by Floyd Werner, Jr.
1942 was the darkest year for
the US and its allies. The call to war had awakened a sleeping
giant but that giant was just getting itself into the war mode.
This DVD highlights the featurettes that were shown at movie
theaters during the war years that were designed to sway the
American public. News organizations such as Paramount News,
Movietone, and Universal Newsreels made the newsreels to compliment
the serials at the movie theaters. Remember this was a time
before TV and when radio was a form of entertainment. The movie
theater was the only visual form of entertainment available.
Starting with Pearl Harbor,
through the Doolittle raid, to the raids on Manila, Midway and
finally onto the war in North Africa everything is covered.
I'll just highlight a few of them.
When you watch the newsreels
you are immediately reminded that they are propaganda designed
to motivate the public. Some of the information is not misleading
but not correct, especially with the distance of time.
One of the first newsreels is
a dawn patrol of B-17Ds and Es complete with early markings
shows the responses to the Japanese attacks. The B-17D, the
Swoose, which is being restored at the Air Force Museum, is
seen in at least three different newsreels.
There are plenty P-40s, including
the Flying Tigers, Air Defense Command, and North Africa. There
are B models and some Es and Fs to be seen including the F models
taking off from carriers and doing low level passes.
There are plenty of off the
wall aircraft and missions. How about biplane bombers used to
bomb a volcano to change the flow of the lava? On the military
side of the house there are P-43 Lancers, B-18 Bombers, B-26s,
and A-20s, as well as, P-39s and plenty of P-38s. There is also
civilian stuff such as Jackie Cochran's P-35, a wingless airplane,
and an autogiro flight school.
There are plenty of things to
learn such as seeing a Zero's plywood gas tank. The beginning
of Rosie the Riveter and the WAF are seen as well. Eddie Rickenbacker
visits the new 94th Pursuit Squadron and its P-38s. The Flying
Tigers and the Eagle Squadron are shown doing their parts and
being inducted into the AAF.
It is interesting that the US
is inspired by the Germans to establish glider and airborne
forces. The newsreels don't sugar coat it when they say the
Germans pioneered these forms of warfare. Gliders and paratroopers
are seen undergoing training.
There is excitement such as
some gun camera footage I hadn't seen before. Also included
is a C-46 Commando doing a belly landing.
Midway is covered but not as
much as you would think as it was still fairly fresh. There
is some unique footage that I'm sure wasn't part of Midway but
is exciting nonetheless. Low level Betty bombers flying really
close to the camera man give the viewer the sense of being there.
An interview with George Gay is included.
All in all this is a great snap
shot of history. I really enjoyed the DVD. It is a long one,
almost two and half hours, but it goes by quickly. It is nice
to see the personalities of the early war period and the airplanes
that took them to war.
I can highly recommend this
title, as well as, all the other titles available from Victory
Films. If you are a historian or modeler then these DVDs are
an invaluable asset to your research. Excellent as always.
Thanks to Wade Meyers Studios
for the review copy.
You can obtain your copy of
this and all the other great titles from Victory Films at http://wademeyersart.tripod.com/id73.html
. Let him know you heard about it here.
Werner, Jr. 2009