Memphis Belle: Her Final Mission

ThinkTVPBS

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    The iconic Memphis Belle underwent a 13 year restoration at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Our documentary features the work of two teams: the crew who flew her into combat and the team that restored her to her former glory.


    Learn more and support this project at thinktv.org/memphis-belle-the... or www.cetconnect.org/memphis-be... .

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    1. bigace1980

      Could you imagine having reconlation of the people who built the Memphis Belle, the crew who flew all of those missions in her and to these awesome people who rebuilt her! I loved this video. Being a vet myself, the IDF was the most absolute terror I felt!

    2. tud1366

      This is quite disappointing. This film, while very well done, misses out on a huge hunk of the Belle's history. As stated in the film, in 1945 the Memphis Belle was bought by the city of Memphis for $350.00. In 1946 the plane was flown to the city and stored till 1949 when it was brought out and placed on display. By the 1980 between the weather and souvenir hunters, very little of the original interior of the plane was left, and the outside was more rust than metal. The TV program 20/20 did a story about the Belle, were a few of my family members saw the program, and a few weeks later, every Friday late afternoon they would drive to Memphis and work on the Belle with other volunteers, Memphis Belle Memorial Association (MBMA), and drive home on Sundays. This of course was way before the internet, or cell phones, so during the week the out of town volunteers would call around and try and locate piece needed to rebuild the Belle, or rebuild missing parts. Once the Belle was put back to fighting shape, a formation of WWII planes flew with the Belle to it's new home on Mud Island in the Mississippi River. Once again, the city of Memphis did NOT maintain the Belle, and where this part of the story begins. The fact it was so easy for these film makers and this restoration group to totally over look the work put in before a lot of them were born is the only reason the Belle was still around for them to restore it. My family members, while not chosen to ride in the Belle for the flight to Mud Island, they did get to ride in another plane in the formation, and somewhere is a Beta tape of that flight, from the inside of the plane they fly in with video of the Memphis Belle in flight.

    3. MyJussuf

      1200 people thumb down. Please explain to a dummy like me why?

    4. National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

      We love this, thank you so much for telling this story!!!

    5. Nyneve R

      Every person who downvoted this is a sack of trash and un-American. What a disgrace. These men who flew this plane fought for your RIGHT to down vote it and your freedom, do not forget that. The plane is a sacred item, a national treasure.

    6. Philip Townsend

      That was a phenomenal and deeply emotional film. Thank you for making it.

    7. Suzanne O

      Beautiful and deeply moving. Very sad too. I came from an RAF background. My Grandad served, my Dad from age 15 as a boy entrant, my brother, and I. I loved the life.

    8. chad long

      Those restoration guys were meant for this job

    9. chad long

      These guys lived and breathed The Belle for three times as long as the war went on for America

    10. chad long

      My god she is a thing of beauty all reatored

    11. Dick Fitswell

      I saw Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad 6:13 Great documentary and well done men. Shes a beaut

    12. thedeerhunter 1182

      What fool would put a thumbs down on this video?! God Bless America & Thank God & the men & women who fought for our Liberty that We ALL get to enjoy every day of our lives!!!

    13. FunteX

      The only right reaction to this, is to snap a solid salute . . .

    14. Ron LaBorde

      O

    15. Greg Jones

      Excellent documentary. The display at the museum is overwhelming and the best exhibit I have ever seen. Thanks god she was saved.

    16. That Guy

      Memphis saved what the Air Force was going to destroy to make beer cans…

    17. That Guy

      My dad was a radioman / bomber gunner for the 457th bomber group 750th squadron out of Glotten England. He loved going to reunions when he was in his 70s and 80s. All of his crew got PhDs when they got out. My father became a rocket scientist (physicist / computer research scientist) working on the Apollo project and Space Shuttles.

    18. Willie Delgado

      Great job guys!!

    19. D M

      What an amazing documentary. Looks like I'm going to have a 2,300 mile road trip in my near future to Dayton Ohio 🇺🇲

    20. Yola Montalvan

      I know they made a great job restoring it but I would I preferred to see it unrestored with all the bullet holes. It would have shown the true heroic moments of theses planes.

