Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
FREE Admission & Parking

Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle™

Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle

 The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress flew in every combat zone during World War II, but its most significant service was over Europe.  Along with the B-24 Liberator, the B-17 formed the backbone of the USAAF strategic bombing force, and it helped win the war by crippling Germany’s war industry. 


The B-17’s design emphasized high altitude flight, speed, and heavy defensive armament in order to survive enemy defenses.  Advanced turbosupercharged engines allowed it to fly up to about 30,000 feet with a combat load, while powered turrets and flexible guns covered all areas around the aircraft.


Although the B-17 prototype flew in 1935, only a relatively small number of B-17s were in service when the US entered the war in 1941.  Production quickly increased, and three companies—Boeing, Lockheed-Vega, and Douglas—mass-produced Flying Fortresses by the thousands. 


The B-17F was the fastest model and the primary heavy bomber early in the strategic bombing campaign.  The later B-17G had a nose turret for better frontal defense, and it was also the most numerous, representing about two thirds of all B-17s made.  By the end of production in May 1945, more than 12,700 B-17s had been built. 


The aircraft on display, the famed B-17F Memphis Belle, became the first heavy bomber to return to the US after flying 25 missions over Europe.  The Memphis