Clark Gable enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces after his wife Carole Lombard died in a plane crash on a war bonds selling trip assisting the war effort. Gable went to Officers Canidate School graduating as a second lieutenant, and was eventually promoted to major. He was trained as an aerial gunner and combat cameraman and was awarded both the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for at least five aerial bombing missions over Germany from England with the 351st Bomb Group (Heavy). Adolf Hitler personally offered a reward to the pilot or anti-aircraft gun crew who shot down Gable's plane.
"The Hollywood Reporter" on 17 February 1949 announced that this movie's premiere in Washington D.C. was attended by the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson; the Air Force Chief of Staff; various officials and dignitaries as well as Vice President Alben Barkley.
Twelve O'Clock High (1949) was delayed in its release because this film beat it to the punch. The similarity in content between the two films forced 20th Century-Fox to hold back on "Twelve O'Clock High" for a few months.
"The New York Times" in May 1947 reported details of the deal between source novelist William Wister Haines and MGM. The studio paid Haines US $100,000 upfront for the filming rights to the novel. However, if this novel was produced as a play by the end of October 1947, Haines would be paid 15% of the play's weekly gross on the stage. This would amount to US $300,000. Indeed, a play of the novel did open on Broadway on 1 October 1947.
In August 1949 "The Los Angeles Times" reported that a Reynolds News Service British film critic had written that this film was an "insult to British audiences", maintaining that it gave the impression that the US won the Second World War by its precision bombing operations.
This film utilized original black-and-white archive footage from World War II. However, no actual combat footage is seen except for the opening sequence set around the opening credits. Predominantly, the archival footage used was of air base mission planning and aerial landings and take-offs.
This movie is often compared to Twelve O'Clock High (1949), as both black-and-white movies were released within a year of one another and examined World War II American Air Forces operations predominantly at the ground level (i.e. on an American air base) and with a limited amount of aerial combat action in both films.
The play of the novel by William Wister Haines that this film was based on opened at the Fulton Theatre on Broadway on 1 October 1947 and played until 18 September 1948, amassing a total of 409 performances.
In April 1948 MGM announced that Tom Drake would be cast in this movie playing the part of Capt. Tom Jenks. Drake in the end did not appear in this film. A May 1948 MGM press release reported that Michael Steele would be cast to play the role of the pilot Capt. Lucius Malcolm Jenks and Steele does appear in this film in this part.