After another failed air strike, Gen. Savage devises a new tactic: "bombing the leader," i.e. having all his bombardiers drop their explosives where his keenest eyed airman, Lt. Mellon, ... See full summary »



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Episode complete credited cast:
John Larkin ...
Lt. Robert Mellon
Paul Newlan ...
Dan Barton ...
Capt. Gately


After another failed air strike, Gen. Savage devises a new tactic: "bombing the leader," i.e. having all his bombardiers drop their explosives where his keenest eyed airman, Lt. Mellon, does. When the tactic wipes out a Dutch school instead of the target, Savage's superior Wiley Crowe balks at letting him try again. Young Mellon admits he was torn up from his best friend's dying on the prior mission, but Savage points to evidence that Luftwaffe flak wiped out Mellon's sight on the second attack. Is Savage just covering his mistake, or giving Mellon and the tactic a deserved second chance ? Written by David Stevens

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Drama | War





Release Date:

25 September 1964 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


An interesting side note is that every character in this story was mentioned in the book and movie though in vastly different context. The writer of this episode is Beirne Lay, Jr., co-author of the book. See more »


The bomb on the leader concept was not used this early (mid 1942) but was used later and was very successful. In fact by the end of the war, the bombardier (a highly trained officer) had been replaced by a "Toggler", a Sergeant who would act as a gunner as well as drop the bombs when the lead aircraft did (hit the "toggle switch"). See more »

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Cost of missing the Target
19 April 2016 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

12 O'CLOCK HIGH "Follow the Leader" 1964

12 O'CLOCK HIGH was a television series about the fictitious 918th Bomber Group of the U.S. Air Force. The Group flew Boeing B-17 bombers and was based out of Archbury Field in England. The series ran for a total of 78 episodes between 1964 and 1967. Regular cast members included, Robert Lansing, Frank Overton, Paul Burke, Chris Robinson and Barney Philips. The series is loosely based on the superb 1949 film of the same name. This episode is the second episode of the series.

The Group is on a raid over occupied Europe. The commanding officer's (Robert Lansig) aircraft is leading the first section on the bombing run. The German Luftwaffe now strikes the group downing several B-17's and shooting up Lansing's aircraft. The ship's bombardier, Andrew Prine, is rattled when the B-17's navigator is hit. Prine drops the bombs but most are off target.

The surviving B-17 aircraft head for England and their home base. The navigator does not live to see medical aid. The upset Prine is having a real problem dealing with the death. The navigator had been his best friend since flight school.

The recon photos now come in. The photos show that the raid was not a success. Lansing needs to find a way to improve the bombing accuracy. He calls in Prine and tells him he is now the number one bombardier for the entire group. When Prine lets his bombs go, the entire group will drop at the same time.

The next raid is on a target in Holland. Prine is still upset over losing his pal and now he has the added responsibility of calling the target for the entire group. Needless to say he blows the assignment. The group misses the target and kills a large number of Dutch civilians.

Lansing gets an earful from Headquarters after the Dutch Government in exile complains about the raid. Lansing is still sure that the idea of a mass drop is sound. They will return to said target and give it another go. Lansing has a quiet talk with Prine about overcoming nerves etc.

The repeat raid goes off like clockwork with Prine planting his cargo right on target. The rest of the group follows suit and the target is destroyed.

Also in the cast are, Bert Remsen, Jud Taylor, Dan Barton and in a small bit, the future wife of Burt Reynolds, Judy Carne.

The series makes ample use of combat footage as well as outtakes from the film of the same name. Apparently the series only had the use of one real B-17 for filming. The aircraft was repainted with new nose art as needed to portray various other B-17's.

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