Before the United States enters World War I, some American youths volunteer for the French military. Subsequently, they become the first U.S. fighter pilots and form a squadron known as the Lafayette Escadrille, whose exploits and heroism become the stuff of legend. This fictional version follows a laconic Texas rancher, an eager Nebraska kid, a Black boxer already in France, and a New York swell, as they arrive green for training, get their baptism by fire when German planes ambush them on their first mission, and graduate to heroics. Rawlings, the Texan, falls in love with a young woman he meets at a bordel. Written by
The triplane fighter flown by the German pilots is the Fokker DR 1 designed by Dutch aviation pioneer Anthony Fokker. Due to the fact that Manfred Von Richthofen (the Red Barron) and a few other high scoring German aces developed an almost cult-like devotion to the plane, it has always enjoyed a reputation out of all proportion to its actual merits or contribution to the German war effort. In truth only 320 were produced and they were only in front line service from late 1917 to mid 1918. The plane's chief merits were a rapid rate of climb and the ability to make lightning fast turns to the right due to the torque effect of its rotary engine. Highly experienced pilots were able to use this to great advantage in combat but these same characteristics were very dangerous to inexperienced aviators and there were numerous accidents. On the down side the design was plagued with structural problems, chiefly the tendency of the ailerons to separate from the upper wing or the total structural failure of the upper wing during high G maneuvers. These problems were initially attributed to poor quality control at the Fokker plant and that was certainly a factor, but post war testing also revealed that the plane had serious design flaws that caused a dangerously high G loading on the upper wing during air combat maneuvering. Ironically, Fokker's follow on design, the biplane Fokker D7 fighter is widely regarded as the best fighter design of the war and yet it receives considerably less attention than his problematic triplane. See more »
Although it is understandable that the movie makers wanted us to be able to "see" the paths of the machine gun bullets, such projectiles do not leave a vapor trail. See more »
By the start of 1916, World War I had wreaked havoc across Europe. Over nine million people would eventually die.
Although the airplane had only recently been invented, it was quickly adapted into a war machine.
The young men who flew them became the first fighter pilots and a new kind of hero was born.
See more »
Do not expect much from the plot as you need not scratch the surface too deeply to experience de'ja vu. (I've seen these plot elements before in just about every war/buddy/love story flick I have ever seen).
The acting is decent and the special effects are superb. Do not see this movie with high expectations regarding the plot and you will not be disappointed.
The effects wizards took a page from Howard Hughes as there are plenty of clouds in the air combat scenes to lend a feeling of depth and speed. The dog fights are pretty exciting and worth the price of admission to see on the big screen.
64 of 86 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?