B-25 41-13088 Chatter Box

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DougF

Recruit
3
2
Jun 13, 2023
Hello, I recently discovered this forum and this thread while working on some research for a model project involving B-25 41-13088 Chatter Box. All of you are a wealth of information, I thank you for what you have accumulated here. Keeping in mind earlier comments that each B-25's situation was often unique, is there any knowledge on at what point the ventral turrets were removed on these early strafer conversions, on Chatter Box in particular but info on any of them would be helpful if I end up having to make an informed guess.

Additionally, when the ventral turrets were removed, is there any knowledge on how the resulting hole was treated? Were they skinned over to smooth the surface or simply left open? I would think that leaving them open would cause increased drag and reduced performance, but I did not want to entirely dismiss the possibility.

I remember reading that an additional fuel tank was often put in when the ventral turret was removed, so this may or may not also be part of the answer.

Thank you all in advance for any help you may be able to offer.

Doug
 
Hello, I recently discovered this forum and this thread while working on some research for a model project involving B-25 41-13088 Chatter Box. All of you are a wealth of information, I thank you for what you have accumulated here. Keeping in mind earlier comments that each B-25's situation was often unique, is there any knowledge on at what point the ventral turrets were removed on these early strafer conversions, on Chatter Box in particular but info on any of them would be helpful if I end up having to make an informed guess.

Additionally, when the ventral turrets were removed, is there any knowledge on how the resulting hole was treated? Were they skinned over to smooth the surface or simply left open? I would think that leaving them open would cause increased drag and reduced performance, but I did not want to entirely dismiss the possibility.

I remember reading that an additional fuel tank was often put in when the ventral turret was removed, so this may or may not also be part of the answer.

Thank you all in advance for any help you may be able to offer.

Doug
Hi Doug!
These are some questions that deserve detailed answers. I'll try to formulate very short notes and you can work your way up.
1. When modifications started in different war theaters the ventral turrets were almost always deleted. Such mods were the famous Pappy Gunn's strafers from Townsville (4-th Air Depot, Chatterbox is one of them), all HAD mods (Hawaiian Air Depot), the Air Depot in Tontouta, New Caledonia (13th ADG). In North Africa the modified bombers (those were not strafers) came from Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Georgia and their local copies were modified in Sidi Ahmed Air Base in Bizerte. In CBI the local depots in India were doing the same job but on a smaller scale. Marine PBJs lost their ventral turrets either in the NAA-modification centres, straight out of the factory or in the Navy modification centres in the States.
All mods (of the ventral turret area) were basically similar but never exactly the same.
1A. North American Aviation in Inglewood and Kansas City stopped installing the lower turret as follows:
-B-25D-25, -30 and -35 (Kansas City)
-starting with B-25G-10 (Inglewood)
2. When the turrets were removed the openings were skinned over (exterior) with sheets metal. The type of cover differs: square sheet over the round opening and guns' cut outs, round sheet over the opening only, square sheet over the round opening only etc.
Check here a PBJ modified in the Fairfax Mod centre (this is the NAA factory in Kansas City) with a round cover over the opening only. It is possible that a radar would be installed later in a Navy mod centre.
On the inside there was a plywood cover over the opening as well - if you check interior photos with the turret you'll see that the floor is higher in this area and creates kind of a "well" - see here.
I read some memoirs of a former B-25-pilot, telling a story when on an AT-24 (the training variant of the B-25 - see posts below) without belly turret, a student went through both covers, plywood and metal and just "disappeared" . Only the courage of the second student who instantly caught him and could pull him slowly back, saved his life.
3. The additional tank in the turret area was used for transition flights (e.g. from the States to Egypt) or for long missions, mostly in the Pacific theaters. Often the additional tanks were deleted after the specific mission(s) or the long distance flight.
I remember posting photos of "Mitchells" without ventral turrets on many occasions and sometimes writing about the different types of covers, depending on the modification. You might find them in this thread or in the other, more general B-25 thread.
Cheers!
 
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Hi Doug!
2. When the turrets were removed the openings were skinned over (exterior) with sheets metal. The type of cover differs: square sheet over the round opening and guns' cut outs, round sheet over the opening only, square sheet over the round opening only etc.
I read some memoirs of a former B-25-pilot, telling a story when on an A-24 (the training variant of the B-25) without belly turret, a student went through both covers, plywood and metal and just "disappeared" . Only the courage of the second student who instantly caught him and could pull him slowly back, saved his life.

