Design, Development & Operational HistoryEdit
The B-25 was named in honor of General William "Billy" Mitchell (a pioneer of U.S. military aviation). He was the first to demonstrate to a skeptical US navy the power of military bombers when he sank an expatriated World War I German battleship using air power alone. Approximately 11,000 of the aircraft were produced with the majority equipping US services while also being lend leased to Britain and the Soviet Union. It saw service in every theater of World War II.
The B25J was the last variant built. Previous models had the glazed nose cone replaced with a metal dome and eight 12.7mm machines guns added in the navigator/bombardiers position this variant returned to the glazed nose and the medium bomber role; from what had essentially become a ground attack aircraft. The B25J-20, added a second 12.7 mm machine gun to the nose; in a fixed position along with additional floor armor for the bomber/navigator in the nose, a hydraulic braking system and reinforced top turret completed the changes.
The aircraft became best known for it's role in the American strike on Japan after Pearl Harbor. Lieutenant Colonel James "Jimmy" Doolittle led a carrier-based raid using sixteen B25's from the USS Hornet. The aircraft were launched from the USS Hornet and made strikes; using small bomb loads, due to the distance needed to fly and 'escape' to China. Unfortunately very few of the aircraft actually made any semblance of a landing on the Chinese coast and the majority of men were captured by the Japanese forces controlling the coastal areas.