The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders will celebrate their 68th reunion April 16-18 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. To coincide with the reunion, a gathering of North American Mitchell B-25 bombers is being collected from all over the United States and Canada to arrive in Dayton to take part in the reunion.
During Saturday’s planned public display of the B-25s on the runway behind the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the public will be able to see the B-25s and meet the crews. There also will be an autograph session scheduled during the reunion when attendees can interact with the Doolittle Raiders attending the reunion. It has not been determined how many of the Raiders will attend the reunion, but organizers are hoping that five or six will be able to make it.
The full public event schedule is available at here.
The North American Mitchell B-25 was the aircraft selected by Lt. Colonel James H. Doolittle to deliver the first bombing raid on Japan on April 18, 1942. The B-25 soon became the pilots’ favorite twin-engine bomber and was used in every theater of World War II, not only as a high level bomber but, after a number of modifications, also a low level attack bomber. Nearly 10,000 were produced. Today there are approximately 200 located in museums around the world, with more than 40 still airworthy and seen at major air shows world wide.
More than 38 Mitchell owners were contacted in recent months to see if they would participate in a Mitchell B-25 tribute to the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. All the owners volunteered to come for the cost of fuel and housing expenses. It was decided to choose 25 of the planes capable of reaching Dayton without an overnight or fuel stop. These aircraft were contacted to participate if the funds were available to help pay their expenses. Larry Kelley, owner and operator of “Panchito,” volunteered to help this program and did a sprea sheet on the costs of bringing the planes to Dayton. He determined about $200,000 was needed to make the gathering happen.
Plans to receive the planes and all logistics are in place where the aircraft will rendezvous upon arrival on April 15 in Urbana, Ohio. The aircraft and crew members will be guests of the Champaign Aviation Museum. The pilot briefing will be held in the museum and the aircraft will be serviced by the Grimes Field FBO before their flight to Wright Field on Saturday morning April 17. The planes will return to Grimes Field on April 18 after the ceremonies at Wright Field.