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B-25 - Night Fighter

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catch 22
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2008/02/25 00:04:15 (permalink)
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B-25 - Night Fighter

Hi all!
Does anybody have any information about the number, serials or exact type of the B-25H's used by the 48-th NFS/5.AF in the period between May and September 1944, before the squadron converted to P-61 "Black widow"? Were they assigned to any of the medium BG-s in the South-West Pacific before May 1944? What happened with them after Sept. 1944?
See some photos of the planes, even with the tail markings of the 418-th NFS here: 
http://www.arcforums.com/forums/air/index.php?showtopic=126134
If the the call number 158 on one of the photos shows the lats 3 digits of a s/n, there is only one B-25H-1, s/n 43-4158 with such combination.
See also the removed T13E1 cannon an the 2 additional guns mounted instead.
post edited by catch 22 - 2008/02/25 10:10:42
Warbird Mechanic
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/03/23 13:37:45 (permalink)
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The 415th, 416th, 417th and 418th NFS started out flying combat missions in Bristol Beaufighters as part of reverse lend lease.  Other aircraft they trained with, but never to my knowledge flew actual combat missions with in Europe and in the Med, was the Douglas P-70 night fighter, (a special A-20 Havoc variant).  I don't recall them ever using B-25H's for the night fighter role in those theaters, but the squadrons in the Pacific may have used the Mitchells in that role until the introduction of the P-61 Black Widow.  Hope this helps!
 
Jim
catch 22
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/03/31 13:32:19 (permalink)
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ORIGINAL: Warbird Mechanic

The 415th, 416th, 417th and 418th NFS started out flying combat missions in Bristol Beaufighters as part of reverse lend lease.  Other aircraft they trained with, but never to my knowledge flew actual combat missions with in Europe and in the Med, was the Douglas P-70 night fighter, (a special A-20 Havoc variant).  I don't recall them ever using B-25H's for the night fighter role in those theaters, but the squadrons in the Pacific may have used the Mitchells in that role until the introduction of the P-61 Black Widow.  Hope this helps!

Jim


Jim, thanks for your replay. I'm (almost) sure that the 418-th NFS is the only USAAF unit using B-25 in the role of a heavy night fighter.
3 Air Forces used "Mitchells" in Europe: 12-th AF, RAF and VVS (Soviet Air Force). All of them used different versions of the B-25 for night bombing raids too, but they were not assigned to night fighter units. The soviet B-25 used for night bombings (partially with black camo) were part of the Long Range Bomber Command (AAD).
B-25H from the 12-th BG. in Burma (after leaving the MTO and becoming part of the 10-th AF.) were also used as bombers and strafers in night missions. B-25s from the 14-th AF and China attacked targets during day and night (famous is the "double raid" on Hong Kong).
Photos of the only all black "Mitchell" I could find show a B-25C-5 in the CBI (India) - s below.
The USMC used the PBJ-1 as a day or night bomber too. None of them was in a night (or fighter)squadron.
In fact the designation "heavy fighter" was given at some time to the first canon-Mitchells only: the B-25G (an their modification B-25G12).
From the photos of the 418-th B-25's (see the link I posted above) I'm assuming these were modified B-25H's (the canon is substituted by 2 machine guns). I'm really curious where did the a/c come from - from a bomber group in the Pacific or CBI or else? Did they return to the same group after the 418-th received the new P-61? How many were they etc. I guess the book Queen of the Midnight Skies gives some more information. I'll try to obtain it.

Best regards!
Yves

post edited by catch 22 - 2008/04/01 10:19:01
tonystro
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/05/04 08:01:51 (permalink)
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ORIGINAL: catch 22
(Extract)
3 Air Forces used "Mitchells" in Europe: 12-th AF, RAF and VVS (Soviet Air Force). All of them used different versions of the B-25 for night bombing raids too, but they were not assigned to night fighter units. The soviet B-25 used for night bombings (partially with black camo) were part of the Long Range Bomber Command (AAD).
B-25H from the 12-th BG. in Burma (after leaving the MTO and becoming part of the 10-th AF.) were also used as bombers and strafers in night missions. B-25s from the 14-th AF and China attacked targets during day and night (famous is the "double raid" on Hong Kong).
Photos of the only all black "Mitchell" I could find show a B-25C-5 in the CBI (India) - s below.
(end extract)


Yves,

Your reference to 10th and 14th AF B-25s, especially the all black on pictured, caught my interest because I am trying to identify all the aircraft flown by the 341st Bomb Group (M). Therefore, I checked Joe Bauer's serial number listing for 42-53357, as shown in the photos. For whatever it is worth here is the information listed...

