The 128 bombs painted on 'Briefing Time's' nose signify the sorties of this aircraft, as well as its two predecessors carrying the squadron tail code 9D.  The first of these was destroyed in a night air raid by the Luftwaffe on the base at Alesani, Corsica, and the second by the March, 1944 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.


ARMOR PLATES  "3/8 inch 24-ST Dural Burst Plates" - that's the Flight Manual nomenclature for the very rare armor plates on the sides of the pilot's compartment.  Here's a diagram of the B-25J armor and its theoretical arcs of protection.

NOSE ART  The nose art was styled after a calendar painting from Esquire magazine.  The names painted here, as well as near the other crew stations, are those of the original crew, pictured in the next photo from the 489th Bomb Squadron Yearbook.

See a Photosynth of Briefing Time's nose-art.  Don't know what a Photosynth is?  Prepare to be amazed!  Note:  A broadband connection is necessary to use Photosynth.

BOMB BAY   Six real (inert, of course) 500 pound steel bombs, found abandoned in a Pennsylvania steel mill, hang in 'Briefing Time's' bomb bay.  Fiberglass replicas are found in most restored bombers, if they have working bomb bays, that is.

ENGINE NACELLES / MAIN GEAR   A good view of the short exhaust stacks, cowl flaps, wing flaps, and main gear.  The tear drop-shaped pod beneath the fuselage houses the antenna for the Radio Direction Finder, operated by the copilot.  The forward crew hatch and ladder are extended (behind the step-ladder).

NOSE LANDING GEAR   The nose wheel is free-castoring, which means it is not steerable, but rather pivots freely as the plane is steered using the brakes (called differential braking) and engines (differential power).  The rods extending from the bottom of the fuselage are antenna mast between which the antenna wires are strung.  The hydraulically operated bomb bay doors are in the open position.

MAIN LANDING GEAR   Here's a short video in which MAAM President Russ Strine talks about the B-25's sensitive brakes.

WAIST AREA   The starboard side waist gun blister with its M-2 Browning Heavy Machine-Gun.  Aft is the round escape hatch, for ground use only.

WINGS    The wings of the first nine B-25s had positive dihedral.  Although positive dihedral confers stability in an aircraft, the Army required that the bomber be able to make minor course corrections with only the rudder during a bombing run.  It was found that with only rudder input, the B-25 would slightly bank.  Worse yet, in turbulence the plane would exhibit a “Dutch roll” characteristic that degraded its directional stability, and thus its bombing accuracy.  Consequently, all future models retained the original dihedral from the fuselage to the engine, while the outer wing now had zero dihedral.  Actually, it is only the bottom of the outboard wings that is horizontal.  The top of the wings have a slight negative dihedral, a wing geometry that gives the B-25 its characteristic gull-wing, as seen in the line drawing.

RECOGNITION LIGHTS   These lights on the underside of the starboard wingtip are designed to identify the plane with a visual coded as friendly to troops or aircraft below.  They are controlled by switches on the Control Pedestal Switch Panel.

TAIL- EMPENNAGE   To further improve the stability of the B-25, the first few production aircraft had modified rudders.  Several different shapes were tested.  The slightly back-tilted and rounded-square rudder that became standard proved to be the best of the lot, and along with the wing-dihedral change, made the aircraft an exceptionally stable bomber.  The bump under the tail is a protective skid to prevent fuselage damage in case of a tail-strike.

FUSELAGE ARRANGEMENT    As we get ready to climb aboard, here is a diagram of the interior layout from the North American Aviation B-25J Flight Manual with links to the various compartments.

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