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:
The Suzy-Q, a 19th BG B-17E, was the first USAAF heavy bomber to complete 25 missions and return to the US. It flew combat missions early in the war in the Pacific from February-October 1942, when it returned to the US for a war bond tour.
Suzy-Q nose art—the circled areas highlight combat damage repair.
B-24D Hot Stuff
In February 1943, the 93rd BG B-24 Hot Stuff became the first Eighth Air Force heavy bomber to complete 25 combat missions. It flew about half of its approximately 30 combat missions over Europe, with the remainder being strikes in Africa and patrol missions over the Mediterranean.
Hot Stuff crew: (standing, l to r) Lt Robert Jacobson, Capt Robert Shannon, Lt James Gott, Lt John Lentz; (kneeling, l to r) Sgt Grant Rondeau, Sgt Joseph Craighead, Sgt L.F. Durham, Sgt Paul McQueen, Sgt Kenneth Jeffers, Sgt George Farley.
On May 3, while en route to the US for a war bond tour, Hot Stuff crashed in Iceland in bad weather. The impact killed 13 of the 14 onboard, including Lt Gen Frank Andrews, a senior USAAF general and important US military leader.
Lt Gen Frank Andrews, head of all US forces in Europe, bidding farewell to Prime Minister Winston Churchill before leaving on the fateful trip back to the US.
B-17F Hell's Angel
Flight crew, ground crew, and armorers pictured with the Hell’s Angels.
Related Fact Sheets
The Memphis Belle: American Icon and 25th Mission
Memphis Belle Crew
The “Memphis Belle” and Nose Art
26th Mission: War Bond Tour
“Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress”
Heavy Bomber “Firsts”
Combat Aircraft to Museum Artifact
Crippling the Nazi War Machine: USAAF Strategic Bombing in Europe
Early Operations (1942 to mid-1943) - Eighth Air Force in England
Ninth/Twelfth Air Forces in the Mediterranean
Combat Box/Communication and Life at 25K
Keeping them Flying: Mechanics and Armorers
Combined Bomber Offensive: Summer 1943 to Victory
Bigger Raids, Bigger Losses, and Crisis
Deadly Skies over Europe (Luftwaffe defense)
Bomber Crew Protection
Operation Tidalwave (Ploesti, 1 Aug 43)
Regensburg/Schweinfurt (17 Aug 43)
Black Thursday/Schweinfurt (14 Oct 43)
Fifteenth Air Force (created Sep 43)
Women’s Army Corps
Fighter Escort: Little Friends
Big Week (20-25 Feb 44)
Operation Frantic: Shuttle Raids to the Soviet Union
Strategic Bombing Victorious
Return to B-17F Memphis Belle Fact Sheet
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