Documentary detailing the activities of American fighter escort pilots during bombing raids over Germany.


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Jimmy Dolittle ...


Documentary short film produced by the American Army Air Forces extolling the exploits of the American fighter pilots who destroyed the German Luftwaffe and allowed the Allies to proceed with the invasion of Europe. Written by Jim Beaver <>

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Documentary | Short | War





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21 June 1945 (USA)  »

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Victory Lap.
2 September 2013 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

I saw the fleshed-out ~40 minute version on YouTube, I think. The first third shows us pilots of a Thunderbolt unit in England horsing around, sleeping, and generally enjoying themselves until the early-morning briefing, when everyone is serious. The remainder of the film consists almost entirely of gun camera or other combat footage. It was probably a novelty at the time, but much of it will be familiar now. Every time I see that same stick of bombs plowing through the same orchard, I begin to feel sorry for apples.

The uncredited narrator with the sonorous baritone is Reed Hadley, who also narrated "Guadalcanal Diary" and a number of other films in the post-war period. He had some minor roles on the screen as well. For the most part, the narration avoids flag waving and name calling The Germans may be "Jerries" but only once are they "the Hun." By the time of this release the war was virtually over and there was little need for that sort of thing.

The viewer gets to see a multitude of enemy targets being strafed and blown apart. The one gun camera shot that is almost always missing is the one in which a French farmer in a little dog cart is racing his horse along a dirt road and farmer, carriage, and horse disappear in a cloud of dust as the target is peppered with .50 caliber bullets. Locomotives okay. Horses no. There's no need to suggest that any innocent animals were harmed in the making of this motion picture.

Motion pictures of combat are always exciting. What we're witnessing, after all, is a life or death struggle. But some of the most amazing incidents were never captured on film. The German pilot, for instance, who bailed out of his disabled airplane and whose body smashed into the spinner and propeller of the P-51 behind him, splashing his inner organs all over the American's windshield. (He vomited after landing.) And the German pilot who bailed out and zipped past his American pursuer in an upright position, holding a salute.

The most thorough and candid book I've read about these pilots is "Thunderbolt" by Robert S. Johnson. The most personal and honest documentary I've ever seen is "A Fighter Pilot's Story," by Quentin Annensen, who flew P-47s on ground attack missions. It exhumes emotions that "The Fight For The Sky" only touches on.

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