Sandbar Mitchell Warbird of Glory Museum

NORTH AMERICAN B-25J SANDBAR MITCHELL RECOVERY & RESTORATION

Our Russian B-25

In 2015 we acquired another B-25 from Nome, Alaska. B-25J 44-28898 was built in Kansas City, KS for the Soviet Union in response to Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease program, however it never arrived in the USSR.

Originally the USSR was an Axis Power siding with Nazi Germany. On Sunday, June 22, 1941, Operation Barbarossa commenced and Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. Stalin and the Soviet Union were in trouble and reached out for help.

The Lend-Lease bill permitted President Roosevelt to sell or lend aircraft to any government whose defense the president deems vital to the defense of the United State. During World War II, the Soviet Union received almost 15,000 U.S.-Built aircraft under the Lend-Lease program, which included P-40’s P-39’ P-63’s, A-20’s and B-25’s.

Our Russian B-25 was delivered from North American Aviation to the United Airlines Modification Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming on August 11, 1944 to be prepared for hand-off to the Soviet Union. Upon completion, the Air Transport Command flew the B-25 to Great Falls, Montana and then on to Fairbanks, Alaska where the aircraft were handed off to the Russians. They would paint the Russian star on the aircraft and then fly them to Nome for refueling before continuing over the Bering Sea to the USSR.

In early September, 1944 the aircraft suffered a landing accident in Nome of unknown cause. The B-25 was deemed unusable and pilfered for valuable parts and the remains were discarded to the Alaskan elements.

Abandoned on the Nome tundra for 72 years, people used it as target practice and vandalized it. In early 2000’s a mining operation moved into the area where the original Satellite Air Field was located. At this time the derelict B-25 was moved to the local dump and then eventually rescued by the Nome Aviation and Military Museum. The remaining aircraft consisted of the forward fuselage section, center section, a portion of the rear fuselage, and one wing.

Students attending NACTEC summer classes spent several days away from their normal cirriculum lessons to help the B-25 recover team take apart the aircraft and to visit the original crash site to discover additional parts and artifacts. It was a tremendous experience for those students 14 to 17 years old.


A very special thanks to the Nome Avaition Museum for their very generous donation of the entire shipping cost to transport our Russian B-25 from Nome Alaska to Brighton Michigan. Since there are no roads to Nome, our container had to travel by barge to Seattle, then by train to Detroit, and the by truck to Brighton. Also thanks to Mitch Erickson, Doug Walrath, Kevin Bahnke and many of the great people of Nome for providing knowledge, housing, advice and talent to our recovery team.

The Warbirds of Glory Museum took ownership of the remaining airframe in 2015. Due to corrosion in the main wing spar it will never fly again. Instead useful parts will be scavenged and used to restore Sandbar Mitchell to flight worthy condition.

The Russian B-25 will be restored to static condition by the students of the Kittyhawk Academy as a training platform to learn aircraft restoration and the trade skills.

Without Mitch and the Nome Aviation Museum, we would not have been able to complete our recovery mission. Thank you, Mitch! The volunteers, students, mentors and staff of the Warbirds of Glory Museum, and our Kittyhawk Academy youth development program greately appreciate your gift to history.