Photo Gallery: B-17 Memphis Belle Restoration Makes Progress

Restoration crews mate wings, extend landing gear.

Memphis Belle

Memphis Belle

The restoration process of the B-17 Memphis Belle recently reached a few notable milestones, bringing the famous warbird steps closer to returning to pristine condition.

In addition to mating the wings, restoration crews at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force recently extended the landing gear of the airplane, well known as the first heavy bomber to beat the odds and complete 25 missions over Europe before returning home to the United States during World War II.

The milestones are the result of a multi-year conservation and restoration effort that kicked off after Memphis Belle arrived at the museum in the fall of 2005. According to those close to the program, the extensive task of returning the aircraft to its original condition requires a variety of actions, including corrosion treatment, the installation of missing parts and the restoration of accurate markings. The aircraft is expected to go on display in the museum, located in Dayton, Ohio, in 2014.

The subject of a 1944 documentary and a major motion picture in 1990, Memphis Belle's success during World War II has long been widely celebrated throughout the United States. The airplane is named after Margaret Polk, the wartime girlfriend of pilot Lt. Robert Morgan. Memphis Belle flew her first combat mission, manned by a crew of 10, on Nov. 7, 1942.