From One Belle to Another

23/08/12 12:18 AM

Our son, Tyler is currently working part time at our regional airport in Chesapeake. He called us this afternoon and told us we HAD to come to the airport to see this really cool plane.

It turned out to be a B-17 Bomber named the “Memphis Belle”. It isn’t the original “Memphis Belle”, but the one that was used in the movie “Memphis Belle”.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie (I think I have seen it at least a half million times) or know the history, the original Memphis Belle was a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress that served during World War II. The original “Memphis Belle” is in Dayton, Ohio at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base undergoing extensive restoration.

The “Memphis Belle” was added to the USAAF inventory on July 15, 1942 and delivered to Dow Field in Bangor, Maine in September, 1942. She was sent to Scotland to a temporary base at RAF Kimboton in October, 1842. She then went to her permanent base at Bassingbourn, England in the same month.

Her pilot was Captain Robert Morgan and it was from him that she received her name. He named her after his sweetheart, Margaret Polk who lived in Memphis, Tennessee. At first he had intended on call it “Little One” after his pet name for her, but after seeing a movie call “Lady for a Night” with his co-pilot, Jim Verinis, in which a riverboat in the movie was named the “Memphis Belle”, he changed the name. The girl’s image on the plane came from a pinup drawing from the April 1941 issue of Esquire Magazine. Corporal Tony Starcer, the 91st Bomb Group artist reproduced the pinup on both sides of the forward fuselage. He gave her a blue suit on the plane’s port side and a red suit on the plane’s starboard side. Other nose art was added later for each successful mission and aircrew shot down. Once her missions were complete, the crew names and stations were stenciled below station windows.

During World War II, if a Bomber completed 25 missions, its crew would earn enough points to come home. This Bombing Mission was generally done during daytime hours and would place the aircraft and crew within striking distance of enemy fire. Most B-17s didn’t make it. But the “Memphis Belle” was one of the first and few that completed this task without being shot down or losing even one crew member.

Brett and Michelle
Memphis Belle
Chesapeake Virginia

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 45 Comments »

45 Comments on “From One Belle to Another”

  1. vanbraman Says:

    A Beautiful Bomber. I love the art on the plane.

  2. It was such a sight to see! I love the movie and to see it in person was just awesome!

  3. Reblogged this on WordPress Report.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing us with your readers! It really means allot to us!

  5. Dianna Says:

    My son and husband flew on a B-25 that came to Norfolk a few years ago. I was SO nervous with both of them on it, and was relieved when it safely landed. They had a BALL!

  6. They are offering rides in the Memphis Belle this weekend. I would love to go, but the $400 per person is just a little more than what we can do right now. We need that for the plantation.

  7. squirrel circus Says:

    Very cool.

  8. It was awesome!

  9. Jayne Says:

    I love these planes, really dramatic when they fly over!

  10. We didn’t get to see her fly, but I think we might head back over to the airport this weekend to see it as she does her flights.

  11. Susan Norden Says:

    I love anything aviation, and I work for the FAA, so this piece today was a nice way to start my day at the breakfast table!

  12. How cool! We are thinking about going back on Saturday so we can see her fly. I am sure there are going to be more pictures to share!

  13. Susan Norden Says:

    That would be wonderful! I hope that we can make it up to your place in the near future. My husband and I are trying to visit locations that were touched in some way by a past President —

  14. Belle Grove is a good place to come if you are visiting places touched by a past President! Beside James Madison being born here, George Washington was a frequent visitor. Also within just 15 miles of the plantation, you have George Washington’s birthplace, George Washington’s boyhood home, James Monroe’s birthplace, The Rising Sun Tavern where Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Monroe and who knows who else stopped to stay.

  15. Message In A Fold Says:

    Thanks for sharing the history of this replica AND the story of the original war plane. Your blog is a great read for me. History is personalized by you and I enjoy it more than I ever did in my high school classes long ago 🙂


  16. Thank you so much! That means allot to us! We both love history. I am the kind of person that wants to experience it though. I can’t just read about it, I want to go and see what they saw and be where they were. It makes it so much more valuable. Too bad high school history classes can’t be a year long road trip!

  17. R B Clark Says:

    Awesome photos!

  18. Thank you! We loved seeing it up close!

  19. Very cool pictures and a great film. Thanks for the memories.

  20. Thank you! It was a great movie!

  21. isaiah43123 Says:

    During WW11, my father served in the Marine Corps under Joseph H. Foss, the commanding officer of VMF-115 and had the honor of being Colonel Charles Lindbergh’s line mechanic during a “combat visit” on Emirau Island in the South Pacific. To this day, Dad’s voice holds much respect when telling of Mr Mindbergh, “He was a gentleman and a no nosense kind of guy. A good man and pilot, that Lindbergh.”

  22. Mr. Lindbergh was just one of those people that would stand out in a crowd even if he hadn’t done half the things he did. How cool that your father got to see him in person!

  23. seniorhiker Says:

    Thanks for these great pictures of the Memphis Belle.

  24. Thank you! It was so much fun see it!

  25. belocchio Says:

    This is such an excellent post. A great many people today have little or no knowledge about the second world war. Virginia

  26. You know I have to say I am one of them. I love colonial history so that is where most of my knowledge of history lays. But from time to time I get touched by another time and it draws me in. The Memphis Belle is one of those times.

  27. Thanks for sharing. So, I guess the unanswered question is What was the plane doing in Chesapeake?

  28. You are so welcome! The Memphis Belle is on tour with a group called Liberty Belle Tours. They fly her around the country and use it to raise money to restore and preserve the right Memphis Belle.

  29. Gil Burgos Says:

    Hey brother,

    I started blogging again:

    Let’s connect again.

  30. Thank you for sharing your blog.

  31. terry1954 Says:

    totally awesome!!!!

  32. I totally agree!

  33. One of our favorite movies too – it was neat seeing the up close pictures and learning a bit more of the history. Blessings – Patty

  34. It was one of my favorites too! I love old history movies like that. I can watch them over and over and never really tire of them.

  35. What a neat plane to see, even if it isn’t the real one! I visited the Air Force Museum in Dayton – it is awesome! They have a so many cool pieces of our history. It will be great when the Memphis Belle can be put back on display.

  36. That is why this plane is touring. They are raising money to restore the right Memphis Belle. You know, we lived in Dayton in the historic district (St. Anne’s Hill). It was our first home. It was built in 1885. Our daughter was also born in Dayton.

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  38. Thank you so much for sharing us with your readers so often! It really does mean allot to us!

  39. CatenaTravel Says:

    Reblogged this on Catena Travel.

  40. Thank you so much for sharing us with your readers! We really appreciate it!

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  43. Mustang.Koji Says:

    Seeing one up close is an experience… but being there at engine start, takeoff, flyover and landing is an entirely different experience. I hope you get to experience that soon. There are so few left flying.

  44. We were hoping to see it today, but we got up just to heavy rain so we aren’t sure its going to flying today. We will have to see.

  45. Mustang.Koji Says:

    Sorry to hear Mother Nature intervened. It would have given you tremendous insight to have witnessed what our fathers saw each day…while realizing HUNDREDS went up for a mission.