42-53357 arrived in UK from North Africa Mar 29 43 and used for communications work. Acquired by 7th PG Sep 1943 as "Miss Nashville" and used as hack until loaned to 25th Group Jul 1944 for night photo missions to V-weapons sites. Last sortie on this work was Aug 18, 1944. Thereafter used for courier work until strayed over front lines in France Oct 26, 1944 and damaged by AAA and crashed near Chalons-sur-Saone.

Tony Strotman, MSgt (ret.), USAF
Son of T/Sgt Francis E. Strotman, Engineer-Gunner,
491st Bm Sq / 341st Bm Gp (M), Yangkai, China
"USAAF in CBI Tribute" http://www.usaaf-in-cbi.com
tonystro
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/05/04 08:11:43 (permalink)
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Yves,

If I can find it... I have a veteran's story about at least one occurrance where 11th Bomb Sq flew a "night intercept" mission with a few B-25s, at a base in China sometime in 1943. The idea was to disrupt night bombing raid(s) by the Japanese with the B-25s which could stay airborne longer that the P-40s. Although it had some success, I believe it was not continued due to the higher fuel consumption of the B-25s and the severe shortage of aviation gasoline in China at the time.

Tony Strotman, MSgt (ret.), USAF
Son of T/Sgt Francis E. Strotman, Engineer-Gunner,
491st Bm Sq / 341st Bm Gp (M), Yangkai, China
"USAAF in CBI Tribute" http://www.usaaf-in-cbi.com
maxs75
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/05/21 13:14:35 (permalink)
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In the history of USAAF in WW2 lists 5th air force units in august 1944, and says that 418th NFS was equipped with B-25H, based at Wakde. I wish I have more info about that.

Max

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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/05/21 13:40:32 (permalink)
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Max -
The 418th NFS Began Ops 1/44
Operated P - 70s , P - 38s
5/44 - 8/44 Operated B - 25s
Converted to P - 61s 9/44
There are a few Pages on the 418th in Book:
The Flying Buccaneers by Steve Birdsall
Photo Of 418th Commander Major Caroll Smith 
Only B - 25 Night Intruder Missions mentioned were
attacks on Fields at Vogelkop. 
Mike 
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/05/21 13:46:58 (permalink)
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Mike,
thanks for the info.
Does it mean that the B-25 were not properly "interceptors" but rather night bombers, depsite being assigned to a night "fighter" unit?
AFAIK the P-61 were able (and were used) to carry bombs. Do you know (or think) if the squadron remained a night attack unit after the P-61 was assigned?

Thanks in advance
Max

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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/05/23 13:50:08 (permalink)
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ORIGINAL: Warbird Mechanic

The 415th, 416th, 417th and 418th NFS started out flying combat missions in Bristol Beaufighters as part of reverse lend lease.  Other aircraft they trained with, but never to my knowledge flew actual combat missions with in Europe and in the Med, was the Douglas P-70 night fighter, (a special A-20 Havoc variant).  I don't recall them ever using B-25H's for the night fighter role in those theaters, but the squadrons in the Pacific may have used the Mitchells in that role until the introduction of the P-61 Black Widow.  Hope this helps!

Jim


The US Beau squadrons were the 414th, 415th, 416th, 417th flying in North Africa, Italy, southern France, and eventually Germany.

The 418th flew, as noted, in the SW Pacific.

