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Illustrations & Photography ©John Thow / SlickPixels.com Site Created by J.THOW DESIGNS
AAF Archive Photos © American Aeronautical Foundation, with the exception of images from other photographers used by permission

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C-47B Dakota Illustration © copyright John Thow 2010 AAF American Aeronautical Foundation C-25J Mitchell Illustration © copyright John Thow 2010 B-25J Mitchell Bomber Executive Sweet
Our C-47B is currently undergoing a complete restoration B-25J Mitchell Executive Sweet
© John Thow 2010 © John Thow / SlickPixels.com 2010


History of Executive Sweet 

Manufactured by North American Aviation, Kansas City, KS
Delivered to USAAF as 44-30801
– BOC: Feb. 26, 1945.
– SOC: March 1959
– Assigned to 2144th AAF Base Unit (Advanced Two-Engine Pilot School, ATC),
   Moody AAF GA, March 1945
– Transferred to 2109th AAF Base Unit (Advanced Two-Engine Pilot School, ATC),
   Turner AAF GA, April 1945
– Transferred to 2100th AAF Base Unit (Headquarters, Eastern Air Training Command),
   Maxwell AAF AL (deployment to Kirtland AFB NM), May 1945
– Transferred to 42nd AAF Base Unit (Air University Command), Maxwell AAF (deployment
   to Greenville AAF SC), Feb. 1946
– Transferred to 27th AF Base Unit (AUC), Randolph AB TX (to VB-25J), Feb. 1947
--Transferred to 3800th Air Base Wing (AUC), Maxwell AFB, AL, April 1947
– Transferred to AF School of Aviation Medicine (AUC), Randolph AFB, TX, Nov. 1948
– Transferred to VB-25N (deployment to Carswell AFB TX), Dec. 1954
– Transferred to Arizona Aircraft Storage Branch (Air Materiel Command), Davis-Monthan AFB AZ, June 1958-1959
Fogle Aircraft, Tucson, AZ, Sept. 9, 1959.
- Registered as N3699G.
Christler & Avery Aviation, Greybull, WY, Jan. 1960.
Avery Aviation, Greybull, WY, Aug. 1961-1968.
- Flew as sprayer.
Filmways Inc, Hollywood, CA, 1968-1972
- Flew in movie "Catch 22" as Vestal Virgin, 1968-1969.
Tallmantz Aviation, Orange County, CA, Aug. 1971-1972.
Ed Schnepf/Challenge Publications, Van Nuys, CA Feb. 1972-1982.
- Registered as N30801.
American Aeronautical Foundation, Camarillo, CA, July 1982-2008.
- Flown as 430801/Executive Sweet.

Millions of aviation fans have seen this popular 64 year old Warbird perform.  Built in Kansas City in 1944 -45 as a B-25J, Executive Sweet saw extensive Stateside service throughout the war as a crew trainer.  In 1948,it was turned converted into a USAF VB-25J, a VIP transport until the end of her service. In December of 1954 it was upgraded and designated a VB-25N by Hayes Aircraft, Inc. After several more years in military service at the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, Texas, the Mitchell was sold as surplus ad became a crop sprayer. Acquired by Hollywood's Filmways Studios in 1968, the B-25 became the lead "on camera" aircraft named Vestal Virgin in the film  Catch-22.  Placed for sale after completion of filming in 1970, it was purchased by Ed Schnepf (Thank you Ed!!) in 1972 to begin a two-year restorative program back to a wartime J model appearance.

Looking factory - new in its bare metal finish, Executive Sweet once again was armed with thirteen .50 caliber machine guns, a Norden bombsight and operable bomb bay, authentic insignia and interior detailing down to crash axes and crew intercom.

In 1982, Schnepf's Challenge Publications donated the B-25 to the newly formed American Aeronautical Foundation Museum at Camarillo, California, who has been operating it ever since.  Executive Sweet has appeared in a dozen major films and numerous TV shows and commercials.  In April 1992, the plane participated in the Doolittle Raid 50th Anniversary reenactment staged at North Island NAS.

Executive Sweet set the pace that soon saw hundreds of other warbirds fully restored to their original wartime pristine condition.  As it begins its 37th year of appearances, Executive Sweet  enters the season with a great new look (see our new nose art), and multiple shows already scheduled.  The pilots and air crew volunteers of the AAF Museum look forward to another season of keeping alive the aviation heritage that millions come to share each year.



Two Wright R-2600-13 Double Cyclone fourteen-cylinder air-cooled radials, rated at 1700 hp each for takeoff and 1500 hp at 2400 rpm. Equipped with Holley 1685HA carburetors or Bendix Stromberg carburetors.


