Memphis Belle The Kit
The Memphis Belle is a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress used during the Second World War that owes its fame to having been one of the first United States Army Air Forces B-17 heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions.
After completing their tour of duty the aircraft and crew then returned to the United States to sell war bonds. In 2005, restoration began on the aircraft at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio.
Boeing B-17F-10-BO Flying Fortress Memphis Belle
The aircraft was then flown back to the United States on 8 June 1943, by a composite crew chosen by the Eighth Air Force from those who had flown combat aboard, led by Capt. Morgan, for a 31-city war bond tour. Morgan's original co-pilot was Capt. James A. Verinis, who himself piloted the Memphis Belle for one mission. Verinis was promoted to aircraft commander of another B-17 for his final 16 missions and finished his tour on 13 May. He rejoined Morgan's crew as co-pilot for the flight back to the United States.
The aircraft was named after pilot Robert K Morgan's sweetheart, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. Morgan originally intended to call the aircraft Little One, which was his pet name for her, but after Morgan and copilot Jim Verinis saw the movie Lady for a Night, in which the leading character owns a riverboat named the Memphis Belle, he proposed that name to his crew. Morgan then contacted George Petty at the offices of Esquire magazine and asked him for a pinup drawing to go with the name, which Petty supplied from the magazine's April 1941 issue.
The 91st's group artist, Corporal Tony Starcer, copied the Petty girl as art on both sides of the forward fuselage, depicting her suit in blue on the aircraft's port side and in red on the starboard. The nose art later included 25 bomb shapes, one for each mission credit, and eight swastika designs, one for each German aircraft claimed shot down by the crew. Station and crew names were stenciled below station windows on the aircraft after her tour of duty was completed.
After the war, the Memphis Belle was saved from reclamation at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma where she had been consigned since 1 August 1945, by the efforts of the mayor of Memphis, Walter Chandler. The city of Memphis bought the B-17 for US$350 (equivalent to $4,871 in 2018) She was flown to Memphis in July 1946 and stored until the summer of 1949 when she was placed on display at the National Guard armory near the city's fairgrounds.
After an unsuccessful series of restoration campaign led by different institutions, the aircraft was returned to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio, The Belle arrived safely at the museum in mid-October 2005 and was placed in one of the Museum's restoration hangars.
The Museum placed restoration of Memphis Belle near the top of its priorities. In the magazine Friends Journal of the museum's foundation, Major General Charles D. Metcalf, USAF (Ret), then the director of the museum, stated that it might take eight to 10 years to fully restore the aircraft.
By the spring of 2009, considerable preparatory work had been accomplished, but the fuselage and wings were still disassembled.
After stripping the paint from the aft fuselage of the aircraft, hundreds of names and personal messages were found scratched in the aluminum skin. It turned out that, during the aircraft's war bond tour, people were allowed to leave their mark there.
May 2017 the museum announced the goal of completing the restoration and putting the Memphis Belle on display by May 17, 2018, the 75th anniversary of the plane's 25th mission. On March 19, 2018 the Memphis Belle was moved into the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force and was officially unveiled May 17, 2018.
Crew of the Memphis Bell (left to right):
Tech. Sgt. Harold P. Loch of Green Bay, Wis. turret gunner; Staff Sgt. Cecil H. Scott of Altoona, Penn., ball turret gunner; Tech. Sgt. Robert J, Hanson of Walla Walla, Wash., radio operator; Capt. James A. Verinis, New Haven, Conn., co-pilot; Capt. Robert K. Morgan of Ashville, N. C., pilot; Capt. Charles B. Leighton of Lansing, Mich., navigator; Staff Sgt. John P. Quinlan of Yonkers, N. Y., tail gunner; Staff Sgt. Casimer A. Nastal of Detroit, Mich., waist gunner; Capt. Vincent B. Evans of Henderson, Texas, bombardier and Staff Sgt. Clarence E. Winchell of Oak Park, Ill., waist gunner
The "Academy" Kit
The Academy kit captures the spirit of this iconic bird, providing a very good replica in 1/72 scale of a mighty B17 /F.
The build goes thorough smoothly without any significant problem. The interior panels and the cockpit are relatively detailed, as the defensive weapons are too. Clear parts are crispy and quite clear.
Some parts required an extra care since are a bit fragile or difficult to collocate in the right position, as the landing gear and the bombs bays doors for example. A minor modification, according to photo sources, concerns the two .50 caliber in the nose glass I added.
The decals sheet is a great one, with all the proper insignia and stencils replicated correctly and in good register. A nice touch is added by the gunners’ nick names with their win crosses.
Even if PE aftermarket and resin sets available on the market could add some extra details for more demanding modellers, the OOB kit is more then accurate and offers a very convincing replica of the Belle.