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B-25J "Mitchell"

North American B-25J "Mitchell"

North American B-25J "Mitchell"

North American B-25J "Mitchell"
S/N 44-86772

Crew:  Five
Engines:  Two Wright R-2600-13 Double Cyclone radial; 1,700 hp each
Wingspan:  67 ft 7 in
Length:  53 ft 5 3/4 in
Height:  16 ft 4 3/4 in
Weight:  21,100 lbs empty; 33,500 lbs. loaded; 41,800 maximum
Speed:  230 mph cruise; 303 mph maximum
Range:  2,700 miles
Ceiling:  24,200 ft
Armament:  Eighteen .50 caliber machine guns; 3,200 lb bombs or one 2,000lb torpedo
Cost:  $142,194 (average B-25 unit cost as of 1944)

This B-25J-32-NA, S/N 44-86772, was accepted by the USAAF on June 28, 1945 and was immediately placed in storage. Over the next few years it was ferried around between various maintenance and storage fields in California, Missouri, and Texas. Then on January 27, 1950 it was assigned to the 1050th Maintenance Service Unit at Andrews AFB, Maryland. In August 1952 it transferred to the 1401st Air Base Wing-Utility at Andrews AFB. 

Two years later it was sent to Birmingham, Alabama, for Hayes conversion, then returned to Andrews. In December 1957 it became part of the 1001st Air Base Wing, still at Andrews AFB, but a year later was sent to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, for long-term storage. In January 1959 it was declared surplus to USAF needs. That summer it was sold to National Metals in Phoenix, Arizona.

In November 1960 the aircraft changed hands again, this time going to Frank Froehling in Coral Gables, Florida, for only $3,000. A Federal Aviation Administration inspection the following month revealed that the plane had logged 5,695 flight hours by that time. In October 1961 it was sold to Davis-Brown in Hialeah, Florida, and modified for cargo hauling.

The aircraft made a forced landing in a farmer's field in Argentina in January 1962 after suffering either engine problems or running out of fuel. (It was apparently being used to smuggle cigarettes into Argentina from Paraguay at the time of the incident.) It landed in a rough field and the nose wheel collapsed, damaging the front of the aircraft. 

It was subsequently donated to a local flying club, who moved it to their nearby airfield for display. A letter was sent to the FAA in November 1964 requesting that the aircraft's registration be cancelled, since the aircraft was permanently out of service. The registration was cancelled the following month and for the next 27 years the aircraft sat at the small airfield in Argentina.

In 1990 the aircraft was returned to the United States by Don Whittington of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It sat in pieces in his hangar until 1993, when it was reassembled and restored. Mr. Whittington then traded the rebuilt B-25 to the USAF Museum System for four H-1 helicopters. The USAF Museum then assigned the Mitchell to Hill Aerospace Museum for permanent display. The aircraft is painted to resemble the B-25s flown by the "Air Apaches" of the 345th Bombardment Group during World War II.