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2005 B-25 NEWS ARCHIVE
B-25 News Archive
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- The disassembled TB-25N, 44-86844 (N3453G), located at Roanoke, Texas, (and pictured below in the October update) has a new registered owner: Training Services, Inc. of Virginia Beach, Virginia, effective October 4, 2005. Not coincidently, Virginia Beach is the home of Gerald Yagen and his Fighter Factory. Fighter Factory is operated by Aviation Institute of Maintenance, which is also listed on the registration information of N3453G. Gerald Yagen has recently announced that he has a number of aircraft available for trade, including a Douglas A-20 and Bell P-63. Not on the list is this B-25, but it can be presumed from other information gathered that this airplane would be available also. It is only a candidate for a static restoration unless someone wants to put some really big money into it. No word yet on whether the Fighter Factory's other B-25, B-25J, 44-30129 (N7947C) has flown yet from Air Acres at Woodstock, Georgia. Thanks to "shuck" on the Aero Vintage forum site for this little tidbit about the new owner.
- Troy Westrum passes along that he has B-25 vertical fin available for purchase for $500. He notes that it needs some skin work but the structure seems pretty good. Contact him at email@example.com for more information. Sounds like a nice Christmas present for your wife to me. How many other women have B-25 fins? Think about it.
- Walt Deas passes along information that his new DVD production of the history of the 38th Bomb Group is forthcoming shortly. From the press release, it sounds like a cut-above-average effort at documenting the history of the group in the south Pacific during World War II. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.
- Just because I can, here is a photo of Paul Mantz's B-25H, 43-4643 (N1203) taken in 1954. This photo shows an early paint scheme applied to the bomber and the first version of the camera nose used to shoot numerous films in the late 1940s and 1950s. This photo was taken by Dusty Carter and is one of the ones used to illustrate the Paul Mantz chapter of B-25 Mitchell in Civil Service book available right here. I know, I know, another Christmas present possibility for her. What to do?
- The warbird world is abuzz with word of the recovery of a rare B-25C from the depths of Lake Murray in South Carolina, successfully achieved in September. The B-25C, 41-12634, crashed in the lake on April 4, 1943, while the crew was undergoing training. The airplane had been based at the big B-25 training base at Columbia Army Air Field and was commanded by Lt. William Fallon on that fateful day. After making a low-level bombing run across the lake, the left engine failed and the crew elected to ditch the bomber on the lake. The landing was successful, and the crew quickly exited the bomber, which floated on the lake surface for several minutes. After the crew had boarded a life raft and paddled away, the twin-tailed bomber slowly settled beneath the surface of the water, to disappear for over sixty-two years.
A local resident named Robert Seigler heard the postwar stories about the Lake Murray B-25s (there were nearly two dozen B-25s that may have ditched during the war) and they held a growing fascination to him. A pediatrician by trade, he became increasingly determined to locate one of the B-25s that had eluded other searchers. Using witness testimony and sonar, the ditched bomber was finally located in 1992. Seeking to professionally recover the B-25C, he hired noted aircraft recovery expert Gary Larkins and his skilled team to raise the aircraft.
Larkins and his crew spent untold hours in the recovery preparation and by early September the media began to pay increasing interest as the project neared fruition. National news coverage kept tabs on the recovery effort and, finally, on September 19, the bomber was floated to the surface and, in the following few days, pulled from the lake and placed on shore where it was examined in some detail. The airplane appears to be in amazingly good condtion considering where it has been for the past six decades. The right engine, which was torn off upon the ditching, remains missing in action. The fuselage back in broken, but all the interior equipment remains in place, including five machine guns, and at least one leather flying jacket was found where it was left in haste in 1943.
The airplane has since been disassembled and transported to its new home, the Southern Museum of Flight located at Birmingham, Alabama. As of October 2, it is reported to be the possesion of the museum in Birmingham. The future of the bomber is unknown at this time, other than it will be displayed at the museum. The level of restoration to be conducted is unknown. No doubt that with sufficient resources the airplane could be returned to flight status, but whether those considerable resources will be marshalled is doubtful. This makes the fourth B-25C held in reasonably intact condition, and Aero Trader at Chino holds the fuselage and wing sections of a fifth airframe. None of them are in airworthy condition. For a link to the Southern Museum of Flight, jump to here. There are many web sources for information about the Lake Murray B-25C, but Bill Jackson fully documented the recovery and his site has incredible coverage. Check it out here. He also provided the photos seen on this page. Thanks to Bill, Todd Hackbarth, Patrick Carry, and numerous other individuals who kept me up to date on the recovery effort.
