Armour Collection B11B634 USAAF Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - "Memphis Belle", 324th Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group (1:48 Scale)
"In the future, war will be waged essentially against the unarmed populations of the cities and great industrial centers."
- Italian General Giulio Douhet
In the mid-1930s, Boeing engineers suggested the idea of building a big bomber to the U.S. Army Air Corps. At the time, the best American bomber in frontline service was an inadequate twin-engine adaptation of the DC-3 transport. The decision to go ahead with the B-17 Flying Fortress was a courageous leap forward: it gave the United States an embryonic strategic bomber force by the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The first prototype flew on July 28, 1935 while the first production B-17s were delivered to the Air Corps between December 1936 and August 1937 (13 aircraft).
The B-17 will always be remembered as the most celebrated four-engine strategic aircraft of WW II, maybe of all time. From the summer of 1943 onwards, huge numbers of Boeing's great silver bird were found on airfields throughout the English countryside. Early B-17s did not have enough guns and were not available in sufficient numbers, but as the war progessed the Flying Fortresses took command of the skies. The most extensively built variant was the B-17G (8,680 planes), which were built by Douglas and Lockheed Vega as well as Boeing. Pratt & Whitney R-1820-97 engines and improved turbochargers enabled the B-17G to operate at an altitude of up to 35,000 feet. The addition of a chin turret below the nose provided better defense against head-on attacks being launched by Luftwaffe fighter pilots who were desperately attempting to reduce the number of 'Forts' striking daily at targets deep in Germany. Special upgunned variants included the B-40 which had up to 30 machine guns and were intended for use as a B-17 escort, proved to be an operational failure as was the BQ-7 pilotless aircraft, which was packed with bombs and flown to its target using radio control equipment.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress bomber nicknamed "Memphis Belle". Sold Out!
Wingspan: 25 inches
Length: 16.5 inches
Historical Account: "The Belle" - Memphis Belle was delivered on July 15th, 1942, and was assigned to Lt. Robert K. Morgan of the 324th Bombing Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group. Named after Morgan's fiancee, Margaret Polk, she was destined to become the most famous of all Flying Fortresses. Fate stepped in when Academy Award winning film director William Wyler came to England in late 1942. He wanted to make a film which would show the kind of war the 8th Air Force was fighting and what it hoped to achieve. Wyler had decided to build his story around one aircraft and one crew completing their combat tour of 25-missions, a feat that was already steeped in folklore due to its rarity.
With no staging and script there was always the chance that the Memphis Belle wouldn't make it, but in dramatic and morale-boosting style the mission was completed and the aircraft was flown home to raise money in the Sixth War Bond Drive and tour US training bases. The final mission was an attack on the U-Boat yards at Kiel on May 19th, 1943, piloted by Lt. C. L. Anderson. During her seven months of combat she had aborted three times for mechanical reasons but otherwise had completed every mission. In 1972, a committee led by Frank Donofrio began a crusade to save the B-17 and fifteen years later the restored aircraft was on permanent display at a specially built musuem.