8th Annual Writing Competition

Competition Theme

The deadline for submitting papers has past.

One of the most recognizable symbols of World War II will once again report for duty exactly 75 years after its crew finished their last mission against Nazi Germany on May 17, 1943.

The B-17F Memphis BelleTM – the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States – will be placed on public display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on May 17, 2018.

Pilot Robert Morgan named the aircraft after his wartime girlfriend, Margaret Polk, of Memphis Tenn. Morgan chose the now famous artwork from a 1941 George Petty illustration in Esquire magazine.

After returning to the United States in June 1943, its crew flew the aircraft across the country on a three-month war bond and morale boosting tour. With the bond tour and the 1944 William Wyler documentary color film titled, “The Memphis Belle” – which contained actual combat footage – the aircraft and its crew became widely celebrated. In 1990 a major motion picture of the same name added to their fame.

Following decades of display in Memphis, the historic aircraft came to the museum of October 2005, when work began on a careful, multi-year conservation and restoration effort including corrosion treatment and the full outfitting of missing equipment, which continues today.

National Museum of the U.S Air Force Curator, Jeff Duford states, “The B-17F Memphis Belle is an icon that represents the thousands of bomber crews, maintainers, and others supporting the bomber mission, whose service and sacrifice helped win WWII.”

The Memphis Belle was one of hundreds of bomber aircraft and crew that flew during World War II. For the purpose of this paper would like for you to research and write about the following: What challenges did those bomber crew members face? How were those challenges and obstacles overcome? These challenges can include a myriad of areas. We suggest that you begin your research by watching the 1944 version of the movie, “The Memphis Belle”. This research paper must include information gathered from at least one primary source, such as a journal or diary.

Submission Rules and Requirements

The deadline for submitting papers has past.

This competition is open to public, private school or homeschooled students between the ages of 13‐18. There will be no exceptions made to the age requirements. Only one entry per student will be accepted.

Deadline All papers must be submitted in PDF format by 2 March 2018 12:00 a.m. (EST). The competition will accept only the first 250 entrants.

Notification of maximum entries will be made on the Museum’s website. All submissions become the property of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Content Papers will be judged as historic research papers. All content must be supported by evidence and it must be sited in endnotes. All papers will be required to have a cover page with the following information: name, address, age, and email address or phone number of the author, as well as the school attended, if relevant. The content of the paper is limited to five pages, for a total of seven pages including the cover page and the bibliography as the last page. Papers that are longer or shorter then this requirement will not be judged. Additionally, grammar, spelling and structure of the document will be considered in judging.

Integrity Be honest when writing your papers. Give credit where credit is due. Academic dishonesty of any sort will result in disqualification.


*Award money will be distributed with $1,500.00 going to the first place winner, $1,000 going to second place and

$500 to the third place winner. Scholarship award money is provided through the generosity of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc.(Federal endorsement is not implied).


Letters of thanks to the sponsoring partnership are a pre-requisite to receipt of funds. The winning paper will also be published the Museum’s Friend’s Journal.

Featured Links

Plan Your Visit
E-newsletter Sign-up
Explore Museum Exhibits
Browse Photos
Visit Press Room
Become a Volunteer
Air Force Museum Foundation