Barbie III: A Rare Howitzer Model Appears at Sun ‘n Fun Airshow

Barbie III Howitzer airplane
At this year’s annual SUN n’ FUN aviation convention in Central Florida, the warbird Barbie III made its first public appearance in many years. Boasting a 75 mm cannon in the nose, the twin-engine, twin-tail bomber turned the heads of many who’d never seen or ever heard of the uncommon World War II Howitzer model.

Last year, the Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas purchased Barbie III and made it flightworthy again. Previously, the B-25 Mitchell bomber sat unused for eight years at the airport of Deland, Florida.

The Barbie is painted a drab olive color like it would have been in wartime, unlike many shiny restored warbirds.

Doug Jeanes, museum director of the CFM, described the plane’s rarity. “This is the No. 2 prototype of the H Model and the only one still flying. It never saw wartime service, but it carries the markings of R.T. Smith, an original member of the Flying Tigers, who named the plane for his wife when he transitioned from fighters to bombers.”

The Oldsmobile Division of General Motors built the Barbie III’s enormous Howitzer cannon, which sits in the nose of the bird. This cannon shoots an M46 high explosive 75 MM shell and is in fact the same model found in the Sherman Tank. Before the invention of an automatic loader, a crew member posted near the plane’s center loaded each heavy, 25-inch shell by hand.

Used in combat on both land and sea, the cannon could shoot up to two miles away. It gained additional firepower from four 50 caliber machine guns in the front and eight more in other parts of the plane. The B25-H or “Flying 75” also could fire three to four cannon rounds per minute, each round shuddering the plane. And of course, the warbird dropped bombs as well.

In addition to the Barbie III, the Cavanaugh Flight Museum brought four more warbirds to SUN n’ FUN: two T-28 Trojans, a Mustang, and an AD-6 Skyraider.

About the Author

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Svilen Petrov
My name is Svilen Petrov and I’m founder and chief editor at Wings Journal. Wings Journal is an independent media, which provides you daily with the most interesting and actual news for air companies, airports, and aviation technologies.

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