North American B-25 Mitchell Color Photographs Part IX – Early Mitchells

A fine study of a North American B-25A in flight. Forty B-25As were delivered to the USAAC beginning in February 1941. These were the first “combat ready” Mitchells, incorporating self-sealing fuel tanks and armor protection for the crew. All photos are from the NASM Rudy Arnold collection.
This B-25A carries the “Thunderbird” markings of the 34th Bomb Squadron, 17th Bomb Group and early war national insignia. The B-25A is easily identifiable by the unique tail gun position and lack of dorsal turret.
While none of the B-25As deployed overseas, they did fly anti-submarine patrol missions from the continental United States. Here a 2nd Bomb Group Mitchell refuels from an Autocar tanker prior to a patrol mission.
Here crew members simulate a scramble for the photographer while B-25A 40-2200 warms up in the background.
Crewmen board a Mitchell from the 2nd Bomb Group. A retractable skid under the tail prevented a tail strike during take-off or landing. Modelers note the possible solution to the “tail sitting” problem in the form of the boarding ladder.
The Norton bomb sight was considered to be highly classified and was to be covered or dismounted when the aircraft was on the ground. Combat experience soon showed that the nose mounted .30 caliber machine gun was inadequate and it was quickly upgraded to a .50 caliber.
The tail gun position of the B-25A was unique in the Mitchell family. The rear portion was a clamshell arrangement, and opened to allow the gun to traverse.
Mitchells in the coastal patrol role overfly a small freighter. The two nearest the camera are B-25Bs, the furthest is a B-25A.
Armorers loading 250 pound bombs. Later in the war bombs were seen in the Army standard Olive Drab, but in the early days they were often Light Gray or Yellow as seen here.
The B-25B introduced a Bendix power turret in the dorsal position, and a retractable Bendix remote turret in the belly. It was felt that these turrets offered adequate rear protection so the tail gun was deleted.
A close-up of the Bendix ventral turret. This turret was unframed, consisting of sections of clear Perspex which were glued together. Also note the slots for the guns are unsealed, certainly a problem at altitude.

B-25 Color Photographs Part I here:  https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2022/09/28/north-american-b-25-mitchell-color-photographs-part-i-production/

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