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B-17 Memphis Belle...


...from Pen and Sword



Title: B-17 Memphis Belle

Author: Graham M. Simons with Dr. Harry Friedman

Publisher: Pen and Sword

ISBN: 978-1-84884-691-3

More in the Images of War series, a new edition of this one for 2018, first published back in 2012.  Without doubt one of the most famous US aircraft from WW2, not just for being a B-17 Flying Fortress, but for being the Memphis Belle in particular.  This particular aircraft and its' 10-man crew were one of the great propaganda (today we would call it 'Public Relations') successes of the war.  It is a little unusual amidst the Images of War series in that there are less photos than we normally expect, but what we see in their place are more images of poster, flyers and documents which relate to the story of the Memphis Belle, and particularly with regard to it's tour of the US having completed the tour of 25 operational missions over Occupied Europe from its' base in the UK.

t starts, quite logically, with the start of the story, as the aircraft is collected from the Boeing factory in the USA by its' crew and how it got the name and famous artwork, all based around the pilot's (Bob Morgan) then girlfriend, Miss Margaret Polk.  It goes on to tell how the crew then took it to the UK, where it was based at RAF Bassingbourn as part of the 91st Bomb Group.  With details of individual crew members it moves quickly to the story of what happened to both the aircraft and the crew once they returned home and embarked on their new role of touring the US to support the larger war effort, raising funds and morale alike.  Among places it visited are the Boeing factory where it had been built, along with the town of Memphis itself.  It goes on to tell us the later story of the aircraft, how it was finally allocated for disposal along with so many other surplus aircraft at the end of the war.  Also how it was rescued and sold rather than melted down and its' history beyond that, from being on display in Memphis to the new home at the USAF Museum at Dayton Ohio, where it can be seen on display to this day.

With more public fame from the wartime film (and in colour!) that told the story of their 25 missions and the more recent fame thanks to the modern Hollywood film the many photos and copies of documents and newspaper articles we find out so much more about the second life of the Memphis Belle and her crew after they completed their combat operations.  I am sure the WW2 aviation historian will enjoy this story of the second life of the Belle and her crew, and be equally popular with modellers who have a good number of potential models to choose from.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.


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