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2008 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.
- An update to the update....Rick Kolasa sent in a few pretty cool photos of TB-25K 44-30129 (N7947C), flying these days for the Fighter Factory as Wild Cargo. This airplane got back into the air in January 2006 after a long, long, restoration. It had spent the better part of four decades sort of on display at Walt Soplata's farm near Newbury, Ohio. Interesting history behind this airplane, but here it is back in the air in its new paint scheme:
This photo was taken by Rick in mid October at a benefit event at Jerry Yagen's "Military Aviation Museum" at Virginia Beach Airport at Pungo. The air-to-air was done by Rick, with Don Anklin flying the B-25. Rick also sent this ground-based shot by from Dennis Drenswick.
May I suggest you take a gander at Rick's Crystalgraphix website for some pretty cool photos.
- A few items that came in that I thought I should post. First of all, John Davis sent in this interesting photo of Tallmantz B-25H 43-4643 (N1203) taken of the aircraft departing Ontario, California, on July 12, 1969:
Interesting because was taken a few weeks after the airplane returned from filming Catch-22 at Guaymas, Mexico, and shows it in the middle of a repaint. The two B-25 cameraships used for the filming reportedly were finished in water-based paint camouflouge and markings so they could be removed at the completion of the filming. This photo is of interest as the nose markings are evidently masked over during a repaint of the rest of the plane. If my memory serves me correctly, my recollection of the seeing the aircraft circa 1972 was that the maps painted on the aircraft under the cockpit detailing Mantz's travels in the airplane were the ones orignally applied in the 1950s and not reapplied later, so I would suspect they are masked over in this photo to preserve them during the repaint.
- In the ensuing email discussion about N1203, John sent in a bunch of photos of this aircraft through the years, all of which are posted here on the Tallmantz pages. Those posted photos detail some information about the maps painted on the side of this famous B-25. But here is one of them, a great photos and very interesting in a B-25 historical way:
This photo was taken at Orange County Airport just before Paul Mantz merged his operation with that of Frank Tallman. The camera nose modification is shown to good advantage here, with the extra greenhouse windows above the camera position that were later painted over. The red nacelles were later painted blue.
- Just as an aside, the question is often raised: what happened to B-25H 43-4643 (N1203)? Good question. Well, referring to my well-worn copy of B-25 Mitchell in Civil Service, I see that, according to the FAA registry file, Tallmantz Aviation sold the airplane in July 1975 to Howard S.Stucky and Lawrence Leang of Moundridge, Kansas. They sold it in March 1976 to Lenny Sansom of Burbank, California. It was sold back to Stucky and Leang the same month. It was then sold to one Vicki Meller of Burbank, also in March 1976. Vicki Meller also owned TB-25K 44-30535 (N9462Z) from July 1975 until March 1976, the same month she is recorded as having purchased N1203. But that's it as far as the official record goes. The airplane disappears after that. There were reports of the airplane seen at Van Nuys Airport still in the Tallmantz scheme but having the name Talisman Aviation under the nose, an apparent attempt to suggest the airplane was still a Tallmantz airplane. In 1979, Frank Pine (then chief pilot of Tallmantz) recalled being contacted by law enforcement people about the status of the airplane at Van Nuys, and he had to make it clear that Tallmantz did not own or operate the airplane at that time. Rumors suggest the airplane was being used for smuggling, but those are unverified and only rumors. These same rumors say the airplane ended up off the end of a runway in Colombia where the airplane may even exist today.
Okay, enough of this economy stuff...it should be the goal of the new Obama adminstration to figure out what happened to this B-25. There must be someone somewhere in a very dark room in the basement of dark building who has a satellite photo of a B-25H off the end of a runway in Colombia stuck in the back of a drawer somewhere. Does anybody have any knowledge about any of the people in the final history of this airplane? Out with it! We need to know. Then we can organize a recovery team and run down to Colombia and get this B-25 back. Invest in our infrastructure, I say!
