Accurate Miniaturs B-25C/RAF Mitchell II
The North American B-25 Mitchell is one of the legendary aircraft of the Second World War. If the airplane had done nothing else but fly off the U.S.S. “Hornet” with Doolittle’s Raiders to strike the Japanese homeland four and a half months after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, on April 18, 1942, its place in history would be assured.
The Mitchell fought on all fronts throughout the war, in the livery of several air forces. Built in larger numbers than any other U.S. medium bomber, it soldiered on through the years after the war. (Your reviewer can remember as a child being taken to Lowry AFB in Denver, and seeing row after row of TB-25J Mitchells lined up on the tarmac, and I believe I am the only professional air-to-air photographer to ever come close to taking a backwards swan dive out the aft escape hatch of a B-25, sans parachute.)
After the U.S.A.A.F., the air force that made the most use of the B-25 Mitchell was the RAF, who were the only air force to use the Mitchell in the ETO in any substantial numbers. Twenty-three of the B-25B were supplied as the Mitchell I; they would only be used to introduce RAF crews to the airplane as a trainer. Substantial quantities of the B-25C and D were supplied as the Mitchell II. The aircraft initially equipped 98 and 180 Squadrons in 2 Group – then part of Bomber Command – in late 1942. The Mitchell II flew its first combat mission in northeastern Europe on January 22, 1943, with a raid on an oil refinery in Belgium.
The Mitchells attacked tactical targets in northwestern France and the low countries throughout 1943, eventually equipping 226 Squadron RAF, 305 Squadron (Polish AF in the RAF), 320 Squadron (Royal Netherlands Air Force) and 342 Squadron (Free French Air Force). The Mitchells established a record of reliability and ability to absorb punishment yet return home during these missions. Throughout their combat in Europe, the Mitchells found their worst enemy was German flak, since they flew their missions at 8-10,000 feet in daylight; this was the prime altitude capability of the infamous “eighty-eight,” and casualties were not light.
In June 1943 the Mitchell II squadrons in 2 Group were transferred from Bomber Command to 2nd Tactical Air Force, the RAF’s tactical air contribution to the invasion of Europe. The Mitchells flew their missions in formations of two to six squadrons, and the normal bombing altitude was 8,000 feet. In November, they began striking the rail transport system throughout northwestern France and the low countries. By January 1944, the mysterious ski-shaped structures discovered in the Pas de Calais in the preceding December were identified as the future launching sites of the V-1 flying bomb. Increasing numbers of sorties were flown against these targets throughout the spring of 1944; these were known as “Noball” strikes. Flak was the worst enemy, and some targets became well-known for the accuracy and intensity of the defense, particularly over the “Noball” sites. In April and May transportation targets were added to the list. Throughout this period, the Mitchells of 2 Group regularly took worse losses than units of Bomber Command flying over Germany.
Following the Normandy invasion, the Mitchells began flying night missions – this was due to the fact that enemy transport only operated at night, and due to the fact that there were no fighters to escort the bombers and there was a need to try and cut down on losses.
Throughout the advance across northwestern France, the Mitchells were called on to strike targets just ahead of the advancing armies, which they accomplished despite sometime appalling flak opposition. This continued as the Commonwealth armies turned and attacked into the Low Countries that fall. 98 Squadron took particularly heavy casualties in bombing raids to support the paratroop assault in Operation Market Garden that September. During the Battle of the Bulge, the Mitchell squadrons flew every day possible in terrible weather conditions, striking enemy concentrations wherever they could be found.
In November 1944, Mitchell III (B-25J) aircraft began arriving in the squadrons to replace losses. By February 1945 – when the B-25C/D had been universally replaced in combat operations by American units around the world – Mitchell IIs were still a third of the 2TAF squadrons. The last Mitchell II left 98 Squadron – the original Mitchell unit in the RAF – on March 18, 1945. Between the invasion in June 1944 and V-E Day eleven months later, the Mitchell squadrons of the RAF suffered cumulative losses of over one hundred percent, equivalent to that suffered on the ground by infantry units of the allied forces.
This model was done using the Falcon Vacuform clear parts, which worked fine for everything but the turret, where it was a bit of a problem. The markings were done using decals from various sheets to create A Mitchell II of 98 Squadron 2TAF at the time of D-Day.
Many people have thought that RAF B-25C/D Mitchell IIs were painted in RAF colors. Not true! No one knew as the airplanes went down the production line which airplane was going to what air force. They all came out of the paint shop in US Olive Drab 41 over Neutral Grey 43.
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.