Memphis Belle comes to the USAF Museum! Plus a visitor...

Memphis Belle comes to the USAF Museum! Plus a visitor...

Postby sylvancatharsis on Sat 19 May 2018, 9:14 pm

And I'm not talking about the "fake" Memphis Belle from the 1990 movie!*

The original Memphis Belle is now on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, so if you've not found a reason to make the trek to Dayton, Ohio yet, you've now got one. The exhibit opened on Thursday, 17 May, to correspond to the 75th anniversary of the crew's 25th combat mission, with events scheduled throughout the weekend (largely hampered by weather that I believe you fine folks refer to as "pants") including reenactors, aircraft static displays, and other relevant events. Well, the static display, which was supposed to run from Wednesday to Friday on the closed runway behind the museum and feature twelve aircraft (3x B-17, 6x P-51, 3x training types), ended up consisting of only a third of the participants (two B-17s, a Mustang, and a PT-26), although the third Flying Fortress, the "Movie" Memphis Belle, managed to make a few passes over the museum in the afternoon. Instead of arriving early Wednesday and leaving late Friday, they arrived mid-morning Thursday (I heard them flying over from inside the museum) and departed around 3 P.M. that same day due to incoming weather.

Still, it was an outstanding experience, with the museum so utterly packed with visitors that most cars were being parked in the huge lawns in front of the museum! I remember posting photos from the Doolittle Raiders reunion a couple years back, and commenters on here lamenting how thin the crowds appeared. This was nothing of the sort.

But enough prattling; here are some images from the Thursday event, starting with the Belle herself. Isn't she just gorgeous?

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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

She wears a different dress on each side...

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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

Because photography without a monopod or tripod is nigh impossible in the museum without shooting at crazy low shutter speeds and bumping the ISO through the roof, I didn't shoot any of the other indoor exhibits. Here are the four static display aircraft that made it through the godawful weather. As I exited the shuttle bus to visit the exhibits, they were getting ready to depart, so my group had approximately eighty seconds to have a gander around and get photos, so apologies in advance for the crap compositions.

B-17 "Aluminum Overcast" - haven't seen this one in ages!
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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

B-17 "Yankee Lady" from her unadorned side. See this one all the time.
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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

PT-26
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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

And an overview of the four, with the sole P-51 to make it in the foreground.
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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

Some of the reenactors that could be found behind the museum:

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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

And as an added bonus, bringing things up to modern times, a rather nice visitor from Andrews AFB beating up the pattern for about an hour!

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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

Slightly different vantage point:
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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

Playing chicken with the locals:
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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

Lots of pattern action by the home team, too!
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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

C-17 over C-17
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Memphis Belle Exhibit Grand Opening - NMUSAF 17 May 2018 by Sean Ceallaigh, on Flickr

One final item I'd like to mention. Among the celebratory events was the first public showing of the restored version of the 1944 film Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress. If you've seen the original film, or even if you haven't, I urge you to check out the restoration. The uptick in image quality is nothing short of phenomenal.
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Re: Memphis Belle comes to the USAF Museum! Plus a visitor.

Postby Tommy on Sat 19 May 2018, 9:46 pm

Lovely. She's looking goooood! :love:
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Re: Memphis Belle comes to the USAF Museum! Plus a visitor.

Postby sdad on Sun 20 May 2018, 8:58 am

Any idea of the meaning of the red and yellow stars over some bomb symbols?
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sdad

Re: Memphis Belle comes to the USAF Museum! Plus a visitor.

Postby CJS on Mon 21 May 2018, 1:34 pm

I wondered that? Is it bombing missions on which a confirmed fighter kill also happened - the red ones being more than one?
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CJS

Re: Memphis Belle comes to the USAF Museum! Plus a visitor.

Postby Dan O'Hagan on Tue 22 May 2018, 10:18 am

The genuine Belle noseart is SO much better than the movie version that Sally B wears.
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Re: Memphis Belle comes to the USAF Museum! Plus a visitor.

Postby jalfrezi on Tue 22 May 2018, 1:45 pm

CJS wrote:I wondered that? Is it bombing missions on which a confirmed fighter kill also happened - the red ones being more than one?


From the article below it suggests the star means it was the lead crew, however, I don't know why they have yellow and red stars (yet)? My guess is that the swastika indicates an air to air kill.

https://history.blogs.delaware.gov/2015/09/03/world-war-ii-mission-symbols/


UPDATE: The yellow stars are for bomb group leader, the red stars are leader of the bomber force for that mission. The third post down sheds some light on the accuracy of the markings - http://shockwaveproductions.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=21499
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Re: Memphis Belle comes to the USAF Museum! Plus a visitor.

Postby AlexC on Thu 24 May 2018, 10:01 am

I was there in 2007 when the restoration of Memphis Bell looked to have been just started. Good to see the completed job!
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