B-17 Bombing Missions in Color: "The Memphis Belle" 1944 US Army Air Forces in World War II
more at http://scitech.quickfound.net/aviatio...
"MEMPHIS BELLETHIS IS THE STORY OF THE B-17 FLYING FORTRESS "MEMPHIS
BELLE," HER CREW AND THEIR 25 SUCCESSFUL WW II MISSIONS, FROM 17 MAY 1942
TO 7 NOV 1943."
also see: Restoring the Memphis Belle
B-17 playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE644A4A2C089142F
Public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove
uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise
reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound,
though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress is a 1944 documentary film
which ostensibly provides an account of the final mission of the crew of
the Memphis Belle, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. In May 1943 it became the
first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to complete 25 missions over Europe
and return to the United States.
The dramatic 16 mm color film of actual battles was made by cinematographer
First Lieutenant Harold J. Tannenbaum. The film was directed by Major
William Wyler, narrated by Eugene Kern, and had scenes at its Bassingbourn
base photographed by Hollywood cinematographer Captain William H. Clothier.
It was made under the auspices of the First Motion Picture Unit, a branch
of the United States Army Air Forces. The film actually depicted the next
to last mission of the crew (see below) on May 15, 1943, and was made as a
morale-building inspiration for the Home Front by showing the everyday
courage of the men who manned these bombers...
Morgan's crew had not flown all of its missions together. Captain Verinis
had originally been Morgan's co-pilot at the beginning of their combat tour
but had become a "first pilot" (aircraft commander) in his own right on
December 30, 1942, after which he flew 16 missions as commander of a
replacement B-17 he named Connecticut Yankee after his home state. Verinis
finished his tour two days before the rest of Morgan's crew.
Nor was Morgan's crew the one originally selected by Wyler for filming. He
had been following Captain Oscar O'Neill (whose bomber was named Invasion
2nd) of the 401st Bomb Squadron until O'Neill's B-17 and five others were
shot down over Bremen, Germany, on April 17, 1943. Morgan was then selected
and his crew re-united by the Eighth Air Force to complete its tour
together and to return to the United States for a war bond drive. Wyler
also informed Morgan when asked that had the Memphis Belle been shot down
on the crew's final mission, Wyler had a backup crew working with another
B-17 about to finish its 25 missions, Hell's Angels of the nearby 303d
Bombardment Group. Ironically, Hell's Angels actually completed 25 missions
first, on May 13 (the date of the 21st for the Memphis Belle).
Morgan states in his memoirs that he was approached by Wyler in late
January 1943 after his crew's eighth mission. Wyler told Morgan he wanted
to film the Memphis Belle and her crew because of "a certain mystique" to
the aircraft's nickname, and that Morgan's reputation as a pilot meant that
Wyler would be "in the center of the action...(with) a pretty good chance
of coming back." Morgan agreed after assurances from Wyler that the film
crew would not interfere with operation of the airplane in combat in any
The first mission flown in filming, ironically, was not aboard the Memphis
Belle, but aboard the B-17 Jersey Bounce on a February 26, 1943, mission to
Wilhelmshaven, Germany. (The Memphis Belle was being repaired after severe
battle damage incurred on February 16.) The mission experienced heavy
German fighter attacks and two of the 91st group's B-17s were shot down.
Despite the hazards, Wyler filmed at least six more combat missions with
Morgan's crew, not all of them aboard the Memphis Belle, using a set-up
that placed mounted cameras in the nose, tail, right waist, and radio hatch
positions. The camera setup is documented in the photograph of the Bad
Penny, which Morgan and Wyler flew on a mission to Antwerp on April 5,
The 16 mm color film used did not include sound, and this was added later
in Hollywood. The original crew, during their war bonds drive in the United
States, made typical appropriate comments to each other while watching the
silent movie in a studio. The result was difficult to distinguish from real
King George VI (wearing a Marshal of the Royal Air Force uniform) and his
consort Queen Elizabeth are seen congratulating the crew on May 18, after
Morgan's final mission but the day before that of the B-17...