Friday, November 25, 2011

Alaska wrecks, Part 2: Mitchells

Today's post is the second from a collection shot by a WWII soldier who was stationed in Alaska, and who appears to have been part of a unit whose job it was (in part) to recover aircraft wrecks. The collection included two B-25 Mitchell bomber photographs, one of an in-service aircraft, and one a wreck.

Unfortunately, I don't have much information on either photo, so from a story-telling perspective, there's not a lot for this post. That will make this more of a geek's post, but sometimes history is in the details!

The photo above (and detail left) show a B-25C/D probably assigned to the 77th Bombardment Squadron, that has been equipped with an early form of radar, as evidenced by the antenna sticking forward from the bottom of the nose (an official photo from the 77th BS of a similarly radar-equipped B-25 can be seen here). Also note the additional nose guns installed - the C/D model only had 2 nose guns when it left the factory. And how about all those bombs casually stacked on the far side of the right main gear?

(Some really interesting color film footage of Alaska bomber activities can be seen here)

The second image shows a B-25 wreck laying on the tundra. It appears to have been there a while, as all the nose and cockpit glass and interior has been stripped out. The raised ground behind the wreck would indicate that this plane crashed just off of the airfield. Two PBY Catalina are parked nearby, and behind one of them, another B-25 taxis past. The forward-bent blades of the Mitchell's Number 2 engine shows that the crash occurred with the engine at power, likely on takeoff (note that the nose gear was still down at the time of the incident).
Do you have information on these specific planes, or B-25 operation in Alaska in general? I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment below!

2 comments:

  1. John J. McKennaMay 5, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    Various WWII radar-equipped aircraft
    <http://www.exreps.com/Trojan/Development%20of%20Early%20Airborne%20Radar%2020%20Dec%2006.pdf

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  2. John...thanks for sharing that link...a fascinating read. I'm passing it on to folks at work.

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