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 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.