Is the Memphis Belle a myth?

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Staff Sergeant
Jul 2, 2006
Kiwi Land
An interesting wee few facts.

303 Bomb Group

The 358th B-17F #41-24577 Hell's Angels, from which the Group later named itself, completed its 25th mission on 13 May 1943. It became the first 8th Air Force B-17 to complete 25 combat missions. The Memphis Belle, a 91st BG(H) B-17, sometimes reputed to claim the first 25-mission feat, completed its 25th mission on 19 May 1943, six days after the Hell's Angels. The Memphis Belle was, however, the first 8th AF B-17 to complete 25 missions and be returned to the United States. The crew that accompanied the Memphis Belle was a makeup crew of men who had completed 25 missions. It was not the original Memphis Belle, Captain Morgan crew. Hell's Angels went on to complete 48 missions and delayed returning to the United States on its own "Flag-Waving Tour" until 20 January 1944.

It would appear that the statement
the first to complete 25 missions and return to the USA
is accurate but that
the first to complete 25 missions
is not.


Scroll to Molesworth

By this time Lancaster S-Sugar had racked up 41 missions. went on to do over 130.

6 303 BG aircraft did 100 missions.

Sweet Rose O'Grady #42-39885
B-17G 427BS (GN-R&Z)
Assigned: 30 Dec 1943
Fate: scrapped 06 Jun 1945
Missions: 134 (top in 303rd

Neva - The Silver Lady #43-37590
B-17G 358BS (VK-Q)
Assigned: 06 Jun 1944
Fate: scrapped 27 Jun 1945
Missions: 127

Thunderbird #42-38050
B-17G 359BS (BN-U)
Assigned: 18 Jan 1944
Fate: scrapped 21 Dec 1945
Missions: 112

Daddy's Delight #42-97944
B-17G 359BS (BN-I)
Assigned: 02 Jun 1944
Fate: salvaged 13 Dec 1945
Missions: 108

The Floose #42-97298
B-17G 358BS (VK-H)
Assigned: 21 May 1944
Fate: crash landed 24 Dec 1944
Missions: 102

Buzz Blonde #42-39875
(aka Thru Hel'en Highwater)
B-17G 427BS (GN-S)
Assigned: 14 Jan 1944
Fate: MIA 10 Jan 1945
Missions: 100
So the Memphis Belle had a crew that wasn't with it for all it's 25 missions?
If so why did they retire the plane at all?

Like you said, a plane could do a lot more than that. I assume Hells Angels didn't have one crew that stayed on it for 100 missions! They would have rioted long before that.
From my understanding Morgans crew flew 21 missions in the Memphis Belle and 4 in a different aircraft.

In fact the 25th mission flown by Morgans crew was flown on 17 May 1943 over Lorient France.

Morgans crew was the first "crew" to complete 25 missions though not all of them in the Memphis Belle and they took the Memphis Belle back to the states on June 8, 1943 for a war bonds tour. It was all to get support for the war.

Correct, while the crew that flew her back had all completed 25 missions, some of them had not flown them in Memphis Belle.
According to the official website the actuall crew of the Memphis Belle flew the aircraft back to the states. What you are probably talking about though is that some of the crew members flew there 25 missions on different dates because they were flying on other aircraft at the time because the Belle was in maintenance or not on a mission. For instance Jim Verinis was the first crewmember to complete his 25 missions on May 13th. Bob Morgan and most of the crew completed their 25th missions on May 17th. The aircraft flew one more mission a day later to complete its 25th mission.

After all crew members had completed there 25 missions they flew the aircraft along with there crew mascot dog "Stuka" back to the states and toured 32 cities.

Here is the link to the official website:
The Official Memphis Belle Web Site :: Memphis Belle Memorial Association

And another interesting site:
Memphis Belle Index Page

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