- On November 18, 2008, the registered owner of B-25J 44-86725 (N25NA) changed to GWG Inc., of Mercer Island, Washington. This airplane has reportedly been sold into the Steven Searle's Wirraway Aviation Museum at collection based at Beaudesert in Queensland, Australia. Not sure of the current status of the airplane. Last heard from, it was being prepared for a ferry flight to Australia, instead of being disassembled for transport in a cargo container. Rumors had it going to Aurora, Oregon, for some work, then on to Chino for final preparations with B-25 Guys at Aero Trader. Then rumor had it was going to Oakland for preparations there. No one who knows is saying for sure, and the rumor also was that the deal with Searle wasn't clinched because it wasn't yet paid for. Now it is registered to GWG of Mercer Island. Curiouser and curiouser. The Wirraway website shows the airplane still coming, and still coming disassembled. We await further news from those in the "know."
- All good warbirders know about the Warbird Directory put together by Geoff Goodall and John Chapman, the first editon having been published away back in November 1989, when airplane floors were still dirt and many people couldn't spell "IBM PC". Well, the Warbird Directory became the source for information about the history of individual warbirds, listing by serial number the history of each airplane. The first edition had all the major types and contained the histories of most of the examples that survived into the 1970s. By the second edition, published in 1992, the number of warbird types expanded but some of the histories of airplanes no longer in existence were dropped to make room. There has since been two more edition, the fourth being only available, and for a short time only, as a CD package.
Well, fans, the fifth edition is now out and available, again only on CD, and it contains as much information on individual warbirds, suriviving and not, for just about every type that can be considered a warbird. This time compiled by Geoff Goodall, it is again only in the CD format, so there is more room for expanded content and photographs. I haven't received my copy yet but I can guess that it is what is for dinner. Want to know more? A sample page is here and ordering information is here. This is being produced in Australia, so the cost is $54.95 Australian. I don't know what that is in American but it's well worth it.
- A correction to the August 2008 update about the information attached to this photo:
Mark Reynosa passed along that this photo was actually taken at the NAA Fairfax plant at Kansas City, Kansas. Note the "FAX" visible on the hangar, the last part of the airport name.
- Jim Terry, he of the group operating B-25N 44-30823 (N1042B) (the otherTallmantz cameraplane), now known as Pacific Prowler, passed along information about a salavage mission to the Philippines he is involved in. The goal of this January 2009 mission is to locate a B-25 shot down during a mission. Jim tells of how he got involved in the search effort:
Our crowning moment came to us at the Boulder, CO show in May of this year. It was during that show that we met Lt. Lynn Daker an 86 year old veteran of B-25s in the battle of the pacific in WWII. Lt. Daker flew 36 combat missions in the Philippines and was shot down twice by enemy fire. Lt. Daker served as president of the 500th Bomb Squadron Association and vice-president of the 345th Bomb Group Association for several years.
The first time he was shot down, his plane was forced to ditch just 300 yards off one of the largest islands in the Philippine chain. As the Japanese mounted an attack on the surviving crew Lt. Dakerís fellow flyer Lt. Herman F. Reheis maintained a visual overhead for three and half hours fighting off the Japanese and saving the crews lives. During that battle Lt. Daker was trapped in the sinking plane, he could feel his fellow crew members escaping and he himself was finally able to escape the plane. As the plane sank he realized his top turret gunner and friend S/Sgt. Desire W. Chatigney, Jr was not in the water with them and was still in the plane. The spot of this crash is forever marked in Lt. Daker's mind. In the twilight of his years he has come to us for help to go back to the spot and bring his friend and comrade home.
So, the effort is underway to locate this airplane, excavate the wreck, and return the top turret gunner home for final internment in the U.S. For more information and to help support this seach and salvage mission, check it out here.
- Update from Matthew Winter on VB-25N 44-30861, now in storage at a scrapyard at Weycombe Airpark in the UK. Disassembled storage, more or less, a bit less.
For those unfamiliar, this airplane, as N9089Zcame to the UK around 1963 for use as the cameraship for the filming of 633 Squadron. At that time it was owned by Greg Board and Aero Associates, but was also linked to pilot, etc. Jeff Hawke. Airplane was embroiled in some ownership issues and a clear title could not be obtained. The airplane has been in limbo in the UK ever since and slowly descended into a pile of corrosion. It has been moved about from owner, sort of, to owner, sort of. Matthew reports:
I am sorry to report that Bedsheet Bomber is now resting peacefully in a scrapyard at Wycombe Air Park after the failure of the museum there. She is not officially on public display but the current owner is happy to allow interested parties to view her. She is obviously in dreadfully bad condition, having been neglected for so long, but at least the current owner is making her life a little more comfortable by covering up the biggest holes and trying to keep her dry. He is also playing around inside and trying to tidy up the cockpit area. He describes her as his hobby and she is not for sale, so at least she is receiving some TLC, if a little late. I attach some pictures for your information. If you want any more, please let me know.
