Memphis Belle in Colour (2019)

Introduction

Memphis Belle in Colour was a TV documentary on The Smithsonian Channel.

Outline

In January 1942, the US military created a new bomber command, the Eighth Air Force, and sent a small contingent of men overseas to loosen the Nazis’ grip on Europe. The command’s star player was the B-17, a fast, heavily armed aircraft that changed the course of World War II. Witness them take on the mighty German Luftwaffe over enemy skies. Discover the story of how one B-17–the Memphis Belle–and its crew lifted the spirits of a nation and became a symbol of American prowess in defence of freedom.

Trivia & Goofs

  • The introduction of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber signalled a turning tide in the air war over Nazi-controlled Europe.
  • Cutting edge technology employed by a new bomber command under General Ira Eaker, the Eighth Air Force, allowed the plane to fly at altitudes of approximately 35,000 feet.
  • It was heavily armed, carrying 10 .50-caliber machine guns in addition to its bomb payload.
  • It had a range of 2,800 miles.
  • Odds of a B-17 crewman completing the 25 missions required to finish a tour and go home were only one in four.
  • Because of the bomber’s distance capability, fighter escorts could not accompany bombing crews taking off from England for targets over Nazi Germany, leaving the hulking aircraft and inexperienced crew exposed to the more seasoned pilots of the German Luftwaffe.
  • This vulnerability would only be remedied by the introduction of the P-51 Mustang and tactics implemented by Medal of Honour recipient General James Doolittle, who assumed command of the Eighth in January 1944.
  • Worse than dealing with professional German pilots, however, was the incessant exposure to flak.
  • German anti-aircraft batteries peppered B-17 crews with shells hurled five miles into the air that would explode within feet of the planes.
  • To bomb accurately, a B-17 needed to fly at a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet. This meant the threat of shrapnel tearing through a crew’s plane was ever-present.
  • By the end of February 1943, half of the crews belonging to the “Mighty Eighth” had been shot down.

Production & Filming Details

  • Production: Smithsonian Channel.
  • Release Date: 11 November 2019 (US).
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

YouTube Link

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