March 2022 / Volume 5/ Article 64www.usaeronauticalhistory.comJuly 2022 / Volume 5/ Article 67www.usaeronauticalhistory.com"NOSE t o TAIL"B-25 BomberThe Story of WWII B-25 Pilot Knox Leslie CampbellCommercial Pilot Dianna Hoover Klein
1 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comUSAHSt affUnited States Aeronautical History (USAH) is a non-profit organization that was established and dedicated to preserve, educate and maintain the history of aviation in the United States and abroad. USAH is committed to making sure the history is kept alive, archived and accessible for the next generation. We are devoted to the aircraft, aviation equipment, and the stories of those men and women; from the 1903 Flyer with the Wright Brothers, to present day aviation, both Military and Civilian.We feel it is imperative to keep the existence of our Military and Civilian Aviation alive to allow our youth to explore and gain the knowledge of the great history that would otherwise be forgotten. At USAH, we are able to provide this through monthly digital magazine issues, documentaries, photos and videos. We work to support the collection and archive of information as it pertains to aviation.Here at USAH we cover many aerial events such as; U.S. Military/Military Decommissions, Commercial Aviation, Pilot, Air Shows, Experimental, Air Racing, Aerobatic, Expos and simply put...everything aviation.USAHP.O. Box 56Claymont, DE 19703(302) 927-1133 We want our Military of All Branches........those serving currently and veterans, that you are never alone......you are always in our thoughts and prayers to keep you close to God's angels and to protect you while protecting our freedom and bring you home safe.Jimi Simmons: V.P.Photographer/Videographer & JournalistShawn Byers Senior Editor Photographer & Journalistwww.usaeronauticalhistory.com Guy Spumoni Chief EditorHarry Bristow/U.K.Videographer &PhotographerDave "Hey Joe" ParsonsMilitary Liaison &Contributing EditorCONTENT1. Featured Article-Pgs. 3-17....... B-25 WWII Bomber Pilot Knox Leslie Campbell by Jimi Simmons 2. World Flight Brief Segment-Pgs. 18-22..... The B-25 Bomber by Jimi Simmons 3. Women In Aviation-Pgs. 23-25......Commercial Pilot Dianna Hoover Klein by Jimi SImmons
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Article by Jimi Simmons3 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com
We are very proud to bring you (in my opinion) the best story yet, that of a WWII, B-25 Bomber pilot, Knox Leslie Campbell. Knox was born in Waterloo, Iowa on April 12, 1923. When his father was going to college in Cedar Falls, Knox went from 1st through 12th grade in Spencer, Iowa schools. He was your typical American kid growing up, participating in basketball, football and golf. Knox played golf from age eight until he finally hung the clubs up at the age of ninety-five. Knox lives at the Highlands in Spencer Iowa, which is located on the old Spencer Country Club golf course where he learned to play golf and slid down the slopes in the winter in a scoop shovel in the early 1930?s.?I graduated from Spencer High School in May of 1941. That summer I found myself in California building P-38?s for Lockheed Aircraft Company. Shooting and bucking rivets in the aft section of the wing between the cockpit and engine. I believe this experience instilled in me an interest in aviation,? stated Knox.Knox received his draft notice in the fall of 1942 while he was in California.?I Returned to Spencer to join up. I went by train to Des Moines, Iowa and enlisted in the U S Army Air Corps. Since I had experience with Lockheed working on planes, I thought I could put it to use as a ground personnel in the AAC. When I was called up by the sergeant to be interviewed, I mentioned this experience. He looked at me and said ?I got just the job for you?. I didn?t like the way he said it and since I interviewed, was still a civilian I said ?no thanks? and went upstairs in the Polk County Court House in Des Moines and joined the USAAC as a cadet on December 8th,1942. I wasn?t called up till middle of February 1943. I served in the AAC from 12/8/1942 to 10/27/1945,? stated Knox. ?I was ordered to report to JB (Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Mo.- Basic Army Training: also known as Pneumonia Gulch) in February 1943 for Army Boot Camp. Our housing was a hut about 20 feet square. It looked more like a corn crib on a farm. The side boards must have been built out of green lumber as there was a half an inch gap between them. We solved the problem by soaking newspaper in water and stuffing it in the cracks. We had a round belly stove for heat and a bucket of water and mop for two purposes. Fire and mop4 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com"NOSE t o TAIL"
