Aviation of World War II

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B-25 "Mitchell" in the USSR

The serial production B-25 was named Mitchell after the uncrowned king of the air, William "Billy" Mitchell. The first production B-25 vehicles began to enter combat units in 1942. The RAF (Royal Air Force) of Great Britain received 432 B-26Cs and 113 B-25Ds under the designation Mitchell Mk II.

North American B-25 "Mitchell" bomber was delivered in 1941-1945 to the USSR in significant quantities and. since the middle of the war, it has been a significant part of the long-range aviation fleet (ADA).

The NA-40 attack bomber project was prepared according to the same terms of reference as the future A-20 and together with it participated in the 1938 competition. Although the first flight specimen of the NA-40-2 crashed during testing, the flight data shown to it was a good claim for the future.

After redesigning the design in accordance with the wishes of the military, the company gave it a new index - NA-62. On the eve of the war, the customers were in such a hurry that they took the aircraft into service even before the prototype was built, immediately ordering 184 aircraft as medium bombers, assigning them the designation B-25 "Mitchell". On August 19, 1940, the first B-25 began flight tests.

The B-25 surpassed the A-20 in size and had a crew of six - two pilots, a navigator, a bombardier, a flight mechanic and a tail gunner. The bomber was configured according to the scheme of a cantilever twin-engine monoplane with staggered tail. Everything was in the latest fashion - an all-metal structure with a working skin, a chassis with a nose strut, powerful 1350 hp Wright R-2600-A58 motors. with. with propellers - machine guns, anti-icing system, strong defensive weapons.

In 1941, the B-25A began to enter service with the American army aviation. When the Great Patriotic War began and President Roosevelt announced assistance to the Soviet Union, the B-25 was also among the types of aircraft offered to us.

A group of pilots led by M.M. Gromov, who originally arrived in the United States to receive heavy bombers B-17 "Flying Fortress" ("Flying Fortress"), took up the development of unfamiliar technology. Familiarization with the machines and their equipment took place at the air bases in Spokane and Patterson. Our crews were given the opportunity to thoroughly study the B-25A, fly them and even conduct training battles with P-43 fighters.

The guests were received by Captain E. York, who spoke Russian. The American historian E. McDowell writes in his book that "the Russians flew the B-25 like a fighter." As a result, rivets popped out of the Mitchell's wings, several shooters damaged the ribs, and one P-43 crashed into the ground.

According to Gromov, the crew of the B-25A was unreasonably large for a front-line bomber. He also rated the aircraft's armor and armament as inadequate.

On September 16, at Bollingfield airbase, Gromov was shown an improved B-25B, featuring enhanced defensive armament (upper and lower turrets with a pair of large-caliber machine guns), and with it another machine of the same purpose - Martin B-26. A few days later, the Soviet embassy announced a desire to receive three B-26s and two B-25Bs, but on October 1, the decision was changed in favor of five B-25Bs.

"Mitchell" had one important advantage over the B-26 "Marauder" - it was much easier to fly, although slightly inferior in flight performance. The application was accepted, but there was a delay due to the demand of the Soviet side to put anti-icers on the aircraft, which was not initially specified.

On November 6, 1941, the first two B-25Bs were loaded onto the Soviet steamship "Decembrist", which, with one of the convoys, headed to its native shores. On December 20, the Dekabrist moored in the Murmansk port. In January, fellow bombers, but had to wait until a spare wheel was delivered to one of the Mitchells to replace the one damaged on the road. Only on March 5, both planes flew to Moscow.

None of the B-25Bs were used as a combat vehicle. They all served for educational purposes. One ended up in the 11th reserve regiment in Kirovabad, three - in the 6th reserve brigade in Ivanovo. One of the five bomber subsequently visited the United States again: it became the personal aircraft of I.P. Mazuruka and in September 1942 arrived in Fairbanks at the head of a group of passenger PS-84, which delivered Soviet ferry pilots there.

To the combat units of the Soviet Air Force; The Mitchells hit only after the opening of the Persian Corridor, which was considered a safer route for the supply of equipment through Iran. Led by civilian Pan American crews, the planes flew from the United States through Brazil, the Atlantic Ocean, Africa and the Middle East. The first 72 B-25Cs (this was an improved modification with new R-2600-13 engines and a number of minor changes) arrived in Iran in March 1942. By the end of the year, 102 B-25s were transported to the USSR by this route, and a total of 118 of these vehicles were delivered through Iran.

