Memphis Belle - Homecoming
The Memphis Belle an early B17F, so named for the captainís girlfriend, was one of the first B17s to complete 25 missions with the original crew. Delivered to RAF Bassingbourn, via Prestwick and RAF Kimbolton, on 14 October 1942 she started her operational career on 7th Nov 1942 with a sortie to Brest, Occupied France. During the next seven months the Memphis Belle flew 25 missions, all but six to French targets - the nominated crew flew no less than 29 ops during this with 25 aboard the Memphis Belle.
On accomplishing the target number of operational sorties (25 at this time) the crew were decorated and the aircraft returned to the States in June 1943 to take part in a War Bond tour. At the end of the war, in an attempt to preserve the aircraft the city bought the airframe (for $350) - but failed to secure the aircraft from the ravages of weather and vandals. In 2003 the USAF Museum secured the remains and there is now in place a 10yr plus schedule of restoration. At least two B17s, in flyable condition, are finished in the Memphis Bell colours - one in the UK also serves as the Sally B and is a regular attendee at airshows. The Sally B is not strictly a B17F and various features are different from the Memphis Belle original.
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