North American B-25 Mitchell

Countries that flew the B-25 Mitchell

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In brief

  • Dutch Air Force until 1951
  • Royal Australian Air Force. Until 1945.
  • Royal Canadian Air Force. Mostly post-war use until 1960.
  • Soviet Air Force. 870 delivered. Got the NATO reporting name Bank after the war.
  • Nationalist China air force in China, later Taiwan. Over 100 delivered.
  • French Air Force. 21 delivered. Scrapped in 1947.
  • Brazil. 92 delivered. Used until 1970.
  • Royal Air Force, UK. 910 delivered.
  • Bolivia. 13 delivered. Used at least until 1979.
  • Chile. Twelve delivered. Replaced in 1954.
  • Colombia. Three delivered. Used until 1957.
  • Cuba. Four delivered. Used until 1959 at least.
  • Mexico. Three delivered. Used until the 1960's.
  • Peru. 20 delivered in 1947. Used until the 1960's.
  • Uruguay. 14 delivered.
  • Venezuela. 39 delivered. Replaced in 1971.

A total of 9884 B-25 Mitchells were built by North American Aviation. This is a breakdown of numbers by variant:


  • Royal Australian Air Force
    • No. 2 Squadron RAAF
    • The Royal Australian Air Force received 30 B-25Ds and 20 B-25Js beginning in 1944. These aircraft were used to replace Bristol Beaufighters in the low-level strike role, and were often field-fitted with additional machine guns for strafing. They were all removed from service shortly after the end of the war.
  • Biafran Air Force operated two aircraft.

Additional information by Michael Robson:

During the last quarter of 1967, the Biafran Air Force took delivery of further twin-engined bombers which have been continually mistaken by the press and observers of the conflict as additional B-26's.  They were, in fact, North American B-25 aircraft, known to the wartime RAF as the Mitchell.


One B-25 is mentioned by several authors as being flown by German mercenary, Fred Herz.  A telephone conversation between the author and Herz before he died revealed that there were two of these aircraft although doubts continue to be expressed in some quarters by pilots who served in Biafra that both actually arrived in theatre.


Circumstantial evidence suggests that one of these might have been a model TB-25-N,  ex-44-29919 and registered N9868C.  It was purchased in December 1964 by one John Frederick Osterholt of Homestead,  Florida although it seems that Osterholt did not apply for an airworthiness certificate.  On the 9th June 1967, the aircraft was sold to a company called Aerographic Inc. whose President turned out to be the same John Osterholt.  The aircraft’s history cannot be traced beyond this point until, in April 1970,  it seems that Osterholt applied to cancel the registration from USCAR stating that the aircraft had been completely destroyed, although under what curcumstances is not recorded.


The possible link between Osterholt and Biafra was exposed as a result of an interview in 1997 with Robert W. Cobaugh, an American who owned a company in Hialeah, Florida called Tripoints Associates.   Tripoints, and its sister company, RWC Associates, were manufacturers’ representatives dealing in reconditioned aero engines,  aviation spares of all types and, during the Biafran conflict, in leasing and operating cargo carrying aircraft.   Cobaugh was also to become heavily involved later in the conflict as the driving force behind a shadowy organisation known as Phoenix Air Transport which flew arms and supplies into the beleagured Biafra.   Whether, in fact, Tripoints had any direct involvement in the B-25 deal is not known.  Cobaugh’s recollection of the affair is somewhat vague. The B-25's were by no means the only aircraft whose procurement may have involved Cobaugh as the years passed.


The identity of the other B-25 remains elusive.  A possible contender is N8013, ex-44-31491, a TB-25J which, in February 1964 was registered to a Miami-based company called Intercontinental Trading Co.  Scott Thomspon’s book on civilian B-25’s, comments that, when this company went out of business in 1967 the aircraft was “flown out of the country, destination unknown.”


The first aircraft arrived in Biafra in August 1967.  The second, according to one report, arrived in Sao Tome around the same time loaded with a cargo of salt, a valuable commodity in those days in Biafra!  It remained in Sao Tome, still loaded and with corrosion taking its toll until the second half of November when it was ferried into Biafra.  Although an interesting story, subsequent research has failed to confirm it to be true.


The delivery pilot of the first example was a pilot who is described as having a "Mexican" moustache and possibly of Cuban nationality.  He has been referred to as "Captain Yas". He was accompanied by an American, ex-TWA pilot, George Robertson and a US engineer who stayed to instal the SNEB rockets on the aircraft.