Maximum speed 275 mph at 15,000 feet. 230 mph cruising speed. Initial climb rate 1110 feet per minute. An altitude of 15,000 feet could be reached in 19 minutes. Service ceiling 24,000 feet. Range 1275 miles with 3200 pounds of bombs. Ferry range 2700 miles.


Wingspan 67 feet 6.7 inches, length 53 feet 5.75 inches (bomber version), height 16 feet 4.2 inches, wing area 610 square feet.


21,100 pounds empty, 33,000 pounds normal loaded, 35,000 pounds gross, 41,800 pounds maximum overload. The fuel capacity consisted of four tanks in the inner wing panels, with a total capacity of 670 US gallons. In addition, 304 US gallons of fuel could be carried in auxiliary tanks in the outboard wing panels, for a normal total fuel load of 974 US gallons. A 515-gallon tank could be installed in the bomb bay for ferrying purposes, 125 gallons of fuel could be carried in side waist positions, a 215-gallon self-sealing fuel tank could be installed in the top of the bomb bay, and provisions could be made for a droppable 335-gallon metal bomb-bay fuel tank. Fuel System


Medium Bomber Version:

One flexible 0.50-inch machine gun in nose, 300 rounds. One fixed 0.50-inch machine gun in nose, 300 rounds. Beginning with B-25J-20, a second fixed 0.50-inch gun was added in the nose.

Strafer Version:

Eight 0.50-inch machine guns in the nose with 400 rpg.

All Versions:

Two 0.50-inch machine guns in individual blisters on the left and right-hand side of the fuselage with 400 rpg. Two 0.50-inch machine guns in top turret, 400 rpg. Two 0.50-inch machine guns in waist position, 200 rpg. Two 0.50-inch machine guns in tail turret, 600 rpg. Normal bomb load was 3000 pounds, but a maximum bomb load of 4000 pounds could be carried on short-range missions. Some had underwing racks for eight 5-inch high velocity aircraft rockets (HVARs).

Production Blocks

The B-25J (NA-108) was the final production version of the Mitchell. It was also the version of the Mitchell to be built in the largest numbers, a total of 4318. It was manufactured exclusively at North American's Kansas City plant, the Inglewood plant having switched over to the manufacture of the P-51 Mustang fighter after the last B-25H had been delivered.

Kansas City briefly built both the B-25D and J at the same time, the first J being accepted in December 1943 and the last D in March of 1944.

The B-25J returned to its primary function as medium bomber and reverted to the transparent, bombardier-equipped nose of the earlier B-25C and D. The tail gun position with the deeper rear fuselage, the bay-window mounted waist guns, and the forward-mounted dorsal turret that had been introduced on the B-25H were all retained on the B-25J. The blister gun packs on the sides of the forward fuselage of the later versions of the B-25H were also retained. However, the co-pilot position (which had been omitted on the B-25H) was restored. The crew was now six -- pilot, co-pilot, navigator/bombardier/gunner, turret gunner/engineer, radio operator/waist gunner, and tail gunner. The bomb racks and bomb bay doors were now all electrically-operated. A 50,000 BTU surface combustion heater was provided at the waist gun station. Provision was made to carry three 1000 pound bombs rather than just two. Alternatively, two 1600-pound armor-piercing bombs could be carried. Provisions were made for the carrying of six 325-pound depth charges on underwing racks. B-25 fuselage arrangement

The first B-25J (43-3780) took off on its first flight in October 1943, piloted by Joe Barton. The first USAAF acceptance took place before the end of the year.

The B-25J was built in eight main production blocks (-1, -5, -10, -15, -20, -25, -30, -35), with different suffix numbers being allocated to significant modifications, including -11, -17, -22, -27, -32, and -37. Many of these modifications involved the replacement of the transparent nose by a solid, eight-gun nose.

Beginning with the 151st B-25J-1 (43-4019), provisions for the carrying of a single 2000-pound bomb were deleted. As it turned out, the 2000-pound bomb was rarely carried during actual combat, and the bulky and restrictive shackles for the 2000-pound bomb took up a lot of space in the bomb bay. This enabled a normal offensive load of two 1600-lb or three 1000-lb bombs to be carried internally, plus combinations of smaller bombs of various types, including 20-pound parafrags.

The -5 production block introduced a revised braking system control cable. The N-3C gun sight replaced the N-3B sight and A-1 bombing head. De-icing windshield panels were installed, and gun-blast arrestors were installed on top turret guns and on side fuselage blister guns.

The -10 production block introduced the mounting lugs and controls for underwing bombs. Electric bomb racks were provided. The heaters at the waist gun positions were found to be inefficient and were removed.

