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  B-25H-1 "Barbie III" Serial Number 43-4380  
10th AF
1st Air Commando Group

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USAAF 1944

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Big Bang In Burma

Aircraft History
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25H-1 Mitchell serial number 43-4380. Ferried oversea to China-Burma-India (CBI).

Wartime History
Assigned to the 10th Air Force, 1st Air Commando Group, Headquarters Squadron, to pilot Lt. Col. R. T. Smith who nicknamed the aircraft "Barbie III" after his wife, replacing his prior aircraft, B-25H "Barbie II".

Painted light olive drab over neutral gray lower surfaces. The fuselage had five diagonal white stripes (1st Air Commando Group markings) and an additional piece of armor plate was added to the left side of the cockpit.

Tape was required over the edges of the plate because of an aerodynamic anomaly that caused a whistling sound inside the cockpit, and tape fixed the problem. This tape was white in color initially, then over painted with olive drab by Weber.

At one time, bomb markings indicating combat missions were painted onto this armor plate, but later they were over painted or removed. Regular crew members included pilot Lt. Col. R. T. Smith, navigator Lt. Wes Weber, crew chief and top turret Chuck Baisden.

Wartime History
During early 1944, operated from Hailakandi Airfield in India and flew missions against Burma.

According to B-25 crew chief and top turret Gunner, Chuck Baisden on one mission:
"As soon as the fighters finished and got altitude above us, R. T. Smith ordered two flights into our gunnery pattern, and we commenced strafing the village. Our 75mm shells tore into the thatched buildings and literally exploded them into a thousand pieces. I would hear the heavy rattle of our six. 50 machine guns and the dull thud and jolt of our cannon, and a thousand yards away a hut (basha) would explode in a red flash and black smoke. I could see our tracers hitting the ground and ricocheting into the air. They appeared to eat their way into a basha. We averaged three bursts of machine gun fire and three cannon shells per run."

Combat Mission 48: on April 23, 1944 took off from Hailakandi Airfield on a mission against Indaw Airfield in Burma, where they bombed Japanese troop concentration and strafed a village.

Later, this B-25 continued to fly from Asansol Airfield in India against targets in Japanese occupied Burma.

Ultimate fate unknown likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25H-1 Mitchell 43-4380
"Big Bang In Burma" by Roy Grinnell depicts April 23, 1944 mission
B-25H 43-4106 is painted in the markings of "Barbie III"
Flying Tiger To Air Commando page 103-112
Thanks to Jim Lansdale for additional information

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Last Updated
June 29, 2019


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