Major Daniel Kirby takes command of a squadron of Marine fliers just before they are about to go into combat. While the men are well meaning, he finds them undisciplined and prone to always finding excuses to do what is easy rather than what is necessary. The root of the problem is the second in command, Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin. Griff is the best flier in the group but Kirby finds him a poor commander who is not prepared to the difficult decision that all commanders have to make - to put men in harm's way knowing that they may be killed.
AIR-DEVILS OF THE SKY!
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Did You Know?
The squadron's designation in the movie was VMF-247 "Wildcats" but in the movie was based on VMF-223 "The Bulldogs". VMF-223 was a Marine fighter squadron that flew Grumman F4F Wildcats. They were also formed at MCAS Ewa on Oahu and was the first fighter squadron at the Battle of Guadalcanal. The unit still exists to this day as VMA-223, or Marine Attack Squadron 223. Based at Cherry Point, NC, it is comprised of AV-8B Harrier (V/STOL) jets and is under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 14. The unit has flown in every major conflict from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan. See more
In the final scene when the F4U Corsairs are flying over the field, the "Japanese" aircraft wrecks in the foreground are Grumman F6F Hellcats. See more
Maj. Daniel Xavier Kirby
You just can't bring yourself to point your finger at the guy and say "go get killed!" You got enough troubles of your own for one man. Stop trying to pack everybody else's around. Schedule that mission.
Capt. Carl 'Griff' Griffin
Featured in The John Wayne Anthology