B-25 Mitchell aircraft in Catch-22

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B-25 from the movie Catch 22.

When Catch-22 began preliminary production, Paramount made a decision to hire the Tallmantz Aviation organization to obtain sufficient North American B-25 Mitchell (B-25) bomber aircraft to recreate a Mediterranean wartime base as depicted in the Joseph Heller novel of the same name. Tallmantz president, Frank G. Tallman found the war-surplus aircraft. He also gathered aircrew to fly the aircraft and ground support crew to maintain the fleet.[1]


Catch-22's budget could accommodate 17 flyable B-25s, and an additional non-flyable hulk was acquired in Mexico, made barely ferry-able and flown with landing gear down to the Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico filming location, only to be burned and destroyed in the landing crash scene. The wreck was then buried in the ground next to the runway, where it remains.

Paramount planned to film the Catch-22 aerial sequences for six weeks, but the production required three months to shoot and the bombers flew a total of about 1,500 hours. They appeared on screen for 12 minutes.

Fifteen of the 18 bombers used in the film still remain intact, including one on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.[2]

B-25H-1NA 43-4513 (N1203), Olive Drab B-25C, Unknown - Camera ship
B-25J-30NC 44-86843 (N3507G), " Passionette Paulette 03507G ", Olive Drab B-25J, Grissom AFB, Indiana, (D)[3]
B-25J-25NC 44-29939 (N9456Z), (girl on bomb) 09456Z ", Camouflage B-25J, Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania, (A) [4]
B-25J-30NC 44-31032 (N3174G), " Free, Fast and Ready 13174G ", Olive Drab B-25J, March AFB, California, (D)
B-25J-15NC 43-28925 (N7687G), " Superman ", Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Addison, Texas, (A)
B-25J-5NC 43-28204 (N9856C), " Booby Trap 39856C ", Olive Drab B-25J, Aero Traders, Chino, California, (A)[5][6]
B-25J-25NC 44-30748 (N8195H), " Heavenly Body ", Camouflage B-25J, (A) Van Nuys, California,
B-25J-30NC 44-30925 (N9494Z), " Laden Maiden ", Desert Tan B-25J, Belgian Aviation Preservation Association, Belgium, (R)[7]
B-25J-30NC 44-86701 (N7681C), " Annzas " - 25 missions, Camouflage B-25J, Musee de l'Air, Paris - Destroyed; Hangar Fire
B-25J-25NC 44-30801 (N3699G), " Vestal Virgin 13699G ", Olive Drab B-25J, American Aeronautical Foundation, Camarillo, California, (A)[8]
B-25J-20NC 44-29366 (N9115Z), " aBominable Snowman ", Olive Drab B-25J, (D)[9]
B-25H-1NA 43-4432 (N10V), " Berlin Express 410V ", Camouflage B-25J, Experimental Aircraft Association Museum, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, (D)[10]
B-25J-25NC 44-30077 (N2849G), " The Denver Dumper ", Olive Drab B-25J, Pacific Aviation Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, (D)
B-25J-35NC 44-8843 (XB-HEY), Camouflage B-25C; Destroyed.
B-25J-25NC 44-30493 (N9451Z), " Dumbo 39451Z ", Olive Drab B-25C, Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls, Montana, (D)[11]
B-25J-25NC 44-30649 (N9452Z), " Hot Pants 32452Z ", B-25C, (D) Maxwell AFB, Alabama
B-25J-20NC 44-29887 (N10564), " 6Y Luscious Lulu, Olive Drab, NASM, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Virginia, (D)[12]
B-25J-25NC 44-30823 (N1042B), (nude on bomb) Olive Drab - Camera ship, Fort Worth, Texas, (A)[13]
B-25J, nose section, Tennessee Air Museum, Sevierville, Tennessee, (D)

All the B-25s had the tip of the vertical stabilizer painted blue.

For the film, mock upper turrets were installed. To represent different models several aircraft had the turrets installed behind the wings representing early (B-25C/D type) aircraft. Initially, the camera ships also had the mock turrets installed, but problems with buffeting required their removal.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Farmer 1972, p. 22.
  2. ^ "North American B-25J-20NC (TB-25N) Mitchell Carol Jean". NASM. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "B-25J Mitchell Bomber". Grissom Air Museum. 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "North American B-25J Mitchell "Briefing Time"". Mid-Atlantic Air Museum. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Aero Trader Projects". aerotrader.net. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Aero Trader History". aerotrader.net. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "A B-25 back to Belgium". BAPA ASBL. 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2016. 
  8. ^ "B-25 Mitchell/44-30801". Warbird Registry. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "North American TB-25 J". RAF Museum. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "1943 North American B-25H 'Mitchell' - N10V". EAA Museum. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "B-25J/44-30493". Warbird Registry. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "North American B-25J-20-NC (TB-25N) Mitchell "Carol Jean"". National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  13. ^ Terry, Jim. "B-25J". B25.org, Fort Worth, Texas. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  • Dolan Edward F. Jr. Hollywood Goes to War. London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124-229-7.
  • Farmer, James H. "The Catch-22 Air Force." Air Classics, Volume 8, No. 14, December 1972.
  • Harwick, Jack & Ed Schnepf. "A Viewer's Guide to Aviation Movies". The Making of the Great Aviation Films, General Aviation Series, Volume 2, 1989.
  • Orriss, Bruce. When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War II. Hawthorne, California: Aero Associates Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-9613088-0-X.

External links[edit]