Historic Flight Foundation - B-25D Mitchell "Grumpy" Runup and taxiing

Along with serving as bombers and later, as low-flying strafers, B-25s were great trainers. Grumpy’s flight path began in 1943, training US Army Air Force pilots. In 1944, she was transferred to the Royal Air Force as part of the Lend\Lease program and worked for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Though her work was quiet, she trained crews to fly B-24 Liberators for the critical aerial offensive in Southeast Asia. Post-war, it’s probable that she spent time in storage, but also joined auxiliary bombing units responsible for defending western Canada.

1962-1980: Fire-Bombing and Down Time
Grumpy wandered a bit as a surplus plane between 1962-1967, but did go active again as a civilian fire bomber in 1967. Grumpy could quickly maneuver in and out of deep hot zones and hold up to 1,000 gallons of fire retardant in what used to be her bomb bay, making her one of many B-25s who came out of storage to serve again.

1980-1987: Restoration Path
Merrill Wien, one of our unsung heroes, purchased the plane in 1980. He spent years working patiently with Grumpy, who at this point was truly in a bad mood, after decades of hard service and too much time spent in storage. Eventually, he got the plane to Aero Traders in Chino, CA, intent on full restoration. Jimmy Doolittle, now age 90, entered again. When Wien asked him to take a flight with Grumpy after restoration. Doolittle quietly refused, saying he’d stopped flying at age 60 and wasn’t about to press his luck. Well, we still cherish the connection.

1987-2009: Flying Classic
In 1987, Wien sold the plane to the Duxford Fighter Collection, who worked with Aero Traders to complete the restoration and took it to England for a career as a Warbird classic. The plane now featured RAF markings and became a fan’s favorite for many flight exhibitions. Historic Flight acquired the plane in 2008—which leads us to Grumpy’s most recent mission—crossing the Atlantic to honor those pilots who gave their lives delivering planes to the European theater. She’s back, bearing a sword of honor for all who served.
Historical Aviation
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