In April 1942, the first three (according to other sources, four) B-25S were transferred to the 37th bomber regiment of Lieutenant Colonel Katarzhin. This part was transferred from the Far East to the Monino airfield near Moscow. Experts from the Air Force Research Institute (who drove the cars from Basra) and the TsAGI Bureau of New Technology helped to study the new technology. One plane was dismantled for better acquaintance. Some members of Gromov's group, who studied the B-25 in the United States, were transferred to the regiment - pilots, navigators, engineers.

TsAGI had its own interest in the study of the machine - "Mitchell" clearly demonstrated the achievements of American aircraft technology. Detailed descriptions of the B-25 were compiled. analyzed all the main structural elements. The American bomber had a lot to learn - in particular, its adaptability to large-scale production. The TsAGI report says: "... the breakdown scheme provides a wide scope of work and, obviously, has the main goal of ensuring mass production." In June 1942, one B-25S passed the full program of state tests at the Air Force Research Institute, receiving very good reviews.

The bombers that arrived in Monino underwent a re-equipment, since the Americans had a separate bombardier (in the bow cockpit) and a separate navigator, who was sitting behind the nilots, in the crew. For us both functions were combined by the navigator and for him all navigation instruments were transferred to the bow. The outdated Vimperis bombsight that comes with it! export B-25s were removed from us, replacing them with domestic OPB-1. To increase the combat survivability, a system of pressurizing the tanks with neutral gas was introduced. The alteration of the machines was carried out by the plant number 156 and the Air Force re-base in Monino.

By the end of the spring of 1942, three regiments (37th, 125th and 16th) were re-equipped with the Mitchells as part of the 222nd Division, which, in turn, entered the General's 1st Army Sudtsa. After the disbandment of this army, the division was sent to the Western Front. The 37th regiment began to fight in July, and the 16th in August. from September - 125th. The bombers operated near Vyazma, Dorogobuzh, Yartsevo. There were many daily sorties by single aircraft and small groups without fighter cover. The targets were automobile and tank columns, fortified positions.

Almost immediately, a strange defect emerged - the "decay" of the aircraft's soft gas tanks. It turned out that Soviet gasoline 4B-78, rich in impurities of aromatic hydrocarbons, quickly destroys the inner layers of rubber. Already on October 5, by order of the chief engineer of the Air Force, the B-25 was transferred to imported B-100 gasoline. Most of this fuel came from the United States in cans and the ground train was tormented by pouring the contents of the cans into petrol tankers. But the corrosion of the tanks stopped.

The Mitchells did not work for long in the front-line aviation. At low altitudes, the rather bulky B-25 behaved inertly and presented a good target for German anti-aircraft gunners. The losses began to grow. As a result, they came to the conclusion that the use of the B-25 for tactical purposes is ineffective. On September 29, 1942, the 222nd Division was officially transferred to Long-Range Aviation (ADD).

This use of these aircraft on the Soviet-German front was quite logical. For the role of a front-line bomber, the Pe-2 and A-20 were much better suited to us, and in the ADD it was possible to fully use the large range of the B-25, and excellent navigation radio equipment, and powerful weapons, and a significant bomb load. In all these characteristics, it was more in line with the long-range Il-4 than our front-line bombers. In some respects - in speed, defensive armament, equipment - the B-25 was superior to the Il-4, but in some ways it was inferior to it.

"Mitchells" began to make long-distance night raids behind enemy lines. On November 18, there were 68 B-25s in the fleet of the 222nd division. To increase the range, specially designed horseshoe-shaped additional gas tanks were installed in the bomb bay. These tanks were used for maximum range flights. At the same time, the bombs were placed on an external sling under the wing (usually two FAB-250 were taken). Then, at the plant No. 156, they mastered the production of cardboard disposable hanging tanks. For bombing at night, the NKPB-7 sights were mounted on the planes.

