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Memphis Belle — first to make 25

22 August 2012

Memphis Belle — first to make 25

This Boeing B-17F’s crew was the first of the heavy bomber crews in Europe to make the magic number of completed missions during WW II that defined a tour — 25. Another way to state things is that this was the first crew which attained the statistically unlikely number of combat missions required to complete their tour and rotate back home.

Soon her restoration will be complete and will take her place in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force which will allow the B-17G known as “Shoo Shoo Baby” to be loaned to the National Air & Space Museum Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center (which has no B-17 to exhibit).

Many feel the Memphis Belle should stay in Ohio, not go to Virginia, but the Air Force Museum will also exhibit a are B-17D to compliment the Memphis Belle — and thought a pair of Flying Fortresses there with one at the NASM would be better than keeping all three.

Memphis Belle returning to base — U.S. Air Force photo

Nose art, not yet restored, of the Memphis Belle — photo by Joseph May

Another forward section view of the Memphis Belle in the restoration hangar — photo by Joseph May

The Memphis Belle’s tail section and tail cone — photo by Joseph May

A more recent photo of the Memphis Belle now with her wings joined up, engines installed, sitting on her landing gear — U.S. Air Force photo

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has this fact sheet on the Memphis Belle which includes 73 photos. Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby was the subject of Monday’s post and Friday’s subject will be The Swoose.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Turner permalink
    22 August 2012 09:29

    This article contains some “facts” which are incorrect. It is like the tales about the Tuskegee airmen, more legend than historical facts.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      22 August 2012 10:19


      You’ve stated allegations without providing facts or references to support them before — and I asked you to suport your statemenets just two days ago, yet you have not. I can only assume you do not because you cannot. Repeating allegations without support does not make them true.

      I await your references or citations, though, as we always appreciate good honest debate.



    • Marty Davis permalink
      22 August 2012 15:40

      @Steve: Where can I view your article and full set of facts concerning the Memphis Belle?

  2. 27 August 2012 10:23

    You might want to re-check your mission count. Memphis Belle was NOT the first B-17 to reach 25 missions, that honor went to “Hell’s Angles”, of the 303rd BG on 13 May. This same mission was #24 for the Belle. It had been a tight race between the Belle, Hell’s Angels and Knockout Dropper (which went on to be the first B-17 to reach 50 and again 75 missions). What made the Belle famous was that she was chosen for the national tour, not Hell’s Angels. (The mission reports that document these facts are available on the 303rd BG Association’s website).

    • 27 August 2012 10:27

      Here’s the link to the mission report on the first plane to reach 25 missions:

      • travelforaircraft permalink*
        27 August 2012 12:21

        Thanks Alan — I’ll be more than happy to look into this matter. I have to say I’m entirely unaware until your commnents and helpful information. Another reader has made allegations that Memphis Belle wasn’t the first — in fact he mentioned that twice — but he never supplied information which I could use. Unlike you 🙂 I’ll get back on this shortly, after a few days (my paying job gets in the way). Thanks again, Joe.

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