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September 4, 2013

WW II bomber took 28 years to restore

MT. VERNON — —

Known for its versatility to be used as both a medium-level bomber and low-level attack bomber, the B-25 Mitchell bomber "Maid in the Shade" is taking front and center at the Mt. Vernon Airport this week.

The World War II bomber is on display during the Midwest LSA Expo, which begins Thursday and continues through Saturday.

"This is a B-25 J model, and it was built in 1943 in Kansas City, Mo. It went overseas in 1944, and flew 15 combat missions at Serraggia, in Italy and the Yugoslavia area," explained Crew Chief Jim Martin.

Serragia Airfield is an abandoned military airfield in France, located west-southwest of Porto-Vecchio on Corsica. Its last known use was by the United States Army's 12th Air Force in 1944.

Martin said the aircraft was phased out and went to civilian life, spraying red ants in Texas.

"It wound up in a scrap heap in Tucson in a bone yard, and a gentleman bought it and donated it to the Commemorative Air Force," he continued, noting the aircraft was purchased for about $1,500. "It came to the Airzona wing and we restored it, taking 28 years for its restoration."

Three years ago, "Maid in the Shade" made its voyage mission three years ago on May 29, and has been flying ever since.

Martin said the engines have about 340 hours and the aircraft itself has about 5,600 hours of use. The plane is equipped with 12 50-caliber machine guns and it carry a bomb load of 3,000 pounds. The plane's top speed is about 325 knots.

"Our economy cruise is about 200 miles per hour. We kind of baby it because we want it to last," Martin. "It's just a nice, fast airplane. It was as fast as the fighters of that day. It's just an all around good airplane," he said.

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