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Historic 91st Bombardment Group Aircraft Exhibit Online

  • Published
  • Air Force Material Command Public Affairs

DAYTON, Ohio-- Those who can't wait to see the new B-17F Memphis Belle exhibit in person on May 17 will be able to get a sneak-peak of the exhibit as it is unveiled to the family members of the Memphis Belle crew and invited dignitaries for the first time during a private event at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on May 16 at 6:30 p.m. 


Viewers may tune in to this LIVE event on the Memphis Belle exhibit opening page on the museum's website at:



The original B-17F Memphis Belle - the first U.S. Army Air Forces heavy bomber to return to the United States after completing 25 combat missions over occupied Europe - will be unveiled to the public on May 17 - exactly 75 years after its crew finished their last mission in the war against Nazi Germany on May 17, 1943.


The Memphis Belle, which has not been on public display since 2002, and surrounding exhibit, along with a new strategic bombardment exhibit, will open to the public on May 17 following a ribbon cutting ceremony that will begin at approximately 9:15-9:30 a.m.


The new exhibit will tell the complete story of the Memphis Belle and address the many myths associated with the aircraft. Artifacts will be on display from seven of the crewmembers including several war-time uniforms; a flight suit; combat boots; flying goggles; dog-tags; pilot's wings and other rank insignia. In addition, rare color archival footage-some of which has never been seen by the public before-will be shown in the exhibit. 


Surrounding the Memphis Belle exhibit will be a new Strategic Bombardment exhibit featuring a digitally animated map of the strategic bombing campaign; two Medals of Honor; items worn and used on significant missions; artifacts from bombing campaign leaders; a bomber top turret and ball turret; and engaging photos.


The Memphis Belle and other B-17 aircraft were assigned to the 91st Bombardment Group during World War II. Combat missions later in the war earned the 91st BG two Distinguished Unit citations.

 Although the 91 BG gained a lot of fame during and after the war, this came at a high price. The group lost 197 aircraft and more than 600 men, with approximately 1,150 men taken as prisoners of war.

The 91 BG transitioned into the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. Then, in 1968, it became the 91st Strategic Missile Wing, whose new mission was to maintain three squadrons of Minuteman I Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

Eventually the 91 SMW would shift to what we know today at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, as the 91st Missile Wing.