Betty's Dream | B-25J Mitchell
Named in honor of General Billy Mitchell, pioneer of American military aviation, the B-25 Mitchell was manufactured by North American Aviation and saw service in every theater of WWII.
Just when the B-25 bomber was considered the most modern aviation technology, Maj. Paul I. “Pappy” Gunn, an engineer in Australia, removed the bombardier-navigator from his greenhouse compartment in the nose of a B-25 and found he could install eight forward-firing .50-caliber machine guns in the aircraft. Thus was born the low-level B-25 strafer.
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The B-25 was the little brother of the bombing campaign as it was used in every theater during the war and by many of the allied nations. It was never used for high altitude bombing like the B-17 Flying Fortress, but was instead used for low leveling bombing and strafing runs. The B-25 gained fame after the Doolittle Raid on April 18th, 1942 in which seventy two B-25’s, lead Colonel James Doolittle, bombed Japan in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The B-25 was crewed by six men; pilot, copilot, bombardier or nose gunner, radio operator or waist gunner, flight engineer or navigator and tail gunner. The plane was equipped with a top turret, waist guns and in later models a nose gun that was operated by the bombardier. The radio operator, navigator and bombardier could switch off positions if needed to the other gun positions. Our model is a B-25J which didn’t have a nose gunner but instead had eight .50 caliber machine guns controlled by the pilot. It was a reliable plane and while many survived past the war, very few combat veteran B-25’s remain.
Our B-25 was never accepted by the USAAF. It was built as 45-8835 in August of 1945. It was delivered to RFC, Walnut Ridge, AR in October 1945. It was then bought by Lodwick Aircraft Industries, Lakeland, FL in February 1946 where it was first civilian registered as NX69345. Bendix Aviation Corp out of Teterboro, NJ bought the B-25 in June of 1946 and used it as a test bed for the next twenty years. Bendix Aviation had bought several B-25’s during that period including the B-25H model Barbie III. From 1967-1972 Bendix Field Engineering had 45-8835 in Columbia, MD. In 1972 45-8835 was bought by Ernest H. Koons of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where the B-25 started it’s career as a fire bomber for the next nineteen years.
The B-25, 45-8835, switched hands a couple of times in Canada including, Aurora Aviation Ltd, G&M Aircraft Ltd and eventually ended up back in the United States at Aero Trader in Chino, CA in 1993. In 1994 restoration was started to create Betty’s Dream. Betty’s Dream first flew in March of 1999 including it’s new bomb bay doors which were taken off while it was being used as a fire bomber. In 2011 it was operated by Fighter Hangar 1, now known as the Texas Flying Legends Museum.
Our B-25 is painted in honor of Capt. Charles E. “Pop” Rice, Jr. who became Operations Officer of the 499th Squadron and was assigned to Betty’s Dream in June of 1945. Co-piloted by Victor Tatelman, it escorted two “Betty” bombers carrying the Japanese peace envoys to Ie Shima on August 19, 1945, and again on the return mission from the conference in Manila with General MacArthur’s staff. By the time these talks ended World War II, Betty’s Dream carried 22 mission symbols and two silhouettes representing sunken Japanese ships.