Here's a photo of the cockpit interior:
- Hey, let's spend a few moments looking an obscure but interesting B-25, this being TB-25N 44-8843, last operated as XB-HEY if, by last operated, you mean burnt up to a crisp during the filming of the 1970 movie Catch-22. John Davis also sent me a tidbit about this airplane from his Mexican files, so I thought it was in order, and I get to decide when it is in order, to offer a bit about the last years of this airplane.
This B-25J was one of the last built by NAA at Kansas City, and was not initially accepted by the AAF. It was part of the contract termination deal worked out where the airplane was flown right to Altus Field, Oklahoma, for disposal. It and a bunch of other like B-25Js sat at Altus for over a year, from October 1945 until December 1946 when the AAF suddenly decided it really did want some of these new B-25s after all. 44-8843 was accepted, finally, in December 1946, and flown off to further storage at Pyote Field, Texas. It was pulled out in sometime in the early 1950s, and eventually operated as a VB-25N. It was surplus in December 1958 and sold in April 1959 to Edward Tabor of Los Angeles. It became N8091H on the U.S. registry. It was sold, date unknown, to an operator in Mexico, then becoming XB-HEY. There have been various stories about this airplane in Mexico and how it was obtained for use in the film.
Here is the rest of the story, courtesy of John Davis and my own research into the film and its airplanes. From John, we now know its last listed Mexican owner was Charles E. Rector of Guaymas, Sonora (Mexico). Rector, a well known big airplane pilot, was actually acting as an agent for Tallmantz and/or Paramount Studios and located the aircraft, purchasing it for the film and then selling it to Tallmantz and/or Paramount. Rector wasn't actually a Mexican national and didn't live in Guaymas but that is where the film was being shot, and presumably that is how he showed his base of operations. Rector was also one of the B-25 pilots who flew for the film. The civil registration for XB-HEY was cancelled on January 3, 1969. From other files I have reviewed, we also know that the airplane was purchased by Tallmantz Aviation on or about January 15, 1969, when it was parked at an airport at Loreto. It was to be ferried to Guaymas (filming location) for what the file termed was a "crash sequence". The aircraft cost $4,500, the repairs need to get it airworthy were $2,871, and the ferry flight itself cost $1,000. The conventional wisdom says this B-25 did not fly for the film, but it was airworthy enough to get it to Guaymas. Once at the field, it was used for a sequence depicting a B-25 crash. For the memorable scene, Frank Tallman flies a B-25 careening down a runway as Jon Voight and Martin Balsam are having a discussion, the B-25 is heard to crash behind the camera, and the camera pans to follow Voight and Balsam to then see the "crashed" and burning B-25 in the background. Tallman did not crash the B-25, of course, but through the magic of camera angles, etc., it seems like he did.
The crash isn't mentioned in the actor's dialog...they don't even notice the crash, which is the point of the scene, etc. Tallman related in an interview how difficult the scene was to shoot as he could not see the runway very well due to smoke pots and had to avoid a burning B-25 set at the edge. Anyway, Frank Pine recalled in 1979 that the airplane was not actually going to be destroyed for the scene, but after about a zillion "takes" for the sequence the B-25 was pretty far gone. What to do with a burned B-25 carcass in Mexico...bury it, according to legend and Frank Pine, again who was one of the principals involved. The screen shots from the movie are, by the way, courtesy of Chris Brame.
Of course, this discussion brings up another question. Conventional wisdom (probably my fault since it is the B-25 book that way) has suggested that this B-25 in the background of this shot, from the same scene, was XB-HEY:
But au contraire if paint schemes and the appearance of the airplane are anything. Don't think this is XB-HEY; if you look closely at the damage to the fuselage, the waist blister, etc. It is possible this scene was shot at a different time but thinking doesn't make alot of practical sense. So, if not XB-HEY, which one is it? Been discussed here and there, with no definitive answer. Could be a compilation of spares used as set dressing. Eh, Stoney, what do you remember?