5 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comthe floor. Several mornings the mop was frozen in the bucket. The Gulch name came about because of the high number of cadets that came down with pneumonia. Each hut had four double bunks for eight cadets. We were here four weeks before we got a weekend pass,? stated Knox. Knox soon learned the AAC?s way of life. ?Rules, regulations and new words like sit-ups, pull-ups, double time and of course marching. I believe we walked to the moon and back while I was a cadet. Laying on the ground bare chested doing calisthenics wasn?t fun and games either.??From Jefferson Barracks, seven hundred cadets were sent here and half of us ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. We stayed at MSC (Michigan State College, East Lansing, Mi.- College Training Detachment) from one to six months. I happened to fall in the four-month group. We attended regular college classes and again got our bellies full of marching. Being sent to MSC turned out to be the right turn of the crank as girl co-eds swarmed the campus making our week-ends full of fun! Unless, of course, the week-end was restricted due to infractions, such as, dust in the wrong place, top blanket not tight enough etc. For infractions we received a ?gig? or demerit. That meant walking them off on the week-end before leaving the base. Sometimes you walked most of it. Our housing was a fairly new dorm and four cadets were in a room normally two college students occupied. The local people were very friendly and invited us to their homes and social gatherings (more girls) and even feeding us at times. We welcomed their kindness,? stated Knox.Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Mo. 1940
6 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comAIR CORPS BASIC TRAINING-Sant a Ana, CA.Knox went from MSC to Santa Ana which is about 30 miles southwest of L.A. ?Marching was BIG on this base. Each squadron marched Saturday morning to see who could claim the big old ugly red rag ?E FLAG?? for the week. This was the USAAC?s boot camp. We got more marching, Army Air Corps indoctrination and testing both physical and mental. Here we learned if we were to be a pilot, navigator or bombardier. I was glad to be selected as a pilot. We were also tested in a decompression chamber to 30,000 feet. Your body does funny things at that altitude without oxygen. We were given masks and slowly brought back to normal atmosphere. Due to a hernia operation, I lost a month and was moved back to the class of 44 H to graduate in August of 1944,? stated Knox.PRIMARY FLIGHT TRAINING-Oxnar d, CA.Oxnard is about sixty miles west of L.A.?We are now going to learn to fly. We were flying open cockpit, wood frame and fabric covered biplanes called the Stearman for about sixty-five hours. We three cadets met our instructor on the flight line. This was my first contact with an airplane. He asked if we had all flown and I said I hadn?t, the other two cadets had. He looked at me and said ?OK virgin gets in the plane and take us off?. I looked at him dumb founded. Again, he said get in the plane, put your feet on the rudder pedals, grab the stick and push the throttle forward and let?s get out of here. He had us thinking we were flying from the get go. I?m sure he was doing the flying though. Most of us soloed in eight or nine hours. I soloed 1/29/44. My thought on the downwind leg of the landing pattern was ?what the hell am I doing up here by myself?. We spent the first part of our training getting to know the plane, it?s controls, instruments and taking off and shooting landings. Over and over. We also had ground school classes,? stated Knox.?The Stearman had narrow landing wheels and it was prone to ground loop (spin on the ground) when landing. The closeness of the wheels could also cause problems on take-off. One cadet lost control of his plane on take-off and ended up in a pig pen adjacent to the auxiliary field runway, slid into a horse drawn earth scraper which removed the landing gear and let it slip on to a stop in that soiled soil. Glad I didn?t have to clean it up. I?m sure the cadet probably received a few gigs for that. The Stearman was a fun plane to fly. When we got into aerobatics the open cockpit put you right in the middle of the maneuver. Barrel and snap rolls, spins, loops and flying at the edge of a big fat cumulus cloud. What utter joy. Since the gas tank was in the upper wing and engine gravity fed, when
7 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comyou rolled over on your back the engine would quit, due to lack of fuel, but righting the plane and with prop turning, the engine started again?you hoped,? stated Knox.Knox stated they did most of their take-offs and landings at auxiliary fields. They would take about a square mile of land, black top it, create five or six landing lanes so several planes could land at the same time. BASIC FLIGHT TRAINING-Mint er Fiel d, Bak er sf iel d, CA.Bakersfield is 110 miles north of L.A. ?Here we flew the BT-13 Vultee Vibrator as we called it for seventy-five hours. They had an enclosed two seat cockpit. The runways at these auxiliary fields were near 3500 hundred feet. If your flying made the instructor unhappy you knew you were in for a penalty. The B-13 had a tail wheel and they wanted it to touch down before the front wheels. For not doing so on an occasion or two my instructor had me walk the