North American B-25 Mitchell

The B-25 was the only American military aircraft which was named after a specific person. It was named in the honor of General Billy Mitchell who was a pioneer in the history of U.S. military aviation. The B-25 was made its mark in the history on April 18, 1942, when it became the first United States aircraft to bomb the Japanese mainland after the attack on Pearl Harbor. They were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, who took 16 Mitchells off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, flew 800 miles (1287 km) to Japan, and attacked their targets. They were among the heaviest aircraft at the time to be flown from a ship at sea. Before the B-25, which was designed as early as 1939, the North American company had never designed a multi-engine bomber before.

The B-25 can be called as a descendant of the earlier XB-21 (North American-39) project of the mid-1930s. It was designed as a 3-crew aircraft originally. It had high-mounted wings and the power plant gained power from twin Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S6C-3 radial engines. Later, 5 to 6 crew members in various gun positions accommodated the aircraft. Its shoulder-mount wing assembly had twin Wright GR-2600-A71 radial engines.

The radials were mounted underneath the wings. Its fuselage looked like a greenhouse that resulted in giving the forward-located gunners and bombardiers a better view, both in front and sideways. The pilot and co-pilot were seated on a location just behind the nose assembly at high mounted seats. Its twin rudder assemblies made its design distinguishable. It also had self-sealing fuel tanks which were already common.

After the “A” and “B” variants with slight improvements, the definitive “C” models featured an auto-piloting system, under wing hard points and reasonable provision for carrying torpedoes.

Eventually, about 9,800 B-25s were produced which evolved into a number of variants that were used as trainers, ground strike, exploration and torpedo carriers.


Length: 52.92 ft (16.13 m)
Width: 67.55 ft (20.59 m)
Height: 15.75 ft (4.80 m)
Performance: About MACH
Max Speed: 272 mph (438 kmh; 237 kts)
Max Range: 1,350 miles (2,173 km)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,666 ft/min (508 m/min)
Service Ceiling: 24,196 ft (7,375 m; 4.6 miles)
Accommodation: 5
Hardpoints: Up to 8 (model dependent)
Empty Weight: 20,300 lbs (9,208 kg)
MTOW: 34,000 lbs (15,422 kg)
Engine(s): 2 x Wright Cyclone R-2600-19 air-cooled piston engines delivering 1,700hp each.
Armament Suite
8 x 12.7 mm machine gun array OR 1 x 75 mm cannon in forward-fixed nose assembly.
2 x 12.7 mm machine guns in forward-fixed lower-left side fuselage position (beneath and behind cockpit position).
2 x 12.7 mm machine gun in forward-fixed lower-right side fuselage position (beneath and behind cockpit position).
2 x 12.7 mm machine guns in ventral turret (powered turrets in some models).
2 x 12.7 mm machine guns in dorsal turret (powered turrets in some models).
1 x 12.7 mm machine gun in left waist port position.
1 x 12.7 mm machine gun in right waist port position.
2 x 12.7 mm machine guns in tail gun position (some models removed).
1 x Torpedo in under-fuselage arrangement (model-specific fitting).
8 x 250 lb bombs on 8 external hardpoints (model-specific fitting).
Maximum internal bombload of 3,000 lbs (1,361 kg).