B-25 Panchito WWII Bomber
The OC Air Show will feature the famous “Panchito” B-25 Bomber on June 13-14, 2020 in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. It was used by many Allied air forces, in every theater of... View Article
The OC Air Show will feature the famous “Panchito” B-25 Bomber on June 13-14, 2020 in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. It was used by many Allied air forces, in every theater of World War II, as well as many other air forces after the war ended, and saw service across four decades.
The B-25 was named in honor of General Billy Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. By the end of its production, nearly 10,000 B-25s in numerous models had been built. These included a few limited variations, such as the United States Navy’s and Marine Corps’ PBJ-1 patrol bomber and the United States Army Air Forces’ F-10 photo reconnaissance aircraft.
The B-25 first gained fame as the bomber used in the 18 April 1942 Doolittle Raid, in which 16 B-25Bs led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle attacked mainland Japan, four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The mission gave a much-needed lift in spirits to the Americans, and alarmed the Japanese who had believed their home islands were inviolable by enemy forces. Although the amount of actual damage done was relatively minor, it forced the Japanese to divert troops for the home defense for the remainder of the war.
The raiders took off from the carrier USS Hornet and successfully bombed Tokyo and four other Japanese cities without loss. Fifteen of the bombers subsequently crash-landed en route to recovery fields in Eastern China. These losses were the result of the task force being spotted by a Japanese vessel forcing the bombers to take off 170 mi (270 km) early, fuel exhaustion, stormy nighttime conditions with zero visibility, and lack of electronic homing aids at the recovery bases. Only one B-25 bomber landed intact, in Siberia where its five-man crew was interned and the aircraft confiscated. Of the 80 aircrew, 69 survived their historic mission and eventually made it back to American lines.
The majority of B-25s in American service were used in the Pacific. They fought on Papua New Guinea, in Burma and in the island hopping campaign in the central Pacific. There, the aircraft’s potential as a ground-attack aircraft was discovered and developed. The jungle environment reduced the usefulness of standard-level bombing, and made low-level attack the best tactic. The ever-increasing number of forward firing guns was a response to this operational environment, making the B-25 a formidable strafing aircraft.