Memphis Belle – A Wartime Photo Essay from N.A.C.A Lewis Field

With the engines stopped, and the wheels chocked, the crew moves to disembark the Memphis Belle beside the massive N.A.C.A. hangar at the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. (photo NASA Archives)

While we doing some research for Monday’s article concerning the imminent completion of the Memphis Belle at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, we came across an intriguing series of images taken on July 7th, 1943, showing the B-17’s visit to the N.A.C.A. facility then known as the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory (AERL) at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio. As most of you will know, the N.A.C.A., or more formally, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, was the forerunner of today’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration and had a number of significant research establishments across the country during WWII. The Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory at Lewis Field was an important part of this, and blossomed into what is now known as the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center. As an aside, the Glenn Research Center celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2016, and produced a fascinating and comprehensive history of their achievements in an online document you can read HERE. It’s well worth perusing!

Regardless, we thought our readers would find these images of Memphis Belle at the AERL fascinating, particularly as they show the crew in their prime, displaying clear, though slightly haunted joy at being home from a war they probably never thought they’d survive. Of interest too are the closeup, detailed images of the aircraft itself, showing some of the finer points of her markings and fitments. While the AERL was a sensitive facility, the Memphis Belle was parked close to the fence line during the daytime on her three-day stay, so that the public could get a good view of the aircraft. They moved her inside the massive N.A.C.A. hangar during the evenings, as the weather was pretty wet during her visit!

The Memphis Belle taxis in after landing at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio. (photo NASA Archives)
Engines stopped and wheels chocked, the crew disembarks. You can just see some of the public crowds watching from the far fenceline. (photo NASA Archives)
With the engines stopped, and the wheels chocked, the crew moves to disembark the Memphis Belle beside the massive N.A.C.A. hangar at the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. (photo NASA Archives)
Airport Commissioner Jack Berry (left) talking with City of Cleveland Chamber of Commerce representative William Holliday soon after Memphis Belle arrives at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio. (photo NASA Archives)
A closeup of the bomber’s starboard side, showing her nose art and mission markings. (photo NASA Archives)
Another closeup view of the nose, this time from the left side. Note that the crew access door has the name “STUKA” written on it… This was the name of the a dog, a Scottish terrier belonging to Memphis Belle’s co-pilot, Jim Verinis. She became the crew’s mascot. (photo NASA Archives)
The press sight up their cameras, while the crew and dignataries shelter from the rain under the wing. (photo NASA Archives)
Memphis Belle’s crew and a couple of local dignataries shelter from the driving rain underneath the bomber’s wing. Pilot Robert Morgan is in the center, without his cover. (photo NASA Archives)
Pictured in this photograph from left to right: Robert Hanson, Vincent Evans, Charles Leighton, NACA Manager Raymond Sharp, Robert Morgan, William Holliday of the Chamber of Commerce, Army Liaison Officer Colonel Edwin Page, Airport Commissioner Jack Berry, Cecil Scott, John Quinlan and James Verinis. Kneeling are Harold Loch, Casimer Nastal and Charles Wichell. (photo NASA Archives)
A different view of the group portrait. If you look carefully beneath the nose, you can see Stuka, the crew’s dog and mascot tied to a leash hanging from the crew door bearing her name. (photo NASA Archives)
Co-pilot Jim Vernini’s dog, Stuka, tied to a leash hanging from the crew door bearing her name. (photo NASA Archives)
Memphis Belle’s pilot, Robert Morgan, hamming it up in the rain for the photographers. (photo NASA Archives)
Another view of Memphis Belle’s pilot, Robert Morgan, hamming it up in the rain for the photographers. (photo NASA Archives)(photo NASA Archives)
Another shot of the Memphis Belle in front of the N.A.C.A. hangar. The camera’s shutter speed must have been very slow considering the considerable blurring to some of the people moving in the. (photo NASA Archives)

WARBIRD DIGEST ARTICLES

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*