The B-17 Flying Fortress 'Memphis Belle' returns from one of her 25 mission over France and Germany. Memphis Belle, a B-17F-10-BO, USAAF Serial No.41-24485, was supplied to the USAAF on July 15th 1942, and delivered to the 91st Bomb Group in September 1942 at Dow Field, Bangor, Maine. Memphis Belle deployed to Scotland at Prestwick on September 30th 1942 and went to RAF Kimbolton on October 1st, and then to her permanent base at Bassingbourn on October 14th.1942. Memphis Belle was the first United States Army Air Force heavy bomber to complete 25 combat missions with her crew intact. The aircraft and crew then returned to the United States to promote and sell war bonds. The Memphis Belle B-17 is undergoing extensive restoration at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
The 25 missions of Memphis Belle November 7, 1942 - Brest, France November 9, 1942 - St Nazaire, France November 17, 1942 - St. Nazaire, France December 6, 1942 - Lille, France December 20, 1942 - Romilly-sur-Seine December 30, 1942 - Lorient (Piloted by Lt. James A. Verinis) January 3, 1943 - St. Nazaire, France January 13, 1943 - Lille, France January 23, 1943 - Lorient, France February 14, 1943 - Hamm, Germany February 16, 1943 - St. Nazaire, France February 27, 1943 - Brest, France March 6, 1943 - Lorient, France March 12, 1943 - Rouen, France March 13, 1943 - Abbeville, France March 22, 1943 - Wilhemshaven, Germany March 28, 1943 - Rouen, France March 31, 1943 - Rotterdam, Holland April 16, 1943 - Lorient, France April 17, 1943 - Bremen, Germany May 1, 1943 - St. Nazaire, France May 13, 1943 - Meaulte, France (Piloted by Lt. C.L. Anderson) May 14, 1943 - Kiel, Germany (Piloted by Lt. John H. Miller) May 15, 1943 - Wilhelmshaven, Germany May 17, 1943 - Lorient, France May 19, 1943 - Kiel (flown by Lt. Anderson)
In the mid-1930s engineers at Boeing suggested the possibility of designing a modern long-range monoplane bomber to the U.S. Army Air Corps. In 1934 the USAAC issued Circular 35-26 that outlined specifications for a new bomber that was to have a minimum payload of 2000 pounds, a cruising speed in excess of 200-MPH, and a range of at least 2000 miles. Boeing produced a prototype at its own expense, the model 299, which first flew in July of 1935. The 299 was a long-range bomber based largely on the Model 247 airliner. The Model 299 had several advanced features including an all-metal wing, an enclosed cockpit, retractable landing gear, a fully enclosed bomb bay with electrically operated doors, and cowled engines. With gun blisters glistening everywhere, a newsman covering the unveiling coined the term Flying Fortress to describe the new aircraft. After a few initial test flights the 299 flew off to Wright Field setting a speed record with an average speed of 232-mph. At Wright Field the 299 bettered its competition in almost all respects. However, an unfortunate crash of the prototype in October of 1935 resulted in the Army awarding its primary production contract to Douglas Aircraft for its DB-1 (B-18.) The Army did order 13 test models of the 299 in January 1936, and designated the new plane the Y1B-17. Early work on the B-17 was plagued by many difficulties, including the crash of the first Y1B-17 on its third flight, and nearly bankrupted the Company. Minor quantities of the B-17B, B-17C, and B-17D variants were built, and about 100 of these aircraft were in service at the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. In fact a number of unarmed B-17s flew into the War at the time of the Japanese attack. The German Blitzkrieg in Europe resulted in accelerated aircraft production in America. The B-17E was the first truly heavily armed variant and made its initial flight in September of 1941. B-17Es cost $298,000 each and more than 500 were delivered. The B-17F and B-17G were the truly mass-produced wartime versions of the Flying Fortress. More than 3,400 B-17Fs and more than 8,600 B-17Gs would be produced. The American daylight strategic bombing campaign against Germany was a major factor in the Allies winning the War in Europe. This campaign was largely flown by B-17 Flying Fortresses (12,677 built) and B-24 Liberators (18,188 built.) The B-17 bases were closer to London than those of the B-24, so B-17s received a disproportionate share of wartime publicity. The first mission in Europe with the B-17 was an Eighth Air Force flight of 12 B-17Es on August 12, 1942. Thousands more missions, with as many as 1000 aircraft on a single mission would follow over the next 2 ½ years, virtually decimating all German war making facilities and plants. The B-17 could take a lot of damage and keep on flying, and it was loved by the crews for bringing them home despite extensive battle damage. Following WW II, B-17s would see some action in Korea, and in the 1948 Israel War. There are only 14 flyable B-17s in operation today and a total of 43 complete airframes
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Battle of Britain Timeline of Related Info : 22nd May
Former British Battle of Britain pilot, P/O K. C. Gundry of 257 Squadron, was Killed.
Former British Battle of Britain pilot, F/O H. H. Percy of 264 Squadron, was Killed.
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