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April 28, 2008

Memphis Belle

Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944). One of the most astonishing things I have seen on the intertubes. At 19:20 a speech beginning "The Hun is expecting us.": The narrator explains the context of the mission with a moral clarity that is absent in our time.

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 Memphis Belle, a 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 (to which future US President Ronald Reagan also belonged). The film actually depicted the next to last mission of the crew 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 planes.

Wikipedia offers details of the documentary while the aircraft itself is currently undergoing restoration.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at April 28, 2008 06:24 AM