Victory Films
1942 Newsreels
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 . Let him know you heard about it here.

© Floyd Werner, Jr. 2009