I don't know definitively about the 418th's ground attack role once equipped with the P-61, but the other so-equipped units, both ETO and PTO, used the P-61 as in the night ground attack role since airborne 'trade' was pretty sparse.

see my "Beaufighters in the Night" as well as Mauer Mauer's Aircraft Combat Units of WWII
gmat
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/05/29 20:48:39 (permalink)
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The B-25s used by the 418th NFS were OD/NG aircraft used for night intruder bombing missions. Alas they were not pained black nor used to intercept aircraft. The excellent Queen of the Midnight Skies, by Pape and Harrison has more information including pictures, some in color.
Grant Matsuoka
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2008/05/30 18:08:37 (permalink)
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Here are those pictures.    
barneybolac
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2009/02/06 09:08:40 (permalink)
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My first pictures from the picture share company is gone so I here they are again. Also I have a picture from an Osprey book that lists the 418TH nfs B-25'S as black?

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barneybolac
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2009/02/06 09:09:40 (permalink)
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catch 22
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2009/02/06 10:16:35 (permalink)
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The text next to the last photo is obviously misleading!
Barneybolac, do you have any information were any of these a/c's returned to another unit, depot or back in the States after the short period with the 418.NFS?

Yves Marino
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2009/02/06 12:18:45 (permalink)
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No I have ordered a microfilm on the 418TH to see what is there should be a few weeks.
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2009/04/16 12:47:50 (permalink)
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The microfilm arrived checked it all there is no mention of the colour of the aircraft. How ever they do mention the fate of the 418TH B-25's.



barneybolac
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2009/05/20 11:01:27 (permalink)
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Well again the host i chose for posting pictures has gone belly up so here is the last pictures again.



catch 22
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RE: B-25 - Night Fighter 2009/05/22 09:20:33 (permalink)
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barneybolac
Well again the host i chose for posting pictures has gone belly up so here is the last pictures again.

 
Barneybolac,
I'm sorry I couldn't write until now. Your copies are perfect. Giving undoubtedly the information the B-25's were used as "Fat Cats for various commands" after their short duty as heavy night fighters.
For those who have troubles with the negatives below are links to normal scans:
http://s235.photobucket.com/albums/ee109/catch22-forum/?action=view&current=Nightfighters1.jpg
http://s235.photobucket.com/albums/ee109/catch22-forum/?action=view&current=Nightfighters2.jpg
I checked the crash described in the document - it's MACR 8784 for B-25H-1 s/n 43-4129 with pilot 1-st. Lt. Gordon J. Schmeisser.
It's interesting to find the plane had a 4-men crew: pilot, radio observer, radio operator and gunner. So the radio observer was the radar-operator I guess. From the MACR and some photos in the first postings above one can easily see the night "Mitchells" were modified planes, with standard 4 nose guns and 2 additional guns instead of a canon.
In the MACR 12 0.5 guns are listed under "installed weapons". Possible armament is: 4 in the nose, 2 in the canon tunnel, 2 blister guns (co-pilot side). The other 4 are in standard positions, but which 2 were missing is hard to guess (tail or waist maybe?) Or maybe the top turret was deleted? You posted a photo of Maj. Smith's a/c above and no turret is visible on it.


On your photos no nose, tail, waist guns or turret are visible. Maybe these are already the unarmed "Fat Cats"?!


 
Best Regards!

Yves Marino
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Re:B-25 - Night Fighter 2009/05/22 11:50:38 (permalink)
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You are correct the top turret was gone on all of the 418TH birds as well as the 75mm cannon & replaced them with two 5o cals.
 
Plus they are the only B-25h's that ever added a co pilot. I also wrote to the author of the book Queen of the midnight skies about the colour of these planes he is going back to look at his notes as well as touch base with former members of the 418TH.
 
I think the colour pictures may be when they flew these planes back from Australia after first takeing delivery you can see they have no tail markings as yet. Then again they may just be a squadron hack at this point. 
 
So we may get to find out what colour for a fact they may have been. Regards Rodney.  Also there is this picture from the book that no one else has posted.
 

post edited by barneybolac - 2009/05/23 04:32:09
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Re:B-25 - Night Fighter 2009/05/28 13:41:53 (permalink)
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Barneybolac wrote: "Plus they are the only B-25h's that ever added a co pilot."

Barney, I'm not sure if you are referring to just the 418th night fighters when you made that statement, or B-25H's in general.  Lots of B-25Hs in many of the squadrons and groups had a second set of controls added back in and flew with copilots, not just the night fighters.  My uncle flew in such planes as a copilot with the 42nd BG in mid-1944.

Kevin Anderson

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