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21 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

well-paced action and a fitting storyline

Author: Piafredux from United States
16 March 2005

Of course 'Fighter Squadron' employed P-51D Mustangs to depict Luftwaffe Me.109G's. Big deal: how many films use the wrong gear to portray the right gear? (Duh...Hollywood = PRETEND!) No major sin committed, okay? Besides, there's at least one Hollywood film (whose title escapes me at the moment) in which differently-painted bubble-canopied P-51's portray USAAF Mustangs AND Luftwaffe Me.109's.

'Fighter Squadron' is well-paced and the storyline rings true with accounts written by the men of the USAAF who actually flew fighters in the ETO. Yes, the dialogue is a bit "rah-rah," but I challenge anyone who's known fighter pilots to contend that they're not a rah-rah, go-team-go, bunch of daredevils; moreover, the film was made in the context of the postwar flush of victory, in which period there were few who challenged the might or the right of the architects and builders of the Allied victories over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Man oh man, was the young Robert Stack ever so handsome as he was in 'Fighter Squadron'! Edmond O'Brien gives a bristling, aggressive, energetic performance as the squadron's CO. As the commanding general Henry Hull lends his stern dignity to the effort. Tom D'Andrea provides welcome comic relief as the enterprising Sergeant Dolan whose scheming employment of black cats wangles for his character plenty of off-base time in which to shirk his legitimate duties - and to arouse the ire of the black feline-owning English civilian population.

There is a touching plot detail in the handing-down of a killed-in-action pilot's coveted flying boots, which illustrates just one of the many ways in which sentimentality's were expressed by, if not directly revealed or mentioned among themselves, young macho fighter jocks.

Aeroplane nuts can't complain about the abundant color footage of masses of P-47D's of both razorback and bubble-canopy configuration. Despite those irksome P-51D Hollywood "Messerschmitts" there are correct portrayals of much other gear, such as the variety of RAF and USAAF goggles and flying helmets actually worn by USAAF ETO pilots, shearling-lined flight suits and boots, A-2 flight jackets, ground crew coveralls and maintenance gear, and more. Also heartwarming to realist aviation nuts is the war-worn, paint-chipped-and-faded, oil and exhaust streaked condition of the P-47's appearing in the film (which was shot at a USAF base in the Carolinas at which then-obsolescent Thunderbolts were still employed in 1948 to train pilots); none of those glossy, glammed-up-to-perfection movie aircraft in this hard-charging story, although the pristine paint on the "Me.109's" betrays the production company's hurried disguise of their P-51 under skinning.

Extraneous historical detail: one reviewer points out that the P-47N Thunderbolt enjoyed a range superior to that of the P-51 Mustang. True indeed, but the P-47N model came too late for the ETO and, actually, it was developed to provide fighter escort for the long over water missions flown by B-29 crews in the Pacific Theater - the Mustang's liquid-cooled Merlin engine rendered it the second choice for such long flights over the sea, whereas the P-47 Jug's much less finicky, rugged, dependable Pratt & Whitney radial engine recommended itself for pilot survival through such missions. The P&W radial often functioned remarkably well with one or two cylinders shot-off, while no Merlin engine, or any other liquid-cooled aero-engine, absent a cylinder would long provide propulsion sufficient for the sustenance of flight.

In a way, 'Fighter Squadron' was the thrilling 'Top Gun' of its time, with the chief - and significant - difference being that of the two films 'Fighter Squadron' portrays fighter operations and tactics in an actual war - and without, in either film's case, the contextual absurdity of a civilian woman fighter plane instructor.

Does anyone know the title of 'Fighter Squadron's' soundtrack's rousing march theme? The same march was used for several film soundtracks, from among which the only other title I can recall is 1941's 'Dive Bomber.' In sum, 'Fighter Squadron' gives plenty of bang for one's buck. You won't see it on anybody's all-time-greats list, but it's a sound story told tidily which profits from apt casting, superb pacing, and vivid action sequences.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

One of the forties better flying Movies.

Author: dwaskes from United States
15 July 2001

An enjoyable movie. Loaded with clichés and the usual Hollywood gaffes (Like using P-51's for ME-109's), but none the less one of the better flying movies produced in the forties. It has, arguably some of the best flying movie footage of all of the flying type movies produced in that decade. I would buy this one if I could get it from a supplier. I finally was able to make an off the air copy from the TCM channel on satellite the other night. The choice of cast is excellent. Future film star Rock Hudson is wooden in his one liner in the Officers Club, but you gotta start somewhere. And this was his first movie part. If you like airplanes (fighter planes), you'll like this one.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A Good World War II aviation movie.

Author: inspt71-1 from Kentucky
26 April 2004

I think this movie is good and it should come out of DVD. The movie is World War II aviation action film covering the story of a Fighter Squadron who's leader wants to try new combat tactics in the skies over Europe. I know many people don't like the use of P-51D Mustangs as ME-109s, but there's a perfectly good explanation for it. There were no ME-109s left after the war and those that survived were being studied by American and British aircraft engineers. Don't let that spoil this movie. I actually found it interesting that they did use P-51s. This film also made good use of actual air combat film which gave this film a realistic view at some of the most gripping combat ever. This is a good one, don't miss it.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Not a bad WWII movie that I'd never heard of.

