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Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

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SWIHARTMARK
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Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#1 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Tue May 15, 2018 9:34 pm

The original Memphis Belle B-17 bomber is due to be fully displayed in the USAF Museum on May 17th, the anniversary of her 25th and last mission this Thursday. I stopped by this weekend for a peek, but she is being blocked by a wall of high black curtains right now.

The museum's website lists a fly in by several B-17's and some P-51's on Thursday and Friday I believe, as well as re-enactors and their equipment all the way till Saturday, not to mention several food trucks. Admission is always free as usual. I did decline to buy a Memphis Belle coffee cup in the gift store for....$16! I live here, so it should go on sale later I would think.

If you haven't been to the museum, all I can say is that it is a top notch museum rivaling the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I've been to both, so I know.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#2 Post by ffuries » Wed May 16, 2018 12:09 am

The USAF Museum is top notch in my book. When my dad was terminal, some model club buddies of his flew him up there and arranged a private tour of the museum before normal hours. The museum even took the ropes down and let him crawl around the F-4 Phantom, before he left he placed his old crew chief manual on the F-4's seat. Dad spent the majority of his 26 year AF career working the F-4, when he retired in 1988 he was Production Supervisor of the 20th FS which was the German-American joint fighter training squadron at George AFB, California and was flying the F-4.

If I recall correctly he was given around 2 hours of unsupervised exploring of the aircraft he worked on. For the museum personnel to allow this was really awesome. It was definitely a highlight in his life, he talked about it until the end.
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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#3 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Wed May 16, 2018 5:27 am

Glad to hear they let your Dad have a grand tour. The volunteer guides are mostly retired USAF personnel. They do have an open F-4 cockpit section on display you are allowed to climb into someplace. If your Dad got to go into the full aircraft on display, that was exceptionally nice of them. I imagine letting your Dad go where he wanted to go made their day actually, as much as a treat for them as for him. I don't think the Smithsonian would do that for anybody.

Good to hear your story. I might relay that to a volunteer standing around. I think they would be happy to hear about his encounter and hopefully it encourages more similar stories.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#4 Post by ffuries » Wed May 16, 2018 11:05 am

SWIHARTMARK wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 5:27 am
Glad to hear they let your Dad have a grand tour. The volunteer guides are mostly retired USAF personnel. They do have an open F-4 cockpit section on display you are allowed to climb into someplace. If your Dad got to go into the full aircraft on display, that was exceptionally nice of them. I imagine letting your Dad go where he wanted to go made their day actually, as much as a treat for them as for him. I don't think the Smithsonian would do that for anybody.

Good to hear your story. I might relay that to a volunteer standing around. I think they would be happy to hear about his encounter and hopefully it encourages more similar stories.

Best Regards,

Mark
Yes he got to play with the actual one, not the cockpit section, he walked around it and could remember all sorts of stuff, preflight checks, EOR checks, etc. They listened to his stories of the F-4, the different variations the AF flew, the mods made to the aircraft over the years. The staff was top notch and made it a special day for him. Can't say enough about the museum, staff, or his buddies who arranged this for him.
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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#5 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Wed May 16, 2018 5:14 pm

I'm glad they listened to him and I bet that meant a lot. Somehow I don't think he was their first special tour for a veteran after hearing your story and hopefully not their last. I shall have to ask one of the volunteers how often they do that and thank them for that. That's really going above and beyond now a days.

I used to work with somebody who helped restore the Memphis Belle a few years back. He showed me a wing pin he made that was precision ground from both ends at different angles, which looked incredibly hard to do since I could not figure out how he held on to it since the other side was tapered and would not fit into a chuck or collet after it was ground. The two tapers met in the middle perfectly matched to each other, what incredible work. Not only that, those guys did it for free. He told me stories that the cockpit's instrument panel was actually radioactive and they had a Geiger counter on hand incase they broke the glass. The radioactive material made it glow in the dark and I think they used to use that stuff in old watches back in the day. He had no idea the radiation was that strong. I could only imagine what effects it had on any crew if they were exposed to that during a mission if it took damage.

For those of you who know the museum well, I saw they moved the old fully restored B-17 "Shoo Shoo Baby" outside the museum from what I viewed on the news. I wonder where she will wind up. I hope they swapped her for the Memphis Belle since I think the USAF Museum got the Belle from another museum, but in poor shape. I think the Belle used to sit outside a Frisch's or Shoney's Big Boy hamburger joint back in the day for a long time slowly decaying from the elements. I will be nice to see what kind of job they did, well at least on the outside.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#6 Post by ffuries » Wed May 16, 2018 5:40 pm

SWIHARTMARK wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 5:14 pm
I'm glad they listened to him and I bet that meant a lot. Somehow I don't think he was their first special tour for a veteran after hearing your story and hopefully not their last. I shall have to ask one of the volunteers how often they do that and thank them for that. That's really going above and beyond now a days.

I used to work with somebody who helped restore the Memphis Belle a few years back. He showed me a wing pin he made that was precision ground from both ends at different angles, which looked incredibly hard to do since I could not figure out how he held on to it since the other side was tapered and would not fit into a chuck or collet after it was ground. The two tapers met in the middle perfectly matched to each other, what incredible work. Not only that, those guys did it for free. He told me stories that the cockpit's instrument panel was actually radioactive and they had a Geiger counter on hand incase they broke the glass. The radioactive material made it glow in the dark and I think they used to use that stuff in old watches back in the day. He had no idea the radiation was that strong. I could only imagine what effects it had on any crew if they were exposed to that during a mission if it took damage.

