alabama. Its primary role was reciprocating engine pilot training. The development of the B-25 was the North American XB-28, designed as a high-altitude bomber. Two prototypes were built with the second prototype, the XB-28A, evaluated as a photo-reconnaissance platform, but the aircraft did not enter production.
Guns: 12–18 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns and 75 mm (2.95 in) T13E1 cannon
Hardpoints: 2,000 lb (900 kg) ventral shackles to hold one external Mark 13 torpedo
Rockets: Racks for eight 5 in (127 mm) high-velocity aircraft rockets (HVAR)
Bombs: 3,000 lb (1,360 kg) bombs
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