North American B-25J-NC Mitchell III

B25 Mitchell

44-30861/N9089Z/’HD368′ (VO-A)/G-BKXW

With the H.A.M from May 1972 to May 1983

While the museum’s ‘movie star’ the CASA 2.111 had received a good deal of the limelight, this Mitchell had also been involved in several silver screen productions although admittedly, much of this had taken place behind the glare of the camera lens. Flying to the UK from the US as N9089Z in 1961, she was later fitted with flattened nose glazing and put to work as a camera ship filming for the 1962 production of the ‘The War Lover’, a good deal of which was shot over Cambridgeshire and around RAF Manston and Bovingdon. Then later in 1963, she was used for filming aerial sequences over the Scottish Highlands where much of the training for ‘633 Squadron’s mission’ would ‘take place’. However in this particular film, she would actually make a brief appearance and was used to portray the dropping of one of the film’s steely chinned heroes into ‘occupied Norway’.

With her filming days now behind her, she would be flown to Biggin Hill where she languished from 1964 until being purchased by the BHAM in 1966. This aircraft was the very first exhibit to be purchased by the museum and much of the rest of 1966 and beginning of 1967 was spent attempting to restore her. Then came the move to Southend in July ’67 which gave ATEL’s engineering crew more than a few headache in their attempts to dismantle her so that she could be placed on the back of a lorry. Having failed to remove the wing spar bolts which had seized solid, the decision was taken to cut her main spar and thus condemn her to a future as a museum piece only. She was subsequently reassembled at SEN and remained on the eastern perimeter until 1970 when she was moved to the new site on Aviation Way.

As with most of the larger aircraft that were destined for the H.A.M, she was towed across from the airport and placed in the grass compound outside where the aircraft’s restoration continued, her exterior eventually being refinished in the archetypical WWII brown and green camouflage carrying the RAF serial designation HD368 ‘VO-A’ of 98 Squadron. Having initially been placed near the roadside fence, she was later moved to the rear of the compound to make room for the CASA which had been somewhat unceremoniously ejected from the museum building to make way for some of the older, fabric covered exhibits, temporary displays and its rather valuable, loan aircraft and there she would remain until the museum’s closure.

Her next move was to Aces High at Duxford, having been obtained through John Hawke of Visionair who had initially acquired her at the H.A.M auction. She was moved to the museum site during 1984 and later entered the British Aviation Register as G-BKXW. In 1987, she was carted a short distance down the M11 to North Weald in a dismantled state although by 1989 she had a new owner in the form of the Fighter Collection at Duxford, however the airframe would not be moved back to this location again. Meanwhile, she sat at North Weald for a number of years in a peeling, silver USAF livery and looked worse for wear when in 2006 she was moved once again, this time to Wycombe Air Park where up until recently, she was being kept in open storage in several parts. However, it would appear that she has now been snapped up by the Wings Museum in Balcombe, Sussex where she is currently being restored.

 

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Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.