For those of you who know the museum well, I saw they moved the old fully restored B-17 "Shoo Shoo Baby" outside the museum from what I viewed on the news. I wonder where she will wind up. I hope they swapped her for the Memphis Belle since I think the USAF Museum got the Belle from another museum, but in poor shape. I think the Belle used to sit outside a Frisch's or Shoney's Big Boy hamburger joint back in the day for a long time slowly decaying from the elements. I will be nice to see what kind of job they did, well at least on the outside.

Best Regards,

Mark
Actually the Belle was on display in Memphis at several locations until the AF took her back, due to the vandalism and condition of the aircraft. Airport, National Guard Armory, WWII themed restaurant, lastly Mud Island covered by a pavilion, but she was in rough shape.

http://memphismagazine.com/the-past-pre ... his-belle/
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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#7 Post by 72 usmc » Wed May 16, 2018 8:55 pm

Thank you for that link on the history of the plane. Fantastic read. What a shame so much of WW II and WWI combat machines are gone.
To old to fight and to old to run, a Jar head will just shoot and be done with you.

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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#8 Post by ffuries » Wed May 16, 2018 9:02 pm

72 usmc wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 8:55 pm
Thank you for that link on the history of the plane. Fantastic read. What a shame so much of WW II and WWI combat machines are gone.
And to think had the City of Memphis not bought her, she would have met Captain Crunch. So yeah she suffered in Memphis for years, but that was what ultimately saved her for future generations.
Last edited by ffuries on Wed May 16, 2018 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#9 Post by vonalt » Wed May 16, 2018 10:50 pm

I am northwest of the Museum by 45 min and I can report that I spotted at least two P 51s making a flight in a SE direction toward the base this evening. I wonder if they are keeping them up at Grimes Field in Urbana like they did the B25s when they had the Doolittle Raid Anniversary a couple of years back.

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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#10 Post by OLDGUNNER » Wed May 16, 2018 11:42 pm

ffuries wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 12:09 am
Dad spent the majority of his 26 year AF career working the F-4, when he retired in 1988 he was Production Supervisor of the 20th FS which was the German-American joint fighter training squadron at George AFB, California and was flying the F-4.
I will call this a funny story – In 67-68 I was working at DaNang Air Base and one day a Mod came in for an F4 Phantom Field Mod to install a Yaw Indicator on F4’s because they didn’t have one. It gave very precise information on what and how. The indicator was a piece of Knitting Yarn about 14 inches long taped on the nose so the pilot could look in front and see his air craft yaw. But I never worked on the F4's.
I had been flying since 1953 and I had never heard of a Yaw Indicator. The electronic types were just too complicated to be popular. And actually that was the only one that I had ever seen until I took my first glider lesson some time in the 70’s.

According to this link it looks like the electronic ones still may not be too popular except the yarn type, (Yaw String).

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Ya ... =IRBPRS&=0 Now is this funny or is this funny?

In my first operation Squadron in the Air Force in 1953 they had 3 B-17's and 10 C-47's. But shortly after that they scraped the B-17's.
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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#11 Post by shoot4fun » Thu May 17, 2018 7:06 am

vonalt wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 10:50 pm
I am northwest of the Museum by 45 min and I can report that I spotted at least two P 51s making a flight in a SE direction toward the base this evening. I wonder if they are keeping them up at Grimes Field in Urbana like they did the B25s when they had the Doolittle Raid Anniversary a couple of years back.
Don't know about the P51s, but there are a couple of B17s up there this week.
You can buy a ticket for a ride in a couple of them.


http://www.champaignaviationmuseum.org

Heard them flying this past weekend.

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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#12 Post by DaleH » Thu May 17, 2018 12:32 pm

AWESOME stories and sentiments presented here - thank you! This from the son of a WWII P-51 Mustang flight chief (A flight) late 1940 to 1945, starting as volunteer American for the English, before the US officially entered the war (Eagle squadrons) - then onto 335 fighter squadron, 4th fighter group, Debden, England.

Mariners (sailors) have been putting light ropes as ‘tell tails’ off their sails for generations, to read the wind and trim their sails. For a second there, I thought perhaps the yarn was suspended inside the cockpit from the canopy, like a plumb bob, haha!

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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#13 Post by LCPfraTN » Tue May 22, 2018 10:54 am

ffuries wrote:
72 usmc wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 8:55 pm
Thank you for that link on the history of the plane. Fantastic read. What a shame so much of WW II and WWI combat machines are gone.
And to think had the City of Memphis not bought her, she would have met Captain Crunch. So yeah she suffered in Memphis for years, but that was what ultimately saved her for future generations.
Enjoyed seeing her while she was here in Memphis, but I'm glad she's where she belongs now. My Dad was career Air Force and took us to this museum when I was a teenager about 40 years ago, but I haven't been back since then. This gives me another reason to go back for another visit after all these years.


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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#14 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Tue May 22, 2018 6:45 pm

I would doubt you would recognize it anymore since it has grown leaps and bounds. The one you saw then only had two hangars and now it has four and an attached movie theater specializing in 3-D movies. I remember the one before that at a different site on base.

I did drive by on Friday and noticed that cars were being parked on the grass so I avoided the crowd on Saturday. As a local buddy of mine said, "It is going to be there forever, so I can wait." I couldn't agree with him more, especially since it started to rain Saturday after work and nothing beats getting stuck in the mud in a crowd. I usually visit the museum a few times a year since i live near it. Hey it's free, so why not?

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Memphis Belle On Display At USAF Museum

#15 Post by Friedspam » Tue May 22, 2018 7:33 pm

The Smithsonian in Chantilly VA is the finest musuem I've ever stepped foot in! Was there last summer, blew away the one on the Mall.

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