- It was announced in that Carolina Girl, otherwise operated as TB-25N 44-28866 (N744CG), received its FAA airworthiness certificate in late August. Aero Trader's Carl Scholl and Tony Ritzman flew the FAA's mandated five hours and ten landings required for the paperwork. Aero Trader has been consulting with the Branson's Bombers, the operator, for the past three years and will continue to support the bomber. The airplane is based at the North Carolina Aviation Museum at Asheboro.
- Coert Munk passes along additional information about the Dutch B-25 parts displayed or held in storage by the Austrialan Aviation Heritage Center at Winnellie, Northern Territories. His son reports that the following is held by the museum: minor components of B-25C s/n N5-139 (41-12913) on display; minor components of B-25D N5-156 (41-39587) on display; fuselage and other parts B-25C s/n N5-133 (41-12924) held in storage; fuselage and wings with battle damage, also of s/n N5-139, held in storage. Pictures to follow.
- Coert also passes along that in Broome, Western Austrialia, the remains of Dutch B-25J s/n N5-254 (44-30900) have been located underwater and that diving on the airplane will commence shortly. This airplane reportedly went down in November 1945 after the war ended.
- I had a chance to take a close look at the disassembled parts of TB-25N, 44-86844 (N3453G) at the Northwest airport at Roanoke, Texas. As noted below in the May 2005 update below, this airplane is to be the subject of a static restoration at some point in the future. I tried to find out from some locals about the immediate plans for the airplane but came up empty handed. Here is a photo taken in late August 2005:
- Not really news yet but the rumor mill is cranking out that the Fighter Factory B-25J, 44-30129 (N7947C) is nearing flight status at Air Acres at Woodstock, Georgia, location of Vintage Aircraft. Rumor is saying it will fly shortly from the short airstrip, with an experienced B-25 pilot at the controls flown in specially from Chino. We await, but meanwhile check out the Fighter Factory site.
- Dan Gilbertson has forwarded some photos of B-25J 44-86791 (N8196H) taken while it was operating as an air tanker in Alaska in the 1960s. His father, Don Gilbertson, owned the airplane between August 1979 and June 1982, though it is not known when these photos were taken. This B-25 is now parked at Chino. Here is a dramatic photo of N8196H making a drop on a fire.
- Coert Munk passed along a great photo of B-25J 45-8811 being ferried to its new home in Switzerland last January. The airplane now operates as HB-RDE and is based at Sion, Switzerland.
- Registry news: Coert Munk also passes along the news that a B-25J long displayed at a park in Mexico City has mysteriously made its way back onto the U.S. civil register. B-25J 44-29128 held the U.S. civil registration of N92872 with the Lebate Corp. of Culver City, California, but was later carried as "Sale Reported" by the FAA. This airplane, an ex RCAF Mitchell, showed up in Mexico in 1970 and has been displayed on a pylon in a park museum since 1970. However, the FAA now shows the registered owner as the Lebate Corp. once again, effective May 5, 2005. I suspect the FAA Registry Branch is tickling its keyboards a bit. There has been no reported change of status of the airplane in Mexico.
- Word comes from several sources that the Hickam AFB, Hawaii, static B-25J, 44-31504, has been moved to a new museum on Ford Island. The museum, named the Pacific Aviation Museum, is utilizing old Navy hangars on Ford Island and plans to open in December 2006. The B-25J, long displayed at Hickam, is reportedly complete but in poor condition, not surprising given the corrosive ocean environment. The museum reports it will be cleaned up and given a glass nose to replace its solid gun nose. This B-25 was another RCAF Mitchell, flying as RCAF 5218 until 1961. It was later operator as N9753Z and made it to Hawaii in 1964 for the filming of the movie In Harm's Way, after which it slid downhill. Sometime in the early 1970s it was reported to have been obtained by the Pacific Aerospace Museum and was lent to the USAF for display at Hickam. If true, the airplane apparently has been reclaimed by a museum group and will now be displayed privately. The airplane was barged to Ford Island in late June.
