Tuesday, February 17, 2009

B-17 Memphis Belle

The inspiration for two motion pictures - a 1944 documentary film "Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress" and a 1990 Hollywood feature film "Memphis Belle" which was a fictionalization of the 1944 documentary and starred Matthew Modine as pilot Capt Dennis Dearborn, Tate Donovan as Co-pilot Lt Luke Sinclair, Billy Zane as Bombadier/Nose Gunner/Medical Officer Lt Val Kozlowski, D B Sweeney as Navigator Lt Phil Lowenthal, Eric Stoltz as Radio Operator Sgt Danny Dale with Sean Austin as Ball Turret Gunner Sgt Richard Moore and introducing Harry Connick Jr in his screen debut as Tail Gunner Sgt Clay Busby. John Lithgow portrayed an insensitive PR guy Lt Col Bruce Derringer who arrived at the base to meet the crew and document their efforts.

With the exception of the aircraft names and the basic premise (that it was the first plane to survive its tour of duty in the air war over Europe, having completed 25 combat missions), the 1990 film was fiction based on fact. The incidents shown were taken from many missions and not from the last mission alone. Still it was great fun to watch :)

My favorite pair of air crew from World War II - a B-17 "Memphis Belle" pilot and waist gunner, shown here with their life jackets on

In their leather jackets without their inflatable B-4 life preservers

USA Air Force B–17 Bomber Pilot, World War II - his flying gear includes “Memphis Belle” A-2 leather jacket, USAAF Shoulder Insignia, Officer’s service cap, Officer’s service shirt with dress necktie and light drab “pink” trousers, Pistol belt with hip holster and 1911 A1 .45 Colt pistol, inflatable B-4 life preserver, HS-33 Headset with Intercom link, clipboard and dress shoes. This outfit was produced by Aces for GI Joe Collectors’ Club, 1996

Officer's crush cap with gold officer’s insignia by Cotswold Collectibles

Clipboard with pre-flight checklist

“Memphis Belle” A-2 leather jacket

USA Air Force B–17 Waist Gunner, World War II - Flying gear includes High Altitude Cold Weather B-3 sheepskin leather jacket, sheepskin gauntlets, A-3 sheepskin leather trousers, A-6A leather boots (black rubber soles with front zip fasteners), inflatable B-4 life preserver, ANH-16 Winter helmet, garisson cap, ‘Skyway’ goggles and A-8B oxygen mask with H-2 emergency oxygen cylinder. Outfit produced by Aces, 1996 plus some GI Joe accessories added

Not "Memphis Belle" but "Homesick Angel"

A B-17 Flying Fortress carried two waist gunners - each protected his respective side of the aircraft. Waist gunners incurred the largest number of casualties of all the Fortress crew positions. Early waist gunner positions were directly across from each other, often causing the gunners to bump into one another and getting entangled in each other’s oxygen lines. Later, the positions were staggered, giving the gunners greater mobility. On early B-17’s, waist window coverings were on slide rails and had to be opened before combat so the guns could be swung out from their stowed positions. Because the waist gunners were exposed to the freezing slipstream, the High Altitude Cold Weather B-3 sheepskin leather jacket, sheepskin gauntlets, and A-3 sheepskin leather trousers helped keep them warm and fighting fit.

Next: Dragon's USAAF B-17 Bomber Captain "Skip"

SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Terminator Salvation John Connor wears High Altitude Cold Weather B-3 sheepskin leather jacket to wage war on the machines (full review of Hot Toys Movie Masterpiece John Connor HERE)


Anonymous said...

Hey Alex, DID also released a pilot with damn nice jacket (with woman picture) like the one you have now, did you buy that? Very nice :)

alex teo said...

hey desmond, i believe you are talking about DiD's USAAF Eighth Air Force "William Bowman". i didn't pick him up becoz i've slowed down on WWII figures and only getting mostly movie figures.

Little Plastic Man said...

I found the Dragon WWII American B-17 Gunner "Billy Hicks" very nice. I liked the diorama that came with it! Did you get that Alex? BTW...I love the Memphis Belle movie!

alex teo said...

hi adrian, i didn't get Dragon's "Billy Hicks" because they priced it way too high. The diorama was nice but i have no space for it and i really just wanted the figure but wasn't going to pay that much for it - just didn't seem value for money :( memphis belle is one of my favorite movies - the camaraderie is something we who do NS will appreciate