A veteran aircraft of the 1940’s, this hard-working B-25D Mitchell will fly the route used by Bomber Command to relocate WW II lend-lease bombers to the United Kingdom. In honor of all the air crews that perished while moving bombers to the European Theater, “Grumpy’s” flight crew will arrive in the United States carrying the Royal Air Force Pooley Sword commissioned by the Royal Air Force Museum American Foundation. The sword is to be presented annually to the Royal Air Force Officer on exchange with the United States Air Force who has made the most significant contribution in that year to Anglo/American relations.
Built in North American Aviation’s Kansas City plant, B-25D-30 Mitchell 433318/N88972 was delivered on October 27, 1943 to the USAAF’s advanced flying school at the 402nd Army Air Force Base Unit at La Junta, Colorado. After flying 1,551 hours with the USAAF, the bomber was overhauled at the Kelly Field Depot, Texas. One of 70 B-25Ds included in a 1944 lend-lease transaction, “Grumpy” also served the RAF. Post-war, the hardy aircraft flew as part of Northwest Air Command responsible for the defense of Western Canada. Early in 1962, “Grumpy” was struck off charge and sold by the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation to Joe Goldney of Vancouver, BC. Subsequent private owners have included North Star Aviation of Fairbanks, Alaska (forest fire fighting service) and Noel Merrill Wien of Anchorage, Alaska.
In 1987, after spending more than a decade in storage in Anchorage, “Grumpy” was acquired by The Fighter Collection of Duxford, U.K., and then flown to B-25 rebuilders Aero Trader of Chino, California. The aircraft was ferried in November 1987 to the United Kingdom by the late John Crocker, Aero Trader co-owner Tony Ritzman, and Stephen Grey of The Fighter Collection. For 17 years, “Grumpy” participated as “a fan’s favorite” in many European air shows. After some more storage time at North Weald airfield, the plane was sold in May, 2008 to Historic Flight Foundation, Paine Field, Washington, and restored to airworthy condition by Aircraft Restoration Company in Duxford, England.