B-25 COD

Gallery Article by Dave Bailey, aka The Rat on Jan 4 2019

Silly Week 2019



When the US Navy sent out requests for a Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft after WWII, various manufacturers submitted designs, The eventual winner was Grumman, with a version of the venerable and carrier-proven Avenger, but a more ambitious project was attempted by North American Aviation. Noting the successful use of their B-25 bomber by the famed Doolittle raiders, they thought that the larger size and twin-engined reliability might give them an edge.

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One airframe was modified from a nosewheel arrangement to a conventional (tailwheel) gear, and a two-piece cargo door added to the port side aft of the main wing. The nose was neither glass or guns, but faired over and smooth to increase speed. No changes were made to engines or control systems. Flying trials commenced with an air of overconfidence, with a relatively inexperienced pilot. His experience on the Mitchell was not suspect, as he had spent many flying hours in them for ferrying, test flying of new and refurbished airframes, and other purposes, but his initial training on aircraft such as the Harvard was well behind him, with the result that he had trouble readjusting to the landing characteristics of a tailwheel. The first three landings resulted in dizzying groundloops, and the observers, unaware of the reason, dubbed the machine the 'Bitchell". Before the embarrassed pilot could adjust to his new mount, the Navy had already decided on their choice, and the forlorn beast was used as an instructional airframe for the rest of its life.

This is the old Airfix mold, rivets and all, and I am glad to see that it has been replaced by a newer pressing. The fit was horrible, and various bits are a mere impersonation of their intended representations.

"The Rat"

Photos and text by Dave Bailey