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2013 B-25 NEWS
B-25 News Archive
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We're including these pages as an update point for B-25 news. We'll post information garnered from any variety of sources, and notate that source at the end of the item. If anyone has anything they'd like to add, please let us know.
- Alaska B-25 Project Announced: A very interesting development has just surfaced, that of the recovery of a long abandoned
TB-25N, 44-30733 (N9088Z), from its resting place on a remote sandbar near Fairbanks, Alaska. A new museum group, the Warbirds of Glory, has been organized by Patrick Mihalek and Todd Trainor, and their announced intent is to recover the derelict B-25 from a sandbar on the Tanana River where it has been since a 1969 gear up landing while fighting a local forest fire.
According to the new group's new website, which you need to check out, the "Sandbar Mitchell" (as it has now been dubbed) has been approved for recovery with permits had and other paperwork completed. This summer, between June 22 and July 2, they hope to lead a recovery effort to disassemble the remains of the airplane in preparation for it to be pulled out by helicopter or barge at some future date. Opportunities abound in this recovery effort from donations needed up to the level in the participation on the team. I urge you to check it out and maybe help with a bit of money. This is an ambitious project.
This Mitchell was delivered as a B-25J to the AAF in February 1945, served primarily as a USAF trainer and modified as a TB-25N in 1954, and served until 1959 when declared surplus. It's first civil operator was Johnson Flying Service at Missoula, Montana, as an air tanker, then sold north to Alaska in 1966 to new owner Ed Thorrude after B-25 air tankers fell from grace with the USFS. It operated for three years as a contract air tanker on BLM contracts until its unfortunate double engine failure and deadstick landing on June 27, 1969. Fortunately, the sole pilot was uninjured; the airplane was stripped of engines and other usable parts and left unrecovered in the remote location. Until 2013, apparently.
Thanks to TAdan for picking up on this new effort.
- Fox Field B-25C Deregistered: The FAA continues its registry housecleaning with the cancellation of the registration held by the B-25C held by the Milestones of Flight Museum at Lancaster, California. B-25C 41-13251 had its civil registration of N3968C canceled on March 7, 2013. This airplane last actually flew in the 1950s with the Hughes Tool Company and was based at the Hughes Airport in Culver City. It was donated to a predecessor museum at Fox Field in 1974 and has largely remained in storage since then. Here is a 2008 photo of this airplane at Fox Field:
- Tallmantz B-25 Filming Airport 75: There is an ebay auction item currently (April 1) posted with a series of photos that document the aerial filming of the movie Airport 75 that include some nice shots of Tallmantz B-25 44-30823 (N1042B) in action. Film lovers everywhere will remember Airport 75 as yet another variation of the disaster movies so prevalent in the 1970s, and for those not so well versed, here is the Internet Movie Database link for more details. In any event, it would appear the Tallmantz B-25 and the film's subject Boeing 747 and a Learjet and some USAF T-37s were gathered on the southeast ramp at Salt Lake City International Airport as a base of operations for the air to air filming. This was probably late 1973 or early 1974, as the film was released on October 18, 1974. Here is one of the photo compilations on the listing:
I recognize Frank Pine, then chief pilot for Tallmantz and principal B-25 camera pilot, as the big dude in the leather jacket who seems to know what is going on. The other guys are probably mostly Tallmantz guys too, but I don't have any names.
The text on the listing shows the photos available from the wife of one of the USAF T-37 pilots in the film. Here is a bit from that text:
Airport 75 was being filmed while my husband was a jet pilot with the Air Force. As Hollywood does, they asked the Air Force for assistance to be able to film the movie according to the plot they had written. Needing the 747 to be followed closely by a jet, by husband was sent by the Air Force to fly the T-37 used in the movie. The first photo is 9 1/2 x 6 1/2" (a cropped 8 x 10) and it shows the 747 "that is in trouble, the T-37 monitoring the situation, and the Air Force helicopter dropping a new pilot into the cockpit of the 747". The photo has been mounted to art board. It has been in a frame forever, does show a couple handling marks. The second photo is the written thank you from Universal Studios for being an "Aircrew Member" on Airport 75. It is signed by James Gavin, second unit director. The next 4 groups of photos are ones my husband took or people around him took while on the set as the film was being made. Most of them have dates printed on the edges which is as photo printing was done at the time. All are color prints, 5 x 3 1/2". They have seen some handling but no damage. If you buy this package and want more info on who is who or what is what, I will see what more my husband can remember and send it along also.
