"This is one of the classic "Bomber" documentaries to come out of World War 2. I got a copy from the National Archives and spent quite a bit of time digitally color correcting it. (Colors fade & shift over time.)" Zeno
"The Memphis Belle" shows the 25th mission of the Boeing B-17 Memphis Belle, flying deep into Germany to strike the all important U-boat submarine pens at Wilhemshaven. This is the original wartime documentary, written and directed by legendary Academy Award winner William Wyler. If this film looks and sounds familiar, it's because this is the same production crew that brought you another wonderful classic, "Thunderbolt!." (Don't confuse this "original" Memphis Belle with the well intentioned but flawed Hollywood fluff piece produced in the 1990s.)
You'll see Capt Robert Morgan and the men of the B-17 "Memphis Belle," 324th Squadron, 91st BG, going about their deadly business in rare Technicolor footage. The mission shown in the film is both routine and climactic, because 25 missions completed meant the crew could rotate out of combat. (Too many never made it to 25 missions. Bomber losses were high.) It's a measure of both the times and the men who flew these planes that several of the Belle's crew signed on for more missions, even though they could just "go home," finishing the War flying B-29s against Japan.
* B-17E 25 Hour Inspection "The Crew Chief" (Produced by Army Air Force -- 1943, B&W, 44:00)
This is another fascinating B-17 maintenance film, aimed at the B-17 crew chief. Although it covers the same general procedures as the Boeing produced film, the film is twice as long and goes into significantly more detail. And not surprisingly , this Army Air Force film covers some different ground than the Boeing film, and vice versa. Taken together with the "B-17F E&M Mechanic's Instructions Manual" (see below) provides a treasure trove for B-17 Fans
* B-17F E&M Mechanic's Instructions Manual: 506 pages with color illustrations
This manual is known as the "B-17 Bible" for good reason. Mechanics and ground crew used it every day for servicing and assembly of the big Flying Fortress. Armaments, engines, instruments, electrical systems, bomb loading, fuselage assembly, landing gear -- that's just a small portion of what is covered in over 500 pages of charts, illustrations, tables and detailed instructions. This is an indispensable resource for B-17 fans, but it's also an absorbing way for any World War II aviation fan to get under the skin of a classic World War II heavy bomber to see what made it tick. Great fun with many hours of exploring. And any vet who worked on one of these birds will be instantly transported back in time.