Memphis Belle Gets a Facelift

Flying copy of historic B-17 gets new interior.

A new look has been bestowed upon the Memphis Belle (The Movie), the B-17 Flying Fortress used as the platform for the 1990 movie Memphis Belle, a fictionalized depiction of the airplane’s final mission.

The B-17 is still in service and is operated by the Liberty Foundation, which uses the airplane to educate the public about the airplane and the conditions the bomber crews were subjected to. The foundation also offers rides in the airplane, which is one of only a few remaining airworthy B-17s out of more than 12,700 built. This year, the Memphis Belle (The Movie) is scheduled to visit 48 cities around the country.

Carolina Avionics and Aircraft Interiors in Salisbury, North Carolina, brought new life to the interior of the bomber. Custom formed seat foam was installed and the seats of all 10 crew positions inside the airplane were recovered with dark military green leather. The base of the twin machine gun roof turret was also padded to protect visitors who tend to bump their heads there, according to Carolina Avionics and Aircraft Interiors’ Warren Ludlam.

The real Memphis Belle became famous for being the first B-17 to complete 25 successful missions in World War II. While the airplane itself was damaged during those missions, no crewmembers were killed. After decades of being on display outdoors, the original airplane is now undergoing a full restoration at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base where it eventually will be on display.

Check out a video by Clear Sky Images of the B-17 in action here.

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You can also view photos of the Memphis Belle (the Movie) here.

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