It's May 1943 at a US Army Air Corps base in England. The four officers and six enlisted men of the Memphis Belle - a B-17 bomber so nicknamed for the girlfriend of its stern and stoic captain, Dennis Dearborn - will soon start their twenty-fifth mission, having completed their previous twenty-four successfully with nary an incident, while fewer and fewer other planes are coming back from their missions at all. If they complete their next mission successfully, they will be the first Army Air Corps B-17 Crew to complete their tour of duty. Visiting communications officer Lt. Col. Bruce Derringer wants to publicize and highly tout their accomplishment, even before it happens, as a long term good news campaign at a time when there is little good news to report. Derringer's plan is against the wishes of the base commander, Col. Craig Harriman, who would prefer to treat the ten as any of his other hard working men. The previous success of the Memphis Belle is despite the disparate natures ... Written by
Bombardier 1Lt. Val Kozlowski (Billy Zane) is depicted looking through the Norden bombsight and releasing the bombs with the salvo switch when he sees the target in the crosshairs. In real life, the lead bombardier would find the target in his sight long before the release point, lock his sight onto the target, enter all relevant data on the bombs and known crosswinds, and then the sight would fly the plane to the release point and drop the bombs automatically. Bombardiers on other planes would hit their salvo switches when they saw the lead bomber drop their bombs. If done right, the system was capable of pinpoint accuracy. In combat conditions however, unrecognized crosswinds, battle damage to the autopilot system, and turbulence from flak bursts could all affect accuracy. As a result, some targets were hit perfectly, while other were literally missed by a mile. See more »
While Derringer is reading out the letters from bereaved families that Harriman has thrust at him, we see footage of B17s being attacked. Many of them have the USAAF roundel with bars, but these were not current at the time the film was set. For example, the Memphis Belle had the simpler USAAF roundel, without the bars. See more »
Sir, if they found out they'd put my hot dog in a bun and chow down.
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Memphis Belle is an amazing movie that has an amazing cast where each man fits his character perfectly as you are thrown back into May 17, 1943 as the crew of the Memphis Belle has completed 24 missions and is about to become the first crew of the Eighth Airfore to complete its 25th and final bombing mission over Bremen to bomb a factory.
The movie accurately depicts a mission of a B-17 bomber and all the treacheries the crew of 10 men must face while in the sky. From take off and grouping for formation to the flight across the channel the movie builds excitement as the men head into enemy skies where they will have to face multiple attacks from ME-109 Messershmitt fighters as well as brutal barrages of flak (anti aircraft)attacks, all while trying to maneuver through the skies to make it over the target and drop its payload of bombs. At that point, only half the battle is done, the plane, crew of 10, and all other bombers in the formation must struggle to make it back to their bases and land safely in England to live to fight another day, or if they are lucky enough such as the crew of the Memphis Belle, they will complete their tour of duty (25 missions) and return home to their families or continue on and complete more tours.
The movie really gives the viewer a great understanding for how the American airmen fought bravely over enemy skies of Germany during the daylight bombing raids during WWII.
This movie is by far my favorite movie. I was introduced to this movie one year after it came out in theaters. I was only 5 years old but I already had a growing fascination for the war and especially for the B-17s because of my grandfather. My dad knew about the movie because local actor Eric Stoltz lives here in Santa Barbara, so he gave me the movie in hopes of fulfilling my ever growing curiosities of B-17s.
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