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  • Enabling Technologies

    Advanced USAAF technology made the daylight strategic bombing campaign possible.  Key technologies included four-engine bombers, turbosuperchargers, and the Norden bombsight.  Four-Engine Bombers: B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator Four-engine B-17s and B-24s provided the range, payload, defensive armament, and altitude the USAAF required for
  • Crippling the Nazi War Machine: USAAF Strategic Bombing in Europe

      At great sacrifice, the US Army Air Forces’ (USAAF) daylight strategic bombing campaign played a critical role in winning the war in Europe.   What is Strategic Bombing?          Strategic bombing is a strategy to destroy a country’s ability or will to fight by attacking its homeland from the air.  Airpower advocates believed that strategic
  • Combat Aircraft to Museum Artifact

    After the bond tour, the Memphis Belle went to MacDill Army Air Field, Florida, to be used for training.  At war’s end, it was stored at Altus Army Airfield, Oklahoma, with other surplus bombers awaiting scrapping. In 1946, the city of Memphis, Tennessee, acquired the aircraft and displayed it outdoors at a National Guard armory.  In 1977, after
  • Heavy Bomber “Firsts”

    The Memphis Belle was not the first USAAF heavy bomber to finish 25 missions—it was the first to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the US.  A small number of heavy bombers finished their 25th missions before the Memphis Belle, including: B-17E Suzy-QThe Suzy-Q, a 19th BG B-17E, was the first USAAF heavy bomber to complete 25 missions
  • "Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress"

    The 1944 documentary movie “Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress” increased the aircraft and crew’s already substantial fame.  This unique film was the brainchild of legendary film director William Wyler. In 1942, Major Wyler went to England to film heavy bomber operations in Europe.  He and his camera crew accompanied bomber crews on combat
  • "26th Mission": War Bond Tour

    “You are being sent on another mission, perhaps the most important of the many on which you have flown in this famous plane...It is to carry a message which should hearten a great people.”      —Gen Jacob Devers, Commander, US Army European Theater of Operations, Summer 1943 “26th Mission”: War Bond Tour   The USAAF selected the Memphis Belle and
  • The Memphis Belle: American Icon

    The Memphis Belle and its crew became timeless symbols of the service and sacrifice of the heavy bomber crews and support personnel who helped defeat Nazi Germany.  This famed aircraft was the first US Army Air Forces heavy bomber to return to the United States after completing 25 missions over Europe. The Memphis Belle was a B-17F heavy bomber
  • Memphis Belle Crew

    The young men assigned to the Memphis Belle represented a typical Eighth Air Force heavy bomber crew.  They ranged in age from 19 to 26 and came from states across the US, including Washington, Indiana, Texas, and Connecticut.  Like their Eighth Air Force counterparts—and contrary to a popular myth—they flew most, but not all, of their missions
  • The "Memphis Belle" and Nose Art

    The “Memphis Belle”The Memphis Belle was named to honor Morgan’s fiancée Margaret Polk, of Memphis, Tennessee, whom he met before leaving for England.  Their love story was well-publicized, but their engagement ended during the war bond tour.Morgan flew on combat missions with a picture of Margaret Polk in the cockpit. Memphis Belle ArtworkThe
  • Eddie V. Rickenbacker WWI Diary

    Note: This item is currently in storageIn commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, the National Museum of the United States Air Force will regularly post excerpts from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary.  These begin with Saturday, March 2, 1918, the date Rickenbacker began capturing his experiences in France.Click here to

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