- Ron Strong sent along a photo he took in June of TB-25N 44-86880 on display at the Admiral Nimitz Museum at Fredericksburg, Texas, where it is displayed as one of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders on the deck of the USS Hornet. This airplane was once displayed at Reese AFB, Lubbock, Texas, before that facility was closed.
- Coert Munk also reports that there are two ex-Dutch (NEIAF) B-25s stored in containers at Darwin, Australia. Photos and some video are in Coert's hands, so these are more than rumors. Details await, but these could be interesting airframes.
- Doug Fisher passed along a recent photo of the B-25 nose section displayed at Sieverville, Tennessee. This airplane remains unidentified.
May 2005, Part 2
- Two photos sent in by Doug Fisher to add to those posted below. The first is the CAF B-25 nearing completion at Mesa, Arizona. This B-25J, 43-35972 (N125AZ) has been undergoing a very long term restoration. Significant to this airplane is the confirmed combat history, and the airplane has regained the markings of Maid in the Shade it wore in 1945. Here is a photo, thanks to Doug, of the replicated nose are.
Also in the CAF hangar at Mesa, Arizona, is 44-86797 (N3438G), Old Grey Mare owned by Hans O. Lauridsen of Carefree, Arizona, is currently stored with the CAF, less propellers. Rumor has it this airplane will eventually be kept at nearby Glendale, Arizona.
Matt Gunsch provided a few details about this B-25J: "Han's B-25 Ole Grey Mare will be at the CAF compound in Mesa, Az until a hangar is completed at the Glendale Airport. Currently the props have been pulled for compliance with the AD on Ham Stanadard props, also all the flight controls have been removed for repair and recover." He also notes that some minor damage to the right rudder is being repaired, and both ailerons are being replaced due to corrosion under the stainless steel strips and counterweights. Thanks, Matt.
April 2005...Part 2
- Late word arrives that the Air Kahuna B-25, 44-86844 (N3453G) (see April 2005 below) now lies disassembled at the Northwest Regional Airport at Roanoke, Texas. The airplane remains on the U.S. civil registered with the owner still shown as Art Jones of Slidell, Louisiana, a situtation that has not changed since 1963, despite the airplane changing hands at least three times since. I'll post here with further information as it comes available.
- Where, oh where, did that B-25 go?
Mark Sublette provided this October 2004 photo of the Big Kahuna urine-yellow B-25 displayed at the Big Kahuna Water Park for the last several years.
This airplane suffered damage to its left vertical stabilizer from the punishing winds of Hurricane Ivan in mid-September 2004. The TB-25N, otherwise known as 44-86844, once flew as N3453G before suffering a multitude of indignities, culminating in its use as a decorative fixture at the water slide. Oh well, the alternative was probably scrapping, so maybe it was a good thing. Nonetheless, the airframe was reportedly severely corroded and practically had no chance for being anything other that a good shell static display airplane. But hold the presses, because John Kerr reports that as of late March 2005 the airplane has been pulled from public view at the park and has gone missing in action. Aside from the possibility that it finally crumbled into a pile of urine & rust colored metalic dust, the airplane has evidently moved on. Back in 2001 it was advertised for sale for the a-bit-optimistic price of $250,000. Perhaps some deal was reached with a someone with a sympathetic heart for old airplanes that deserve a better fate, hopefully someone with deep pockets. Details await... Thanks to John and Mark for the updates.
- As someone who is intimate, in a mostly respectable way, with the details of Tallmantz Aviation and its many B-25s, especially its unique trio of camera ships, I just had to use this photo of TB-25N 44-30423 (N1042B) doing what it did best: carry the bulky Disney 360 degree Circle Vision camera assembly for a film project back in 1972.
