This extremely versatile medium bomber was built by North American Aviation at their Kansas City, KS, plant. This aircraft is named in honor of Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell, who pioneered the concept of strategic aerial bombardment.
In April of 1942, Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, later Lt. General, led one of the most daring missions of the war flying the B-25. Only five months after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Lt. Col. Doolittle led 16 B-25 “Mitchell” bombers off the deck of the U. S. S. Hornet. The B-25s bombed Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagoya. Lt. Col. Doolittle’s “Tokyo Raiders” were successful in their mission.
The B-25 also served with distinction in North Africa, Italy, Europe, and the South Pacific.
The museum’s B-25J, serial number 44-31032, was delivered to the Army Air Force in 1945 and put into storage until 1947. It was assigned to Vance AFB as a TB-25J and TB-25N for pilot training until retirement in 1958. The aircraft was then sold and registered as N3174AG. It participated in the 1970 Paramount Pictures release, “Catch - 22” and 44-31032 appeared in the film with the nose art of ”Free, Fast and Ready”.
The museum received the aircraft by truck in 1982. It was restored in 1998, wearing colors of the 42nd Bomb Group, 13th Air Force, and named “Problem Child”. This aircraft is on loan from the USAF.
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According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA/RSA), Maxwell AFB, AL, the museum’s B-25J has the following history:
B-25J, s/n 44-31032
Manufactured by North American Aviation, Kansas City KS and delivered to the USAAF on 29 Mar 1945.
Mar 1945 - To 4168th AAF Base Unit (Air Technical Service Command), South Plains AAF TX (storage)
Jul 1947 - To 4141st AF Base Unit (Air Materiel Command), Pyote AFB TX (storage)
Nov 1948 - To 3575th Pilot Training Wing (Air Training Command), Enid, later Vance, AFB OK (to TB-25J)
Mar 1951 - To 3700th Military Training Wing (ATC), Lackland AFB TX
Apr 1951 - To 3535th Military Training Wing (ATC), Mather AFB CA
Sep 1952 - To 3575th Pilot Training Wing (ATC), Vance AFB
Sun 1954 - To TB-25N
Sep 1957 - To Arizona Aircraft Storage Branch (AMC), Davis-Monthan AFB AZ
Apr 1958 - Dropped from inventory as surplus
Category: Airplanes - Classic Aircraft