The -15 production block had N-8A optical gun sights installed on the flexible waist guns. Provisions for ring and bead sights were provided for the flexible nose gun.

The -20 production block introduced some revisions to the cabin heating system with a 50,000 BTU/hour heater. A second 0.50-inch fixed machine gun was installed in the nose. The flexible nose gun was relocated 4 inches higher. Additional armor protection was provided in the floor of the nose for the bombardier. The top turret canopy was reinforced for greater strength, and a hydraulic emergency brake system was incorporated. Beginning with 44-29304, a change was made to the Holley 1685RB carburetor.

The -25 production block introduced new types of armored seats for both pilots. Beginning with 44-30111, armored plate deflectors were added to the upper fuselage to prevent the upper turret gunner from inadvertently firing his guns into the structure of his own plane, especially into the raised cupola where the tail gunner sat. Beginning with 44-30309 and throughout the -25 production block, provisions were made for the mounting of a chemical tank on an underwing bomb rack. On production block -30, stainless steel "S"-shaped exhaust stacks replaced the enameled 1020 steel stacks on cylinders 1, 7, and 9. Effective with serial number 44-31111, provisions were made for the mounting of a chemical tank in the bomb bay. Provisions for a type C-6 electric bomb hoist were made effective with 44-31311. Provisions were made for the carrying of wing-mounted T-64 zero-length rocket launchers beginning with 44-31338. These launchers could carry up to eight five-inch high-velocity aircraft rockets (HVAR). Beginning with 44-31491, a K-10 computing gun sight was provided for the gunner in the tail turret, and M-8A gun mounts were provided for the tail guns. Provisions for the mounting of glide bombs suspended underneath the fuselage were added beginning with 44-86692. In addition, a special cockpit sight and release controls for the glide bomb were provided. An N-9B bombsight was installed beginning with 44-86793. Beginning with 44-86799, the rudder control cables were rerouted. Armor Protection - Location of emergency equipment

The -35 production block introduced provisions for the carrying and laying of aerial mines.

Some of the B-25Js were assigned to training units, but most were issued to units in action in the Southwest Pacific. The first B-25Js arrived at Townsville, Australia and Nadzab, New Guinea depots in the summer of 1944. They were issued to the 38th Bombardment Group. The 345th BG received its B-25Js in September. Despite volume production, it was hard to meet the demand, and the 42nd Bombardment Group did not get its B-25Js to replace its aging C and D models until late 1944.

In the Mediterranean theater, the B-25J was issued to operational bomb groups on an as-required basis. In April 1944, the 310th Bombardment Group based on Corsica received its first B-25Js. The remaining groups in the 57th Bombardment Wing of the 12th Air Force transitioned to the B-25J throughout the remainder of 1944.

The US Marine Corps ordered 255 B-25Js under the designation PBJ-1J.

The transparent nose for the bombardier could be replaced by a factory built solid gun nose that was equipped with eight 0.50-inch machine guns. With this modification, the aircraft was designated as B-25J-11, -17, -22, -27, -32, or -37, depending on which production block the modification took place. With its maximum armament of eighteen guns, the solid-nosed B-25J was one of the most heavily-armed attack aircraft in the Allied arsenal. Sometimes, however, the package guns on the sides of the fuselage were deleted, the remaining fourteen guns being more than enough. B-25 forward armament

The last B-25J was delivered to the USAAF in August of 1945. The day after the war in the Pacific ended, the Kansas City plant was closed.

Serial Numbers of B-25J:

c/n denotes construction number; 108 is the model number

43-3870/4104 North American B-25J-1 Mitchell
c/n 108-24196/24430

43-27473/27792 North American B-25J-1 Mitchell
c/n 108-34486/34805

43-27793/28112 North American B-25J-5 Mitchell
c/n 108-34806/35125

43-28113/28222 North American B-25J-10/11 Mitchell
c/n 108-35126/35235

43-35946/36245 North American B-25J-10/11 Mitchell
c/n 108-35236/35535

44-28711/29110 North American B-25J-15/17 Mitchell
c/n 108-31986/32385

44-29111/29910 North American B-25J-20/22 Mitchell
c/n 108-32386/33185

44-29911/30910 North American B-25J-25/27 Mitchell "Heavenly Body" s/n 44-30748
c/n 108-33186/34185 "Heavenly Body" c/n 108-34023

44-30911/31510 North American B-25J-30/32 Mitchell
c/n 108-36986/37585

44-86692/86891 North American B-25J-30/32 Mitchell
c/n 108-47446/47645

44-86892/86897 North American B-25J-35/37 Mitchell
c/n 108-47646/47651

45-8801/9242 North American B-25J-35/37 Mitchell
c/n 108-47652/47750

45-9000/9242 canceled contract for B-25J-35 Mitchell

The Doolittle Tokyo Raid

The Doolittle Tokyo raid was perhaps the most famous exploit of the B-25 Mitchell. It was carried out in an attempt to shore up morale on the home front during the early months of 1942, which was sagging as a result of suffering defeat after defeat in the Pacific.

