Q· How was “Memphis Belle” important to World War Two?

A · The “Memphis Belle” and her crew represent all the planes and crews of the 8th Army Air Force fighting in the European Theater of Operations. The bombers of the USAAF took on the challenge of daylight precision bombing and succeeded in the face of dramatic losses. Using their “super secret” Norden bombsights and able to fly at high altitudes due to their innovative superchargers, the B-17 “Flying Fortresses” were the right tool at the right time in the hands of the right men.

Q· What day is the anniversary of the 25th mission?

A · It depends if you are referring to crew members or the aircraft. Jim Veins was the first crew members to complete his 25 missions on May 13th. Bob Morgan and most of the crew completed their 25th missions on May 17th. The aircraft flew one more mission a day later to complete its 25th mission.

Q· Why did bomber crews have to fly 25 missions?

A · Army Air Force planners decided that a tour of duty for bombers was to be 25 missions. Important factors in that decision were: The physical stress of high altitude flight in poorly heated, unpressurized aircraft, The psychological stress of aerial combat, and The numerical strength and quality of the Luftwaffe. Early experience showed that the average life expectancy of a bomber crew in late 1942 was 8-12 missions. In other words, a bomber crewman at that time only had a 30-50% chance of completing his tour of duty.

Q· Why was completing 25 missions so important in May 1943?

A · For the first 18 months of U.S. involvement in World War II, news from the front wasn’t always good. In May 1943, an Allied victory was far from certain. Since August 17, 1942, the 8th Air Force had been bombing targets in Europe, but no airman had yet completed a tour of duty. Many people believed daylight precision bombing was near-suicidal, and public morale needed a boost. By early May 1943, several aircraft and crews were nearing the long-anticipated number. Among those was the “Memphis Belle.”

 Q· Did the “Belle” really fly in on only one engine? Did the left waist gunner get skinned by a German bullet? did the “Belle” really have to almost belly land?

A · You may have been watching the 1990 theatrical release movie of the “Memphis Belle,” from Sir David Putnam and Catherine Wyler based on the questions you ask. You should obtain a copy of the 1943 documentary movie, if you would like to get the facts. Many B17’s made their way back from air raids on only one engine. The B17 is well known for its ability to operate with serious damage. A number of crew members were injured on the “Belle” in combat, but they were all very minor wounds, but that doesn’t make for a good movie script these days.

 Q·  How many airplanes did the Belle shoot down?

A · The “Belle’s” crew is credited with shooting down 7 German fighters during its combat tour, but the story is far more complex than that, and a special section of this website is dedicated to explaining that.

Q# What were the dimensions of The Memphis Belle (B-17)?

A#The Memphis Belle’s Dimensions Are: Wing Span: 103’9″ Length: 74’9″ Height: 19’1″ Crew: 10 Weight: 65,000 lbs# Speed: 160 m#p#h# at 25,000 ft# Fuel: 2,520 gallons Oil: 147#6 gallons Range: 2,800 miles at 152 MPH at 10,000 ft# Bomb Load: 8,000 lbs# Guns: Thirteen 50 caliber machine guns Service ceiling: 37,500 ft# Cost: $314,109 Units Built: 12,731 Back to top

Q#Where and at what times can i see the “Belle” now?

A#The “Belle” can only be viewed during the “behind the scenes” tours offered by the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, OH# These tours are only offered on Friday afternoons and you must be preregistered in advance to participate# Please contact the USAFM for more information#

Q# What do the red and yellow stars painted above the bombs on the side of the plane signify?

A# The red and yellow stars, painted above the bombs for each mission flown, represent the missions where the “Belle” lead her bomb group, yellow stars, and when she lead the whole bomb wing, red stars#

Q# Can someone tell me, has the ‘Belle’ ever resided out of the USA, since the war? I recall seeing a B-17G in England in the 80’s#

A# No, she was in Memphis, TN, from July of 1946 until October of 2005# Following the famous War Bond tour, she performed as a training aircraft and many B-17 crews flew on her during this time# She went from training into the scrap program from which she was rescued by the City of Memphis in 1946# There are other B-17’s over the years, who have been painted with the “Belle’s” famous nose art and other distinct features for theatrical and promotional purposes# They have been in Europe and throughout North America for decades and still are seen at airshows today#

Q# I have just purchased a 1-72nd scale model kit of the ‘Belle#”  Could someone out there tell me what the interior color is? The kit states an off yellow and the images on this site look like a mid tone green!!###any help on this matter would be of great help!

Much of the interior of the “Memphis Belle” was left bare metal when it left the Boeing plant – and throughout the time it was in combat. Some interior components are a darker green … referred to as Boeing green. For many years after the war the aircraft was painted with a mid-green interior for preservation protection purposes.

Q# Who were the complete crew of the “Memphis Belle?” 

There is no easy answer to this# A large number of people flew aboard the aircraft during the combat phase# However, what is regarded by many as ‘the regular crew’ is as follows:

Pilot: Robert K Morgan; Co-pilot: James ‘Jim’ Verinis; Navigator: Charles B#’Chuck’ Leighton; Bombardier: Vinson‘Vince’ Evans; Radio Operator: Robert ‘Bob’ Hanson;  Top Turret/Engineer: Harold P# Loch; Ball Turret Gunner: Cecil  Scott; Right Waist Gunner Tony Nastal; Left Waist Gunner: Clarence E# ‘Bill’  Winchell; Tail Gunner: John P# ‘JP’ Quinlan

Q# Which members of the crew are still alive?

There are sadly no surviving members of the “Belle’s” crew#

Q. Who found Stuka? Jim Verinis brought Stuka onto the crew when he rejoined the “Memphis Belle” for the return to the United States and for the bond tour.

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