The B-25's were delivered firstly to Enugu but, soon after their arrival, they had to be moved to Biafra's main operating base at Port Harcourt. The problem was that Herz, who was in charge of the operation, had never flown a B25 before.  However, he and Godwin Ezeilo managed to ferry both aircraft to Pt. Harcourt where they underwent modifications before going into service.   They were flown by Herz, Yas and the American "Capt Mick" making attacks on shipping, river gun boats and were instrumental in preventing the Nigerians from taking Port Harcourt although the town was to fall to federal forces some months later.  Portuguese pilot, Gil Pinto de Sousa also underwent some training flights on this aircraft.


The aircraft were used for sporadic bombing attacks together with the remaining B-26 during the period August-December 1967.  Maintenance of these ancient aircraft, given Biafra's isolation in the world, was a nightmare and the aircraft eventually succumbed to a shortage of spare parts.


One B-25 crashed near Port Harcourt on the 2nd December with Herz in command aided by a Biafran co-pilot, Captain Onuorah.  Returning from a bombing raid, Herz found himself unable to land at Port Harcourt due to the presence of one of the Biafran B-26 bombers which had made a wheels up landing and was, as a result, blocking the runway.  Running desperately short of fuel he attempted a go-around but, while doing so, first the starboard and then the port engine cut out.  The bomber ploughed through a stand of trees which ripped the engines from their mountings and it ended up a total write off. Herz broke his leg and injured his hand, his co-pilot, Godwin Ezeilo was so severely injured he never flew again and the bombardier/gunner, Sammy Ezunor, was killed.  The tail gunner, Peter Akachukwu, escaped with minor injuries.  The aircraft was a total write-off.  BAF Squadron Leader August Okpe, who was detailed to investigate the accident, confirms that it was pilot error compounded by Herz suffering from alcohol-induced vertigo.


The second B-25 seems to have been abandoned when it became unserviceable some time in December 1967.  It was was discovered after the war on waste ground near Port Harcourt airport having had its engines removed.


Little information has been found regarding the markings carried by these aircraft. The one remaining at Port Harcourt was simply described as being a "brownish colour" with a lighter underside.


  • Brazilian Air Force (75 units)
  • Brazil received 7 B-25Bs, a B-25C, and 21 B-25Js. Brazilian Mitchells were used for coastal patrol off of Brazil and saw action in Italy. The Brazilians also received 64 surplus B-25s after the war, with the last of them removed from service in 1970.
  • Royal Canadian Air Force - bomber, light transport, training aircraft, "special" mission roles
  • The Royal Canadian Air Force received a Mitchell I, 42 Mitchell IIs, and 19 Mitchell IIIs from production slated for the RAF during the war, but really didn't make use of them until after the conflict. The Canadian Mitchells appear to have been mostly used for aerial mapping, transport, and training. The US passed on 75 surplus B-25Js to Canada in 1951, and the Mitchell remained in service with the RCAF well into the 1950s.
 People's Republic of China
  • People's Liberation Army Air Force operated captured Nationalist Chinese aircraft.
  • The Nationalist Chinese obtained over 100 B-25C/Ds and about 131 B-25Js during the war. When the Chinese Communists won the civil war in 1948, the Nationalist fled to Taiwan, leaving behind a few Mitchells that were operated by the Communists for a time.
 Dominican Republic
  • The Free French flew 21 Mitchells under RAF control during the war, and the survivors were flown for a short time by the French Armee de l'Air after the war. Some were converted into VIP transports. The last of them was removed from service in 1947.
    • Indonesian Air Force received some B-25 Mitchell from Netherlands, last example retired in 1979.
    • Royal Netherlands Air Force
      • No. 18 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron RAAF
      • No. 119 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron RAAF
      • No. 320 Squadron, Royal Dutch Naval Air Service
      • Note: In 1941, the Dutch government in exile ordered 162 B-25Cs, to be delivered to the Dutch East Indies. An initial batch of 60 were on the way in early 1942 when the Dutch East Indies fell to the Japanese, disrupting plans for the delivery of the Mitchells.
    • Polish Air Forces on exile in Great Britain
      • No. 305 Polish Bomber Squadron
    Flag of Spain Spanish State
    • Spanish Air Force former USAAF serial number 41-30338 interned in 1944 and operated between 1948-1956.
     Soviet Union
    • Soviet Air Force received a total of 866 B-25s (of types C/D/S/G/J).
     United Kingdom
    • Royal Air Force received more than 900 aircraft.
      • No. 98 Squadron RAF
      • No. 180 Squadron RAF
      • No. 226 Squadron RAF
      • No. 342 Squadron RAF
      • No. 681 Squadron RAF
      • No. 684 Squadron RAF
     United States
    • United States Army Air Forces
    • United States Navy
    • United States Marine Corps