The “Yellow Rose”, the christened name of the vintage B-25J Mitchell WWII bomber, is once again touring the American skies. The bomber is completely restored to its wartime capabilities and is operated by the Commemorative Air Force Central Texas Wing. It is one of the flying museum pieces belonging to the organization’s “Ghost Squadron” aircraft collection. After four years, the aircraft was lovingly restored to WWII condition by members of the Central Texas Wing and donated to the CAF in 1981. Literally thousands of man hours were donated over the four year period by the members of the Yellow Rose Squadron in order to bring the Rose back into full operational readiness. The restoration project met numerous problems including the lack of parts and, of course, lack of funds. With the help of dedicated aviation enthusiasts throughout the state of Texas and the skill of volunteer craftsmen, the plane was again ready to fly.
The airplane now visits an average of 25 cities and towns across the United States each year as a patriotic and education exhibit dedicated to those who gave their all for world freedom during WWII. The Rose is a flying museum.
You can go through the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. and see an awe inspiring display of aircraft. However, the majority of people never get the opportunity to do that. The Central Texas Wing flies its museum piece to the people, and that’s quite a feat considering the airplane is over 60 years old. If seeing this warbird isn’t enough, people can lay their hand on the rivets that keep her together. You can crawl through the Rose, touch it, smell the hydraulic fluid, and get greasy from those big radial engines. Since the two 1,700 horsepower engines burn approximately 150 gallons of fuel per hour, costs run high for the Central Texas Wing.
Staffed entirely by volunteers, financing is accomplished mainly through donations, tours of the aircraft, and the sale of memorabilia. These monies help to offset the high operational cost. As a non-profit, tax exempt organization, the CAF must rely on the communities that the Rose visits as the legacy of this historic aircraft endures.
“We are very careful with every penny,” said Jack Hart, a Central Texas Wing member. “Everyone on the crew is a volunteer, and each member pays his or her own expenses. However, we never turn down outside donations.”
The North American B-25J Mitchell “Yellow Rose” is one of the over 11,000 B-25s built during WWII. There are only twenty-seven restored and flying in the United States at this time. Colonel Kelly Klaus, the Executive Officer of the Central Texas Wing estimates that there may be 35 B-25s in any condition, worldwide.
The History of the CAF’s B-25 “Yellow Rose”
The Commemorative Air Force B-25 “Yellow Rose” was built in 1943 as B-25J-5-NC, serial number 43-27868
April 26, 1944:
The “Yellow Rose” was delivered, over one year before the end of World War II.
The aircraft was assigned to the 334th Bombardment (Medium) Group (Third Air Force) and later, to the 331st AAF Base Unit (Combat Crew Replacement Training), 3rd AF, Greenville Army Air Field (AAF), South Carolina. There were deployments to Myrtle Beach AAF, SC and Columbia AAF, SC during this period.
The Rose was assigned to the 128th AAF Base Unit (Continental Air Force), Greenville AAF, SC.
The Rose was assigned to the 112th AAF Base Unit (ConAF), Hartford AAF, CT.
The aircraft was assigned to the 112th AAF Base Unit (ConAF), Westover AFB, Massachusetts.
The Rose was placed in storage at the 4168th AAF Base Unit (Air Technical
Service Command) at South Plains AAF, Texas.
The aircraft was transferred to another storage location at the 4141st AAF Base Unit (Air
Material Command) at Pyote AAF, Texas.
The bomber was removed from storage and assigned to the 3750th Technical Training Wing (Air Training Command) as a ground instructional airframe at Shepard AFB, Texas. It remained there for almost seven years without flying, which explains the low airframe time.
The aircraft was flown to the Birmingham Modification Center where Hayes Aircraft Company converted it to a TB-25N and returned it to flying status.
The plane was assigned to the 3640th Pilot Training Wing (ATC) at Laredo AFB, Texas and that assignment included a deployment to Offutt AFB, Nebraska.