      1. Mike Leslie

        the holes were generally patched right after each mission. I believe they left the patches they found.

    21. Yola Montalvan

      Why, other planes didn’t survived 25 missions? Was Memphis Belle the only one?

      1. Yola Montalvan

        @Bill Thank you, you answered my question.

      2. Bill

        There were others, the Belle is just one. Try Google

    22. Mush Lufc

      The UK and the USA 🤝 forevermore👍

    23. Michael Dougfir

      I was a sailor I never saw a B-17 until they were used to fight forest fires in the West. However, as a sailor of faith I knew well the Navy Hymn. At the end of this fine film is a parody (is that the word?) of that great Navy Hymn. I wish to say the composer did a fine job of adapting that hymn for our boys who flew in that war. I wish to express full approval. And to say thanks. "THANKS." and Well Done.

    24. Brad Roberts

      I am so glad this airplane was saved and restored, when I was a kid in the 60's the Belle sat on a podium at Hollywood and Central streets in Memphis and us kids would climb in it and play.

    25. pere hortes

      The rebel philippines particularly search because gasoline fortuitously meddle forenenst a tame bibliography. cagey, truthful wholesaler

    26. Jose Ramos

      Amazing story, amazing work by these gentlemen.

    27. Robert Bailey

      the 25 missions, not many too go, but 'we didn't mention' ''the longest conversations we never had''

    28. P.R. Mathews

      🙏🇺🇸RIP, Heroes and I most respectfully Salute you brave men🇺🇸🙏

    29. Rappers57

      What's wrong with the kids of today, building models and learning about this side of history that gave them the freedom they have today to hate their country. Sad.

    30. Bonz Model Railroad

      Thank you for this video. I've seen several B-17s but hope to see the Belle as well.

    31. AxeMastersINC

      I would like to thank the Military-Industrial Complex of all the beautiful glorious wars and weapons they have created that makes it so fast and easy to kill men woman and children.

      1. SkepticalAtheist

        Thank you for showing how much you actually hate freedom.

    32. OccasionalGamer

      The meticulous restoration of the Memphis Belle is impressive, and the efforts of those craftsmen should be recognized.

      1. P.R. Mathews

        Those guys in restoration are indeed the best of the best. 🙏🏼🇺🇸 God bless you guys for what you’ve given America. I truly salute all of you. OUTSTANDING job, in every way……..🗽🔔🗽

    33. Paco Krikotania

      I've read many many times the story of the Memphis Belle but this documentary managed to bring tears to my eyes .

    34. Bill Otto

      Does anyone know what happened to the "Memphis Belle" the woman ? They made it sound like she died real young. Thanks in advance.

      1. Jeff Duford

        Margaret Polk remained in Memphis until she passed away in 1990 at the age of 67. There is a beautiful bronze memorial to her in Overton Park in Memphis.

    35. Bill Otto

      I wonder why they didn't have fighter escort on trips to western France. That should have been within the range of Brit planes & early American fighters.

      1. Jeff Duford

        For most of the Memphis Belle's tour, the only escort available was RAF/USAAF Spitfires, which had relatively short range. P-47s only came along in the last few months of the Belle's tour.

    36. Felix

      What a fantastic story of bravery, determination and sorrow.

    37. Trever Mcdonald

      It is often forgotten that the RAF flew a thousand bomber raid before the Americans eventually joined them. it was not until late 1944 that the US equaled and then supposed the power of the RAF. but we tend only to hear about the American bombers.

      1. OccasionalGamer

        True, but the RAF commanders also said that American daylight bombing would never work. It was our insistence that made "around the clock bombing" succeed.

    38. Sean Browning

      In 2017 when I was a checkpoint supervisor screening passengers for a cruise ship a veteran came through wearing a tail gunner hat . I told my friend there’s a real survivor. We both went over to shake the man’s hand . Never laugh at a World War II VETERAN those men and women went through unimaginable horrors

    39. Sean Browning

      My Grandfather was a Chaplin for the 8 Army Air Corp . My heart goes out to these men . As an Oif combat veteran and a third Generation veteran on both sides. These were real heros

    40. Matthew Roberts

      Made me cry....

