Book Review
CBI B-25 Units
B-25 Mitchell Units of the CBI
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

B-25s are popular and well known WWII bombers but the CBI (China-Burma-India Theater of War) is frequently overlooked and under reported. This Osprey Publishing LTD book is for fans of the CBI, WW2 air war, medium bombers and B-25s, who should be eager to learn about this aerial David and Goliath story. CBI was dead last in priority for supplies despite being critical to keeping China in the war against Japan. USAAF fielded a pittance of B-25s against an enemy army of millions of troops deployed along thousands of miles of front. CBI Mitchell crews flying bombers and gunships, some with a 75mm cannon, faced danger from the Japanese and also extreme weather.

B-25 Mitchell Units of the CBI from Osprey Publishing LTD details the harsh war fought by that iconic bomber against the Japanese and mother nature in support of China, and the defense of India. Authored by Edward M Young and illustrated by artist Jim Laurier, this 96-page softcover book presents a concise history of B-25 action in the CBI 1942-45. Supporting the text are 30 original color profiles of B-25s, and an interesting gallery of photographs. Osprey describes the book:
    Flying from and between bases in China and India, the B-25s bombed every type of Japanese target during World War 2 in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theatre, ultimately dropping more ordinance than their larger four-engined B-24 Liberator brethren.

    Mitchell bombers took on the task of disrupting the flow of Japanese supplies to the frontlines at medium ranges, bombing Japanese supply centres, railway depots and bridges. It was in this last capacity that the B-25 established a unique role as a ‘bridge-buster'. This provided significant support for the British Fourteenth Army as they advanced into Burma.

    Fully illustrated with detailed cutaway artwork, this book tells the important, yet forgotten story of B-25 operations in the CBI Theater and the important role that this aircraft played on the road to victory.

The book is catalogued with IBSN 9781472820365 and Osprey's short code COM 126. Formats are softcover, ePub, and PDF.

Osprey and the author pack a great deal of information into these 96 pages and three chapters:
    1. Building An Air Offensive In the CBI
    2. Allied Plans and Japanese Offensives
    3. Victory In Burma, Delay In China
    Color Profile Commentary

Those chapter titles differ from the titles on the Osprey webpage.

Mr. Young begins with the formation of B-25 units in the CBI, divided between the 10th and 14th Air Forces, and eventually an American-Chinese composite group. With only one B-25 group for each air force and another for the Chinese unit, Mitchell squadrons sortied against the huge Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). To attack the Japanese they had to face severe weather, and that was after idling for weeks while collecting enough POL (Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants), bombs and ammunition.

The book continues with narratives of missions flown against the Japanese and immense logistics each mission required. Further explained is the difficulty the Allies had identifying and attacking worthwhile targets due to the peculiarities of the Japanese Army's logistics train. Like their 5th Air Force cousins in the Southwest Pacific Theater, CBI B-25s were widely used against Japanese shipping.

Interesting accounts of unusual combats are mentioned such as a B-25 mission encountering and flying through a large dogfight between RAF Hurricanes and IJAAF fighters, and a low-level dogfight between a B-25 and a Japanese Navy E11A "Jake".

When IJA launched significant offensives, we learn of B-25 missions in support of Allied ground troops. CBI B-25s flew a significant percentage of their missions against the rail network supplying the Imperial Japanese Army. Examined are the unique characteristics of a rail physical plant that made knocking yards and bridges out of commission difficult. Presented is how B-25 squadrons overcame attack difficulties with tactics and innovative weapons. CBI B-25s employed strafing, level, glide, and skip bombing, and even improvised their own method christened "Glip" bombing.

Cannon-armed B-25G/H versions deployed to the CBI were used for both high and low missions. The effectiveness of the cannon is recounted in several stories. B-25 groups flew both cannon nosed and bombardier nosed B-25s and we learn of the decision about which one was most requested.

I found the text to be a concise presentation of the role of Mitchells in the CBI. It is easy to read and the author does a good job of explaining large and small details. I found one typo, the year 1943 used instead of 1944. A small faux pas in an otherwise worthwhile text.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
B-25 units had their share of official and layman photographers, and their photos fill the book. Only perhaps a dozen pages lack any images. Almost every image is of high quality and many display detail that should inspire modelers. One particularly interesting photo is a B-25 breaking away low over a railway bridge, bomb exploding in the water. Dioramaists will find plenty of images for scenes simple or complex.

Osprey loads the middle of their Combat Aircraft books with color profiles. Artist Jim Laurier created 30 of them for this book, spanning B-25Cs through Js, both painted and NMF (natural metal finish). Each image has a caption and later more detailed description.

Reproduced is an instructional diagram of "Glip" bombing. Other charts and tables are:
    i. B-25 Units of the CBI
    ii. Unit Assignments by Group and Squadron, by year and month

Two detailed grayscale maps define the theater:
    1. China Battle Area 1942-1945
    2. Burma-Thailand

The gallery of images completely supports the text.

Osprey's B-25 Mitchell Units of the CBI is another good historical account of that medium bomber fighting in the CBI. Modelers should find a great amount of inspiration and source material in the book. The text is detailed and interesting. A gallery of good photographs and 30 original color B-25 profiles enhances the text.

I found one typo - a date.

Students of the B-25, the CBI, the 10th and 14th Air Forces, and interdiction should be enthusiastic about this book. It should fill more pieces into the CBI air war puzzle. Recommended.

Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on Aeroscale.
Highs: The text is detailed and interesting. A gallery of good photographs and 30 original color B-25 profiles enhances the text.
Lows: One typo - a date.
Verdict: Students of the B-25, the CBI, the 10th and 14th Air Forces, and interdiction should be enthusiastic about this book. It should fill more pieces into the CBI air war puzzle.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: COM 126
  PUBLISHED: Feb 23, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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