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This Warner Brothers produced film, was made and released just months before the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into the war. The film stars, Ronald Reagan, James Stephenson, Cliff Edwards, William Lundigan, Tod Andrews, Olympe Bradna and Reginald Denny.
Ronald Reagan is a hot shot test pilot for an American aircraft builder. He is testing a new fighter aircraft for a possible sale to the British. An old friend, James Stephenson, who Reagan knew from his barnstorming days, is here with the RAF to see the test. The test goes great and the British are interested in a deal for the fighter.
Stephenson asks if Reagan would like to join a Squadron he commands in the RAF. The Squadron is made up of pilots from countries the Germans have overrun. There are Poles, French, Czechs, etc along with several American volunteers. Reagan is not interested. He is having too good a time with the local ladies here in California.
The owner of the aircraft company offers Reagan a fat bonus to fly a Hudson bomber over to England. Reagan even turns this down. The refusal does not last long however. It turns out that Reagan is being sued by a former girlfriend for big cash. Reagan grabs his mechanic, Cliff Edwards, and is soon winging his way to England.
The flight nearly ends in disaster when the airfield in England is fogged in. Reagan barely manages to land the aircraft without crashing. He is met by his RAF pal, Stephenson and one of the American volunteers, William Lundigan. Stephenson, Lundigan and Reagan had all competed in the air races before the war. They both ask Reagan if he has changed his mind about joining the RAF. Reagan still is not interested. He just wants to know how the local "dame situation" is like.
Reagan hitches a ride into London with the girl, Olympe Bradna, of one of the French pilots, Tod Andrews. Reagan wants to sample the night life, not to mention Miss Bradna's charms. Reagan and Bradna are caught in a Luftwaffe air raid. Reagan helps dig a little girl out of a bombed building and rushes her to medical help.
Reagan and mechanic Edwards now decide it is time to get involved and join the RAF. Reagan is not amused when he finds that he will still need to go through training just like any other new man. He finishes the training and is soon assigned to Stephenson's Squadron.
Reagan cannot seem to get the idea of the teamwork required to be a good pilot. On his first patrol, he splits off from the other aircraft and goes after a German bomber. He manages to down the Heinkel. When he returns to the base he is given the cold shoulder by the other pilots. He is chewed out by Stephenson for leaving the formation. This had resulted in the death of Reagan's wingman when the group ran into some Germans. Pilots are more valuable than one single Heinkel. Reagan promises to mend his ways.
Needless to say this promise does not hold for long. Party boy Reagan asks his pal, William Lundigan to fill in for him on a flight. Reagan has a date with Miss Bradna that he does not want to miss. Lundigan goes up in Reagan's place and is of course shot down and killed.
Reagan is again hauled up on the carpet for a dressing down. Lundigan's wife, Joan Perry, happens to at the base visiting. She storms up and hands Reagan a face full of slaps, blaming him for her husband's death. Regan finally gets the message and becomes part of the Squadron. He is soon racking up an impressive score of German aircraft destroyed.
The Squadron members are now asked for a volunteer to fly a dangerous assignment. The RAF wants to send in a single Spitfire armed with 4 bombs to take out an important target in occupied France. They draw lots with Frenchman Tod Andrews winning. Reagan decides he is the better choice and knocks out Andrews. He then takes the Spitfire and heads for France.
Regan hits the target dead on destroying the Nazi ammunition dump. The mad as hornets German types send up a flock of aircraft after him. Reagan is heading back to England as fast has he can go, but is intercepted by the Germans. Reagan manages to splash 3 of the pursuers, but is then shot down and killed.
Reagan's Squadron mates all raise a glass to his memory at the base canteen.
This upper end B film was directed by Lewis Seiler and an uncredited Lothar Mendes. The three time Oscar nominated cinematographer, Ted McCord shot the film with help from James Van Trees.
The flying stunts in the film were handled by famous Hollywood stunt pilot, Paul Mantz. Mantz started out as a stunt pilot on HELL'S ANGELS in 1930. His other film work includes, FLYING DEVILS, WEST POINT OF THE AIR, CELING ZERO, MEN WITH WINGS, ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS, 12 O'CLOCK HIGH, FLYING TIGERS, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD and THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX. Mantz was killed during the production of the last film.
The use of Ryan STA trainers as SPITFIRES is stretching matters a bit, but, there is still plenty for the wartime aircraft buff to see. Lots of stock footage helps pad out the aircraft scenes.
The original title had been, EAGLE SQUARDON, but that title had already been copyrighted by producer Walter Wanger for his own film.
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