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  B-25C "Feather Merchant/Irene/Miss Priority" Serial Number 41-12442  
5th AF
345th BG
499th BS

Former Assignments:
3rd BG
13th BS
90th BS
Mines April 7, 1973

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Charles Darby 1974

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Robert Parer 2002

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Justin Taylan 2003

Aircraft History
Built by North American in Inglewood, California, the ninth B-25C produced. Intended for the Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF) and assigned serial number N5-124 during March 1942. Ferried overseas by a ferry crew via Hawaii and across the Pacific to Australia. Instead, assigned to the U. S. Army Air Force, 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 13th Bombardment Squadron at Melbourne during early April, 1942. Nicknamed "Feather Merchant".

Wartime History
During the middle of April 1942, flown from Darwin to Del Monte Airfield on Mindanao. Piloted by Lt. Gustave M. Heiss and co-pilot Ed Townsend, participated in the Royce Mission during April 12-13, 1942 flew bombing missions against Cebu Harbor and Davao.

Gus Breymann adds:
"My uncle, Lt. Gustave M. Heiss, and his co-pilot, Lt. Ed Townsend, flew B-25 41-12442 on the Royce Mission to the Philippines in April, 1942. He was awarded the Silver Star for this mission."

Afterwards, assigned to the 13th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Irene".

On the morning of May 25, 1942 at 5:00am took off from Cooktown Airfield piloted by Peter Talley on a flight bound for 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby.

By midday, one of eight B-25s that took off from 7-Mile Drome piloted by Major Herman F. Lowery on a bombing mission against Lae Airfield. Aboard was Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) S/L Lewis who was selected by the air office to be the air liaison officer in conjunction with the Australian Army commando raid at Salamaua. Over the target, the formation experienced heavy anti-aircraft fire and was interecepted by thirteen A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai intercepted, including six A6M2 Zeros that had taken off on a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) then joined by seven more A6M2 Zeros.

Due to the shortage in bombers, this B-25 was repaired, it was flown to Charters Towers Airfield and later Brisbane for more extensive repairs, and converted to a strafer and returned to combat in January 1943.

Transferred to the 90th Bombardment Squadron and nicknamed "Feather Merchant". This B-25 participated in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

On May 25, 1943 took off from Port Moresby a combat mission against Lae. Over the target, heavily damaged, hydraulic damage and made a two wheel landing. It took a week before it was repaired enough to be flown to to Charters Towers Airfield for further repairs.

On November 30, 1943 transferred to the 345th Bombardment Group, 499th Bombardment Squadron. The crew chief was Ridgeway. Nicknamed "Miss Priority" painted below the cockpit on the right side, and flew combat as a strafer until October 20, 1944.

Taken out of combat service and turned into a fat cat, supply and transport plane around February 1944 with its armament removed, but still in olive drab paint. Later, it was stripped to natural aluminum finish by July 1944, with a red and white striped tail and "Bat Outta Hell" nose markings.

During October 1944, declared war weary, and transferred to a service squadron. At the end of the war, it was abandoned at Tadji Airfield, with its tail removed.

It remain in a American aircraft bone yard at Tadji with only its tail missing. Recovered by Charles Darby from Tadji in 1974, and as part of the Yesterday's Air Force export agreement, it was set up as a memorial at Aitape High School in 1974. Charles Darby moved the aircraft, with assistance from Robert Parer who provided the trailer to move the plane to its new location.

As the tail section was missing from this B-25, the tail from B-25D "Tin Liz" 41-30074, shot down off Dagua, was recovered and attached to the aircraft for display purposes.

Charles Darby adds:
"Strange that I went to all the trouble of getting fin and rudder assemblies from a shot-down B-25D "Tin Liz" 41-30074 at Dagua, then found the original assemblies buried in sand on the last day of the work, long after we had taken the bomber down to the school."

PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-12442
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks cover, page 41, 57 (upper), 59 (upper right) 76
Warpath Across The Pacific page 203, 387, 404 (photo)
Pacific Ghost CD-ROM covers this history of this aircraft and photos
Thanks to Edward Rogers, Gus Breymann and Larry Hickey for additional information

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Last Updated
July 8, 2018


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