Fighter Squadron Film Details
Overview: During World War II, an insubordinate fighter pilot finds the shoe on the other foot when he’s promoted.
Tagline: If it had wings, they’d fly it! If it had skirts they’d fight for it!
Review: I first saw the movie in 1950 I was overwhelmed with the magic of the aeroplanes, the action and the theme tune. It concerned USAAF pilots flying P47 Thunderbolts over Germany and had everything. Action, humour, discipline and the cares of command and glorious Technicolour, with the happy go lucky fighter pilots, the raw new boy, the slick comedy of the conniving ground crew chasing the English girls and wangling leave, and old dogs for a hard road being taken off Operations in disgust and moving up the chain of command as the war and tactics progressed. A summary of salient points. Thunderbolt limping home with battle damage. Nice shot of the B17 (prop feathered) & oil on Thunderbolt windscreen – “cylinder shot off!”) and the P47 protecting each other from the ME109s with their fields of fire. Great real time action film of emergency landings, with landing gear problems. After belly landing his plane, “Ed Hardin crosses himself in thanks, undoes his straps, gets out & jumps into his Jeep, stands up & declares his plane a ‘Write Off’ then calls out ‘Notify the Taxpayers to get me a new one”. He wouldn’t have to wait long, as Republic & others built some 13,000 P47s during those war years. Nice overview shot of the aeroplanes weaving their way along the taxi ways, as the huge engine in front of a tail wheel aeroplane completely blocks any view of the narrow pathway ahead. After the Crap Game Air Raid warning Stu calls out “Sic ’em RAF”, a reference to the night fighters of the Royal Air Force developing their Airborne Interception Radar against the invading German bombers. Ref. the enemy airfield pick up of ‘downed’ Ed by Stu and the two man take off – this manoeuver was used in various films such as ‘Flight Commander’ and ‘Dawn Patrol’ in the 1930s. An actual occurrence of this dangerous practise took place in 1944 in WWII, during the Middle East war when a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Squadron Leader, Bobby Gibbes, flying a Hawker Hurricane landed his aircraft a mile from an enemy Base & picked up one of his downed pilots. As in the above films the theme is of the maverick ‘Hot Shot’ Fighter pilots being thrust in to Leadership roles & more responsibility,. A nice little aside – when Ed Hardin is required to take over the Squadron from his predecessor. Bemoaning their fate, over the proposed conflicted policy of ‘dropping tanks, reflective Ed opines that it will only happen “When we’re flying Rocking chairs”- any true pilot’s dread! Ed Hardin wearing his flying jacket bearing the emblem of the Flying Tigers who volunteered to fight for the Chinese in their late 1930s war against the Japanese. The emblem was a notice to the Chinese that they were friends & not enemies, who usually were quickly dispatched. It also gave directions on how to return the pilot to his base. Later, before America entered WWII a lot of Americans went to England & joined the Royal Air Force which gathered them up into one group designated “Eagle Squadron”. When America joined the war those pilots all transferred back to the USAAF to continue the fight. A little cameo between the smart Alec Sergeant Dolan (who runs his rackets & Corporal Wilbur who does all Dolan’s dirty work) plays out when Dolan gets his come uppence & and the long suffering Wilbur gets his Sergeant’s stripes. An energetic pilot going to the usual early morning briefing is pictured vigorously shaking a small tree & declaring “If I gotta get this early this morning there ain’t no birds gunna be sleeping”. The RAF Bomber crews were just getting into bed after their all-night Bombing raids. Ed Hardin as CO giving his pilots a Briefing about dropping tanks, going in low level & catching the enemy aircraft on the ground before they could get to the Bombers, ” We lost 59 Bombers today”. Each B.17 had a crew of ten, so 590 young men never came back to base that day. The role of the tough Major General Mike McReady who respects his Pilots, calling them up for duty at Headquarters, or protecting them from the grounded ‘know it all officer’ was played by Henry Hull who used the same mannerisms & gruff speech delivery as a business man in “Babes In Arms” in 1939, some nine years earlier. The stirring musical theme was recycled from the Errol Flynn/Fred MacMurray film “Dive Bomber”, from1941 The famous actual camera gun footage shows the low levels involved when shooting at the Flak tower dead ahead. Ed Hardin is heard to comment “This flak is getting dangerous”, before he is shot down. Towards the end of the film when Duke Chappel (another carefree hot shot) has taken over as CO after Ed Hardin was shot down), gives his pre flight briefing for the new low level missions, cautioning his pilots to “Sack it off Blue eyes, we’re cutting grass tomorrow.” – a reference to getting some sleep to be fresh for the dangerous low level flying expected, with the propeller levels just off the ground. This was true, as after D Day in 1944, low level attacks were required to neutralise the German resistance. In fact, one RAF Squadron lost its entire complement of pilots three time during the period August to September. I still get a kick out of it as a great aviation film – and my viewing total would now be 20! Yes, having just finished compiling this commentary, I’m going to get it out & play it again. “Chocks Away”!
Country: United States
Language: English, German
Duration: 96 min
Genre: Action, War
Also known as: Fighter Squadron,Les géants du ciel,Escuadron de combate,Eskadril’ya istrebiteley,Strids-flygare,Escadrila de vanatoare,Falchi in picchiata,Эскадрилья истребителей,Escadrilles de combat,Luftens eskadrer,Sangue, Suor e Lágrimas,Escuadrón de combate,Todos Foram Valentes,Jachtstrijders,Devler Ateşi,Sminarhia efodou,Dagens Patrulje