Sandbar Mitchell Warbird of Glory Museum

The History of the Lend Lease B-25J

In 2015, the museum acquired the remains to another B-25J, located in Nome, Alaska. B-25J, 44-28898 was built in Kansas City, Kansas for the Soviet Union in response to Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease program. However, it never arrived in the Soviet Union.

Originally the Soviet Union 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 to the Allied Powers for help.

The Lend-Lease bill permitted President Roosevelt to sell or lend aircraft to any government whose defense deemed 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-40s, P-39s, P-63s, A-20s and B-25s.

North American Aviation delivered the B-25 to the United Airlines Modification Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming on August 11, 1944 for modification for the Soviet Union. Upon completion, Air Transport Command flew the B-25 to Great Falls, Montana, then on to Fairbanks, Alaska with the final stop being Satellite Field in Nome, Alaska.

In early September of 1944, the aircraft suffered a landing accident at Satellite Field of an unknown cause. With the B-25 being unusable, mechanics pilfered the airframe for valuable parts. The remains of the B-25 were left discarded to the Alaskan elements.

Abandoned on the Nome tundra for 72 years, people used the airframe as target practice and vandalized it. In early 2000, a mining operation moved into the area where the original Satellite Air Field was located. The Nome Aviation and Military Museum removed the derelict B-25 airframe from the local dump. The remaining aircraft consisted of the forward fuselage section, center section, a portion of the rear fuselage and one outer wing panel.

Students ranging from 14 to 17 years old, attending the local NACTEC summer classes spent several days away from their normal curriculum lessons to help Patrick, Anthony and Todd disassemble the remaining parts of the aircraft for shipping. The local dump yielded additional parts and artifacts from the aircraft. It was a tremendous experience for those involved.

A very special thank you to the Nome Aviation and Military Museum for their very generous donation of the B-25 Airframe along with covering the entire shipping cost for the transportation of the B-25 from Nome, Alaska to Brighton, Michigan. Also, thank you 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.

Sadly, due to severe corrosion in the main wing spar caps the Soviet B-25 may never fly again. Airworthy parts from 44-28898 are being swapped with non-airworthy parts from Sandbar Mitchell to help in its airworthy restoration. As time goes on and more parts are collected, we hope to offer the Soviet Mitchell for sale as a viable project.