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Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air (1942)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 19 October 1942 (USA)
A veteran American flyer trains new recruits, including the acrophobic son of his dead war buddy. Complications arise when the younger man falls in love with his mentor's girl.



(screenplay), (original story) (as Melville Crossman)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve Britt
Peter Stackhouse
Colonel MacDonald
Lady Jane Stackhouse
Col. Cyrus P. 'Gramps' Saunders
George Lockwood
Ted North ...
Cadet Hackzell
Blonde Red Cross Nurse Trainee
Viola Moore ...
Mrs. Blake
Bess Flowers ...


Technicolor tale of honor and romance. This drama from 1942 was directed by Oscar-winner William A. Wellman, and features stunning aerial photography, that was highly advanced for the time. John Sutton stars as Peter Stackhouse, a British aviophobe who is nonetheless determined to become a pilot. Stackhouse's resolution comes from his desire to serve his country, and his strength is recognized by Steve Britt (Preston Foster), who becomes his patient teacher. The two men's bond is tested, however, when they both fall for the same girl (Gene Tierney). Written by R. Alberts

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


For two pilots, one woman became a conflict of interest.


Drama | Romance | War


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 October 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Tommy in the U.S.A.  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film takes place entirely in Arizona, but the theme running throughout the movie, including the party scene, is the song "Deep in the Heart of Texas." See more »


Peter Stackhouse: I hope you're not angry?
Kay Saunders: That you were interested in my legs? Why not at all. That's what they're there for.
See more »


There Will Never Be Another You
Music by Harry Warren
Played during the lingerie store scene and often in the score
Also played by the band at the USO dance
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

RAF Crew Involvement in Film
24 November 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

My wife's uncle , George Wood ,was an RAF trainee Sergeant Pilot at the Base when this film was made . The film as part of its propaganda purpose made use of his , and other courses , and he appears full head and shoulders in a scanned shot of a parade . He looks like a young boy . He completed his training and went on to fly Wellington Bombers , regrettably he was shot down over Holland in 1943 . We knew he had appeared in a film but were not sure of the title and by chance came across a Cinema Poster for Thunder Birds on the Internet and this showed RAF personnel marching past aircraft . We had a black and white photograph of him standing by similar aircraft and thus established a possible link . We were subsequently able to obtain a copy of the film . The aerial shots are astounding and do seem ahead of their time .

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