The B-17 bomber "Memphis Belle" is nearing the historic 25th mission, which is a tour-of-duty for American bomber crews. She is the first plane to survive long enough to achieve this feat, and her crew is likely the first to return successfully to the States.Captain Dearborn (Matthew Modine) and his crew are not at mission #25 though. As PR man Lt. Colonel Derringer (John Lithgow) hovers around, waiting to capture the glorious moment of triumph, the Memphis Belle has to complete her last mission. The top brass are not going to give them a "milk run" over France that they could easily survive either-- their group's next target is Hamburg, Germany.Over Germany, the plane is rocked by anti-aircraft fire, attacked by enemy fighters, and a member of the crew is badly wounded. They all eventually make it back on the battered Memphis Belle, and are feted as heroes in the American press.The film provides considerable insight into the daily lives of airmen whose service careers often lasted only a few missions. Various men have good-luck charms for protection, while others write many letters home to assure family and friends that they are alive. The British, for their part, host dances which give the airmen an opportunity to dance (and sometimes more) with pretty English girls. The actual missions provide a sense of how quickly German fighters could pounce out of the sun, and how FLAK could rip apart even a mighty "Flying Fortress."