Planning for a retaliatory raid on the Japanese home islands seems to have begun very soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Contrary to general knowledge, Lt. Col. James Doolittle was not the originator of the Tokyo raid concept. The basic idea of launching medium bombers from the deck of an aircraft carrier seems to have come from Navy Captain Francis Low, who was on Admiral King's staff. Low took the idea to Captain Duncan, Admiral King's air officer. Duncan concluded that the idea was technically feasible and passed it along to his boss. The Admiral was enthusiastic about it, and on his orders, Capt. Duncan passed the idea along to General Arnold. General Arnold then sent for his new special projects officer, Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, who was already a famous aviator as a result of his exploits with racing aircraft. Doolittle was enthusiastic about the idea and immediately signed on.

A "Tokyo project" was quickly and secretly formed. Lt. Col. Doolittle and Captain Duncan were assigned project responsibilities for their respective services. Lt. Col. Doolittle would lead a picked crew of aviators who would launch an attack against the Japanese home islands from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Although it was believed that it was indeed feasible to launch medium bombers from the deck of an aircraft carrier, it was impossible for these types of planes to land back on the deck of the carrier once the raid was over. Consequently, plans were made for the planes to be recovered at prearranged airfields in eastern China at the end of the raid. From there, the bombers would continue on to Burma and enter service in General Stilwell's command.

The plan required an aircraft with an overall range of 2400 miles carrying a 2000-pound bomb load and capable of taking off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The only two possible candidates at the time were the Martin B-26 Marauder and the North American B-25 Mitchell. The B-25 was selected on the basis of its superior takeoff performance.

At that time, the only B-25s in service were with the 17th Bombardment Group. The 17th Bombardment Group comprised the 34th, 37th and 95th Squadrons, plus the attached 89th Reconnaissance Squadron. This group had been transferred from Oregon to South Carolina in order to meet the greater threat from German submarines operating off the East Coast. 24 B-25Bs were diverted from the 17th Bombardment Group, and volunteers were recruited, the crews being told only that this was going to be a secret and very dangerous mission against heavy odds.

Two Mitchells had been flown off the deck of the carrier, USS Hornet, on February 3, 1942, confirming that the basic concept was feasible. The volunteers moved to Eglin Field in Florida for training. Still not knowing what kind of mission they were training for, the crews practiced making takeoffs in as short a distance as possible. It was found that with a reasonable headwind, a B-25 could get airborne with a 450-foot run.

Certain modifications had to be made to the B-25Bs to make them suitable for the mission. Since the raid was going to be made at low level, the retractable ventral turret was removed, saving about 600 pounds of weight. More fuel was added to the plane, bringing the total fuel load to 1241 gallons -- 646 gallons in the wing tanks, 225 gallons in the bomb bay tank, 160 gallons in a collapsible tank carried in the crawlspace above the bomb bay, 160 gallons in the ventral turret space, and ten 5-gallon cans for refills. The still-secret Norden bombsight was removed, lest it fall into Japanese hands. It was replaced by a makeshift bombsight that proved more satisfactory for low level operations. The bomb load consisted of four 500-pound bombs. As a deterrent against Japanese fighters making stern attacks, a pair of dummy guns in the form of wooden sticks, painted black, were attached to the extreme rear fuselage, protruding out the back of the transparent tail cap. Takeoff weight was about 31,000 pounds.

Upon completion of training, the crews left Eglin Field for McClellan Field in California. On April 1, the crews departed McClellan for Alameda Naval Air Station Base near San Francisco. Sixteen B-25Bs were all that could be loaded onto the Hornet, although all of the crew members that trained for the mission embarked aboard the carrier in case back-ups were needed. The task force steamed off toward Japan on April 2.

A chance encounter with a Japanese picket boat forced the raid to be launched at a distance greater than the 400 miles offshore that had originally been planned and ten hours ahead of schedule in a rough sea. On April 18, 1942, Lt. Col. Doolittle's plane took off from the Hornet, followed by the 15 others. They headed for Japan, which was over 700 miles away.