In the fall of 1942, with the first frost, we faced massive failures of units, instruments, weapons. The reason was the non-frost resistance of the hydraulic hoses. There are oil cooler ruptures. But these problems were dealt with fairly quickly. Subsequently, all aircraft arriving from the United States were trained for winter operation. Provided for a complete drain of gasoline and oil. The cars were equipped with winter lubricants and hydraulic mixture. The bombers were equipped with special winter gaskets, hoses, and studded wheel covers. In general, the B-25 was well adapted to the cold: it had a system for diluting oil with gasoline, wells for quickly heating oil tanks, heating cabins and weapons, blowing warm air over the cockpit windows, pneumatic anti-icers on the wing and tail, washing the propeller blades with alcohol.

Since the end of 1942, most of the bombers came from America via ALSIB. On October 28, at the Laddfield base, the first training flight of the Soviet crew on the B-25C took place, and on November 3, Captain P.P. Gamov led the first plane to the west. Until the end of the year, Fairbanks received no more than a dozen Mitchells, but the following year, they went much more. The B-25C was followed by the B-25D. They were built by another plant in Kansas City, and from the very beginning they were equipped with an additional tank in the bomb bay and had underwing bomb racks. On the last series, B-25D-30 (we designated B-25DP), the lower outlet turret was abandoned. We rightly criticized it: limited visibility, jamming during a sharp release, the ability to use only after full extension. It was replaced by a pair of machine guns in the airborne installations. This scheme of defensive weapons was retained in later modifications. One of the B-25D-30s was tested at the Air Force Research Institute in June 1944.

In 1943, American factories mastered another modification of the B-25J with enhanced armament. When installed in the front on the sides of the fuselage, additional machine-gun containers, it reached 11 barrels of 12.7 mm caliber. The crew increased by one person. True, we flew with a crew of five — the functions of navigator and bombardier were still combined. Although the model was equipped with more powerful R-2600-29 engines, the increase in weight (including due to the higher bomb load) reduced all the flight characteristics of the aircraft. Since 1944, the B-25J and ours began to gradually replace the B-25C and B-25D.

In total, 870 B-25s were sent to the USSR under the Lend-Lease program, of which 861 reached the destination. A certain number of vehicles were interned after forced landings in the Far East. In 1943-1944, the Mitchells entered service with several more long-range aviation regiments - the 337th, 362nd, 747th and others. They were fully equipped with the 4th, 5th and 15th Guards Divisions. Since August 1943, B-25s began to enter the 2nd Guards Regiment of Colonel I.F. Balashov. They were armed with the 1st squadron, commanded by twice Hero of the Soviet Union A.I. Molodchiy. By February 1944, there were already 20 B-25s in the regiment, mostly of the latest modification J. In general, at the beginning of 1944, B-25s made up about 10% of the ADD aircraft fleet. By the end of the same year, all ADD corps, except for the 2nd Guards Corps, had B-25s, and in the 4th Guards Corps it was the main type. By January 1, 1945, the 18th Air Force (the successor to the ADD) possessed 320 Mitchells, which made up about a fifth of all its equipment.

As part of the ADD "Mitchells" were used mainly in the dark, striking at railway junctions, airfields, and resistance centers of the Germans. On the night of December 30, 1942, one of the regiments of the 222nd division bombed the trains in Vitebsk. The fire lasted more than three days. 24 steam locomotives and up to 500 wagons were destroyed. Similar raids were carried out on the railway junctions of Orsha, Bryansk, Velikiye Luki, Brest and others. In June 1943, the B-25 bombed the German airfield at Sesche. When our troops liberated the area, the entire field was littered with aircraft debris. In September, the Mitchells took part in the suppression of enemy long-range batteries near Leningrad. Throughout the second half of the war, they made long-distance raids on Warsaw and Breslau. Konigsberg, Tilsit, Berlin, operated near Bryansk, Roslavl, Smolensk, Gomel, Sevastopol. In 1944, the 222nd Division destroyed the Debrecen railway junction in Hungary.