    41. Aerial Videos Mexicali -Paco Del Valle-

      i cried like a bitch at the end of this video

      1. Hrontore Boa

        No. You cried like a man.

    42. Randy Crabtree

      BEAUTIFUL !!!

    43. Joseph Langley

      I salute you my my sir...until now I believed Marvel had it down....

    44. Glen Hutchcraft

      I enjoyed hearing about the hero's that flew her, the bell was truly an Icon fortress of the ages, i was not even born yet when she fought, But i love what she did for our country and the hero's that flew her!!!!!

    45. Eileen Carman

      Was great to watch this. My dad had been a tailgunntr over the Philippines and came home with 6 bronze stars.

    46. Brandon Reptilian Class IIB

      I bet those air museum security guards climb inside every cockpit they can get into after closing and make airplane and machine gun noises while cranking on the stick and throttle(s) lol Shoot.. I would. Wouldn't last long as an aerospace museum security guard though.

    47. Certificate Of Vaccination I.D. 19

      No mention of the race riots that the airmen started because there was no segregation in London...

    48. Michael Keller

      The heavenly heavy hellish water technically consist because drawer reciprocally arrest mid a spiritual egg. nervous, hanging plant

    49. MJ Karwal

      God bless all those around the world who stand for freedom.

    50. cabanford

      My dad flew b-52s in Vietnam. He had tape recordings of his bomb runs over Hanoi and they sounded just like the audio from bombers over Germany in WWII. Makes me glad I'm a professional paragliding pilot and nobody's shooting at me (or vice-versa!) 🙂

    51. The Midsouth Cyclist

      I live in Memphis, and it was an honor to join the Memphis Belle Society on Saturdays to wash the 'Belle back when she lived here on Mud Island. My wife was one of the majority to slide off a soapy wing and land unceremoniously on their bottom; I was one of the very few that never slipped (pure luck, I assure you). I married on May 17th, and have been lucky enough to fly on the Nine-O-Nine twice.

    52. Wesley Nichols

      God bless them all for keeping us safe

    53. Fandango Fandango

      Great Doco.

    54. colliecandle

      All those dead and wounded - and for WHAT ? A fucked up insane world where NOT wearing a stinking muzzle on your face makes you 'persona non gratis' ! Humanity really has lost it's way.

    55. Roger Lynch

      7:45 Fun Fact FLAK stands for FLugAbwehrKanone, correctly written FLUGABWEHRKANONE , just wanteed to empazise the abridgement.

    56. Robert Kovach

      Do they test all the systems to make sure they work? Engines, flight controls, radios, etc. Just curious, great job on restoring this important part of history!!!!!

    57. fred flintstoner

      what were the skie's like when you were young ?

    58. Jim P.

      Instead of taking back to the sky. It gets to rot static in a museum. Shameful.

      1. Jeff Duford

        Again, regardless of the cause, flying a national treasure is a considerable risk and hardly worthy, especially since there are several other flying B-17s. I love see them fly too, but eventually the only ones that remain will be those in museums. In the case of the Belle, we are obligated to ensure that future generations get to see it.

      2. Jim P.

        @Jeff DufordMost of the recent losses have been due to poor maintenance .The Collins Foundation is the worst.

      3. Jeff Duford

        Search for "B-17 909 crash" and you will have your answer as to why responsible people are preserving a national treasure rather than taking the shameful risk of flying this particular one. You could also search for "B-29 Kee Bird" to see how another vintage aircraft was lost even before it could be made airworthy. Moreover, far more original parts of this artifact would have been taken out to make it flyable. It is hardly "rotting" in a museum--rather, it has a place of honor in Air Force's national museum where it will be seen by millions. Everyone loves to see vintage aircraft flying, and there are plenty of other flying B-17s to watch or ride in without risking an icon.