The auction closes on April 9 and the opening bid is $24.99. I'd like to get these photos but I bet the price jumps quite a bit (somebody out there has lot's of money for these types of photos) and, hey, I'm building an RV-8 and need a Lycoming engine. It's either B-25 photos or an engine.
- Sunday Punch Update: Had the occasion to visit Aero Trader and shot some photos of 44-86698 (N325N) in their talented hands. As regular readers know, this airplane was purchased by Ron Fagen back in May 2012. Ron asked Aero Trader to go through the airplane and 'make it right,' not necessarily a quick, easy, or cheap task with a B-25. Nonetheless, the airplane work is in progress.
As can be seen, areas of skin corrosion are being addressed, with a good deal of the airframe disassembled for inspection and repair. The electrical, hydraulic, flight controls, and other aircraft systems are getting attention where needed. When this airplane returns to the air it will be in excellent condition and ready for years of reliable service.
No completion date or details of paint or markings to be applied are yet available. This is probably going to become the B-25 formerly known as Sunday Punch because I suspect new paint and nose art are in its near term future.
- Pacific Princess Also Gets Some Love: While at Aero Trader, I noted TB-25N 43-28204 (N9856C), the Aero Trader house bird, getting some routine maintenance and an inspection.
- Milo Pupich Passes: Also while at Aero Trader, Carl Scholl passed along that Milo Pupich, owner of TB-25N 44-30748 (N8195H), better known as Heavenly Body, passed away on September 17, 2012.
Milo, who was also known as 'Mike', was officially Milan Samual Pupich, born on March 15, 1931. For those versed in such things, Milo purchased his B-25 from the remnants of the Tallmantz Catch-22 air force in March 1972. Pupich and his volunteer crew took a near derelict B-25 and through the years brought it back to prime condition and it was a regular at west coast airshows and events through the ensuing four decades. I can't say I knew Mr. Pupich, but I met him on several occasions through the years and had several dealings with him, and found him to be very friendly, approachable, and unassuming, sometimes rare attributes in the warbird operator world. I don't think he himself flew his B-25 much, if at all, but enjoyed sponsoring the airplane and his efforts allowed it to remain in the air. Heavenly Body had been based at Van Nuys airport since 1972 but was recently moved to Burbank for storage. Future plans for the airplane are being developed as we write this. Stay tuned.
- Was That A B-25 Rolling Down I-40?: Reports of a natural metal disassembled B-25 on a flatbed trailers seen heading eastbound across Arizona and New Mexico proved true when B-25J 44-86725 (N25NA), the airframe known for at least a little longer as Super Rabbit, rolled into Oklahoma City on December 10, 2012. As reported in the December 2012 update, Dr. Brent Hisey purchased the airplane and wasted no time having it disassembled and loaded on four flatbed at Aurora, Oregon, and getting it on out of Dodge and heading towards it new home.
Coert Munk sent me something sent to him from Mark Howard that included photos and text by Rich Lindsey. I'll probably get in trouble for using it here but here goes, excerpted and edited just a bit to shorten it up. Again, thanks to Rich Lindsey we have this account and photos:
North American B-25J-30-NC, AAF 44-86725, N25NA (aka SUPER RABBIT) arrived at Wiley Post Airport late on Monday, December 10, 2012 from its home on the west coast. It arrived on 4 trucks. Enroute here the driver of the truck carrying the forward fuselage section reported that the upper turret would swing from side to side as the wind hit it. One time the gun barrels would be pointing to the left and sometimes to the right.
It took Larry Butler 21 days, working from 1:00 AM straight until 4:00 PM each day to disassemble the plane. He had the assistance of Scotty Butler for about two weeks but the main load was on him. During the 21 days it took to break the plane down there were only 3 days it did not rain. Did I mention that much of the work was performed outside?
The upper turret is a complete functional turret, ammo belts and all. Tomorrow, Wednesday the tail section will be attached. Interesting to me is the fact that the North American manual for the plane refers to the entire rear fuselage as the tail cone.
Mating the nose section to the fuselage center section was a real task and the job was finally completed in the near dark with a falling temperature and wind. With the plane now sitting on its gear and inside out of the cold, work can be begun.
