Its battle-scarred exterior is painted with 25 tiny bombs, one for each raid, and eight swastikas for the German airplanes its crew shot down. Over 20,000 miles and 25 bombing missions, through flak and fighter attacks, the Memphis Belle brought its crew safely home without a single major injury. Today, 75 years after the crew finished their last mission against Nazi Germany, the Memphis Belle will go on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
Twelve World War II-era aircraft are scheduled to take part in the opening ceremonies (currently scheduled for 10:30 a.m., EDT). The Memphis Belle will be unveiled during a private event on May 16 at 6:30 p.m. (watch a live stream of the event, above). The aircraft, which has not been on public display since 2002, will be permanently displayed in the museum’s World War II gallery.
The museum has a three-day celebration planned; go here for a schedule of events, which include a static display of aircraft, a fly-over of World War II-era aircraft, Big Band concerts, living history events, and more.
Read more about the restoration of iconic aircraft in our 2008 article, here. Want to learn about the romance behind the famous B-17’s name? go here.