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In Memoriam

Klaas Willem Jonker
(Wilko)
† April 30, 2018

On Monday 30 April 2018, Wilko Jonker died after a long illness at the age of 58. He leaves behind a wife and two children. The Dutch military aviation and plastic modeling were his hobby and on this website he shared all the knowledge he has collected over the years. His hobby has been able to distract him from the persistent disease in his body until the last week of his life. The contacts with other hobbyists were a major support for him.

This website will be maintained by different people for as long as possible, so that other enthusiasts can continue to benefit from extensive content.

North American B-25C/D and B-25J/K Mitchell: NEIAF

Purchase by Netherlands Purchasing Committee.

Because of the required modernization and enforcement of the bomber fleet of the NEIAF (Ml-KNIL) the purchase of 162 medium bombers, to replace the Martin bombers, was proposed. At the beginning of the war the B-25 was rather new and not very popular yet, so this bomber could be obtained quit easily. The contract for the delivery of 162 NA-90 B-25C-5’s was signed June 30, 1941.

The planned delivery scheme: November 1942 25 examples
  December 1942 50 examples
  January 1943 80 examples
  February 1943 7 examples

Production and delivery was planned after the delivery of the running USAAF contract. In August 1941 the ML succeeded in having a earlier delivery scheme according the following scheme:

March till September 1942 6 examples a month Total 42 examples
October and November 1942 18 examples a month Total 36 examples
December 1942 and January 1943 36 examples a month Total 72 examples
February 1943 12 examples a month Total 12 examples

In fact these aircraft were from the original USAAF contract, exchanged with the aircraft of the Dutch contract.
Two ferry routes were available, one via Africa to India and one via Hawaii to Brisbane.

Detachment Bangalore (India).

Reported was that about twenty B-25C's were on their way via Africa to India, early March 1942 eight crews went from Java to Bangalore, India: the team was under the leadership of Wittert van Hoogland and existed of six pilots, seven mechanics and six telegraphers.
March 8 the first of the first batch of eight aircraft arrived.
March 9 five aircraft had arrived, the sixth aircraft was crashed during the ferry in Africa.
Two other aircraft were damaged at Palm Beach. All aircraft were equipped with the, at that time, very modern and secret Norden-bombing sights. The B-25's were provided with an aircraft letter according to RAF orders.(see table below)

NEIAF serial RAF code US-fisc. Year-number
N5-139 R 41-12507
N5-143 K 41-12445
N5-144 C 41-12495
N5-145 B 41-12509
N5-148 M 41-12508

Because the B-25 was a totally new type of aircraft, there were problems with tooling and spare parts, luckily much KLM material could be used and many training flights could be flown. After a demonstration on March 24, 1942, British Air Marshal Sir Peirse (commander RAF at India) proposed to used the Mitchell for photo reconnaissance duties.

Early April permission from London arrived to form a PRU (Photo Reconnaissance Unit) for the RAF, India.
Between April 18 and May 10 the B-25's left for Karachi, to be modified for PRU jobs. July 3, the Dutch team left and moved by ship to Fremantle, as they were no longer needed in India. The B-25's were handed over to the RAF, together with three Lockheeds 212, which had escaped from the Dutch East Indies.
The Mitchells were assigned to No. 684 Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, India. Two Mitchells received RAF serials MA956 and MA957, the other retained their original Dutch serials N5-144, N5-145 and N5-148.

 

Detachment, Australia.

In Australia a group consisting of eighteen pilots, seven telegraphers and fourteen mechanics, under the leadership of Captain Boot, was available. March 2, 1942 the first Mitchell arrived at Archerfield. This was the first example of the batch of eighteen B-25s 18 B-25C's. This batch was part a total batch of sixty aircraft to be sent to Australia.

The first twelve B-25's had N5-serials and orange triangles. According to photos the serials were N5-120 till N5-131.
The Mitchells flying via the India are thought to have been registered N5-139 till N5-148.
The second batch of twenty-four aircraft arrived in March and April 1942. This batch was completely handed over to the USAAF according an agreement. The Dutch had to receive sixty Mitchells in Australia plus the six Mitchells delivered in India, which makes a total of sixty six aircraft. It was agreed that of these sixty Mitchells, forty-two aircraft had to be handed over to the USAAF, inclusive the Mitchells already delivered. So eighteen Mitchells were left for the Dutch.