length of the field and back and every fifth step squat and say ?get my tail down?. Every time you squatted your parachute slapped you in your rear making the journey rather unpleasant. Or if you handled the flaps wrong you got to sit in the cockpit for several minutes saying this is the way you roll the flaps down, this the way you roll the flaps up. Oh, they had many quaint ways for you to pay for your sins. On one occasion my instructor, being discontented, took control of the aircraft by slapping the stick sideways between my legs with some force which gets your attention. He flew level for a few seconds then ducked the nose and proceeded to do an outside loop. He?s sitting there laughing at me as my head bangs on the cockpit top. He says ?that will teach you to keep your seat belt tight?. Sadistic that?s what he was! Our time was taken up by flying, ground school, penalty paying and of course not to be forgotten, marching,? stated Knox.ADVANCED FLIGHT TRAINING-Mat h er Fiel d, Sacr ament o, CA.Knox went to Mather Field in late May of 1944.?We flew the twin engine UC-78, called the bamboo bomber as it had a wood frame that was fabric covered and the B-25. The latter was known as the Billy Mitchell and the aircraft that took off from a Navy Carrier and first bombed Japan.We flew these planes a total of seventy-five hours, splitting the time about equally. Here our flying became more sophisticated. We did our normal take Stearman PT-17 Biplane
8 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comoff and landings and started doing cross country flights. Some at higher level and some right on the deck. Wow! What a thrill! The props made the grass dance. One of the cross-county flights was Mather to Crater Lake, Or. to Lake Tahoe, CA./NV. and back to Mather.??We had our first taste of instrument flying under the hood. Your portion of the cockpit was covered, the instructor flew the plane into an unusual position and said ?it?s all yours? and you had to put it back to level flight using instruments. My toughest flight check was making a landing approach under the hood. You started at the base cone (radio beam) and Mather?s was a mess. It was a jumbled sound. From the cone you timed yourself to the downwind leg of the pattern, then so many seconds on the downwind leg, then turn and time as you head back towards the runway and then turned on to the landing approach. When the instructor removes the hood, you hope you are staring at the runway. I was. Thank the Lord. I got my wings and commission with the class of 44-H on August 4, 1944,? stated Knox. UC-78, The Bamboo Bomber.
9 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comOVERSEAS FLIGHT TRAINING-Col umbia, S.C.Knox had a week?s leave before reporting to Columbia. ?We trained in newer models of the B-25 and it was geared to what we might expect overseas. Some night flying, so enjoyable as the air was usually calm. South Carolina?s country side has few straight roads. Fields look like a quilt as they are mostly odd shaped. Did a lot of flying here. From Columbia, they went to Atlanta to pick up new B-25?s,? stated Knox.WEST PALM BEACH, Fl .?Here the planes were fitted with guns and armament. Two 50 caliber guns in the nose, upper turret, one on each side of the radioman?s area and two in tail. The armament protected the pilot seats. One-half inch steel under seat and back with side wings projecting out from the back about ten inches along the sides. A temporary bomb bay fuel tank holding about 500 gallons was installed, a Norden bomb sight and navigation equipment were also placed on board,? stated Knox. B-25 Nose Gunner B-25 Tail GunnerB-25 Upper Turret Gunner
10 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com IT IS NOW TIME TO HEAD TO ITALY? .COAST GUARD AIR STATION- Bor inquen, Puer t o RicoKnox and his crew?s first stop was in Puerto Rico.?We flew 1050 miles that day. You normally were in one day and out the next. We had buddies a day behind us so the next morning we fooled around awhile and then called the tower to let them know we were having engine trouble. About half an hour later we got a call from the Base CO and he said; ?I?ll give you guys 15 minutes to get the hell out of here?. Needless to say, we heeded his suggestion. Guess we weren?t the first to pull that stunt. Normally the next day?s flight was to French Guinea, (about 1000 miles),? stated Knox.TRINIDAD ISLAND?Since we left Puerto Rico late, we pulled into Trinidad, an island just off the northeast coast of Venezuela. We flew about 600 miles this day. The runway was a surprise as it was cut right out of the jungle. The trees were very close to the edge of it. That night was a first for us as we slept in thatched roof huts,? stated Knox.FRENCH GUIANA- Sout h Amer ica?About 480 air miles to this country from Trinidad and it is located on the NE coast of South America. Got in early which was good as our buddies would be catching up to us today. Gives us time to check out the bar and make sure everything is in proper order because it will get a good use this evening. It did!? stated Knox.
