Hell's Angels In May of 1943, two B-17s (from two separate Bomb Groups) were the first two heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions in the European Theater. Both aircraft flew their first combat mission in November of 1942. The first B-17 flew its first combat mission to St. Nazaire, France on November 17th, 1942. Ten days earlier, on November 7th, 1942, the second of the aircraft flew its first bombing mission to Brest, France. The two aircraft completed their 25th bombing mission within two weeks of each other in May 1943. Both aircraft flew missions to France, the Netherlands and Germany. One of the aircraft eventually gained more fame and was featured in a 1944 documentary. On May 13th, 1942, the B-17F “Hell's Angels” (#41-24577) became the first heavy bomber to complete 25 combat missions in the European Theater. “Hell’s Angels” was assigned to the 358th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group (H) and flew from RAF Molesworth. After completing her 25th mission, “Hell’s Angels” remained in theater until 1944 and flew a total of 48 mission without any injured crewman or abort. “Hell’s Angels” returned to the United States in January 1944 to tour various war factories. Unfortunately after the war, “Hell’s Angels” was sold for scrap in August 1945. The second heavy bomber to complete 25 combat missions was aircraft #41-24485 “Memphis Belle.” The “Memphis Belle” was assigned to the 324th Bomb Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group (H) and flew from RAF Bassingbourn. She became the first aircraft to complete 25 missions and RETURN to the United States. As an interesting side note, a replacement crew flew her on her 25th mission. After her 25th mission, piloted by her primary aircraft commander, Capt Robert Morgan, “Memphis Belle returned to the United States for a War bond tour. After touring the country on a war bond tour, then Major Robert Morgan completed a second combat tour; this time in the Pacific flying the B-29 Superfortress. The “Memphis Belle” survived the scrap heap and is currently being restored at the National Museum of the Air Force. To coincide with the 75th anniversary of her completing her 25th mission, the “Memphis Belle”TM will be placed on exhibit at the Air Force museum. From: Air Power History, Winter 2007, volume 64, number 4, p. 63. See the National Museum of the Air Force fact sheet: Heavy Bomber Firsts.