April 1, 1942 in Australia just five B-25Cs were available, to know N5-132; N5-134, N5-136, N5-151 and N5-161.
These had a single .303 machine gun in the nose plus two .303 machine guns in both turrets. Initially the national insignia applied was the orange triangle, these were replaced soon with the Dutch flag.
It cost a lot of effort to keep these five B-25’s for the Dutch. In June still these five Mitchells were available. The other thirteen aircraft were not available yet.  Mitchell N5-161 was unservicable until May because of a damaged nosewheel.
By the end of June a sixth Mitchell, registered N5-146, arrived. This aircraft was damaged when it arrived in Australia, it was repaired and transferred to no 18 squadron NEI. June 4 a request arrived to assist tracing a Japanese submarine. June 5 two B-25's of the Dutch 18e squadron managed to trace a Japanese submarine; Mitchell N5-151 bombed and sank this submarine.

During July 1942 the existing Mitchells were re-registered, because it was very confusing because of all partial deliveries. (see table below):

First serialNew serialUS-serial
N5-132 N5-122 41-12437
N5-134 N5-123 41-12464
N5-136 N5-124 41-12439
N5-151 N5-125 41-12482
N5-161 N5-126 41-12501
N5-146 N5-127 41-12494

Between August 20 and September 21, 1942 a third delivery of N5-128 till N5-145 This was a mixture of 11 C's and 7 D's. The aircraft already present (N5-122 till N5-127) were returned to the USAAF according the agreement mentioned above. The new aircraft differed from the first six aircraft in having .50 inch machine guns and improved turrets. The new B-25C's had the ability to carry external fuel tanks under the wings. the B-25D's lacked this ability.
Very disappointing was the Estoppey D-8 bomb sight. This was rather primitive and in accurate being compared with the advanced Norden D-7 of the earlier aircraft.
The range (without external tanks) for the B-25C/D was 400 miles; the range with these tanks was 1000 miles.
The N5-131 was equipped with a small bomb bay tank of 300 gallon for testing purposes. the bomb load decreased and was 6 x 100 lbs or 3 x 19500 lbs. The test was successful so in November/December 1942 the 300 gallon-tank was built in all other aircraft.

The table below shows the ranges of the Mitchell types in use:

Range = 2 x cruising rangeRangeType
Normal 800 miles C and D
Normal + bombbay-tank (300 gallon) 1400 miles C and D
Normal + bombbay-tank + external tanks 2000 miles C

Until the end of 1942 further reinforcement with B-25C-10’s and B-25C-15’s followed.
In the real world the ventral Bendix turret proofed to be useless and was removed mostly. July 1943 the Estoppey D-8 bomb sight was replaced with the modern Sperry bomb sight. September 1943 eight B-25D-20's were ferried by newly trained pilots from the RNMFS.
These aircraft are called D modified in the books of O.G. Ward. In the recent released books about squadron 320 (Dutch) RAF the author Nico Geldhof refers to this type as North-American B-25D srs II, though this might be a RAF designation.
These aircraft had two machine guns in a pod applied both sides of the fuselage and one machine gun in the tail.
Also a machine gun was added pointing out of the windows in the fuselage, just behind the wings.
These windows had been replaced and were located in opposite direction. Compare the position of the windows with those of the later B-25H and B-25J models. This was because of the position of the turret.
The B-25H and B-25J had this turret replaced to a new location between cockpit and wing.
Concerning the tailgun, this was also a forerunner of the arrangement used on the B-25H and B-25J models. It was equipped with a single machine gun and also smaller and of a different shape.

Between January and April 1944 another fifty B-25D's arrived, page 21 of 'Squadrons ...' shows a line up of this type of Mitchells. It were the last Mitchells to be ferried by the new pilots of the RNMFS (e.g. N5-193 with a Gremlin badge applied on the nose). These aircraft were not needed, so twenty aircraft of this batch were handed over to the RAAF: e.g. N5-183 became A47-1; N5-187 became A47-2; etcetera. see the table below

May 1943 the first B-25J-1 was delivered. This version was heavily armed with two.50 inch fixed machine guns in the nose; two .50 machine guns in the tail; two machine guns in the dorsal turret, which had been replaced forward, plus two gunpacks with two machine guns each. For further information I recommend the books (in Dutch) of O.G. Ward and G.J. Tornij, which contains a extensive serial list.

 

B-25 Strafers NEIAF.