BELEM, BRAZIL- Sout h Amer ica.Next stop for Knox and his crew was Belem, about 1100 miles away.?It is located on the south bank of the Amazon River. Do you know the river starts in the Peru Andes, and is 4000 miles long and snakes itself mostly east and slightly north across Brazil? This blew my mind; the mouth of the river is over 200 hundred miles wide.??The northeast part of Brazil we flew over was prairie grassland. We flew up about 3-4 thousand feet and right down on the deck parting the grass with our props---well they taught us that in advanced training, didn?t they? We flew in a three-plane loose formation each day. We had some fun on the trip from Belem to Natal. We were the lead plane this day and we saw a really small thunderhead ahead of us, so we called the other two planes of our little group and told them we were going to fly just under the base of it---our plane needed a bath! We found out one thing, a B-25 isn?t waterproof. The cockpit was more than damp! But it was worth the venture just to see the angry dark clouds and turbulent air at its base. Later flying low, we spotted a gaucho on a horse by his cabin at the confine of two rivers. We headed his way and as we got closer, he went one way and the horse the other.Well, we weren?t that close, really! The rest of the trip was uneventful,? stated Knox.NATAL, BRAZIL-Sout h Amer ica?We are now enjoying summer even though it is the month of December as we are 400 miles south of the equator. We stayed in Natal several days waiting for favorable winds as the next hop is a tight squeeze fuel wise, about 1450 miles. The bomb bay tank was used on this leg. A ten-inch-high shoe boot is popular here so most of us bought a pair. They are called Natal boots. The navigator had an easy day as we flew a radio beam to Ascension Island as we moved across the South Atlantic Ocean,? stated Knox.11 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com
12 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comChef and his Pitts Special.ASCENSION ISLAND?It is a volcanic island about half way between Brazil and Africa It is pretty much round about six by five miles. When we were there in late 1944 it had one tree, their proudest possession. We were in for a thrill when we spotted the air field. The end of the runway was more than two hundred feet above the ocean surface. Once on the runway you couldn?t see the other end as there was a slight hill in the middle. On our trip home we took the same route including Ascension Island. We had a professional gambler as a crew member and that night as the dice began to shake at the officer?s club, he said ?follow my lead? and I did and came away with $185. More money than I?d ever won gambling. I blew it all buying three Tissot watches for my dad, Mom and self. Why not? 1050 miles this day, " stated Knox.LIBERIA- AFRICA?It is located along the west coast where it bulges out. This is a nation of black people and those we came in contact with spoke English. Firestone had a plant nearby making foam rubber products. Another first. That night we slept on foam rubber mattresses. As the plant was close the workers walked through our compound on their way to work. Strange thing, no two walked together. Going out to the runway to take off the tower called and told us to hold at the apron by its end. It might be a while they said. Reaching the apron, we shut down and got out of the plane. Soon several kids approached and we somehow got to pitching coins with them. Later we learned we lost more to them than their dad made in a day. Good way to throw their economy out of whack,? stated Knox.MARRAKESH, MORROCCO?Over the Sahara Desert we go this day, do you know that it is about the size of the USA? That?s one big sand box.There was so much sand in the air that we flew at about 12,000 feet and still had the engine cowl flaps closed most of the time. Flew 1100 miles,? stated Knox.Tissot Lemania Watch 1940-1949
13 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com TUNUS, TUNISIA?Germany?s occupancy of this country was really hard on it; the people were destitute. We hired a young Jewish boy to show us around the city. He was the size of a seven-year-old but was actually 11. His family lived in a friend?s attic the whole time Germany occupied Tunisia. And looking at his size it was believable. 440 miles today,? stated Knox.NAPLES, ITALY?Here we were assigned to the 446 squadron, 321st group of the 12th USAAC. After a couple days we were sent to the Island of Corsica. The war had a devastating effect on Naples. It was dirty and in sad shape. Sometime later I flew some guys to Naples for rest camp and stayed overnight to take in its night life,? stated Knox.CORSICA?We arrived in Corsica about the first of January 1945. Our housing was a wood floor and side walls covered by a tent. Four officers to each. It had a little wood burning stove which we also used to cook C rations. They were better than the food in the mess hall.??It was a few days before we were assigned our first mission. We flew with different crew members each mission. On mission day we usually went to briefing at 6:00 AM. The 321st group consisted of the 446, 447, 448 and 449 squadrons. Each usually put up 18 planes for a mission, two boxes of nine. Each squad was based on its own field. We would rendezvous over Lake Garda in northern Italy and make up a group of 72 planes. Sometimes we would meet with other groups to form a larger attack force. Our main job was to keep the roads and railroads leading to Austria and southern Germany closed. Which included the Brenner Pass, the main link to those two countries. We carried six 500-pound bombs, except if they were armor piercing, then four 1000 pounders and when
