North American B-25J

The origin of the project : a B25 back to belgium  
Years ago, a North American B-25J "Mitchell" has been acquired to be preserved in Belgium. With your help, this airplane will be restored and displayed in Belgium as a memorial to those many Belgians who fought in the B-25 which equipped the 98, 180 and 320 Squadrons during WWII. 
The first step was to find an available B-25 that could be acquired for a reasonable price and would be in reasonable condition to allow a static restoration.  
B-25 "44-30925"  
This B-25 is a Movie Star. It flew in movie Catch-22 as "Laden Maiden" in 1968-1969. Later on in 1978 it flew in "Hannover Street" as 151632 "Gorgeous George-Ann" and later "Thar She Blows". Peter Arnold kindly sent us a few pictures taken in May 1978 at RAF Bovingdon. He was at the Hanover Street filming ..... and almost flying: they caught fire on the take off run in 'Brenda's Boy'! After this last film, it was stored, changed hands several times and was stored at various locations like Coventry Airport where it was parked at a place called 'Rock Farm'. It finished in a dismantled condition at Sandtoft. There its condition, slowly but certainly, deteriorated. In December 2004, one of our members discovered in "Flypast" news, that a B-25 stored near Hull was on sales after demise of the Imperial Aviation Group. 
A small project team was created and studied the possibility to raise funds to buy and transport the aircraft to Belgium. Just before the New Year 2005-2006, the Brussels Air Museum Fund (BAMF) gave her formal approval to take care of the administrative and financial aspects of the project. A bid was placed, which was accepted.  
That was just the beginning …  
As offered, the B-25 was in a dismantled state, missing its engines but in quite fair condition. We later discovered that the plane was not in the expected location, stored in the open and damaged by transport in poor condition. As soon as the payment of the plane had been completed, an emergency transport was scheduled to secure all the small components. For this first transport, we borrowed the van of “Literie Libau”… the custom officer was a bit surprised when he verified the load on our return trip! Thanks to some good contact, we moved the plane to Belgium in a temporary storage location.  
NewICC, a company specialized in corrosion treatment, accepted to help us. Complete components, like the fuselage, were to be treated at very competitive price, saving thousands of man-hours on the project. Before this, the various components needed to be prepared. This preparation included: the manufacture of all the necessary jigs to move and work on the components without damage, the removal of all the equipment to allow a complete access to the airframe.

This preparation work was accomplished in difficult condition, as the storage facility offered the minimum of light, electricity, hauling equipment and wasn’t heated. Tools had to be brought each time a “working session” was organized and most of the work was done “by hand”. NewIcc went bankrupt, and finally only small components, like the fuselage floors, hatches and the like, had been treated. Because of this, the B-25 left the premises of NewIcc for Melles, where the main components have been sandblasted by a specialized company. Volunteers worked during two week-ends at Melles to clean the sandblasted components before a protective coat could be applied. Volunteers worked in "arctic" condition to finish the job. The sandblasting and primer application completed, the B-25 was then moved to Grimbergen in April, 2010 to be stored before further restoration. 
Restoration work has been slow due to several reasons, the main one being the lack of an adequate workshop to work on the project.  
This and other reasons led some volunteers to decide the creation of a new association disposing of its own workshop, tooling and working procedures 
At the BAPA workshop  
In 2013, the B-25 is transported to the newly opened BAPA workshop in Gembloux. Work on the B-25 started with the removal of many components to allow repairs to the airframe. 
Much work as been done since 2013 and the pictures on those page gives you only an idea of the work that has been done.
To have the latest information about the B-25 restoration, and of the many other activities done by BAPA, have a look on  our facebook and instagram pages: 


Purchase of parts and componants

In parralel to the restauration work, we continued to search for the missing components: 
- two Wright 2600 engines were found and purchased in 2014. 
- most of the radio equipment have been found and bought from various sources, 
- a bendix upper turret has be found and bought thanks to a generous donator, its restauration is a project in itself! 
But the B-25 serve other purposes as well: 
- for the cinema: Airmen (Short 2016) Director. Olivier Merckx · Writer. Christopher Morrison · Stars · Crispian Belfrage · Russell Quinn · Aaron Stielstra. 
- for display: it was part of the BMVT rally (4-6 august 2017) "USAAF et Women-at-War" at the "Fort of Lantin". 
- for the cinema again: Catch-22 (TV Mini Series 2019) 
The participation to events or to film production means a lot of work to prepare the airframe, but at the same time boost the project by alowing difficult to find/expensive parts to be acquired. 
Above: From film star in "Hannover street", to film decorration as "Thar she blows" and finaly years of neglect.