Author: ww33biz from United States
1 October 2005

The first thing that struck me about this movie was the quality of the color, which was excellent. It looked more like a movie made in the 50's than 1948. Like Mr. Padilla, who's informative review also appears in this database, I was momentarily baffled when the enemy planes first appeared in the movie. What's this?, I thought. I know those aren't Messerschmidts, and I recall the Stukas weren't that sleek-looking. What we have here are Mustangs in drag, as it were. I suppose the production company may have used whatever war birds they could lay their hands on. Chaulk one up for artistic license.

Once I got over that, I enjoyed the movie. Hollywood must have made a blue million war movies during and after WWII, and I own copies of at least 50 or so of them, but here's one I'd never seen before, nor even heard of. Most of the actors were pleasantly familiar, with Robert Stack being much younger here than I have before seen him. But towards the end of the movie, when all the pilots were gathered in the Ready Room before a mission, I had to do a double take as I looked at the members of the squad in the background. Is that who I think it is, I thought. Sure 'nuff, after the flick ended I came to this website to check the cast list, and there he was, listed as an unspoken actor, Rock Hudson.

I haven't yet searched to see if this movie is available on VHS or DVD, but I will. I'd like to own a copy.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Taking command of the skies.

Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
25 May 2003

Directed by Raoul Walsh this movie is built around actual war footage. Air battle scenes are some of the best ever. The Third Fighter Group of the Army Air Force stationed in England pave the way for V-E Day by dueling with the German Luftwaffe. Along with the great camera footage is the background score of Max Steiner. A very good cast that features:Edmond O'Brien, Robert Stack, Tom D'Andrea, Shepperd Strudwick, James Holden and the one-line debut of Rock Hudson. This memorable film is even better in tandem with another Walsh war flick OBJECTIVE, BURMA!(1945). Sometimes predictable, but very worthwhile.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Great camera footage

Author: Philo_Kvetch from San Francisco
17 August 1999

A rollicking WWII film and a treat for fans of the P-47 Thunderbolt. The flying scenes are great and (if I remember correctly) one of the USAAF fighter pilots actually asks a question about who plays for the Dodgers in order to smoke out false orders radioed to the Group by the Germans. Worth a look-see.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Enjoy the Airplanes But....

Author: btillman63 from Arizona
27 September 2005

There's a lot wrong with this film, including the schmaltzy or trite stock characters: the Tough Commander, the Happy Go Lucky Guy, the Goof Off, the Big Operator, and of course The Kid.

Henry Hull plays...yet again...Henry Hull.

Modelers will wonder why an 8th AF group uses 12th Air Force markings, with different colored cowlings in the same formation. (It would not have been hard to do it right.) Some of the film footage is reversed (stars & bars on upper right instead of upper left wings) and much of the color combat film is from Japan in 1945.

Still, how often do we get to see P-47s in color? "Fighter Squadron" is much like the egregious 1970s TV series "Baa Baa Black Sheep" (BBBS!) in that the plot is thin and the acting is marginal, but the airplanes are watchable.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Fun viewing, great fighter footage, poor production

Author: Steve from United States
29 January 2006

I enjoyed this movie as an AF veteran and a nephew of a fighter pilot who flew in an England based squadron. I am not sure if I would have enjoyed the movie as much without that personal investment. The production is not that impressive. The story of the maverick fighter pilot having to accept responsibility after being thrust into a leadership role was fairly predictable, in 2006. Maybe it was new and refreshing in 1948, but this is not a classic, must have, multifaceted war classic. However, it is a good viewing, once every few years, if you are a WWII buff. The inaccuracies and location problems are lost when I view the actual combat footage. The personal stories are consistent with reality, even though not told well.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Corny and cardboard as they come, but TERRIFIC footage

Author: David Spalding from
17 November 2006

If what you want is a thoughtful, authentic war drama, look elsewhere. This one's hilariously typecast, predictable, rigidly rah-rah, and ... gorgeous in Technicolor. The side story about the conniving sergeant is amusing, but distracting. The dialog is delivered with rapid-fire precision by the accomplished cast, so don't sneeze or you'll miss something.

The star of the picture is the combat footage. Lots and lots of great color footage of planes, some of them making emergency landings and airborne kills.

Oh, and look for a mighty young Rock Hudson in the squadron.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A must see film for any aviation buff!

Author: j-boulet from United States
27 July 2007

This movie gets better with time. Some of the best flying shots of the P-47 Thunderbolt. Most of the action segments must have used available planes (P-47); it was only 3 years after the end of the war, and there were plenty of Thunderbolts in top flying condition.

To the credit of the film's producers, some of the air combat scenes used actual footage shot with "gun cameras' on Thunderbolts. This is clearly seen where ground targets , such as trains, are being strafed.

Although the German fighters are clearly P-51's (with Luftwaffe markings), and not ME 109's, there were probably very few flyable Nazi combat aircraft of any type in 1948. This was decades before CGI!

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