    59. Stazia Kibera

      The rmj experiment on KOlove

    60. Bob Graham Photo

      What a wonderful tribute. May we never have to face and defeat such oppression again.

      1. Panzerkampfwagen ausf. 1935 Tschechoslowakisch

        @Wawoodsman71 but we are not going to have a WW3 anytime soon.

      2. Wawoodsman71

        Whether you believe it or not we're facing the corruption now that lead to the evil then.

    61. Ron Alexander

      The story of Hogan's Heroes is a true one. The surviving crew who bailed out of a B-24, and became POWs in Austria. I interviewed one of them for the Library of Congress. He was called Pappy, because he was the oldest at 22. His name, Sgt. William Barnhart from Grey Court, S.C. He was awarded 2 Bronze stars for his heroism in saving he life of another crewman twice. You can see his courageous story by punching in his name at the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. There is a book about them called The Flame Keeper written by the small tunnel Digger Ned Handy.In the Spring of 1944, Ned Handy's B-24 bomber was shot down. You can Google it and read reviews. Well worth the read! Sgt. Barnhart was a leader and was mentioned in it several times. Handy and his fellow survivors were sent to Stalag 17, a crowded, disease-ridden POW camp that held thousands of Allied soldiers and operated by its own cruel rules. From the beginning, Handy set out to escape, relentlessly digging a tunnel underneath a barracks. As he dug, Handy forged friendships and uneasy alliances, survived Gestapo searches and a vicious beating, helped save the lives of wanted men and befriended a German guard. When the moment came for Handy to escape, fate would intervene as he and his fellow prisoners began a brutal march West--towards freedom or death.... This is a powerful, moving memoir of an ordeal that brought out the best and the worst in men. A must-read for World II buffs and anyone interested in the true nature of war, The Flame Keepers is a story of suffering, camaraderie, horror and survival--and one young man's awakening to the power of humanity itself.

    62. Michael White

      A neighbor of mine when I was a kid was a man, small of stature, who lived across the street. He was always smiling and was a baker by trade. After he died, I learned from his sister that he had been a ball turret gunner on an 8th Air Force, 447th Bomb Group B-17. He had earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and four Air Medals flying more than 30 missions including several to Berlin before the war ended in May 1945. He never talked about any of it, but his sister said he always smiled because he was grateful for every day God gave him after his experiences in the war.

    63. Sven Blau

      At 3:45 - Bombing the Arado Factory in Anklam

    64. Mister Mistah

      Didn't the Memphis High School do a restoration/repair of the aircraft back in the mid/late-70s? I haven't been able to find a lot of information about it aside from year book pictures of high school students working on the aircraft. Would be interesting if they talked about it in any of these Memphis Belle documentaries.

    65. Randy Allen

      Even though I’m not an American (Canadian), I can still appreciate the sacrifice of people who flew these missions. I found it to be a very moving documentary, very well told. I liked the mixture of the veteran stories & the restoration team.

    66. Michel Belle

      To all the dead people they have killed. They died for nothing

    67. EEuphoria

      The ending made me tear up. God bless the Memphis Belle forever! 🇺🇸🇺🇸 damn proud to be an American💪🏼

    68. ron5935

      A B17 was sent on fundraising tour in 1970`s and was a DuPage County Airport in Illinois. I did a walk through . How unfinished the interior beautiful plane was. Why add weight and complexity. There was some armor on the pilots seats but not much anywhere else. All the control cables were exposed. But the thing to take away is the danger to the crew. It must be like taking cover in a beer can while numerous people are shooting with very heavy weapons. We have to remember and give them credit.

    69. Gary Higgins

      Thank you for this film, truly inspirational!😊😊😊😊😊😊🇬🇧

    70. ThaT DuDe

      The movie was amazing :)

    71. Pete Cure

      I done my army basic at Bassingbourn, as an army recruit we were always told about the history of our base, especially Memphis Belle, I'm proud to of served where she did. Never forget.

    72. Samuel Morado

      Best Documentary I’ve seen. Thanks for the sacrifices to ALL veterans deceased and living.

