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  • North American B-25 Mitchell

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    Description

    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.

    General Information

    Used by many Allied air forces, the B-25 served in every theatre 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.

     

    The North American NA-62 was one of the best twin-engined medium bombers of World War II. The first aircraft flew on 19 August 1940 and, subsequently, almost 11,000 versions operated with Allied air forces throughout the world.

     

    Officially designated B-25, the bomber was later named the Mitchell in honour of General Mitchell who had been court-martialled in 1925 for his outspoken views on air power. Other Generals associated with the aircraft included General Doolittle, who led 16 B-25Bs from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in the historic Tokyo raid on 18 April 1942, and General Kenny, under whose command B-25C/Ds (Mitchell IIs) were converted at RAAF Townsville for ground strafing. These field modifications culminated in the B-25J (Mitchell III), which was the most effective version of this famous bomber.

     

    In 1942, the RAAF accepted a number of Mitchells on behalf of the Dutch Government. These aircraft equipped No 18 (Dutch East Indies) Squadron and, by 1945, 150 Mitchells of various marks had been received.

     

    In April 1944, No 2 Squadron replaced its Beauforts with Mitchells and the first 39 aircraft (A47-1/39) were transferred from No 18 Dutch East Indies Squadron. A total of 50 Mitchells were operated by No 2 Squadron including 30 Mitchell IIs (A47-1/25, 33/37) and 20 Mitchell IIIs (A47-26/32, 38/50). The Mitchells of Nos 2 and 18 Dutch East Indies Squadrons formed No 79 Wing, and these aircraft carried out many successful strikes against enemy targets.

     

    At the end of the war, the Mitchells of No 2 Squadron helped evacuate and return many prisoners of war, and the aircraft were finally phased out of service in 1946.

     

    For more information on the development and design, operational history and the 29 variants of the B-25, click here.

    Mitchell B-25 232 511.jpg

    Mitchell B-25 02344.jpg

    Mitchell B-25 bomber Panchito.jpg

    Mitchell B-25J Hot Gen.jpg

    Mitchell-B-25  Photo by Edwin van Apstal.jpg

    Specifications

    Seats:
    5 or 6
    Length:
    16.13 m (52 ft 11 in)
    Wingspan:
    20.60 m (67 ft 7 in)
    Height:
    4.82 m (15 ft 10 in)
    Wing Area:
    618 sq ft (57.4 sq m)
    Empty Weight:
    9571 kg (21 100 lb)
    MTOW:
    Loaded 18 960 kg (41 800 lb).
    Powerplant:
    Two 1,700 hp Wright Cyclone R-2600-92.
    Vne:
    Max speed 442 km/h (239 kt)
    Cruise Speed:
    370 km/h (200 kt)
    Range:
    2050 km (1108 nm).
    Service Ceiling:
    24,000 ft (7315 m)

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    Here's a 1943 Cinesound Review news clip about the Battle of the Bismarck Sea - a battle in which B-25's played a sizeable part. The RAAF and the American Air Force certainly did do some major damage to the Japanese in this battle.

    The "rah-rah" voiceover of the film clip, is of course, quite a bit of propaganda, designed to bolster civilian and troop morale. The true story is that only 16 ships were sunk and Japanese troop losses were only around 3,000 men, not the 12,000 or 15,000 claimed (which varied according to the news outlet).

    One thing that helped in this battle was "Pappy" Gunns re-armouring of the early B-25's with no less than FOUR .50 cal MG's mounted in the nose.

    It was reported the hammering the airframe took from this unauthorised modification popped rivets in the panels.

     

    The Cinesound Review contains clips of the actual battle, taken by Damien Parer. You have to admire the bravery of these blokes aiming straight at heavily armed Japanese ships at low level - but apparently the Japs were terrified by the ferocity of the Allied air attacks and didn't respond with equal ferocity, due to having to try and shelter from the sheer destructiveness of the 20mm cannon shells and .50 cal MG fire.

     

    There's scenes in the clip showing the pilots strafing Japanese lifeboats and rafts - something that didn't sit well with many Allied personnel. But this was a result of the Japs previously shooting down crew in parachutes who had baled out of a stricken B-17 - as well as strafing Allied survivors in the water.

