North American B-25 Mitchell Color Photographs Part V –  500th BS 345th BG

While the first two squadrons of the 345th Bomb Group elected to paint elaborate artwork on the noses of their Mitchells, the 500th Bomb Squadron “Rough Raiders” went with the squadron emblem on the tail and a single white fuselage band. In addition, the fronts of the cowlings were painted red. This is 42-87447 “Jock Juggler” seen at the former Japanese airstrip at Nadzab, New Guinea in 1944.
CAPT Max Mortensen and crew pose in front of B-25D 41-30055 “Rita’s Wagon”, with the red cowling of the 500th BS. Rita’s Wagon was one of the more prominent of the Squadron’s aircraft, completing over 100 missions in eighteen months of combat before finally being declared War Weary. Mortensen himself completed 109 combat missions, eventually rising to the rank of LCOL and Deputy Commander of the Group.
The after fuselage of Rita’s Wagon shows the fuselage stripe and the bomb damage assessment camera in silhouette beneath the fuselage. The dorsal gunner’s name M.F. Fresty and “Marge” was painted under his turret. SSGT Mike Fresty was credited with downing two Japanese fighters.
One of the 500th’s B-25Ds is seen on approach for a landing. This aircraft has a strafer nose and sports shark’s teeth. Even in this photograph the wear to the paint on the leading edge of the wing is evident.
A line up of 500th BS B-25Js. The center aircraft sports an unpainted solid nose, likely an eight-gun factory conversion kit. The Squadron’s Mustang insignia seen in the first photograph was carried on the tail surfaces until October 1944 when it was replaced by the Group’s Air Apache insignia seen here.
One of the last replacement aircraft to join the Squadron was 44-31392, seen here on Ie Shima in August 1945. This is a late-production B-25J with the eight-gun solid nose and rocket stubs under the wings.
This is the aft fuselage of 44-31392, with the simplified 345th Bomb Group’s Air Apache insignia and last four digits of her serial number repeated on the tail. She has the Squadron’s white fuselage band but lacks the red cowling paint, as do the aircraft in the background.

B-25 Mitchell color photographs Part VI here: