North American B-25H Mitchell "Barbie III"
WWII Medium / Attack Bomber, U.S. Army Air Corps :: The Medium Bomber with a Punch!

 

You Can Fly Aboard the B-25H Mitchell!
The North American B-25H Mitchell is one of the most well-known bombers from World War II. Made famous in the Doolittle Raid on Japan; the first retaliatory strike after the U.S. entered WWII, the B-25 became a symbol of American airpower during the war.

Today, the B-25 is a beloved warbird, with only approximately 25 preserved in flying condition. The B-25H "Barbie III" owned and operated by History Flight, Inc. is the last H-model B-25 flying in the world and is the only one equipped with the unique 75mm cannon in the nose for ground attack purposes.

The experience of flying aboard the B-25 is like no other. The speed, the roar of the R-2600 engines, the vibration... it's truly like being a part of a tight-knit bomber crew during WWII. You'll be able to explore parts of the aircraft in flight if you desire and photo opportunities abound!

The B-25H Mitchell "Barbie III" is available only for The Bomber Crew flight package. Flights are as passengers only -- FAA regulations prohibit "stick time" or the ability to fly the aircraft due to its complexity and flight category.

To find out how YOU can fly aboard the B-25 Mitchell, click here. Find out where we are offering flights aboard the B-25 this year at our schedule.

History of the North American B-25H Mitchell

General History - The B-25 Mitchell
The B-25 was made immortal on April 18, 1942, when it became the first United States aircraft to bomb the Japanese mainland. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, sixteen Mitchells took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, flew 800 miles (1287 km) to Japan, and attacked their targets. Most made forced landings in China. They were the heaviest aircraft at the time to be flown from a ship at sea.

The B-25 was designed for the United States' Army Air Corps before the Second World War. The North American company had never designed a multi-engine bomber before. The original design had shoulder-mounted wings and a crew of three in a narrow fuselage. The USAAC then decided its new bomber would need a much larger payload -- double the original specifications. North American designers dropped the wing to the aircraft's mid-section, and widened the fuselage so the pilot and co-pilot could sit side-by-side. They also improved the cockpit. The USAAC ordered 140 aircraft of the new design right off the drawing board. There were at least six major variants of the Mitchell, from the initial B-25A and B-25B, with two power-operated two-gun turrets, to the autopilot-equipped B-25C, and the B-25G with 75mm cannon for use on anti-shipping missions. The British designated the B-25Bs as the Mitchell I, the B-25C and B-25Ds as the Mitchell II, and their B-25Js, with 12 heavy machine guns, as the Mitchell III. The US Navy and Marine Corps designated their hard-nosed B-25Js as the PBJ-1J. In the end, the B-25 became the most widely used American medium bomber of World War Two.

After the war, many B-25s were used as training aircraft. Between 1951 and 1954, 157 Mitchells were converted as flying classrooms for teaching the Hughes E-1 and E-5 fire control radar. They were also used as staff transport, utility, and navigator-trainer aircraft. The last B-25, a VIP transport, was retired from the USAF on May 21, 1960. Approximately 25 B-25 Mitchells remain flying today thanks to dedicated groups and museums keeping them flyable.

About Our B-25H - S/N 43-4106
Manufactured in the North American Aviation factory in Englewood, California in 1943, s/n 43-4106 was the #2 prototype of the "H" model, of which 1,000 were built. This particular B-25H served stateside until 1947, when it was declared surplus and the government sold it to the Bendix Corporation. Bendix used it for 10 years as a test aircraft, in the development of new jet fighter landing gear systems.

After Bendix sold the aircraft off, it went through several owners. It eventually ended up on the auction block in 1969 where it was purchased by D. Richard Lambert, an Illinois farmer and aviation enthusiast who placed the winning bid of $3,500 and picked up the bomber for a steal. The aircraft was flown from Michigan to a private airfield known as "Lambert Field" near Plainfield, Illinois, where it was on display, occasionally taxied around the airport, and flown on short hops a few times a year, until it was eventually sold in the early 1980s. Lambert's son Michael has provided a detailed history of the years during which his family owned Barbie III, which you can read here.

And here's a copy of the Lambert family's delightful Christmas card (from 1970!) with a photo of the family - including their two very well behaved dogs - posed in front of Barbie III.

Another group of aviation enthusiasts located near Chicago, eager to bring this piece of history back to life, bought the B-25H. After two engine failures, they were able to finally fly the bomber off the farm in 1981. From there, the group embarked on a full restoration of the aircraft, bringing all systems back to WWII condition. Even the solid nose with the unique 75mm cannon was reinstalled, making it the only flying H-model B-25 in the world. After a 10 year restoration, the aircraft soared once again and has operated as a fully-flyable warbird since then. History Flight, Inc., through the help of generous donors, was able to purchase the aircraft in June 2009 and currently offers guests the opportunity to fly aboard the world's last B-25H.

About the Markings and "Barbie III"
As the B-25H 43-4106 never served in combat, the restoration group sought to find a fitting combat veteran B-25H to paint the aircraft when finished. Their choice was the B-25H "Barbie III" as flown by Lt. Col. Robert T. "R.T." Smith in 1944. Lt. Col. Smith was one of the first pilots as part of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) or otherwise known as the "Flying Tigers" protecting China with the Nationalist Chinese Air Force before the United States entered WWII. After the AVG disbanded in 1942 and returning stateside for a time as the Commanding Officer of the 337th Fighter Squadron, 329th Fighter Group in California, Smith volunteered to return to the China-Burma-India Theater of the war with the 1st Air Commando Group. While there he commanded the group's B-25 Mitchell squadron in low-level attack and bombing missions. His aircraft, the "Barbie III" was named in honor of his wife, Barbara Bradford, who he married shortly before he departed for the CBI in June 1943. Lt. Col R.T. Smith flew a total of 55 combat missions in the aircraft over Burma and was awarded the Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Silver Star upon returning from the war.

Aircraft Specifications

Click on image above for larger version

Specifications: North American B-25H Mitchell
Engines:
Two Wright R-2600-13 turbo-supercharged radials of 1,700 hp each (takeoff power)
Empty Weight:
19,600 lbs.
Max Takeoff Weight:
33,500 lbs.
Wing Span:
67 ft. 7 in.
Length:
51 ft. 0 in.
Height:
15 ft. 9 in.
Maximum Speed:
275 mph at 13,000 ft
Ceiling:
24,800 ft.
Range:
1,350 miles
Armament:
14 .50-cal. machine guns and one 75mm T13E1 cannon plus 3,200 lbs. of bombs
Crew:
Five

Aircraft Photos

Big Bang in Burma

Aircraft Videos :: From Fans & Past Riders


View from the Waist Gunners Compartment

View from the Forward / Cockpit Compartment

View from the Tail Gunners Compartment
 

 

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History Flight, Inc. - a 501c3 Non-Profit Foundation - 5409 Overseas Highway #101 - Marathon, FL 33050 - Phone: 888-743-3311

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