we carried 100-pound incendiaries to bomb gun emplacements. We?d go up to 18,000 feet then dive on their 88mm anti aircraft locations. We?d fly right over the tops of the Italian Alps, 10 to 12,000 feet, to cut down the time they could shoot at us. We could almost reach out and get a handful of snow. What a wonderous sight flying atop those snow-covered mountains.??Our missions were four to five hours long. Probably our most vulnerable time was on the bomb run as the plane had to be held level and steady for an extended period. We flew in boxes of nine and the lead plane?s bombardier was the one in control on the run. Using his Norden bomb sight to sight in the target and drop the bombs. When he dropped his bombs the other eight bombardiers hit a toggle switch and away went theirs. We also had a system to drop bombs we called Buck Rodgers. Two separate radio stations were used. A beam was sent from each and where they crossed our bombs would fall.??On missions we rarely had to contend with enemy fighters as the Germans were out of fuel. In fact, we would fly over some of their airfields where row after row of jet planes were lined up and just fly by. Their 88mm gun was another story. On one mission our bombardier was hit by shrapnel from an 88mm, a shell went through the right wing and fuel tank (self-sealing) but didn?t explode and other shrapnel was lodged under both pilot seats. If a shell broke black you weren?t too concerned, red got your attention.??Our CO was a stickler for close formation over the home runway after a mission. So got it he did. We?d come over in a three craft formation, the two wing planes wing tip to wing tip. Maybe a foot apart. Go to the end of the runway and start peeling. We might have four aircraft on a 4500-foot landing strip at the same time. Upon arriving back at the base each crew was debriefed about the mission.?14 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comB-25 Bomber dropping payload Photo by Shawn Byers.
15 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comANCONNA- ITALY?We moved to this city in late February 1945. It is located on the east side of Italy about half way up the country on the Adriatic Sea across from what was then Yugoslavia. We were housed in a building that had been used by the Italian Army to train young boys. Although modern, it wasn?t like our latrines. There was just a hole in the floor.??After 12 to 15 missions, we got to go to rest camp for a week. One we went to was L?lle Rousse, Corsica, in the northern part, on the south coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The sea water was so clear that you could see the bottom at 70-foot depth. We?d grab an air mattress and get ourselves a dose of sun. Good food and rest time. At about 30 missions I went to a camp in Cannes, France. Another beautiful spot. Stayed in a real fancy hotel right on the Mediterranean. Grasse, a small village a few kilometers west is the perfumery capital of the world. They grow thousands of flowers on the bank down to the sea as well as other places, squeeze the essence from the petal to make perfume and then grind up the petal to make face powder. I bought several little wooden cubes with essence in wax in them for the women in my life.??Sometimes with time on your hands your actions might be something you wouldn?t normally consider doing. A here today gone tomorrow attitude prevailed during the war and things happened.??The European war ended May 8, 1945. I had completed 33 missions.??We didn?t leave Italy till 7/1/1945 so we had time to do some sight-seeing and trading with the locals. They were desperate for clothing. I sold my natal boots and some extra clothing.??The gal that did our laundry had a five-year old son with long hair with ringlets. What a beautiful child he was. She did her ironing with the old fashion kind of iron, where the handle was interchanged from one to another iron base that sat on the stove getting hot. When you went to pick up your laundry, she?d offer you a glass of wine when you paid her. You had better take it cause if you didn?t, she was mighty unhappy with you. Her son would grab his glass for his share of vino. They drank wine as we drink water.?
16 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comHOMEWARD BOUND.?We took the same route coming home, except from Tunis to Marrakesh. The weather wasn?t good so instead of flying over the Sahara Desert we went out to the ocean and flew along the coast. We were down to 20 feet or so to finally get under it. We found out later that several planes had turned back. We had orders to take the plane to a base at Goldsboro, NC. With that done I headed for Des Moines, Ia. where my folks lived and bride to be was attending Drake University. We were married on 7/20/1945 in Spencer, Ia. This air corps guy didn?t waste his time! I was home on a 30 day leave when the Pacific war ended 8/15/1945. I had orders to proceed to Okinawa to fly the A-26 Invader. I was glad the war was over and I didn?t have to go, but it would have been fun to get checked out in the A-26. I was discharged 10/27/1945.??While in college at Drake and Iowa State I joined the Iowa Air National Guard. We flew the AT-6. Upon graduating from ISU in August 1949 I took a job in Chicago. I missed several meetings and under protest was separated from the Air Guard. Turned out to be my lucky day. Thirty days later they left for Korea.?B-25 Bomber. Photo by Shawn Byers.