Didn't waste any time getting it back on is gear either. The fate of this airplane is much more certain after years of problems and issues.
- Another One Bites the Dust: Sounds worse than it is, but Coert Munk reports yet another FAA cancellation of a B-25 registration number. This time, TB-25N 44-28765 had its assigned civil registration of N9443Z cancelled as of November 20, 2012. The FAA online record for this airplane shows its status as "sale reported" as of March 9, 1994. However, those of us in the know know that this airplane has been held in disassembled storage by Aero Trader at its desert storage facility, and parts of it have been incorporated into a variety of projects. This airplane was a USAF VB-25N and TB-25N, was sold as surplus in late 1959, and went through numerous owners in the subsequent three decades. (You'll need to look in THE book for more details.) It was last operated as Piece of Cake by the Heritage Flight Museum at Springfield, Illinois, back in the 1980s. It went though several hands and most of it ended up with Aero Trader, disassembled at their desert storage facility near Ocotillo Wells.
Aero Trader used the airframe components for a number of other projects. The center section of the fuselage was traded to Jim Ricketts, then of Aero Nostalgia at Stockton, where it was incorporated into a static display B-25 at Warner Robins AFB, Georgia (that airframe consisting mostly of TB-25J 44-86872). The cockpit section was used as a studio mockup for the filming of Forever Young and was then rebuilt as a static forward
fuselage display at the Discovery Channel Museum in Washington, D.C., as seen here in this 2000 photo by Todd Hackbarth:
Carl Scholl states that that display cockpit is now with the contractor who built the Discovery Channel Museum so its current location is unknown. The rear fuselage was also used in Forever Young and is now at Eagle Field with Joe Davis. I tested Carl's memory a bit but he does not think Aero Trader ever owned the wings from 44-28765. In any event, the airframe long ago ceased to exist as an intact B-25, and now the FAA has made it official.
- 1965 B-25 Crash Detailed: Craig Thorson brought to my attention an interesting item offered on ebay by Rogers Photo Archive, who maintains an ebay store with a great number of interesting photos worth perusal.
The subject photo turns out to be one of B-25J 44-30479 (N8012) after it crashed landed on February 20, 1965, in a "South Dade hammock," according to a newspaper article reporting the crash and from whence the photo was used. According to the newspaper article, the pilots were Jack Griffin and Dan Shaw, that the airplane had gotten lost presumably over the Florida keys, and it crashed landed on the edge of the Everglades National Park eight miles south of Florida City after it was intercepted by two Navy fighters (after it strayed into military airspace) and guided toward land. The article notes that it cut a "400 foot swath through pine and cypress trees" in its crash landing, but looks remarkably intact in the photo.
I was able to identify this airplane using my handy copy of B-25 Mitchell in Civil Service by cross referencing the pilot's name. From the individual aircraft history contained in one of the appendices, we learn that B-25J 44-30479 was delivered new January 1945, stored by the AAF and USAF until 1951, when it was transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force where it became RCAF 5213 and served until 1961. It was sold as surplus and went to Bellomy Aviation in October 1963, one of eleven surplus RCAF B-25s obtained by this company. It became N8012 at this time, and ended up being sold to "D.N. Shaw" of Miami Beach in September 1964. My history shows the airplane in an accident in February 1965, with the FAA canceling the registration in March 1965. This ebay information confirms that well enough. And you can just see the corner of the "2" of the registration number on the side of the fuselage in the photo.
The NTSB accident summary notes that "ALL RADIO AND NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT WENT OUT AIRCRAFT ON OVERWATER FLIGHT ABOVE OVERCAST" so the two man crew was indeed fortunate. The B-25 ran out of fuel and the landing was without power, possibly in the dark (accident noted to have been at 0443 (local or zulu?).
Here's a copy of the article that accompanies the ebay photo in the sales offering:
The article notes that the airplane was to be left where it crashed. Interesting interesting. I took at quick look on some satellite imagery but will have to leave it to others more dedicated to see what the final disposition of this airframe actually was. One suspects it was eventually recovered for parts and scrapped but who knows? No, literally, does anyone know?
Thanks to Craig for this little juicy ebay tidbit. The photo, by the way, when last checked was pricing at nearly $29.
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