     

    As result, it was seen as "fair game" to do the same to the Japs. There was also the aim of simply eliminating as many Jap military fighting men as possible, to ensure they couldn't launch more attacks.

     

     

    Edited by onetrack
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    51 minutes ago, onetrack said:

    There's scenes in the clip showing the pilots strafing Japanese lifeboats and rafts - something that didn't sit well with many Allied personnel. But this was a result of the Japs previously shooting down crew in parachutes who had baled out of a stricken B-17 - as well as strafing Allied survivors in the water.

     

    As result, it was seen as "fair game" to do the same to the Japs. There was also the aim of simply eliminating as many Jap military fighting men as possible, to ensure they couldn't launch more attacks.

     

    I worked alongside NATO troops in Germany, late '60s early '70s.
    I heard a few stories about things that happened during WW2 there, the reasons and the justifications. Now, when I read back about those same events and incidents, I find the stories are sometimes quite different, and usually nothing like as clear cut as what I was told back then.

    It can be very hard to arrive at what actually happened and why. The victors get to write the history in the first instance, and the propaganda can last a very long time.

    I have learnt to be wary of the official line.

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    I often wonder how many soldiers from both sides were drowned when a troopship went down. Here is the story of a POW ship.

     

    On 22 June 1942, some weeks after the fall of Rabaul to the Japanese, many Australian prisoners were embarked from Rabaul's port onto Montevideo Maru. Unmarked as a POW ship, she was proceeding without escort to the Chinese island of Hainan when she was sighted by the American submarine Sturgeon near the northern Philippine coast on 30 June.

     

    Sturgeon pursued, but was unable to fire, as the target was traveling at 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph).[2] However, it slowed to about 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph) at midnight; according to crewman Yoshiaki Yamaji, a crewman on the  Montevideo Maru, it was to rendezvous with an escort of two destroyers.

     

    Unaware that it was carrying Allied prisoners of war and civilians, Sturgeon fired four torpedoes at Montevideo Maru before dawn of 1 July, causing the vessel to sink in only 11 minutes. According to Yamaji, Australians in the water sang "Auld Lang Syne" to their trapped mates as the ship sank beneath the waves.

     

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Montevideo_Maru

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    OME  Paramushir is an Island off the Kamchatka Peninsula, occupied in WW2 by the Japanese, with multiple airstrips and bases. A Russian translator showed us round the little museum there. On the wall was a picture of a Russian general of Mongolian extraction, who he said should have been shot. The story he told went as follows

     

    In addition to extensive military operations, the Japanese had a Russian POW camp on Paramushir. With the end of the war in sight, they loaded the POWs on boats, took them out to sea and dropped them over the side.

    On Aug14 1945, the Japanese unconditionally surrendered. However, the Russian general, wishing for a decisive win on his CV, requested and was granted leave to 'take' Paramushir by force. Russian troops arrived by ship Aug18, however, they put in to the wrong bay, and 2 of every three drowned while trying to reach the shore. The history books say that sporadic fighting then continued until Aug23, however the translator told us the Japanese met the Russians with white flags and were machine gunned.

     

    It is a fishing island, and the locals said they were fishing up bones for years.

     

    The main fishing town was wiped out in 1952 by the Severo Kurilsk tsunami. The locals told us the KGB visited the survivors and cautioned them against talking about it. The local theory is that the tsunami was the result of a bomb test.

     

    In 1983 commercial flight KAL007 'strayed' into Soviet air space and was shot down. One theory in the West was that the incursion was deliberate, intended to provoke the USSR into lighting up all their defence gear, much of it on Paramushir, so the US could get a look at it. We asked the translator about that and were told the official line: supposedly Russia had shot down 15 enemy aircraft that day, unfortunately one turned out to be civilian. I don't think he believed it: there were a lot of Russians jokes about their own propaganda.

     

    In 1986 when I was there, the island was still littered with old munitions, the local children periodically blowing bits off themselves while playing with them.

    It's a place of severe winter weather, and there are fewer people there now.

     

     

    Edited by IBob
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