WWII Veteran Tail Gunner Visits the Tribute to the B-25 He Crewed

Tail Gunner Norris holds a copy of a photo that shows his crew standing by the original “The Little King.” In that photo (see inset), Norris is the second from the right. (Image Credit: Museum of Aviation)
Tail Gunner Norris holds a copy of a photo that shows his crew standing by the original “The Little King.”
In that photo (see inset), Norris is the second from the right.
(Image Credit: Museum of Aviation)
At the Museum of Aviation near Warner Robins, Georgia, a recent visitor turned out to have quite a connection to the North American B-25 Mitchell bomber on display. He was its tail gunner. Well, not precisely. Norris Olson flew 70 combat missions as a tail gunner, some on the B-25 Mitchell bomber nicknamed “The Little King” (serial number 43-27676) during World War II. The museum’s B-25, serial number 44-86872, is marked to appear as “The Little King.” So while the plane is indeed more or less the spitting image of Olsen’s craft, initials he might have scratched in the interior are not likely to have been reproduced.

Norris near the tail gunner’s position of the B-25. The inset photo shows Norris as an 18-year-old gunner during WWII. (Image Credit: Museum of Aviation)
Norris near the tail gunner’s position of the B-25. The inset photo shows Norris as an 18-year-old gunner during WWII.
(Image Credit: Museum of Aviation)
Norris holds a piece of shrapnel that punched through the fuselage and landed next to his leg during a mission. (Image Credit: Museum of Aviation)
Norris holds a piece of shrapnel that punched through the fuselage and landed next to his leg during a mission.
(Image Credit: Museum of Aviation)
Norris was afforded the full VIP treatment by the museum’s staff, who allowed the WWII veteran unfettered access to the plane, in rapt attention as he unfolded stories of his experiences during the war on “this” plane. Thanks to the photographs Olsen had brought, the compare and contrast session was interesting, and the minor differences between this and the original “Little King” were brought to light.

Olsen, still relatively spry after all these years even popped up through the hatch in the underbelly of the Mitchell’s rear fuselage that was the entry point to get to the tail gunner’s position as the bomb compartment separated the tail from the rest of the craft.

Olsen even brought along another souvenir from one of his 70 combat missions, a jagged bit of a bomb fragment that came through the fuselage and landed right next to him while he was in his position in the tail of a Mitchell. The experience left enough of an impression on him for him to sill have it nearly 70 years later.

Classic Fighters HOME2

7 Comments

  1. hi

    i like my old planes like the spitfires thay should look for more of them i bet there all over the
    place even in warrington where burton wood was i have herd that was jeeps put in diches and left and cars and that there was bommers dump at the end of the run way this is what i have been told keep up the good work

  2. You are one Lucky guy, just to be able to visit an old friend like that.. She must have
    been a great ship…

    mY Dad was a bely gunner on a B-17.. The Dora D” Shot down after Dad was rotated

    I can not thank you guys enough for what you did and went thru..

    Thank you again, John L Eversoll

  3. My Dad was tail gunner who also flew 70 combat missions with the 428th bomb sq. 310th bomb gp. Commanded by Lt. Col. Elmer H. Epperson. 16 May 1944-17 April 1945. Looking for info and possible pictures.
    The war was not a favorite subject and be never spoke it at all. Thanks for any info anyone may have.

    • Hi Terry, Col Epperson’s B-25 sank a U-Boat off the coast of North Carolina about April 1942. He also as CO went and picked up Bob Barefoot and crew when they did an emergency B-25 landing at an RAF fighter field on the Italian coast. When Barefoot radioed his emergency requesting clearance to land, the British controller replied “tally ho, come on in you are just in time for tea” Regards, John P.S. There was a Glover training at Columbia Army Air Base about 1942 – 45.

  4. I would love to talk with Mr. Olsen my grandfather is in that picture with him he was the other gunner on that bomber.

  5. My dad was a tail gunner aboard a B-25. He was stationed in North Africa and flew 24 combat missions over Italy and Austria before being shot down in late 1944. His plane was struck by anti-aircraft guns. He parachuted out right before the plane crashed into a mountainside. He was captured by the Germans and taken to a POW camp in Germany where he stayed until being liberated by the British army in late April 1945. He was quite a guy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*