The rest of your info is pure bacon but I think the highlighted is definitely an urban legend so I only gave you winner.

If the metal plate was held on with so few rivets or screws that a person falling on it could knock it free then airflow would definitely rip it off.

Also as far as I know all B-25s trainers were designated TB-25x, and the A-24 Banshee was definitely the USAAF version of the SBD Dauntless.
 
The rest of your info is pure bacon but I think the highlighted is definitely an urban legend so I only gave you winner.

If the metal plate was held on with so few rivets or screws that a person falling on it could knock it free then airflow would definitely rip it off.

Also as far as I know all B-25s trainers were designated TB-25x, and the A-24 Banshee was definitely the USAAF version of the SBD Dauntless.
Trainer versions were originally called AT-24s.
 
The rest of your info is pure bacon but I think the highlighted is definitely an urban legend so I only gave you winner.

If the metal plate was held on with so few rivets or screws that a person falling on it could knock it free then airflow would definitely rip it off.

Also as far as I know all B-25s trainers were designated TB-25x, and the A-24 Banshee was definitely the USAAF version of the SBD Dauntless.
THIS WAS EXACTLY THE CASE - the airflow ripped it off.
The book is called "The Pink Bomber" by Robert A. Spelman. Probably one of the most detailed books about the air war in the MTO with the "old" Mithells (before Sicily). I can't retell the story with the details the author did but if you want me to, I'll copy that chapter for you.
My mistake about the A-24 (shame on me or on my typing fingers!) - it's AT (Advanced Trainer)-24. Check the different designations AT-24 A, B, C, D - they don't match the B-25 variants at all. TB-25 is an official postwar designation, starting in 1948, but basically in late 1943 the AT was substituted by TB for B-25 and B-24 trainers. I'm using it for the period before the end of WWII.
Cheers!
 
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Thank you all (and especially you Catch 22) for the information.

I would have expected them all to be plated over in one form or another, but various profile drawings seem to show some of them with the additional strafer .50s still with the ventral turret, some with just a hole there, and some with it covered over, and I had seen few to no pictures that seemed to show this part of any of the strafers. Much like myself, most attention of photographers were focused on all those guns up front or the plane's nose art.

Sadly, while I see a large number of B-25 related posts, my search abilities have failed me in finding the other, more general B-25 thread you mention above. Unless it is starting me straight in the face and I am just not seeing it. If you still have any patience left after my other mundane questions, what is the title of the post?

Thank you all again for the knowledge!

Doug
 
Sadly, while I see a large number of B-25 related posts, my search abilities have failed me in finding the other, more general B-25 thread you mention above. Unless it is starting me straight in the face and I am just not seeing it. If you still have any patience left after my other mundane questions, what is the title of the post?

Doug
Doug,
I'm sorry for the misunderstanding: I didn't have a single post in mind but the whole thread where I have posted photos of B-25 too. I don't remember all of them (posted by others or myself) and my suggestion was to check there as well.
You are right, good photos of the cover over the opening for the belly turret are hard to find. As I mentioned before, the details about this modification are described in memoirs of servicemen, pilots and others, rather than being captured on photos or in drawings. I might find something in my archive, collected through the years, but I need to go through it.
Two of the books I have, with (some) descriptions of modified early B-25 are Billy Goat Squadron and Incidents in a life of a B-25 pilot. I really don't remember all the details and will not try to retell anything this time, thus avoiding another "urban legend";) .
My friend and forum member Paul "Micdrow" has a great collection of B-25 photos and documents and he might be the one (I hope so) "hiding" another gem in his pocket.
Cheers!
P.S. In attachment (big resized photos) I'm adding 5 photos: 2 from the MTO and 3 from CBI.
1. The MTO photos show a Warner Robins Mod (with the bigger waist window) and a Sidi Ahmed Mod. The belly turret was exactly under the waist window. One can feel rather than see the edges of the covers over the turret openings. Either rounded or more elongated shapes. Couldn't find anything with better quality for now.
2. The CBI photos are more interesting, showing something I've only read about, but never seen it in a big detail: belly turret deleted but opening used for a single/double hand held 0.30 or 0.50 gun(s). At least this is what I guess it is. As you'll see the opening is not the original round one, but partially covered and partially changed to a rectangular cut out. Honestly I didn't know I have these photos. All of them are downloaded from a site, which address is shown.
Cheers!
 