The Mitchells successfully bombed targets in Kobe, Yokohama and Nagoya, as well as Tokyo. The bombing altitude was about 1500 feet. No aircraft were lost over the target. However, bad weather prevented the flyers from finding their prearranged landing fields in China, and eleven of the crews had to bail out while four others crash-landed. One B-25B (40-2242) was flown to Vladivostok, Russia where both the aircraft and crew were interned. Click here for a detailed list of the Doolittle pilots and crew.

All sixteen B-25s that took part in the mission were lost, seven men were injured and three were killed. Eight crew members were taken prisoner by the Japanese. Only four of those eight survived the war. The survivors who had landed in Japanese-controlled territory were sheltered and attended by courageous Chinese, and for this the Japanese occupying force in China wrought full vengeance on the local population.

Doolittle at first told his crews that he thought that the mission had been a total failure and that he expected a court martial upon his return to the USA. Although all the aircraft were lost and the damage inflicted during the raid was minimal, the operation provided an incalculable boost to American morale when just about everything else in the Pacific was going badly. It also pointed out the vulnerability of the Japanese homeland to bomber attack, and four first-line fighter groups were retained in Japan rather than being sent to the Solomon's where they were urgently needed. Instead of being court-martialed, Doolittle was promoted to Brigadier General, awarded the Medal of Honor, and assigned a new command with greater responsibility.

For the 25th anniversary of the Doolittle raid, B-25D-30, 43-3374 (a former F-10 reconnaissance ship) was converted into a replica of Lt. Col. Doolittle's B-25B 40-2344. This airplane is now on display at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.


40-2229/2348 North American B-25B Mitchell
- 2242, 2247, 2249, 2250, 2261, 2267, 2268,
2270, 2278, 2282, 2283, 2292, 2297,
2298, 2302, 2344 were Doolittle
Tokyo raiders, 2344 was Doolittle's plane

Post-War Service of B-25 with USAF

By late 1945, the B-25 Mitchell outnumbered all other medium bombers in service with the USAAF. Most examples of its Martin B-26 Marauder stablemate had been scrapped immediately after the war was over. During the immediate post-war years, substantial numbers of B-25s were stripped of their combat equipment and used as advanced pilot trainers. They remained in service with the Air Force for many years thereafter, the last example not being struck off the USAF rolls until January of 1959.

TB-25K was the designation given to 117 B-25Js converted as trainers for the operators of the E-1 fire control system. The initial contract was awarded to the Hughes Tool Company of Culver City, California late in 1950 for 12 conversions. Later contracts increased the total to 117 aircraft. All military equipment was removed, and a radome was fitted in the front of the transparent nose. The instrumentation for the radar equipment was housed inside a modified bomb bay, and monitoring equipment for one instructor and the students was installed in the aft fuselage. An astrodome was installed above the navigator's compartment.

Under contract with the Hayes Aircraft Company of Birmingham, Alabama, 75 B-25Js were modified for specialized advanced pilot training under the designation TB-25L. All armament and armor was removed, and the pilot's three-piece windshield was replaced by a one-piece windshield that was equipped with wiper blades and an anti-icing system. The front entrance hatch was enlarged. Two passenger seats were added forward of the bomb bay, and five seats were installed in the aft fuselage. On some airplanes, exhaust semi-collector rings replaced the "S"-stacks on the top seven cylinders of each engine. Deliveries began in April of 1952 and continued through December.

As the TB-25K contract was coming to an end, Hughes was awarded a further contract for the modification of 25 more B-25Js under the designation TB-25M. These were modified from TB-25L aircraft, and were essentially the same as the K model except for the installation of the more advanced E-5 fire control system. Deliveries began in 1952.

From November 1953 through December 1954, Hayes modified an additional 380 B-25Js as TB-25N. They were similar to the preceding TB-25Ls, but were fitted with R-2600-29A engines. Some of these were later modified as VIP transports under the designation VB-25N.

Between 1952 and 1954, 979 B-25Js went through the Hayes Aircraft Company for IRAN (Inspect and Repair As Needed). These aircraft were equipped with such features as an automatic pilot, bomb bay fuel tanks, AN/ARN-14 radio gear, dual UHF/VHF, and demand oxygen systems. Sixty planes were fitted with the solid eight-gun nose shell in place of the original transparent nose. All were initially powered by R-2600-29 engines and Holley carburetors, although many were later fitted with Bendix Stromberg carburetors and the engines redesignated -35.

In the immediate post-war years, substantial numbers of B-25s found their way into units of the Air National Guard. Some TB-25Ks were assigned to certain fighter interceptor squadrons in support of F-89 and F-94 fighters. A few TB-25Ns served with ANG squadrons as weather reconnaissance and personnel transports.

Join us in the air for the flight of a lifetime aboard our B-25J "Executive Sweet"