by Brooke P. Anderson, email@example.com
A picture of the original Tondelayo and some of her crew. From http://www.collingsfoundation.org/images/tondelayo.jpg
B-25J crew positions, for reference in figuring out where the pictures below were taken. There are six crew, with the bombardier also serving as the nose gunner and the radio operator also operating both waist gunner positions. The six positions in the B-25J thus were: bombardier/nose gunner; pilot; co-pilot; flight engineer or navigator; radio operator/waist gunner; and tail gunner. There was some variation in how the B-25's were crewed depending on model of B-25 (for example, some B-25's had a top turret, some did not have a tail gun but had other positions, etc.).
Tondelayo, a B-25J owned by the Collings Foundation. They occasionally change paint schemes, and each year, they go on a tour of the US. Incredibly, they sell rides on it for around $400 each. She is taxiing in after a flight at the airfield near the Museum of Flight near Seattle.
The bombardier/nose-gunner position. The bombardier and nose gunner were the same person in the B-25.
The copilot has his sliding window open as Tondelayo taxis in after landing. The navigator or flight engineer sits behind the pilot and copilot positions.
The right waist-gun position, with a face somewhat visible behind the Plexiglas as Tondelayo shuts down its engines after a flight.
A close up of the left-side waist-gun position. The radio operator was the one to operate the waist guns in combat.
A view of the tail-gun position as Tondelayo taxis out for another flight.
Another view of the tail-gun position as Tondelayo guns its engines to taxi out. I am about to get a healthy dose of propwash.
A picture of Tondelayo's side after she is shut down for the day. Entry to the front compartment is with the ladder just in front of the open bomb-bay doors (not the external silver step ladder). The front compartment is forward of the bomb bay and is where four crewmen would be: navigator (or flight engineer); pilot; copilot; and bombardier/nose gunner.
A view forward from just aft of the bomb bay with the bomb-bay doors open. Tondelayo's copilot is just exiting the front compartment using the entryway ladder.
The cockpit from floor level, which is what you see once up the entryway ladder.
The instrument panel and controls.
Looking forward from the cockpit.
Looking up a bit, showing the cockpit canopy.
Looking left out of the cockpit at the parked B-24J Witchcraft.
A view looking back from the cockpit, showing seats in the flight engineer (or navigator) area. Note that there is a tunnel up at the top of the fuselage, over the top of the bomb bay, connecting the front and rear compartments of the B-25. One could crawl through it, but it is very cramped, and there is a hole in the floor of the tunnel. The hole leads into the bomb bay (see picture of bomb bay below).
Looking forward through a tunnel that goes under the flight deck to the bombardier/nose-gunner position. This tunnel is also what you see once you are up the entryway ladder.
A view of Mitch exiting the tunnel into the nose compartment. It gives a good idea how tight it is to go through that tunnel and an idea of what it would be like to get back through it the other way to bail out.
In the bombardier's position, looking at the Norden bombsight.
Manning the nose gun.
A view back and left from the nose compartment, looking that the left engine.
Mitch coming through the tunnel back from the nose.
A view up into the bomb bay showing two bombs. Note the hole in the ceiling of the bomb bay. That's the hole in the floor of the tunnel leading over the bomb bay and connecting the front and rear compartments of the B-25.
Tondelayo taxiing out for takeoff with a previous group of passengers, giving me a good blast of wind from the props.
The two Wright Cyclones roar! She is up . . .
A view of the tail and tail-gun position as our group is called in.
Me (Brooke) in my trusty A2 jacket getting ready to enter the aft compartment, which is where Mitch and I will ride. Other passengers will be riding in the front compartment and are entering at the front ladder.
A picture of four of us strapping in and getting ready. Mitch and I are sitting near the right and left waist guns respectively. The picture was taken by the fifth passenger (Pete), aiming the camera forward. You can see the tunnel that goes over the top of the bomb bay and that connects the aft and forward compartments.
Looking out the left waist-gun window at Witchcraft as we get ready to start engines.
A view out of the left waist-gun window as we lift off and raise gear.
Looking out the left waist-gun window as we get some sun peaking through, making a rainbow. In a moment, they ring the bailout bell, which is our signal that we can unhook and move around.
I stand up and look forward at the cockpit through the tunnel connecting aft and forward compartments. You can see the hole that goes down into the bomb bay, some equipment (hydraulic?) to the left, and the head of a person sitting in the flight-engineer (or navigator) position behind the copilot
Looking out the left waist-gun window, out and across the left wing. Part of the machine gun is visible at the bottom of the picture.
At the right waist gun, aiming back under the tail.
Looking out of the left waist-gun window at downtown Seattle and the Space Needle.
One of the passengers heading back into the tail-gunner's position. It is tight, and you have to go back there on hands and knees. Note the control cables for elevator, rudder, and trim on the left and right sides.
A view back toward the tail with Pete in the tail-gunner position.
Mitch in the tail-gunner position, showing the large amount of Plexiglas that guarantees the view to come.
A view toward the front as I get my turn as tail gunner. With hand raised, Pete wishes me good luck. There's some turbulence today, so crawling back to the tail gun is more fun than on a calm day.
Looking out as the tail gunner. It's a marvelous view.
Looking down a little as tail gunner to see the gun barrels. There are some fuel tanks down there ripe for strafing.
Looking across the elevator at the left rudder (i.e., looking right while in the tail-gunner position).
Looking right, showing more of the great view you get from the tail-gunner position.
A picture toward the front-left of the plane from tail-gun position.
A picture toward the forward-right of the plane from the tail-gun position.
A picture of me in the tail-gun position (holding the camera out in front of me, with it aiming toward the front the aircraft). The bemused expression on my face is because Aces High will soon have the B-25, and in some scenario to come, I'll be in this position looking out with anxiety as BlauK and Mipoikel approach in their Bf 109's or FW 190's. I'll be hoping ROC, Roscoroo, Newman, and Fencer are back there somewhere in P-47's, escorting the bomber stream.
I make my way back to a seat as our flight nears its end. Looking out the right waist-gun window as we lower flaps on approach to landing.
As we finish our landing roll, we head past the B-17G Nine O Nine as it taxis out for a flight.
We taxi past Witchcraft.
We park and stop the engines. They pop the aft door, and Mitch exits down the ladder with a bit of a grin on his face.
I bid a fond farewell to Tondelayo.
Mitch bids a fonder one.
by Brooke P. Anderson
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