    73. Dam Nam

      No more brother wars.

    74. rgerber

      killing enemey scum in which way possible, because you love your girl and you do it only for her............ oh tell me there is a stronger feeling

    75. George Dye

      respect and thanks, we all owe people like the aircrew that came over here to fight for freedom, we needed them make no mistake. brave lads all.

    76. Roy Cronsell

      Awesome work to all who gave to the project

    77. jimmy harris

      He became a doctor and moved to Cookeville Tennessee

    78. jimmy harris

      His name was hamp Morrison

    79. jimmy harris

      My great uncle aunt Morrison, from Memphis Tennessee, flew the Memphis Belle back to Memphis from somewhere in the United States. To bring it to its final home. As a kid born in 1955, we many times drove by the Memphis Belle, and unfortunately they weren't maintaining it and now it's a believe in another state where they completely refurbished it

    80. Robert Hutchins

      Great Video God Bless America

    81. universal Buddhas

      All the idiots just died for nothing

    82. Crocus

      I have a painting of the Memphis Belle, signed by some of the original crew.

      1. The Couch Burners

        💘

    83. Jerry Miller

      When you get there you'II feel it

    84. Jerry Miller

      Thank you're grandfather for his service. Come and see it..in the city that taught the world to fly

    85. Mugshot

      The tragedy is that the R.A.F. did a survey in 1943 to research their bombing accuracy, and discovered that the majority of their bombs didn't hit any closer to the aiming point than five miles and that most of their bombs landed on farmland. The U.S.A.A.F had a better bombsight ( the Norden Bombsight) but their accuracy wasn't much better. The U.S.A.A.F initially flew their bombing missions without fighter escort because they thought their protective bomber formations and twelve machine guns on each aircraft were enough to protect them, the RAF who had been bombing the Germans for years warned them it was suicide, but they took no notice and the Luftwaffe slaughtered them to such a degree that their losses were so great they had to temporarily had to suspend operations and start using fighter escorts.

      1. Dwizzleusa 1984

        Lol where the hell are you getting your information lol

    86. B McG

      An amazing plane and morale lifting for those men who made the ultimate sacrifice, in giving their lives to fight and destroy an ideology of evil! May we never forget those boys and young men who never came back home.

    87. OFF ROAD

      Atlus Oklahoma was miss pronounced.

    88. Leonard G Miller

      Pray it never happens again on any scale Come Lord Jesus Christ 🙏🙏🙏

      1. Michael Dougfir

        @Ian herp What you wrote was cute. Two things. "God" ALWAYS gets a capital g. (G). Second, turn to God for the only real and lasting peace. Jesus paid the price for it. And when all this is over, you are invited to God's Home. Forever. But you must turn to Him while you have a chance. You will enjoy His gentleness.

      2. Ian herp

        Praying to god to stop war is like ask him for a ham sandwich. It's just gonna piss him off.....

      3. Lee Neale

        yes sir, but if it does happen again it will alllllll be over so quickly

    89. Michael Sharp

      What a treasure she is. Magnificent. Incredible story of brave young men and their plane. She carried them into harms way 25 times and brought them home. She and the the crew were one. Outstanding documentary. Goosebumps and misty eyes knowing what a value she is. Great job.

    90. Greg White

      Awesome documentary on the ole' Girl. Thanks for sharing!

    91. Gabriel Powers

      They made a good movie about this story too.

    92. Mike Evans

      Thank You for making this video possible ! Really Enjoyed it . I have The Movie and have watched it many times . This was icing on the Cake .

    93. Old  Man

      A big thank you to the men who flew and to those that restore those aircraft

    94. Austin Schuhmacher

      Great uncle on my mom's side of the family was bombardier/navigator on a A-26 Invader.

    95. MAX CARTER

      God Bless America 🙏🇺🇸

    96. Michael Keller

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    98. D B

      No "Snowflakes", in. this documentary. Everyone of the crew is incredible. Fighting 25 missions and dodging flak. B-17 bomber crew has to be in the top 5 of worst military jobs.

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