There are few photos of the Tallmantz B-25s flying with the cameral deployed, so this one's a bit special. This photo was taken in England in 1972, so my records would indicate that Tallmantz chief pilot Frank Pine was at the controls for this sortie. N1042B, by the way, now flies as Pacific Prowler with a greenhouse nose which, while interesting, masks the three-decade civil use of the bomber as a versatile cameral platform. Thanks to WIX, Scott Rose (the man) and Caz Caswell for letting me use this photo.
- There's no such thing as a landing that can't be salvaged with some shit-hot flying!! I think this photo proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Speaking of shadows, it would be nice to think that the camera lens has compressed the view and it really wasn't as dramatic as it looks, but the shadows on the runway suggest otherwise. Thanks to an unnamed source who provided the photo, taken at a St. Louis airshow in 2001.
- Glenn Wegman sent me this photo. He's trying to identify this B-25 parked at Pompano Airport, Pompano Beach, Florida, in 1963. It was his introduction to warbirds (he's the kid) and he'd like to know what airplane it was and if it's still around. I'd like to know too. Let me know if this airplane rings a bell.
- Fresh news that TB-25N 44-30832 (N3155G) was purchased by new warbird magazine Warbird Digest's Tim Savage on January 18, 2005. The B-25 was delivered from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Huntington, Indiana, on January 19th. Aboard for the delivery flight were Greg Vallero and its new owner. Tim notes that the airplane, currently marked as Buck U, will be used as a promotional tool for the fine new quarterly magazine, which just published its 3rd issue. It will also be used as a photo ship and will attend numerous aviation events around the country this year. Tim notes that the noseart and name will be changed at some point in the near future. Tim is also having a fine PV-2 Harpoon restored by John Lane's Airpower Unlimted at Jerome, Idaho.
44-30832 was delivered in March 1945, and served as both a USAF TB-25J and TB-25N, after enjoying the Hayes mods in 1955. It was sold as surplus equipment in October 1958, and was initally used for mapping and survey work. It eventually went derelict at Ramona, California, until rescued by Carl Scholl in 1986. Carl, who has since become one of the best B-25 resources and runs (with Tony Ritzman) the Aero Trader restoration shop, rebuilt the airplane and flew it for a few years before it was sold. After several intervening owners, it was purchased by Amjet Aircraft Corp. of St. Paul, Minnesota, in July 1993. It was placed up for sale some time ago and now, finally, has found a new home. Best of luck to Tim and his group in the operation of the B-25. (Thanks to Tim Savage, Greg Vallero and Mark Clark for the information.)
- Coert Munk passes along the information that French B-25J 45-8811 (F-AZID) has been sold and was delivered to its new home at Sion, Switzerland, on January 26, 2005. The civil registration has been changed to HB-RDE. Pilots for the delivery flight were Peter Kuypers and Yves Cartilier. The airplane's registered owner is Semalog of Sion, Switzerland.
- Reports indicate that a group of individuals led by the Brussels Air Museum Foundation purchase the long-derelict B-25J 44-30926 (ex N9494Z) that has been in storage at Sandtoft in the UK for the last few years. This is a Catch-22 veteran and then appeared in Hanover Street. It has gone through a number of owners and even appeared as a non-flying entry on the UK register a few years ago as G-BWGR. The new group is looking for assistance, both monetarily and otherwise, to move the airplane from England to Belgium. Here is a Yahoo forum that may contain more information.
- For those who want to arrive at Oshkosh this summer in style, particularly from the West Coast, here's an opportunity. The crew of B-25J 44-28938 (N7946C) is looking for a few good men (or women) to join them on their eastward trek in July 2005. This year, two B-25s are going to fly together, and there are seats for up to ten additional crewmembers who will help share the cost. Crews can switch back and forth between the airplanes at fuel stops, and the trip includes accomodations and other stuff. Contact Taigh Ramey at Vintage Aircraft (209-982-0273) or check out this website for details.
- Lacking a whole lot of stuff this month, I'm throwing in a oldy moldy picture of the above B-25J, taken back in 1978 at the Carlsbad, California, airport. It still wears the last air tanker scheme from its Alaska air tanker days. In the months to come, I'll try and pull out a few from the dusty archives to make things a bit more interesting. Ah, 1978....the good old days, when warbirds were still junk.
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