More high-speed and maneuverable, better armed than the Il-4, the B-25 was often used to ensure the strike of the bulk of bombers: search and designate targets, for illumination, suppression of ground air defense systems and blocking airfields of night fighters. For example, the 251st Guards Regiment operated in Hungary in 1944, providing the functioning of the remaining regiments of the 15th Guards Division. When organizing massive raids, pairs, flights, and individual crews were usually allocated to block nearby airfields. For several hours they circled over the airfield, from time to time dropping single bombs or small series of them. In addition, B-25Js with reinforced forward small arms from a gentle dive fired at aircraft parking and hangars. In the 2nd Guards Regiment, B-25Js with additional machine guns were used for night assault strikes on enemy airfields. Like other ADD aircraft, the Mitchell was at times used as a transport vehicle. It had a capacious fuselage, into which, when relocating, it was possible to load up to 20 people — technicians and gunsmiths. The B-25 could deliver up to 1 ton of cargo over a distance of 2240 km.

For the first time on a large scale, these bombers were recruited for the transfer of goods in February 1944. From Ukraine they transported weapons, medicines, food for the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia. Additional gas tanks were installed in the bomb compartments, and the cargo was placed in the cockpit. Each plane took up to 12 parachute bags of 100 kg each, which were dropped through hatches. Later, part of the cargo was placed in the bomb bay. At first, flights to Yugoslavia were carried out by a special group of the 15th Guards Air Division under the command of Major A.P. Dudnik. The first flight took place on February 19; of the six crews, only one made it back to his airfield, the rest sat on the spare, closer to the front. In February, the group made 39 sorties, carrying 15 tons of cargo. From May 3, almost the entire division — 44 crews — was switched over to transportation. These flights continued until the liberation of Yugoslavia.

In one of these flights, the pilot A. Karakozov attacked over the Black Sea coast and shot down a German bomber, and then damaged the second.

In the summer of 1944, the Mitchells took part in the "air bridge" to Slovakia. For the fighters of the Slovak National Uprising, anti-tank guns, machine guns, machine guns, rifles, explosives and ammunition were delivered. Li-2 and S-47 landed at the Three Oaks airfield, and B-25s of the 4th Guards Division (formerly the 222nd) dropped cargo with parachutes. They flew from Kalinovka near Vinnitsa.

The B-25 was also used by us as a long-range reconnaissance officer. The first three aircraft of this type entered the 4th and 40th long-range reconnaissance regiments in November 1942. Subsequently, but several machines of this type had different reconnaissance regiments and squadrons of the Air Force and naval aviation. The combination of powerful defensive weapons and excellent instrumentation equipment "Mitchell" made it possible to fly both day and night. Used for reconnaissance and B-25 from ADD units. In April 1943, Hero of the Soviet Union V.P. Dragomiretsky from the 14th Guards Regiment at night with the use of illuminating bombs removed the bridge across the Desna, and in May, in the same way, the railway junction in Orel.

It is quite natural that the "Mitchells" were also in training units, such as the training regiment of the Air Force Academy and the 1st High Officers' School of Night Crews of the ADD.

One of the "Mitchells" came to the USSR in April 1942 in an unusual way. It was the plane of the very Captain York, who once hospitably received Soviet pilots in his squadron. He participated in the famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo. 16 bombers took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier "Hornet" and on the birthday of the Japanese emperor bombed targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe and Nagoya. It was assumed that either the planes would land in China, or the crews would parachute in the area where the American submarines were patrolling. Not everyone succeeded. York chose another option — he sat down near Vladivostok. The B-25B of York (No. 40-2242) was non-standard — with trimmed wings, an incomplete set of equipment and without a tail turret (replaced by a wooden model), but with an additional gas tank. The plane was studied by pilots of the Pacific Fleet Air Force and was flown by them. From U nashi, where he sat down, he was transferred to the Semyonovka airfield, and then, by order, to Moscow, to the 65th Special Purpose Aviation Regiment.

In the fall of 1943, several B-25G aircraft arrived at ALSIB from the United States. These were heavy attack aircraft, in the bow of which there was a 75-mm cannon. Since all the "Mitchells" were then concentrated in ADD, then these machines were transferred there too. The first two B-25Gs ended up in the 15th Guards Regiment. Lieutenant Colonel V.A. Gordilovsky was the first to take off on an airplane of this type. The military tests were carried out by the crew of A.V. Dudakov. He made three daytime sorties to the range, and then carried out night firing (the target was designated by bonfires). It turned out that in the dark, a cannon shot blinds the pilot.