- Well, let's see here. Not a whole lot in the file this month. But, we'll start with a nice photo of B-25D 41-30222 that resides in the Aviation Heritage Museum at Darwin in Australia. It was sent in by Rob Fox of Flightpath magazine who thought we should have the photo. We agree. Rarely seen airplane.
- Dik Shepherd sent in this photo of B-25J 44-30457. He notes that it is the sistership of 44-30456 (N125PF) that flies with Lewis Aeronautical LLC of San Antonio, Texas. Not sure when this photo was taken, but note the blue cowl rings and vertical stabilizer trim. I have the record card on microfilm so I could tell you what the fate of this airplane is, or I could if I had a microfilm reader on my desk.
- As noted two months ago in August, B-25J 44-86725 (N25NA), until recently displayed at the Evergreen Air Museum at McMinnville, Oregon, has evidently been ferried or will shortly be ferried to Australia to join Steve Searle's collection. Preparations were underway in early September to get the airplane ready for a ferry flight. No change yet in the FAA registry. Any further details?
- Simon Beck asks for information about Catch-22 pilot Don Denoff. Anybody know of contact information for him?
- First off this month is a bit of news about B-25D 43-3318 (N25644) that, until recently, flew as Grumpy. It is technically owned by Vulcan Warbirds of Seattle. It has been based in the United Kingdom at a hangar at North Weald but, recently, was noted as being prepared for a long ferry flight with the Fighter Collection nose markings painted out. It was reportedly for sale and who knows, maybe somebody bought it. Here are some photos sent in by noted B-25 guy Coert Munk, taken at Duxford during the Flying Legends event in early July:
And here's one of the bomb bay ferry tank installed.
One pretty good rumor is that it is going the Kilo-6 collection at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, coincidently the same field where Paul Allen, a principal in Vulcan Aviation, has his Flying Heritage Collection based. The Kilo-6 website shows a B-25D coming to its collection so a rumor? Maybe not so much.
- So,if you had your eye on that B-25 and you are now crushed that Grumpy is no longer available, have you considered this bird, shown here in a nice photo sent in by Ron Strong. This is the old Howard Hughes B-25 that's been parked at William J. Fox Field (Lancaster, CA) for ever and a day. Looks like it has been repainted and it is reportedly for sale.
- The rumor mill is cranking out news that Steve Searle bought B-25N 44-86725 (N25NA) and that it will be going to Australia to join the rest of his collection. This B-25J has a long history (see also B-25 Mitchell in Civil Service) but was last reportedly on loan to the Evergreen Air Museum at McMinnville, Oregon. It's been for sale on a low key basis for a couple of years. At this point, nothing in the FAA registry database to indicate a sale. Patience, patience. By the way, this will be the first B-25 to be based in Austrailia since, well, since the last one came back. Guess which one that was?
- Finally, Robert HHH sent in a bunch of great factory photos taken at the North American factory at
Mines Field (LAX) (Ooopss..as so astutely corrected by Mark Reynosa, this photo was actually taken at the NAA Fairfax plant at Kansas City, Kansas. Note the "FAX" visible on the hangar, the last part of the airport name...). Some great color out there if you want to hunt around on the internet a bit:
May 2008 #2
- Extra! Extra!
Okay, okay, stop the presses, or the electrons, or whatever. This one is too good to wait two months. John Voss just sent me a great photo of Paul Mantz's B-25H taken in late 1958 at Orange County Airport. This photo is just toooo cooool....
Make sure you click on the photo to get the big one...besides being a nice shot of the B-25H, it is also just a great photo. Okay, here is a closeup of the nose and #1 engine, just for those freaks who like markings and detail. Far out, I say.
John sent the following information about how he came to take the photos:
"I took that photo back when I was 17 years old and had just received my drivers license. I borrowed my father's car, his Argus C-3 camera & associated hand held light meter and made a 20 mile drive to the Orange County Airport. Needless to say, the security guard quickly threw me out of the area. After I learned what he looked like and identified the car he drove I was able to make longer subsequent visits...prior to being thrown out. After a while he recognized me as familiar, always with a camera in hand and probably not a threat so he sort of left me alone. My only regret is that I didn't take more photos."
What can I say? The photo speaks for itself. One word: cooool!
We now return to our regularly scheduled boring day.
