Friday, December 5

Review: "B-25 Factory Times" by Wim Nijenhuis

When a knowledgeable man like Wim Nijehuis makes a book about the construction of the B-25 Mitchel bomber we should take notice! – Nic was able to secure a copy and give a nice review for the news today….

B-25 Factory Times by Wim Nijenhuis
Edited by Media Primair Modelbouw B.V. in the Netherlands
Hardcover, 192 pages + covers
21,3 cm x 30,3 cm
Written in English, with over 700 photos

Sometimes the passion for a type of aircraft can lead to impressive results. For years, Wim Nijenhuis has been interested in the North American B-25 Mitchell. He started reading all publications he could get his hands on, collecting photos and building scale models of the twin-engined bomber. After a while, he started writing articles in magazines on the Mitchell and on the movies in which the aircraft played a major role, like Catch-22 and Hanover Street. 

Over the years, Wim built a huge amount of B-25’s in 1/48. During the latest IPMS Nationals in The Netherlands, he had a few of them on display ...
Doing a lot of research enabled him to build quite a few interesting but lesser known B-25’s, like “Dumbo”:
Here is the author in front of his favourite aircraft, with a freshly printed book in his hand. Quite right to be proud!
This 192 page book is really something special. It is packed with hundreds of photos and brings an interesting story that is often taken for granted: that of the people behind the production of wartime aircraft. It isn’t a scientific study of the production of this medium bomber, it is more an illustrated history with many fascinating photographs.

This photograph shows thousands of workers of North American Aviation at the Inglewood plant in 1942. The occasion was a visit of the newly promoted General Doolittle, 6 weeks after he was in the lead of a flight of B-25’s on a bombing mission over Japan, taking off from an aircraft carrier.
In the first chapter, Wim talks about the aircraft produced during and after the Second World War, more in specifically by North American. North American (and later Rockwell) built some impressive aircraft, like the P-51 Mustang, T-6, F-86 Sabre and F-100 Super Sabre, but also the Vigilante, X-15 and XB-70 Valkyrie.

Of course, the main hero in this book is the B-25 Mitchell and Wim takes us back to the first designs with the NA-40. He also introduces all different types that went into production. Some of these are quite rare, like the F-10, a bug eyed photo mapper version of the B-25, the NA-98X - a B-25 equipped with two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51 engines instead of Wright R-2600 engines or the PBJ-1D, the US Marine Corps version of the B-25, easily recognisable by the big radome placed on top of the glass nose.
In this book you will find an overview of all B-25 operators and I was surprised how many there were! Argentina, Australia, Biafra, Bolivia, Brazil, and many more. Nearly 10.000 Mitchell’s were built. The photo above shows “Bones”, the 1000th and last B-25H to be produced. It was signed by a number of factory employees and actually went into battle like this with the 12th Bomb Group in the Mediterranean.
Two very interesting chapters give a closer look at the two North American production plants of Inglewood and Kansas City. Wim is very thorough, showing the departments, production, assemblies, paint jobs and final completion and test flights. The book gathers a huge amount of photos on the subject, sometimes up to 10 photos per page! These photos also offer some very nice details, like this one, showing some great engine detail. 
This photo shows a B-25C before its first flight, with the bomb bay doors open. Some checks are done on the engine – notice how the hydraulically operated cowl flaps are fully open.
This photo was taken in Kansas City, showing a straffer version of the B-25 which was actually the 30.000th plane built by North American during it’s wartime constructions. This aircraft is a B-25J and went into service with the 499th Bombardment Squadron.
Something rarely seen in a book is an overview of the many manuals and advertisements made for the Mitchell. Like this one of 1945, showing the different versions of the B-25.
Wim has gathered over 60 advertisements on the aircraft, some of which are pretty impressive!

Now, how do we like this book? It is an extremely interesting book for anyone who likes the B-25 or wants to find out more on the design and production of a wartime aircraft. The many photos and the lay-out give the book a nostalgic look, which I like a lot.
The modeller will like this book too: first, it shows some interesting details and second, it offers some pretty cool diorama ideas!
But this book is mainly a photographical history on the production of the B-25 Mitchell. It clearly is a book made by someone who is absolutely fascinated by the aircraft. You can always tell the difference between a book that is made for profit of for passion on a subject. In this case, it is clearly the latter.
It is packed with information and photos, the only shame is that some photos are printed rather small. I understand that a choice had to be made – if all of them would have been placed in a larger size, the book would probably have had over 500 pages ...

I enjoyed this book and I probably will for a long time: each time I open it, I discover something new. This really is a book I can recommend! And it showes to a very good advantage that many people were involved in the war; not only the pilots, crew and ground crew, but also thousands of people “back home” who ensured that aircraft and parts were always available.

Nicolas Deboeck 

Thanks to Wim Nijenhuis for sending a copy of his wonderful work. This book is available on
.Those who would like a copy signed by the author, can send an e-mail to