The Memphis Belle is the most known B-17 from World War II and one of the most famous airplanes in the world. About 15 years ago I had just learned of the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio. Since then I have made it a mission to make regular trips to go visit. It’s a free museum that you can spend hours in. I know I’ll spend all day there.
A few years ago I had learned that they were in the process of restoring the Memphis Belle. THE Memphis Belle. The Memphis Belle they made a movie about. A bomber that successfully completed 25 missions, which allowed it to retire from service. It wasn’t the first do so, and many more bombers went on to complete even more missions. But the Memphis Belle was most likely celebrated due to the popularity of the documentary that was filmed during it’s 25th and final mission.
During the time of restoration, they had special tours that you could go on to see the process. I had always wanted to do one of those, but never got around to booking one when I had time to visit, and by that time, they were all filled up. Then, just last year in the summer of 2018, they finished the restoration and put it on display for everyone to see. I made a special trip right after that.
There aren’t many B-17’s left in the world, flying or stationary. To see even one in person is rare thing. There have been just shy of 13,000 Flying Fortresses made. Today, if you see one, it’s one of about 47 B-17’s left around the world. The rest were scrapped for their metal. And even more rare is that the Memphis Belle was an official Boeing-built B-17. Boeing couldn’t keep up with their own production, so two other airplane manufactures also made the B-17 during WWII. Out of the remaining 47 B-17’s, 9 of them were officially built by Boeing in Seattle, including the Memphis Belle.
If you have a chance to go to Dayton, Ohio, spend some time in the Air Force Museum. You’ll love it! I do! Included are some of the photos of the Memphis Belle with a few other photos from the rest of the museum.
On thing I’d suggest is to bring a tripod. In recent years, the museum has added metal detectors and they say no bags or purses. But I’ve never had any issues bringing in a tripod. As you can see from this photo above, and others, there’s a lack of people in the shot. If you use a long exposure, people will disappear as long as they keep moving. If they stay in one spot long enough, that’s where you’ll see the ghostly figures.
Bockscar is the B-29 Superfortress bomber that dropped the 2nd atomic bomb.