“Memphis Belle” Gets a Facelift

Restoration project featured in "In The Fight."

Memphis Belle
Memphis Belle sits in the restoration hangar.

A major restoration project is underway of one of the most famous B-17s, the Memphis Belle, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. This Flying Fortress, which completed 25 missions over Europe before returning to the United States, was made famous by the documentary "Memphis Belle; A Story of a Flying Fortress" in 1944 and "Memphis Belle," a fictionalization of the original movie in 1990.

B-17 pilot Robert Morgan named the Memphis Belle after his girlfriend, Memphian Margaret Polk. The Flying Fortress had been stored outside in various locations since it was decommissioned in the 1940s. As a result, her beauty had deteriorated and a major restoration was in order to bring the B-17 to museum quality. The Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System, which is funded by the Department of Defense, recently produced a segment about the restoration of the Memphis Belle for its monthly program called "In The Fight." The segment focuses on Roger Brigner, an aircraft exhibit restoration specialist at the National Museum of the United States Air Force who has been involved with the project since the B-17 fuselage first entered the restoration hangar in 2005.

Museum crews are hoping to have the World War II bomber ready for display by 2014, but visitors can get a glimpse of the restoration project by scheduling a tour from June through August of this year. The tour is free and bookings can be made by calling 937-656-9436 or logging on to the museum's website after April 16.

Check out the video here.