17 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com?For my 90th birthday my daughter Leslie and son Casey gave me a ride in the plane I learned to fly, the Stearman. I flew in it at Falcon Field, just a mile west of our winter home in Mesa, Az. Some young friends provided the duds, leather helmet, leather jacket, goggles and of course the white scarf. What a dude I was! After flying for a short time, the pilot asked me if I?d like to fly it. I said ?sure?. My first turn I lost altitude, but on the next one I remembered to pull back on the stick to maintain the level of flight. It?s like riding a bike. Once you got it you got it. What a fun ride it was---thanks kids and friends,? stated Knox.WHAT DID I LEARN FROM MY WW2 EXPERIENCE??The human being is slow to realize war is not the answer to solving differences. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon though, as you see an occasional attempt to use diplomacy to solve them.?----- off we go into the wild blue yonder. Knox Cambell with his daughter Leslie.
I found it only fitting for the World Flight Brief segment to discuss the bomber that Knox piloted during World War II.When we think and talk about WWII bombers, we normally think of B-17's and B-29's, but the B-25 Mitchell was armed to the teeth with machine guns, as it played a key role in World War II as it attacked repeatedly from low-flying levels. The North American B-25 Mitchell was present for the overture of the Pacific War and was still onstage as the curtain fell on the final act. On April 18, 1942, 16 B-25B gunships flew one of the first American offensive missions of the war? the famous ?Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo? Doolittle Raid. On August 19, 1945, four B-25J gunships escorted a surrender-negotiation delegation aboard two (2) Mitsubishi Betty bombers from Japan partway to Manila and back. Strafing Japanese airfields was a primary B-25 mission. Blowing up enemy fighters and bombers in their revetments would never make anybody an ace, but destroying airplanes on the ground was just as useful as shooting them down. B-25 strafers in the European theater even used special ?jet ammunition,? developed to ignite the fuel in Messerschmitt Me-262s and other jets. They destroyed a large number of the parked German jets during April 1945 alone. Though many ground targets were hard for B-25 bombers to find under their camouflage, bridges were an exception.18 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comArticle by Jimi SimmonsT h e B - 2 5 M i t c h e l l
The medium bomber was introduced in 1941 and named in honor of Major General William "Billy" Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. Used by many Allied air forces, the B-25 served in every theater of World War II, and after the war ended, many remained in service, operating across four decades. Produced in numerous variants, nearly 10,000 B-25?s were built. These included several limited models such as the F-10 reconnaissance aircraft, the AT-24 crew trainers, and the United States Marine Corps' PBJ-1 patrol bomber. The B-25 was intended to be a medium bomber, delivering substantial bomb loads more economically, more rapidly and more accurately, from moderate altitudes, than the high-altitude heavyweight B-17?s and B-24's. But it found its true calling as a low-level attack bomber.The Air Corps issued a specification for a medium bomber in March 1939 that was capable of carrying a payload of 2,400 lb. over 1,200 miles at 300 mph. North American Aviation (NAA) used its NA-40B design to develop the NA-62, which competed for the medium bomber contract. No YB-25 was available for prototype service tests. In September 1939, the Air Corps ordered the NA-62 into production as the B-25, along with the other new Air Corps medium bomber, the Martin B-26 Marauder "off the drawing board".Early into B-25 production, NAA incorporated a significant redesign to the wing dihedral. The first nine aircraft had a constant-dihedral, meaning the wing had a consistent, upward angle from the fuselage to the wingtip. This design caused stability problems. "Flattening" the outer wing panels by giving them a slight anhedral angle just outboard of the engine nacelles nullified the problem and gave the B-25 its gull wing configuration.Less noticeable changes during this period included an increase in the size of the tail fins and a decrease in their inward tilt at their tops.Throughout the process of prototyping and producing what became the B-25, NAA?s proposals were also carefully conservative. While many other manufacturers were drawn to the hot new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, the Army Air Corps required that NAA can stay with the well-developed though less powerful Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone. The War Department wanted a medium bomber that could be put into production quickly, not a couple of prototypes that would spend a year dealing with unproven-engine problems.19 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com