The concept of ‘skip-bombing’ was a low approach and dropping the bombs near the target in such a way that the bombs jumped against the target. Disadvantage was the heavy fire from the target. The B-25 lacked sufficient forward firing armament to resist this fire.

B-25C, registered 41-12437 was used for testing purposes. Because the skip bombing doesn't needed the bomb sight, four .50 fixed forward firing machine guns were added to the nose. These pointed out through a metal plate which replaced the flat glass panel. Further four additional fixed 0.50-inch machine guns were added in external blisters, which contained two guns each and were mounted on each sides of the fuselage, just below the cockpit. An metal plate was mounted to protect the fuselage.

Because of a recce flight with B-25C N5-133, March 30, 1943, during which a aerial fight occurred with three Zekes, the Mitchell managed to arrive with hardly any fuel left. Commander Fiedeldij wrote a letter about the insufficient armament and the to long distance of the ordered flights. He referred to an American report which advised to reinforce the forward armament, remove the ventral turret an replace it with a 300 gallon-tank and a movable machine gun in the tail and add a bomb release mechanism for the pilots.

May 7, 1943 permission was given to modify five machines with heavier armament. Mitchells N5-129, N5-137, N5-141, N5-143 and N5-145 were modified and equipped with four .50 machine guns in the nose plus two pair .50 machine guns in a 'single gun pack'. The ventral turret was deleted. The other aircraft were equipped with two pair .50 machine guns in 'single gun packs'.
The bomb release mechanism for the pilots was deleted. The modifications were done at Eagle Farms te Australia, initially 12 strafers were delivered to 90th Squadron. The strafer concept was very successful, so in September 1943 175 B-25C's and D's were modified, including the five Dutch aircraft.

In 1946 several Dutch B-25J’s were modified to the strafer version with eight .05 machine guns in the nose. At that time most Dutch Mitchells had the dorsal turret and gunpacks removed, mainly because of lack of spare parts.

 

Leaflet droppings.

For these dropping the N5-180 'ADA' and N5-185 'Lienke' were available from August 4, 1944. The nose section of the N5-185 needed to be repaired and the aircraft was ready August 24, 1944.

Turrets and armament, except the machine guns in the nose and tail, were removed.
The openings were covered with aluminium plates. Inside the rear part of the fuselage a wooden frame was mounted to hold a 184 gallon fuel tank and also twenty-four four gallon fuel cans were brought aboard.
The underside of the aircraft was thoroughly cleaned and stripped. The aircraft were polished and large Dutch flags were painted on the undersides of the wings and sides of the fuselage.
For the first flight the targets and route were painted on the nose. The first leaflet dropping was in September 23, 1944. to Batavia with the N5-180 and at 0.05 hours on September 24, 1944 the N5-185 left for Bandoeng.
The N5-180 was withdrawn from use after this first flight. The N5-185 made several other flights on January 28, 1945 and January 30, 1945 to Soerabaja, Madioen and respectively Tjililitan.

 

Transporters.

September 1, 1943, NEI Aircraft and Personnel Pool (NEI-APP), Personnel and Equipment Pool (PEP) was established to offer a provision for personnel and material on behalf of 18th and 120th squadron. This unit was some kind of spare of material and personnel.

In January 1944 the NEI Transport Section Melbourne (NEITS) was established and equipped with Lodestars and stripped B-25's.
Its main task was the provisioning of 18 and 19 squadron. Mitchells N5-128; N5-129; N5-134; N5-142 and N5-143 were already in use asTB-25 at 18 squadron and were transferred to nr. 2 NEITS.
Section Melbourne was promoted to squadron status in September 1944: No 1 NEI Transport Squadron.
Section Brisbane became No.2 NEI Transport Squadron and was equipped with three Lodestars and five TB-25's. November 4, 1944 both squadron were merged into No 1 NEITS.
November 1, 1946 no 20 squadron was established at Tjililitan and was equipped with eleven TB-25's, e.g. N5-131; N5-138; N5-146; N5-149; N5-142; N5-160; N5-164; N5-173; N5-223; N5-237; N5-239; N5-240; N5-248; N5-250 and N5-261.
When in May 1948 the C-47's arrived the TB-25's still in use were withdrawn from use.

August 15, 1945 nr. 1 NEITS merged with the newly established 19 squadron. Initially this squadron this squadron was equipped with TB-25D's N5-188; N5-208 and N5-209 plus several C-47's. In October 1945 seventeen C-47's arrived, ten of these aircraft were used immediately. The old TB-25s were withdrawn from use. When no 19 squadron was abolished on April 1, 1948 all remaining aircraft were handed over to 20 squadron.

