B-25J Mitchell “HOT GEN!” Medium Bomber
B-25 Hot Gen!
The North American B-25J Mitchell Bomber owned by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (CWHM) is affectionately known as Hot Gen because of its painted Nose Art. It was customary to paint either ”Pin-Ups” or Comic Strip Characters on the noses of W.W. II Warbirds and bombers.
Nose Art is a decorative painting or design on the fuselage of a military aircraft. As the name implies, Nose Art is usually located near the nose of the aircraft, and it is a stylish form of aircraft graffiti.
Nose Art was originally used to help pilots and military personnel to identify friendly aircraft, and help forces to distinguish Allied aircraft from enemy fleets. However, the custom of painting Nose Art on aircraft quickly evolved, and it was later used to express the personality and individuality of the aircraft and the squadron. Crew would have a strong sense of attachment and loyalty to their aircraft and the Nose Art helped to personalize and animate the aircraft.
Hot Gen! Nose Art
(Whistle and Cat Calls go here. Click on the Nose Art Photo for a better view!)
Superstition and Luck!
Aircraft Nose Art was often used to remind the soldiers of home and bring back memories of peacetime life. The Nose Art also offered a form of “Psychological Protection”. Crew would feel a sense of protection, and they believed there would be “good luck” with them because of the iconic emblem on their aircraft.
Psychologically, the Nose Art help relieve the stresses of war and it was believed to protect the pilots and crew from the probability of death. The Hot Gen! Nose Art was added to the CWHM B-25J Bomber back in 1992. Then in 1993, the white D-Day Stripes were added to the medium bomber to give it the look we still see today. The B-25J Mitchell (45-8883) was also known as “Grumpy”.
Hamilton Air Show
It was at the Hamilton Air Show, when the editors of LearnToFly.ca were given an up close and personal tour of Hot Gen. We were invited on the Hot Ramp (Active/Live Ramp) and we were very lucky to get some awesome photos and video of the North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber “HOT GEN!” in action.
Twin Engine Bomber
It was absolutely amazing to see the Wright R-2600 Radial Engines roar to life. Each engine generates 1,850 HP, and we were quite close to the Twin Engines as each was started up. The B-25 Bomber then taxied to the runway for some impressive fly-bys with other W.W. II Warbird Bombers. The North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber is loud!
Watch the Video!
As you watch the video, you can see each of the Radial Engines being started up separately. First the Right Engine, and then about 25 seconds later, you see the propeller on the Left Engine slowly beginning to rotate.
B-25 Video: North American B-25J Mitchell “Hot Gen!” Medium Bomber
Watch the B-25 Mitchell Twin Engines start up, and then Hot Gen takes to the sky!
The North American B-25 Mitchell in action at the Hamilton Air Show.
B-25 in Flight
You can see how beautiful Hot Gen is, when you see this photo of the CWHM North American B-25J Mitchell Bomber in flight. The B-25 was a medium sized bomber, so it’s not the largest warbird you will see. However, it’s still very impressive and a spectacular aircraft to see in flight.
The B-25 Mitchell was produced in many variants (A through J) with the B-25J being the final production version. Nearly 10,000 B-25′s were built, but the ‘J’ Variant was the most popular version, with a total of 4,318 built. The ‘J’ Version of the B-25 typically had a transparent Nose, but many were modified to utilize the more conventional solid nose such as we see here on this B-25J.
You can see the many machine guns on the B-25 bomber. Most were forward facing for strafing missions, and the B-25J would usually be configured with 14 to 18 machine guns. Typically, these were .50 inch machine guns (12.7 mm), and they would be mounted to have 10 coming, and four going during attacks.
The B-25 Mitchell was named after General Billy Mitchell, a well known U.S. Military Aviator. The B-25J owned by CWHM was known as a Mitchell III and it was painted using the colour scheme of the Number 98 RAF (Royal Air Force) Squadron which fought over North West Europe during 1944-1945.
CWHM’s B-25J Mitchell Bomber (N-Number: NA-108) was manufactured and assembled at North American’s Kansas City Plant in early 1945. This B-25 Mitchell was first sold to civilian operators to be used as a corporate transport aircraft by several companies. It was used exclusively in civilian service, and it never did see military service. In 1975, CWHM found the B-25J aircraft abandoned in Wilmington, Delaware.
After being rescued by CWHM, the abandoned B-25J Mitchell underwent extensive restorations and it is now a flying example of aviation history. Nearly seven decades old, this meticulously restored aircraft is a delight to experience, and it is maintained in wonderful condition to be shared with Canadians.
The B-25 Mitchell was well known for the extremely high noise levels produced by the twin engines. (You can hear the rumble of the twin engines from the video above) Many B-25 Pilots eventually suffered from hearing loss. The high noise levels were a by-product of the design of the engine cowling ring and the exhaust “stacks” that directed engine exhaust and accompanying noise directly at the pilot and crew compartments. Later modifications were used to re-direct the exhaust and noise through the bottom of the cowling, but the original B-25 engines would subject the pilots and crew to extremely high noise levels.
Pilots often remarked: “The B-25 is the fastest way to turn aviation fuel directly into noise!”
The North American B-25J Mitchell is a twin engine medium sized bomber that was very sturdy and reliable. It could withstand terrible punishment and still return safely to base to be repaired before its next military mission. Pilots loved the flight characteristics, and they describe it as a safe and forgiving aircraft to fly.
Even with one engine out, the B-25 could be safely flown and well manoeuvred. With one engine dead, the B-25 could still handle a 60 degree bank into the dead engine with airspeeds as low as 145 mph.
The high cockpit and tricycle landing gear provides for excellent pilot visibility while taxiing.
The B-25 Mitchell typically had a crew of six with one Pilot, one Co-Pilot, one Navigator/Bombardier, one Turret Gunner/Engineer, one Radio Operator/Waist Gunner, and one Tail Gunner.
B-25J Mitchell Specifications:
- Maximum Speed: 275 mph
- Cruise Speed: 230 mph
- Range: 2,700 mi
- Service Ceiling: 25,000 ft
- Rate of Climb: 790 ft/min
- Length: 52 ft 11 in
- Wingspan: 67 ft 6 in
- Height: 17 ft 7 in
- Max takeoff weight: 41,800 lb
It was awesome to see this North American B-25J Mitchell “HOT GEN!” in action at the Hamilton Air Show. Thanks to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (CWHM) and the Air Show for inviting LearnToFly.ca for a tour.