Bomber Strikes Empire State Building 66 Years Ago

Few people realize that when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were intentionally attacked on September 11, 2001, that the buildings had been designed to resist the impact of an airplane.   Why?  Because it wasn’t the first time a New York skyscraper was hit by a plane!  July 28th marks the 66th anniversary of the crash of a B-25 Mitchell Bomber into the side of the Empire State Building in New York.  The WWII era bomber struck the Empire State Building in poor weather that included heavy fog.  

Photo Credit:  Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons

The Events: (Source: Failures Wiki Case Study of B-25 Bomber Crash into the Empire State Building)  

At approximately 8:55 a.m., on Saturday July 28, 1945, an Army Air Corps B-25 Bomber took off from Bedford, Massachusetts en route to Newark, New Jersey with three passengers aboard. Around 9:30 a.m., the plane was flying over New York City in a dense fog.   At 9:40 a.m., the ill fated bomber crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building.  The plane weighed approximately ten tons and was flying at 250 miles per hour at the time of  impact. One engine continued through the 79th floor, exited out the other side of the Empire State Building and fell through the roof of a neighboring building. The other engine went down an elevator shaft in the building.  Gasoline from the tanks of the B-25 Bomber caught fire on impact and was deemed the cause of 11 of the 14 deaths that resulted from this incident. The other three deaths were from the members aboard this plane who died upon impact. No major structural damage was done to the Empire State Building. 

Just like the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers did not collapse from impact.  It was the resulting fire that doomed the WTC. 

Photo of B-25 WWII Bomber taking off for the Doolittle Raid. Photo Credit: US Army – public domain

After the B-25 accident, many said it would never happen again.  Little did they realize that in just under a year (May 20, 1946) another plane would accidently crash into 40 Wall Street in New York City.


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