NAA continued design and development in 1940 and 1941. Both the B-25A and B-25B series entered USAAF service. The B-25B was operational in 1942. Combat requirements led to further developments. Before the year was over, NAA was producing the B-25C and B-25D series at different plants. Also in 1942, the manufacturer began design work on the cannon-armed B-25G series. The NA-100 of 1943 and 1944 was an interim armament development at the Kansas City complex known as the B-25D2. Similar armament upgrades by U.S-based commercial modification centers involved about half of the B-25G series. Further development led to the B-25H, B-25J, and B-25J2. The gunship design concept dates to late 1942 and NAA sent a field technical representative to the SWPA. The factory-produced B-25G entered production during the NA-96 order followed by the redesigned B-25H gunship. The B-25J reverted to the bomber role, but it, too, could be outfitted as a strafer.NAA manufactured the greatest number of aircraft in World War II, the first time a company had produced trainers, bombers, and fighters simultaneously (the AT-6/SNJ Texan/Harvard, B-25 Mitchell, and the P-51 Mustang). It produced B-25s at both its Inglewood main plant and an additional 6,608 aircraft at its Kansas City, Kansas, plant20 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com
at Fairfax Airport. After the war, the USAF placed a contract for the TB-25L trainer in 1952. This was a modification program by Hayes of Birmingham, Alabama. Its primary role was reciprocating engine pilot training. A development of the B-25 was the North American XB-28 Dragon, designed as a high-altitude bomber. Two prototypes were built with the second prototype, the XB-28A, evaluated as a photo-reconnaissance platform, but the aircraft did not enter production.FLIGHT CHARACTERISTICS and dur abil it yThe B-25 was a safe and forgiving aircraft to fly. With one engine out, 60° banking turns into the dead engine were possible, and control could be easily maintained down to 145 mph. The pilot had to remember to maintain engine-out directional control at low speeds after takeoff with rudder; if this maneuver were attempted with ailerons, the aircraft could snap out of control. The tricycle landing gear made for excellent visibility while taxiing. The only significant complaint about the B-25 was the extremely high noise level produced by its engines; as a result, many pilots eventually suffered from varying degrees of hearing loss.The high noise level was due to design and space restrictions in the engine cowlings, which resulted in the exhaust "stacks" protruding directly from the cowling ring and partly covered by a small triangular fairing. This arrangement directed exhaust and noise directly at the pilot and crew compartments.The Mitchell was an exceptionally sturdy aircraft that could withstand tremendous punishment. One B-25C of the 321st Bomb Group was nicknamed "Patches" because its crew chief painted all the aircraft's flak hole patches with the bright yellow zinc chromate primer. By the end of the war, this aircraft had completed over 300 missions, had been belly-landed six times, and had over 400 patched holes. The airframe of "Patches" was so distorted from battle damage that straight-and-level flight required 8° of left aileron trim and 6° of right rudder, causing the aircraft to "crab" sideways across the sky.21 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com
The B-25 finished World War II virtually unchanged from the form in which it had been born. From the A model to the J, the airframe remained unstretched, the flying and control surfaces were constant and the engines were unchanged other than detail modifications, different exhaust systems and carburetors. The single biggest difference as the Mitchell aged and improved was its ordnance, guns that grew and proliferated in a manner that totally changed the airplane?s mission. By the end of the war, the B-25 was the most heavily armed aircraft in the U.S. Army Air Forces? inventory. A single 12-airplane squadron of B-25s carried more .50-caliber machine guns than four infantry regiments.GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS·Crew: 5 (one pilot, navigator/bombardier, turret gunner/engineer, radio operator/waist gunner, tail gunner)·Length: 52 ft 11 in·Wingspan: 67 ft 7 in·Height: 16 ft 4 in·Wing area: 618 sq ft·Empt y weight: 19,480 lb·Max takeoff weight: 35,000 lb·Powerplant:2 ×Wright R-2600-92 Twin Cyclone14-cylinder two-row air-cooled radial piston engines, 1,700 hp eachPerformance·Maximum speed: 272 mph at 13,000 ft·Cruise speed: 230 mph·Range: 1,350 mi·Service ceiling: 24,200 ftArmament·Guns: 12?18 × .50 in machine guns and 75 mmT13E1cannon·Hardpoints: 2,000 lb ventral shackles to hold one external Mark 13 torpedo·Rocket s: racks for eight 5 in high velocity aircraft rockets (HVAR)·Bombs: 3,000 lb bombs22 www.usaeronauticalhistory.com
In this month?s segment of Women In Aviation we bring you Dianna Hoover Klien, Commercial Airline Pilot. Dianna grew up in Winchester, VA. and went to school at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where she met her husband, Mark, a USAF F-16 pilot and Delta B-757/767 Captain. Mark and Dianna have been married for 18 years and have two sons ages 6 and 3. As we speak, they are in the process of moving from Las Vegas, Nevada back to her hometown of Winchester, VA. Dianna is currently based in Washington D.C. as a B-737 Captain for United Airlines.I had asked Dianna how she became interested in becoming an airline pilot. ?My dad was an airline pilot for United Airlines for 38 years. While growing up, he always came home with a smile on his face, wonderful stories about his co-workers, and with plenty of energy to spend time with me and my mom on his days off. He had the perfect combination of career and family. I wanted that too. As a result of his example, I fell in love with aviation at a very young age. Once dad learned I was interested in flying, he encouraged yet never pushed me in that direction. He was my instructor for my PPL and soloed on my 16th birthday, April 3, 1998,? stated Dianna.23 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comArticle by Jimi SimmonsDianna Hoover KleinDianna and her family.