One of the two aircraft (with the same crew of Dudakov) was used at the front. In the very first combat sortie, on October 9, he destroyed two railway echelons on the Mozyr-Gomel stretch. They fired from a cannon, stationary bow machine guns and a turret deployed forward. In total, Dudakov made three combat flights on the B-25G, including the attack on the airfield.

However, according to the test results, the B-25G was considered unsuitable for ADD. It was decided that the absence of a nasal navigational cockpit was inconvenient, the reloading of the gun was too long and dangerous (during the tests, it wounded the deputy chief engineer of the corps with a bolt), the forward centering shift of the aircraft worsened controllability.

The received aircraft were handed over to the fleet aviation. They all ended up in the reconnaissance regiments. Two attack aircraft from the 15th Guards Regiment transferred to the 118th Reconnaissance Regiment of the Northern Fleet Air Force. From a large-caliber cannon in a combat situation, it seems that the naval pilots fired only once: the crew of Major Nakonechny from the 118th regiment attacked a German submarine on April 25, 1945, firing several shots from the cannon and dropping depth charges. According to Soviet data, the submarine is considered damaged, the crew received orders and medals.

Two more B-25Gs later became part of the 15th reconnaissance regiment in the Baltic. Their first sorties were recorded in November 1944. On the Pacific Ocean, the B-25 appeared at the end of 1944. One aircraft was registered with the 14th mixed squadron at the Vtoraya Rechka airfield, the other - under the control of the 2nd mine and torpedo division. The machine from the 14th detachment then transferred to the 50th reconnaissance regiment, the commander of the regiment, Major I.V. Sidin, flew on it. In total, the fleet officially received eight B-25s.

Our crews first of all noted the high aerobatic qualities of the B-25. It was accessible to the average pilot, did not have significant drawbacks in takeoff and landing characteristics, directional stability, maneuverability (the latter, of course, taking into account the weight and dimensions of the machine). Here is what the test pilot I.I.Shelest wrote: “The three-wheeled chassis gave excellent visibility while taxiing, impeccable maneuverability on the ground, made the B-25 aircraft very mobile when driving on concrete, when taxiing to the start, taxiing from the runway ". Takeoff, landing and flight on the Mitchell were easier than on the IL-4. “The plane is stable during the takeoff run. It has no tendency to turn and listens well to the rudders ", - written in the Soviet instructions for piloting this machine. Powerful, reliable motors and a solid chassis made it possible to take off even from fairly deep snow at full load.

All this allowed the pilots to quickly retrain for a new aircraft. Retraining was often carried out without interrupting combat work. Even a not very experienced pilot could study the B-25 in a few days.

The plane was well controlled even when flying on one engine. “The load on the rudders when flying with one engine running is completely removed by the trimmers,” read the instruction. On the Il-4 in a similar situation, the navigator's second control was turned on, who began to press the pedal, helping the pilot.

With a normal bomb load and the suspension of additional tanks, the B-25, in case of engine failure, could not only maintain altitude, but also gain it. There are many known cases of the successful return of damaged B-25s on one engine. And when the pilot S.M. Antonov from the 8th regiment's engine went out of order soon after takeoff, on the remaining one he flew to the target, dropped bombs on German echelons in Orel and returned to base!

The American bomber did not wear down the pilots, like our unstable IL-4, on which it was impossible to drop the control wheel for almost a second. “Adjusted by trims, the aircraft itself seeks to maintain a given position or restore it, in case some reason brought it out of this position.” - This is from the B-25D test report.

The cockpit was equipped with a full range of flight, navigation and control devices of that time, was spacious, light, warm, comfortable. Instrument scales were conveniently illuminated with ultraviolet lamps. Radio equipment was at the most modern level, including an automatic radio compass.

The vehicle was perfectly protected by small arms. From almost any direction, the enemy was greeted with bursts of heavy machine guns. There were only two "dead zones" - narrow sectors, approximately 45 degrees to the axis of the aircraft, in the lower hemisphere. Armament "Mitchell" clearly demonstrated its effectiveness. For example, the crew of A.I. Molodchey shot down five enemy fighters in a year and a half of flights on the B-25. The relative losses of the B-25 per one combat-ready aircraft in 1944 were 2.2 times lower than that of the Il-4, and American bombers were used more intensively than domestic ones.

