SoCal Wing’s PBJ Transformed for Doolittle Filming

What paint scheme do you like better? :-) ( Photo by John Cutright via Greg Morehead)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019

What paint scheme do you like better? :-) ( Photo by John Cutright via Greg Morehead)
What paint scheme do you like better? 🙂 ( Photo by John Cutright via Greg Morehead)

By Greg Morehead
Photos: Glen Tagami (A2A); John Cutright (ground)

The recent completion of the only flying example of a PBJ-1 Mitchell by the Southern California (SoCal) Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) has been followed by well-deserved media attention. The Smithsonian Channel’s new reality show, Weapon Hunter, recently featured the bomber in an episode that offered a rare opportunity for the masses to be exposed to the efforts of groups like the CAF.

( Photo by John Cutright via Greg Morehead)
( Photo by John Cutright via Greg Morehead)

This year, the 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, will be honored at the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio, and with a gathering of B-25s at nearby Grimes Field in Urbana, Ohio. Not since Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo in 1944 has a production aspired to tell the story of the morale boosting strike back at the Japanese Empire. However, the SoCal Wing recently took part in filming for an undisclosed production that aims to use their PBJ as one of Doolittle’s B-25s. The film crew was reportedly part of a Chinese production company, which should serve to remind Americans that the raid was important to Chinese history, as the survival and escape of the Doolittle and his men was only possible with the help of the Chinese civilians, who paid dearly through numerous Japanese atrocities for their aid to the American flyers.

(Photo by Glen Tagami via Greg Morehead)
(Photo by Glen Tagami via Greg Morehead)

The filming involved painting the PBJ with water soluble paint in the markings of a USAAF B-25 that represented Doolittle’s bombers. Filming involved the bomber, American actors, and the film company, making multiple flights over several days around the end of January 2017. On January 29, after filming ceased, photographer Glen Tagami captured some air to air photos to document this brief experience in the PBJ’s existence. On February 1st, John Cutright captured SoCal volunteers washing away all evidence of the filming.

We hope the film production, once completed, will be available to the American market, and hope the film’s perspective will offer insightful angles to the history of the complex and historic raid.

Thanks to Greg Morehead and Warbird Digest for allowing the reproduction of this article. Subscribe to Warbird Digest – Each issue comes with 68 full color pages.Restoration News – Stunning Photography – World Wide Warbird Coverage, including: Fighter, Bomber, Jet, Trainer & Liaison, Museum News, Operator Information  Request your subscription today, click the banner below!

Warbird Digest Issue 71

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