February 1, 1946 the so call VTG = Vliegtuig Transport Groep (Aircraft Transport Group) no 19 squadron plus all transport aircraft of no 18 squadron were transferred to this Group. Also some parts of the RNlNAS were part of this VTG. In fact it was the executing agency of the NIGAT (Netherlands Indies Government Air Transport). August 15, 1946 civil callsigns were designated to the aircraft of nr 1 NEITS, e.g.N5-129 --> VH-RDC . These call signs were applied in white and 12 inch high lettering on the vertical stabilizer. In black on a bare metal background. (See page 185 of "Camouflage en Kentekens").

RAPWI (= Recovery of Allied Prisoners of War and Internees), this was established in order of Mountbatten in January 1945. It purpose was to take care of allied POWs and detained civilians from the liberated camps.
RAPWI used many different aircraft, such as two Japanese DC-3’s; 10 Soren twin engined transporters and about fifteen single engined Japanese training aircraft plus three TB-25's, e.g. N5-129. The advantage of the use of the Japanese aircraft was the availability of Japanese fuel.

 

PVA. (PhotoVerkenningAfdeeling = Photo Reconnaissance Flight).

During the war 18 squadron started with photo reconnaissance with the B-25. A ‘camera-bay’ was installed, consisting of a cardanic mounted camera above a hatch in the belly of the fuselage. Further several equipment was installed to set up a recording cycle. Also two folding windows on both sides of the fuselage were installed in order to be able to make sidewards photographs. A nice photo can be found on page 141 in ‘Van Glenn Martins en Mustangs’ by Hugo Hooftman and on page 18, 40 and 43 in the book written by Gerben Tornij.

A lot of experience was done with this system and November 10, 1945 the department Fotodienst (Photo Service) could be established. later, in June 1946, a specific Photo Reconnaissance Section was established at Andir, no planes were available at that moment.
Later in 1946 two B-25s could be picked up in Australia. These aircraft were modified to FB-25 photo reconnaissance aircraft. The FB-25's were equipped with a vertical Fairchild K17 camera with four different lenses and with Fairchild K-20 hand operated camera’s.
January 1, 1947 the PVA was established. This Flight was mainly used for topographic photographing an for recce flights on behalf of the ML-KNIL. By the end 0f 1947 five FB-25’s, two Mustangs and five Piper Cubs were in use.
The FB-25 could be used till a height of 1000 feet. At higher level it was difficult to produce good photo's.

 

Royal Netherlands Military Flying School at Jackson.

The first B-25 operational training would start in February 1943 and by the end of November 1942 ten B-25C's were delivered to start the training of the instructors. The first B-25's were, accidentally from the original order of the 162 aircraft ordered by the ML-KNIL. When these Mitchells arrived at Jackson it proofed that the machines lacked the appropriate wiring for the used Sperry bomb sight. The machines were returned to the factory at Kansan city. The first aircraft took a week for this modification.
This was to long, so the other aircraft were modified at Jackson. In April just four Mitchells were modified.

Another ten aircraft were requested. So five B-25D plus five B-25C aircraft were delivered in April and May 1943. These second series had the Sperry bomb sight already built in, so the operation training could start at last. In October 1943 another ten aircraft were requested because of the end date of the training. Several Mitchells were not in use because of technical inspection and overhaul. These ten aircraft were on loan from AAFFTC, the twenty aircraft delivered earlier, were delivered under lend-lease conditions. This third batch were all of the type B-25G, with a 75 mm gun in the nose. These B-25G's were official US aircraft and retained their US serials and markings. There is one photo of an B-25G with Dutch markings, these markings were applied because of a visit of her royal highness princess Juliana.

One B-25D and one B-25G were lost and when the training was finished, all Mitchells were returned via "reverse lend-lease"to the USAF.

The book ‘The Royal Netherlands Military Flying School 1942 – 1944’ written in Dutch by O.G. Ward, P.C.Boer and G.J.Casius offers an extensive overview of the History. of RNMFS.

Post-war Action.

The Second World War has ended and the Dutch B-25's had to fight again, now the opposites were Indonesian nationalists.

