Memphis Belle

The Memphis Belle, tail number 12-4485, was the first Boeing B-17 to complete 25 combat missions in World War II over Europe and return to the United States. More than 12,700 B-17’s were produced during the War with approximately two thirds being the “G” model which had a front or “chin” turret the Belle an “F” model did not have.

Crew: 10
Armament: 12 .50-cal machine guns and 8,000 lbs of bombs
Engines: Four 1,200 hp Wright R-1820-97 turbosupercharged radials
Maximum speed: 325 mph
Range: 2,800 miles
Combat radius: 600+ miles
Maximum ceiling: 37,500 ft
Empty weight: 35,728 lbs
Maximum gross weight: 48,720 lbs
Length: 74 feet, 9 inches
Height: 19 feet, 1 inch
Wingspan: 103 feet, 9 inches

The Memphis Belle following the War spent decades on display at various locations in and around Memphis, TN was returned to the US Air Force in 2005. Upon arriving at the National Museum of the United States Air Force the B-17 underwent a painstaking 13 year restoration program and was unveiled to the public in May of 2018 on the 75th Anniversary of her final historic mission.

The Crew:
Capt. Robert K. Morgan of Ashville, N. C., pilot;
Capt. James A. Verinis, New Haven, Conn., co-pilot;
Capt. Charles B. Leighton of Lansing, Mich., navigator;
Capt. Vincent B. Evans of Henderson, Texas, bombardier
Staff Sgt. Cecil H. Scott of Altoona, Penn., ball turret gunner;
Staff Sgt. John P. Quinlan of Yonkers, N. Y., tail gunner;
Staff Sgt. Casimer A. Nastal of Detroit, Mich., waist gunner;
Staff Sgt. Clarence E. Wichell of Oak Park, Ill., waist gunner;
Tech. Sgt. Harold P. Loch of Green Bay, Wis., top turret gunner;
Tech. Sgt. Robert J, Hanson of Walla Walla, Wash., radio operator.

Memphis Belle notes:
Unit cost: US$238,329 (1945) – US$2.7 million (in 2020 dollars)
Number built: 12,731

Memphis Belle and Crew Mission List:
7 November 1942 – Brest, France
9 November 1942 – St. Nazaire, France
17 November 1942 – St. Nazaire, France
6 December 1942 – Lille, France
20 December 1942* – Romilly-sur-Seine, France
30 December 1942 – Lorient, France (flown by Lt. James A. Verinis)
3 January 1943 – St. Nazaire, France
13 January 1943 – Lille, France
23 January 1943 – Lorient, France
14 February 1943 – Hamm, Germany
16 February 1943 – St. Nazaire, France
27 February 1943* – Brest, France
6 March 1943 – Lorient, France
12 March 1943 – Rouen, France
13 March 1943 – Abbeville, France
22 March 1943 – Wilhelmshaven, Germany
28 March 1943 – Rouen, France
31 March 1943 – Rotterdam, Netherlands
16 April 1943 – Lorient, France
17 April 1943 – Bremen, Germany
1 May 1943 – St. Nazaire, France
13 May 1943 – Meaulte, France (flown by Lt. C.L. Anderson)
14 May 1943 – Kiel, Germany (flown by Lt. John H. Miller)
15 May 1943 – Wilhelmshaven, Germany
17 May 1943 – Lorient, France
19 May 1943 – Kiel, Germany (flown by Lt. Anderson)

Morgan’s crew completed the following missions in B-17s other than the Memphis Belle:
4 February 1943 – Emden, Germany (in B-17 DF-H 41-24515 Jersey Bounce)
26 February 1943 – Wilhelmshaven, Germany (in B-17 41-24515)
5 April 1943 – Antwerp, Belgium (in B-17 41-24480 Bad Penny)
4 May 1943 – Antwerp, Belgium (in B-17 41-24527, The Great Speckled Bird)

Black & White

Historic Images

Memphis Belle crew photo.

Memphis Belle

Belle co-pilot Jim Verinis and mascot “Stuka”

Belle Ground Crew.

The crew of the “Memphis Belle” back from its 25th operational mission. All of the crew hold the DFC and the Air Medal with three oak clusters, and all started with this Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” and survived with only one casualty, a leg wound to the tail gunner. June 1943

The aircraft was named after pilot Robert K Morgan’s sweetheart, Margaret Polk(above), a resident of Memphis, Tennessee.

The Boeing B-17 “The Memphis Belle” is pictured on her way back to the United States after completing 25 missions from an airbase in England. 9 June 1943.

Boeing B-17F-10-BO “Memphis Belle” nose art. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Boeing B-17F-10-BO “Memphis Belle” on tour at Patterson Field, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo)

© David M. Brown Photography – Shutter Works Studio

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