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Morning,

So the old belly turrets on B-25's, I have been trying to find answers for this in the Pacific for years. A lot of information can be found in this thread buy reading through it. B-25 weapons thread

So below including there sources are some of the info I have found on the belly turrent being replaced with long range drop tank in its place.

The Grim Reapers At Work in the Pacific Theater by John P Henebry and came across an interesting configuration.
Pappy's mechanics fabricated square 300-gallon tanks from locally produced flat rolled steel. They added hooks on top similar to those on the bombs we carried. They then cut a square hole in the bottom of each B-25. On either side they fastened doors, spring loaded with steel springs-the kind I remember from my grandmother's screen door. Guide rails were used to keep the tank from moving in flight so that the tanks four corners fit into the guide rails. Above the area and centered they mounted a bomb shackle to hold the inserted tank by hooks. They installed pumps and lines to bring the new store of auxiliary fuel to the main integral wing self-sealing fuel tanks. The auxiliary tank would be the first to be emptied and once emptied, discarded before combat as it was not self-sealing. This added roughly another 2 hours of flying time

Second mention of the fuel tank was found in book Air Combat at 20 feet by Garret Middlebrook.
Just the day before maintenance crews completed the installation of an extra 3-hundred-gallon auxiliary gas tank in the rear of our planes. It slid up into the interior of the fuselage though an opening where the old lower gun turret was previously located. It was square and fit inside four T-Aluminum channels. It had no rubber sealer and was disposable. In fact, it had to be dropped before we entered into battle because it sat underneath the upper gun turret preventing the turret from rotating: therefore, the guns were of no use as long as the tank was in place. As soon as we used up three hundred gallons of fuel from our main wing tanks, we were instructed to turn on the electric pumps and transfer the fuel to our auxiliary tank to the wing tanks. As soon as the fuel was transferred, we were to disconnect the holding bolds and belts and let the auxiliary tank fall out of the plane.

I have read that after the fuel tank has been dropped a piece of plywood would be slide over the spring doors to keep waist gunners from falling through the spring doors.

Still looking for photos and drawings and came across this in quotes in the RAAF Archives



1687023912649.png


As Yves (Catch 22) mentioned China B-25's removed the turret as well but came up with a different approach.

You can find this and other modifications from the China Burma area in the B-25 Mitchell Weapons thread I posted at beginning of this thread.

With experience combat crews in China like in the Pacific made changes to improve the B-25's basic armament. As in the Pacific the crews in China found that the Bendix ventral turret was useless. The 490th Bomb squadron removed the turret, leaving a 30-inch hole in the bottom of the aircraft. They placed an L shaped steel angle iron across the hole and rigged up a mounting for two 30 caliber machine guns. Credit for the modification was given to Lt. Elmer Tarbox along with a version of the stinger or tail gun which is a story in itself. Piece of art work below showing 30 caliber machine gun.

Source for the Pacific modification can be found in both the Eleventh Bombardment Squadron Records pdf and the book Eagles Bulldogs & Tigers by the 22nd Bomb Group. I think it can be found in the book The Tenth Airforce in WWII by Edward M Young as well.

1687024249748.png



I believe if I remember right you can find mentions of the drop tanks in place of bottom turret in all the books below but the most details are in the two books quoted above.

HPIM3681.JPG


Hope it helps.

All the best
Paul
 
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I apologize for my late reply back to this. Thanks to both of you for the additional pictures and information. As you both mention in the B-25 weapons thread, there is an amazing variety of modifications that were done to these versatile aircraft. Partially maddening to try to make sense of it all, but mostly fascinating to see their ingenuity, and all in the middle of a war in an austere theater.

Thank you both again for the additional info, pictures, and help.

Doug
 
I apologize for my late reply back to this. Thanks to both of you for the additional pictures and information. As you both mention in the B-25 weapons thread, there is an amazing variety of modifications that were done to these versatile aircraft. Partially maddening to try to make sense of it all, but mostly fascinating to see their ingenuity, and all in the middle of a war in an austere theater.

Thank you both again for the additional info, pictures, and help.

Doug
Your welcome Doug
 

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