This entry in the Osprey Combat Aircraft series looks as the seven Marine Corps squadrons that operated the North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, known in the Navy as the BPJ. The Marine Corps received just over 700 PBJs, and used them to equip sixteen squadrons, but only seven of those units actually used the Mitchell in combat. As a result Scutts is able to follow the wartime experiences of these units in rather more detail than is unusual in this series.
Five of the seven operational PBJ squadrons used their aircraft on night "heckling" attacks against the isolated Japanese garrisons of Rabaul, Bougainville and in the Solomons, before moving to the Philippines, where at least one squadron (VMB-611) carried out ground attack missions to support the American invasion. The sixth squadron, VMB-612, used its PBJs for night time anti-shipping strikes, using radar to find their targets, operating from Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The final operations squadron, VMB-613 made a brief appearance on Iwo Jima to relieve VMB-612.
The Marine Mitchell squadrons rarely get more than a passing mention in books on either the Mitchell or on the Marine Corps during the Second World War, not because of any lack of interest in the topic. They rarely operated alongside the Marine Corps (VMB-612 even operated under Air Force authority for some time), so their story doesn't fit in with that of most Marine Corps squadrons, while the entire campaign of containment against the Japanese bases on Rabaul and in the Solomons are often skipped over in favour of following the front line. This book redressed the balance, and is a valuable addition to this series.
Sea Horses and Devils
Saipan and Iwo
PBJ BuNo Number
Markings and Identities
Author: Jerry Scutts