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Combat Aircraft to Museum Artifact

Memphis Belle being loaded with practice bombs at MacDill AAF.

Memphis Belle being loaded with practice bombs at MacDill AAF.

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 decades of deterioration from weather and vandalism, the Memphis Belle was moved to a local airport for restoration and placed on loan by the US Air Force to the newly-formed Memphis Belle Memorial Association (MBMA).

From 1987-2002, the MBMA displayed the aircraft under a canopy on Memphis’ Mud Island.  It was then moved to a local airfield for additional restoration.  However, in 2005, after many years of dedicated work, but with limited resources for the restoration, long-term care, and display of the aircraft, the MBMA released the Memphis Belle to the National Museum of the USAF by mutual agreement.

From 2005-2018, Museum restoration staff carefully restored the Memphis Belle, including thorough corrosion treatment, replacing missing equipment, and applying accurate markings.  The Memphis Belle was placed on public display at the National Museum of the USAF on May 17, 2018, seventy-five years to the day after the crew’s 25th mission.

Memphis Belle at the National Guard armory.

 

 

Postcard signed by Memphis Belle crewmen showing the aircraft on display at Mud Island.


The Memphis Belle under restoration at the National Museum of the USAF.

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

Enabling Technologies

Key Leaders

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)

Gunners

Women’s Army Corps

Fighter Escort: Little Friends

Big Week (20-25 Feb 44)

Target Berlin

Operation Frantic: Shuttle Raids to the Soviet Union

Blind Bombing

D-Day Support

Strategic Bombing Victorious

Epilogue

Return to B-17F Memphis Belle Fact Sheet

Return to WWII Gallery List

 

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