Dianna?s training to become a Commercial Pilot spanned from age 16 until she began flying a King Air for Part 135 operator when she turned 21, so approximately 5 years. "My current endorsements are ATP with four type ratings: B-727, B-737, B-787, and BE-400. My husband and I both earned our ASEL during our babymoon for son #1 in Talkeenta, AK in 2016, and the next fun rating I?d love to earn is a Lighter than Air (LTA) rating,? stated Dianna.I asked Dianna to give me the pros and cons of her job as a Commercial Pilot and her responsibilities. ?There are NO cons! I love my job. I love my coworkers and being able to set the tone for every flight. I look forward to the challenges each day brings and handle each issue with a wholistic team approach: bring everyone and every resource into my decision matrix. As a Captain, I?m responsible for ensuring my crew and customers are safe and cared for from the moment they walk through my aircraft?s entry door to the moment they wave goodbye and emerge from the jetway at our destination,? stated Dianna.I asked Dianna what her future goals are and where she sees herself in the aviation industry in next 10 years. ?I?m having a blast being a Captain! I?d like to continue in this capacity as well as continue to consult with the space industry. As we make bold steps to creating a life-sustaining ecosystem beyond Earth, whether it be on the Moon, Mars, or in Earth orbit, there will be many confluences of aviation and space. Aviation industry best-practices are very similar to those I believe will be employed in space. I?d love to be on the cutting edge of that integration,? stated Dianna.I asked Dianna how the Covid-19 pandemic affected her personally and as a commercial pilot. ?The pandemic made me realize how tenuous so many careers are. Oftentimes, the airline pilot profession is criticized as being ultra-sensitive to economic ups and downs, which is true, however our career is not an outlier. The pandemic made me re-think my fallback plan and flex the muscles gained during my MBA program to be creative with my aviation credentialing to focus on consulting. Being a consultant is 24 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comDianna and her father.
something I can spin-up to full-time if needed or enjoy as a part-time side hustle, as I currently do now,? stated Dianna.As a pilot we all have that great destination that we always look forward to going to again? and again, so I asked Dianna what hers was. ?Zurich, Switzerland! The people are wonderful, the food is fantastic, and the scenery is second to none,? stated Dianna.In every interview I conduct with every pilot, I always ask them what makes the ?ideal pilot?. ?Grit. 100% grit. You don?t have to be smart, but you do have to have determination to endure the training and emotional highs and lows the learning process brings,? stated Dianna.I asked Dianna what she would you recommend to any young woman or man looking to start a career as a pilot and what the first steps they take to start. ?The best way to start is head out to your local airport and take a Discovery Flight. Depending on the flight school, Discovery Flights typically last 15-30 minutes, and cost between $50-75. It?s worth every penny and will help an interested individual learn if flying is right for them,? stated Dianna.On Dianna's down time she loves spending time with her sons! They go fishing, canoeing, hiking, and do plenty of crafts. Dianna, we thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your life with our readers. If you would like to follow Dianna and her career, you can go to FB at https://www.facebook.com/DiannaHooverKlein/ and IG at @ladydiinthesky. 25 www.usaeronauticalhistory.comDianna , her Husband Mark and their two sons.
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