First, just small specks in the clear blue sky, high and to the right, then a shape: then in the flicker of an eye, a big enemy fighter with black crosses, orange flashes blinking along the leading edge, hurtling down at 400 mph. Barely enough time for the most alert gunner to draw a bead. Then gone! All in the space of a few seconds. More seconds pass, then “hold her steady skip, there’s another one coming in!” Then another, and another. The 91st Bomb Group’s target on Dec 20, 1942 was a large German fighter base and nearby aircraft factory south-east of Paris.
The B-17 crews expected an unusually hot fighter reception and they were not to be disappointed! Simon Atack’s outstanding new painting recreates a moment of intense drama as the 324th Bomb Squadron come under attack just short of the target. Memphis Belle skipper, Bob Morgan, holds his B-17 steady for his gunners, as an Fw-190 comes flashing through the formation.
Today the Belle’s gunners will score at least one confirmed air victory, hit the target, and make it safely home to Bassingbourn. Bob Morgan and his Memphis Belle crew will go on to make history, becoming the first 8th Air Force bomber to complete a 25 combat mission tour over the skies above occupied Europe and Nazi Germany.
Each copy of The Belle Under Attack is individually signed by Colonel Bob Morgan, skipper of The Memphis Belle.
Colonel ROBERT MORGAN