The aircraft had a large bomb load (2000 kg, and in the reload version - up to 3000 kg). The capacious bomb bay housed any Soviet aerial bombs up to and including the FAB-500, American bombs weighing from 100 to 1000 pounds and captured German bombs of 250 and 500 kg each, which were also sometimes used in our country. Even the bulky cluster bomb RRAB-3, which the Il-4 could carry only from the outside, could fit in there, losing 20-30 km / h speed in level flight. Any bombs weighing up to 250 kg could be hung on the outer holders under the wing. True, the locks of the American bomb racks were slightly altered to fit our bombs in order to hang them without moving the yokes; the "explosion-non-explosion" locks were also refined. The internal winch of the bomb bay was replaced by the Soviet BL-4. Such minor alterations were carried out at the Moscow plant number 156.

Unsuccessfully, in comparison with the IL-4, it was decided on the B-25 to leave the car in the air. All crew members who were in the nose of the aircraft jumped in turn into one hatch. At the same time, the navigator had to crawl with a parachute on a narrow manhole into the pilot's cabin, the tail gunner had to return forward to the center of the machine. All these operations took a lot of time. And on the IL-4, each crew member left the plane independently, through his hatch or lantern.

Of course, there were some difficulties during the operation of the B-25. As for all Lend-Lease aircraft, at first the B-25 lacked technical descriptions, instructions and other documentation. As a result of the wrong choice of flight modes, there were cases of overheating of engines, uneconomical fuel consumption, which sometimes led to forced landings. A typical breakdown was damage to the nose strut, trim tabs were torn off, engine and anti-icing system failures. There were also manufacturing defects. For example, in October 1944, our military acceptance rejected at Fairbanks about half of the B-25Js submitted due to carburetor failures. But on the whole, the B-25 was a reliable and easy-to-use machine. This can be judged at least by such an indicator as the percentage of serviceable aircraft: in units armed with B-25s, it was very high. Another convincing evidence is that in the USSR, "Mitchell" was not subjected to any significant alterations.

B-25s successfully fought with us until the very end of hostilities. On April 16, 1945, Lieutenant Colonel Gordilovsky, commander of the 250th regiment, dropping a bunch of multi-colored illuminating bombs, gave the signal to storm the Seelow Heights near Berlin. When the war in Europe came to an end, 497 Mitchells were in the ranks of the Air Force.

On May 9, B-25s took part in the festive illumination of Moscow, coloring the sky with rockets.

In August 1945, these machines were used in hostilities against Japan. Several planes obtained unofficially were also used in the Kuril Islands. They were interned in 1943-1945. The first four of them landed at the Elizovo airfield near Petropavlovsk after the American air raid on Paramushir on September 11, 1943. All these vehicles belonged to the 77th Squadron of the US Army Air Force. Another bomber was added a year later, on September 17, 1944. In total, 12 V-25s landed in Kamchatka. The last of them, R. Walbrink's B-25J, badly damaged by Japanese anti-aircraft gunners, sat on his belly on June 10, 1945. Several aircraft were repaired and put into operation of the 128th mixed division. As of August 27, there were five B-25s, four of them in the 903rd Bomber Regiment. All of them were of different modifications - C, D, G, and J. They were used as training, to prepare for the receipt of American A-20 bombers, as well as for various auxiliary purposes.

With the end of the war and the termination of the Lend-Lease program, the Soviet Union was obliged to return the aircraft back to the Americans. Usually, this procedure boiled down to the destruction of equipment under the control of American representatives. In 1945-1947, some of the cars were indeed destroyed under the supervision of inspectors from the United States. In particular, such work was carried out near Vinnitsa. The bombers were crushed by tractors. But this fate befell not all "Mitchells".

The rearmament of Soviet long-range aviation on the B-25 continued after the war. For example, by 1946, the 330th Bomber Regiment in Bobruisk had been fully equipped with these machines. American aircraft remained there until the transition to the Tu-4 in 1949.

