In this Feb. 23, 2012, file photo, Casey Simmons checks the engine cowl work at the Memphis Belle restoration at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. (Ty Greenlees/Dayton Daily News via AP)
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The Memphis Belle took off from England on the morning of May 17, 1943, with a wave of 159 B-17s to drop bombs on the concrete Nazi submarine shelters at Lorient, France. When it landed unscathed that afternoon, the 10 men aboard already were celebrating; they had just become one of the first bomber crews of the war to survive 25 missions at a time when most weren't making a dozen.On Thursday, the 75th anniversary of that final mission, the lovingly restored Memphis Belle, with the leggy, swimsuit-clad pinup girl freshly repainted on the nose, will be unveiled at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton.Contrary to legend, neither the Memphis Belle nor its crew were the first to complete 25 missions in the war.Army public relations seized the moment and sent the Memphis Belle and most of the original crew back home on a barnstorming swing in the summer of 1943 .
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