Fully restored WWII bomber Memphis Belle makes museum debut

(Source: NBC News)
(Source: NBC News)

DAYTON, OH (WMC/WDTN) - The Memphis Belle, a now-fully restored World War II bomber, was officially unveiled at the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday.

Memphis Belle is one of a dozen WWII B-17s that have survived the hands of time.

It took more than a dozen years of planning and 55,000 hours by 100 volunteers and curators to fully restore the bomber.

The Memphis Belle and her 10-man crew was the first to complete 25 missions while flying over Nazi Germany, a miraculous feat that was celebrated throughout the U.S. in the 1940s.

After WWII, the plane was flown to Memphis and was put on display at the National Guard armory in 1949.

Over the years, the plan deteriorated from being outside; it was moved several times before being shipped off for restoration in 2005.

Museum curator Jeff Duford said the last original crew member died in 2005, but more than 300 family members attended the unveiling.

"I am so overwhelmed," Susie Sabin, daughter of crew member Harold Loch, told WDTN. "This is my first time seeing it. I want to touch it. I just want to touch it."

Crew members on heavy bombers like the Belle were on average 22 years old, and one in four of them died in combat.

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