Already after the war, we mastered the C-1 electric autopilot, connected with the Norden M-9 high-precision sight, installed on the B-25J. By the way, at the end of 1945 they tried to replace the M-9 with even more advanced German Letfe-7s. About a thousand of these scopes were seized from the warehouses of the Carl Zeisse company. German specialists helped to adapt Letfe to be installed on the B-25. But German sights and American autopilots turned out to be incompatible - fluctuations arose in the system, knocking the bomber off the combat course. The 14th division near Poltava operated the B-25 until 1950. But the mixed corps in Kamchatka changed them for the Il-28 jet in 1953. In some cases, "Mitchell" was used as a transitional vehicle in the development of the Tu-4.

A small number of aircraft at the end of 1945 were transferred to the Civil Air Fleet. They were possessed by the 2nd communications aviation division in Myachkovo. They were operated as freight and postal. One B-25 in this capacity was tested at the Research Institute of the Civil Air Fleet. B. Ostapchuk flew on it.

Several "Mitchells" in the post-war period were converted into headquarters, transport and passenger. This was the case in military aviation and in other departments. So, such machines were in the 65th regiment of the Navy Air Force. Among them were two disarmed B-25Gs and a saloon "limousine" based on the B-25J. In 1947, one B-25G was converted in Leningrad into a special aircraft for the commander of the Navy Air Force. Several "Mitchells" flew in polar aviation, a car with a velvet-trimmed interior was owned by the Minister of the Fishing Industry. The fishermen possessed several more B-25s, which were used to search for accumulations of fish. One of them was based in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

Some of the machines were adapted for various experiments. In 1947-1948, the domestic take-off boosters "93-1" (powder) and SU-1500 (with LPRE) were tested on the B-25J (unarmed). In 1948, LII tested the detachable cockpit of an experimental rocket aircraft "346". In 1947-1948, the bottom of the B-25G participated in the program of testing the gliding torpedo "Pike" in Yevpatoria. One plane carried a mock torpedo, and on the second, the guidance system was tested; in a capacious fuselage placed an operator engineer with equipment.

Twice Hero of the Soviet Union A.I. Molodchiy told: "In 1942, B-25S Mitchell bombers began to arrive in the USSR under Lend-Lease, which had been quickly mastered in Long-Range Aviation. Il-4, had a higher maximum speed, reaching at an altitude of 5000 m to 490 km / h, a much shorter range (1960 km with a bomb load of 1400 kg and a lower ceiling not exceeding 7500 m. It should be noted that more comfortable conditions on board, autopilot and good stability in flight significantly improved the work of the crew compared to the IL-4. Its piloting, including takeoff and landing, turned out to be so simple that it made it possible to quickly commission young pilots. The defensive armament was also stronger, consisting of one 7.62-mm and four 12.7-mm machine guns. "

Alexander Vasilyevich Dudakov, Major General: "During combat operations at night, the lower tower turned out to be, in essence," blind. " him to the landing airfield, where the crew's vigilance was lost. As a rule, after the fourth turn during the landing approach, ours were shot down with impunity. Several Il-4 and B-25C planes perished in this way.

Our command reacted quickly: they asked to remove the lower turret, put one machine gun with a shooter in the stern and one machine gun each from the sides of the fuselage - they had to be served by another shooter. Thus, the crew increased by one gunner and consisted of six people.

In addition, an additional 215 gallon gas tank was installed in the bomb hatch, which increased the flight duration to 7 hours. Such a reconstruction became possible due to the large size of the bomb hatch, in which four FAB 250 bombs and two FAB 500 bombs were freely placed for suspension.

This is how the B-25D was born. Subsequently, two coaxial machine guns were placed in the stern, this series was already called B-25G. We must pay tribute to the American command and their industry. They immediately fulfilled all our requests to improve the combat capabilities of the B-25 aircraft. By the way, the name "Mitchell" somehow did not take root in us, and we always called the plane "B-25".

The total number of B-25C aircraft produced in Inglewood was 1625, 182 aircraft (including 8 lost during transportation) were transferred to the USSR.


  • "Americans" in Russia / Kotelnikov V.R. et al., 1999 /