Several Dutch units were equipped with the Mitchell. Nr. 16 squadron was founded in November 1946 and equipped with nine Mitchells. It was based at Palembang until the squadron merged in August 1948 with nr. 18 squadron.
A training unit used twelve B-25's and was based at Biak from mid 1946 till August 1948, in order to train ex POW's and new recruited pilot from the Netherlands.
In 1946 several B-25J’s were modified and equipped with with a strafer nose. At that time most Mitchells had the turrets and also other armament removed, mainly because of lack of spare parts. The Mitchells were allowed to fly no more than 15 hours a month.
This lack of spare parts was caused by of the financial situation of the Netherlands and Dutch East Indies.

The Indonesian Republic was formally founded December 27, 1949 (from a official Dutch point of view; the Indonesian state the Republic was founded in August 1945, when the Japanese capitulated). No. 18 Squadron was dismissed in June 1950. In the period between 1945 and 1950 twenty aircraft were written off, so in June 1950 about 41 aircraft were left and handed over to the AURI (Angkatan Udara Republik Indonesia).

The B-25J Mitchell of the SKHV.

In 1942 staat in Camp Columbia te Australië deze middelzware Mitchell B-25 bommenwerper die eerder bij de ML-KNIL in gebruik was en omgebouwd werd tot een transportvliegtuig voor de Netherlands Oost-Indische Transportdienst (Netherlands East Indies Transport Service (NEITS)). De neus werd afgesloten en de koepels en de gehele bewapening werd verwijderd.
In 1942  this medium Mitchell B-25 bomber stands at Camp Columbia to Australia, while it had been used earlier in the ML-KNIL (NEIAF) and after it was converted into a transport plane for the Netherlands East Indies Transport Service (NEITS). The nose was sealed and the domes and the whole armament was removed.
[Enclosed photo from BeeldBank NIMH. Click on photo for ordering information]
Voorbereidingen voor het maken van een karteringsvlucht door een B-25D Mitchell van het ML-KNIL in Nederlands-Indië.
Preparations for a mapping flight by a FB-25D Mitchell of the ML-KNIL [NEIAF). 
[Enclosed photo from BeeldBank NIMH. Click on photo for ordering information]
North American B-25J Mitchell  middelzware bommenwerper van Sq. 18 van de ML/KNIL op de vliegbasis Tjililitan, NOI
North American B-25J Mitchell medium bomber of no 18 squadron NEIAF at air base Tjililitan.
[Enclosed photo from BeeldBank NIMH. Click on photo for ordering information]
Nachtelijke opname van een North American B-25 D Mitchell middelzware bommenwerper van SQ 18 van de ML/KNIL
Night shot of a North American FB-25 Mitchell of Ml-KNIL (NEIAF). 
[Enclosed photo from BeeldBank NIMH. Click on photo for ordering information]
Een formatie North American B-25 J Mitchell middelzware bommenwerpers van het in 1946 geformeerde SQ 16 van de ML/KNIL. De mitrailleurskoepel achter de cokpit werd bij de verbouwing tot
A North American B-25J formation Mitchell medium bombers of no 16 squadron ML-KNIL (NEIAF). The turret behind the cockpit was removed when the aircraft were modified to "Strafer."
[Enclosed photo from BeeldBank NIMH. Click on photo for ordering information]
Opstelling  12,7 mm mitrailleurs  (Colt Browning .050) in de Mitchell bommenwerpoers van de ML/KNIL
Strafer nose of a B-25 of Ml-KNIl (NEIAF).
[Enclosed photo from BeeldBank NIMH. Click on photo for ordering information]
Een B-25 bommenwerper van de Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (ML-KNIL).
A B-25 bomber of the ML-KNIL 9NEIAF).
[Enclosed photo from BeeldBank NIMH. Click on photo for ordering information]
Bemanning staande voor een North American B-25 Mitchell middelzware bommenwerper (N5 squadron, registratie 261) en gereed voor een vlucht van Batavia naar Bandoeng in sept 1946.
Crew standing before a North American B-25 Mitchell serial N5-261 and ready for a flight from Batavia to Bandung in September 1946.
[Enclosed photo from BeeldBank NIMH. Click on photo for ordering information]
Verblijf en optreden van het 8e (4e) Bataljon Regiment Stoottroepen in Nederlands-Indië. Mitchell B-25 van de Militaire Luchtvaart KNIL met registratie N5-252.
Mitchell B-25 of ML-KNIL [NEIAF] with serial N5-252.
[Enclosed photo from BeeldBank NIMH. Click on photo for ordering information]