- Word comes from Dave Shiffer that the group restoring a B-17G (see also B-17 News) at Urbana, Ohio, purchased TB-25N 44-28866 (N744CG) for the new Champaign Air Museum being in the process of being established. Dave reports that a large hangar will be built to house the B-25 and B-17 and a growing collection that hopefully will eventually be held by the museum. This B-25 last operated as Carolina Girl and was displayed at the North Carolina Aviation Museum at Asheboro until it was placed up for sale in 2006. The FAA file for the aircraft shows it still registered to Branson's Bombers, Ltd., of Greensboro, North Carolina. The paperwork has not yet caught up, apparently. Here is a recent photo of the B-25 (thanks to Dave Shiffer), now at Urbana.
- Ryan Keough sent in an update on B-25H 43-4106 (N5548N). The airplane is still owned by Weary Warriors but is now operated by the non-profit Warbirds Unlimited Foundation. It has been based at Falcon Field at Mesa, Arizona, for the past two years. It is now expanding a flight experience opportunity for those who would like to fly in the Mitchell. And yes, it is still for sale a little bit. Here's a nice recent photo of the airplane taken by Scott Germain:
And, for more information, might I suggest you jump to this website.
- From a WIX posting comes the news that B-25N 44-30801 (N30801), the airplane operated by the American Aeronautical Fondation, and/or Challenge Publications, is getting new nose art similar to that it wore in the 1980s. It will remain as Executive Sweet. Here is a nice photo of the naked nose before the new, somewhat naked, lass is added:
Actually, I saw a preview of the new nose art and she is more than somewhat.
Update to the Update!! (added 5/1/08)
Dave Green, who took the above photo, sent these in, taken after the nose art was completed. As can be seen, she was squeezed into something after all.
For the artists among us, here is a closeup from the above photo:
- Media alert!! Great article by the late Frank Tallman in the latest issue of Challenge's Warbirds International on the making of the 1970 film Catch-22. What makes the article particularly noteworthy are- the great color photos of the various B-25s prior and during the filming effort that occurred in the winter of 1969 at Guaymas, Mexico.
- Slim pickings for January, it being winter and all. However, a few items of interest.
- If you didn't catch the lengthy and quite interesting story of a drug running B-25, actually B-25H 43-4336 (N96GC) that was posted to the Aero Vintage Forum last month, I've added the story to the B-25 Anecdotes page. Good reading and just gives an idea about some of the stories behind these airplanes if one digs enough. Gary dug enough. Thanks to Gary for sharing.
- Also posted on the Reviews page is a review of the new DVD entitled The Bomber Reef documentary by Seawest Productions our of New South Wales, Australia. Walt Deas, one of the producers, sent along a copy and I found it fascinating and is highly recommended. It is available from the company at Seawest Productions, 20 Robinsville Crscent, Thiroul, New South Wales, 2515, Australia. The web site for more information is right here.
- Had to stop by South County Airport and see the new B-25 there, that being 44-30324 (N3161G) owned by Ken McBride. Ken will, indeed, be restoring the airplane at South County and is trying to get a crew of volunteers together to start the effort. Much work needs to be done, but it's nice to see those twin tails grace the airport.
- B-25 Still For Sale #1: news comes that B-25H 43-4106 (N5548N), operated by the Weary Warriors Squadron at Aurora, Illinois, is for sale. The aircraft is offered by Team Air, Inc. without a listed price. This is a "Make Offer" deal. This B-25H is the only "H" model currently flying. It's history is contained in detail in B-25 Mitchell in Civil Service but it was transferred from the RFC to a technical school in Oklahoma in 1945 and then went back to the federal government in 1951. It then went to the Bendix Corp. and sed as test bed until 1967. It went through several civil owners until it was obtained by the Weary Warriors in 1981. It underwent a decades-long restoration and rebuilding effort. It is finished in 1st Air Commando Group colors and flies as Barbie III. Distinctive about the airplane is the stubby cannon nose mounted, the only B-25 flying as such. The airplane is currently located at Falcon Field at Mesa, Arizona.
- B-25 Still For Sale #2: B-25L 44-30456 (N125PF) remains for sale by Provenance Fighter Sales at a "new reduced price" of $575,000. Rumor has this airplane coming out of Tilamook, Oregon, for Chino and, possibly, some mechanical work at Aero Trader, before heading to the company's base at Murietta, California.
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