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B-25 “Panchito”

 

B-25 "Panchito" Factsheet

The B-25 was in production before the U.S. entry into the war through VJ-Day.  About 9,815 B-25’s were built.  This was the largest production of U.S. twin-engine combat airplanes in World War II.  B-25’s were used in all theaters of war from Alaska to North Africa, China, Europe and the Southwest Pacific.  They were flown by the U.S. Army Air Forces and U.S. Marine Corps, as well as the air forces of Britain, Canada, Australia, Russia, China, Brazil and the Netherland East Indies.  Post war, B-25’s soldiered on in other roles as well as combat with the U.S. Air Force and the air forces of Canada, Indonesia and many Latin American countries.

The B-25 was designed as a medium bomber to operate at altitudes between 8,000 and 12,000 thousand feet.  Powered by two 1700 hp Wright R-2600 engines, the basic configuration stayed the same throughout production.  However, there were many changes in armament to improve both offensive and defensive capabilities.  These variations included 75 mm cannon, rockets and up to eighteen .50 caliber machine guns.  The armament modifications varied on the B-25’s depending on the squadron mission.  Some B-25’s were modified to carry torpedoes; both standard aerial and glide versions.  Tactics used in the South and Southwest Pacific included low altitude strikes with strafing and skip-bombing against shipping and para-frag bombs against airfield targets.  The airplane was also used for photo-mapping, an advanced trainer and fast transport.

The 41st Bombardment Group was the only B-25 medium bomber unit in the Seventh Air Force.  The 41st operated in the Central Pacific Theater during the period from December, 1943 to October, 1944.  The 41st flew over 240 missions in single squadron strength, often at low altitudes against Japanese shipping while bypassing many of the islands.  On October, 1944, the 41st was transferred to Wheeler Field, Hawaii for rest, re-equipment, crew replacements and retraining.  Their aircraft were cycled through the Hawaiian Air Depot where some of the B-25D’s and B-25G’s were converted to the 8-gun “strafer” nose.  Other aircraft were replaced by the new B-25J’s. 

It was here that the B-25J, serial number 43-28147, was assigned to Captain Don Seiler of the 396th Bomb Squadron.  Capt. Seiler named his new plane “Panchito” after the feisty Mexican rooster from the 1943 animated musical “The Three Caballeros”.