Warbird Resurrections: NAA PBJ-1J

June 26, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Photo Courtesy of Mr Dan Newcomb Photo Courtesy of Dan Newcomb

When people hear about the North American Aviation PBJ-1, most will ask what the heck it is. But what they do not realize, is that they already know what it is, only under its more famous name: the B-25 Mitchell. When the US Navy ordered the B-25 for use by the Marine Corps, the Mitchell was given a standard naval type designation. In this case, it was given PBJ-1 (PB stands for Patrol Bomber, J stands for North American Aviation, and the -1 means it is the first Patrol Bomber design from NAA, with the J being the variant… Yes, pre 1962 USN designations are confusing!) The USMC immediately put the type to use in the Pacific Theater of Operations, where it was used effectively to target Japanese positions.

Following the end of World War II, all but 8 of the 706 PBJs produced were scrapped. Of those 8 that survived, only one remains today. For the past 10 years, volunteers at the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force  have been working hard to return PBJ-1J BuNo 35857 to pristine airworthy condition. It is hoped that when this multiyear project is complete, it will tour the US to honor some of the pioneers of USMC Close Air Support. According to Dan Newcomb, the aircraft is structurally complete and siting on her own landing gear. All major rework has been accomplished. Work is now shifting to completing electrical, avionics, and hydraulic systems, as well as finding the funds to overhaul the two Wright R-2600 engines and for the manufacture of new fuel and oil tanks. It is hoped that the forward fuselage will be painted in time for the August airshow at Camarillo, followed by the rest of the aircraft shortly later.

This restoration is probably one of the most complex to date undertaken by any CAF wing, and it shows. Working with an entire group of volunteers, untold hours of sweet, blood, and love has gone into getting this far. It would be a shame to not see it completed. At the moment, though, the biggest hurdle faced by the restoration crew is money.  “Right now what we really need is funds” says Newcomb, “If we can get $200,000, we can have this PBJ-1J flying very soon.” If you would like to help get this one of a kind warbird back in the air, please contact the SoCal wing of the CAF. They would love to hear from you! http://www.cafsocal.com/index.htm. Regular updates will follow!

 

Photo Courtesy of Mr Dan Newcomb Photo Courtesy of Dan Newcomb

Photo Courtesy of Mr Dan Newcomb Photo Courtesy of Dan Newcomb

Photo Courtesy of Mr Dan Newcomb Photo Courtesy of Dan Newcomb


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