Film: 5767

War + Military | 1940 | Sound | Colour

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Synopsis:

World War Two air combat in Italy.
Film follows the daily missions of the American 12 Air force and also French based on Corsica during 1944. They fly missions to bomb Italy to sever the supply chain from the north of the country to the south where German troops are holding back Monty's 8th Army.

Captain John Sturges; Sergeant Lester Koenig; Corporal Gail Kubik.
Introduction by actor James Stewart. Footage captured in combat zones by allied air forces. 12th Air force.

View of cameras in cockpit of aircraft, under the wing and in the wheel well, and on the instrument panel.
James Stewart talks to camera about the film.

ITALY.
High point of view of building in valley. View of peasants, people carrying baskets. Donkeys and carts. People sit by the side of the road.
'Some people are meant to serve others'. Children sit by the side of the road crying. View of a badly scorched body or corpse. View from aircraft of mountainous scenery. Looking down on the Italian countryside, rivers, waterfalls and towns. View of the ground from an aircraft, the airmen's point of view. Warfare at a distance. View of Italian towns, railroads, bomb damaged country 'what we did to Italy'. Map of Italy and the region surrounding it, showing Corsica and Sardinia. Corsica from the air.
Donkeys, children, a village well. Peasants in a village. View of German graves.

'ALTO AIRBASE'. Control tower. Pilot gets into cockpit. Ground crew start propeller and fuel engines. Air crew at their rest in camp prepare for the mission ahead. Airmen dressing, washing and shaving in camp. Men cleaning their teeth outdoors. View of a Major who has completed 122 mission. A Captain, only 23 years old and who has just got married. A Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Corps aged only 242 years. View of Alto Airbase from the air.
150 x 6000 feet runway. The control tower of the airfield. Americans and French share the base. A Group Commander aged 27 years. Aircrew get a briefing in a tent about their mission. Officer hands out an escape kit to the airmen and enemy money just in case they get shot down. Mission is outlined on a map in the briefing tent. Map of Italy.

5th Army US and 8th Army Britain at Anzio. Bombed at Casino. View from the air. Air Commanders Lieutenant Commander Eaker, Commander of all Allied air missions in Mediterranean. Major General John Cannon, commander of the 12th Air force. Brigadier General Gordon Peacerville, 12th Tactical Air Command plan to attack far behind enemy lines : Operation STRANGLE to cut supplies from northern Italy to southern Italy.

15 March 1944. Map of Italy. Views of railways, rivers and bridges. Views of bombed bridges. Special bomber P47 THUNDERBOLT. Aircraft only needs a one man crew. View of Thunderbolt aircraft on a runway. Aircraft taxiing. A line of Thunderbolt aircraft on the airfield. Pilots tend their own aircraft, cleaning and light maintenance duties. Pilots prepare for a mission, they wear face masks and parachute packs. Gil Wyman a pilot - a Big Shot! Once a pilot has flown many missions they are called wheels and the tail of their aircraft has a wheel painted on it - only for the elite pilots that have flown hundreds of missions.

The mission is discussed with the ground crew. Pilots in the cockpit of their aircraft. Pilots have to wait for five minutes before they take off - a calm down time to steady their nerves before the mission. They prepare for battle. The propellers of the aircraft start turning and the aircraft take off one by one. View of the armaments of the Thunderbolt aircraft, rockets, guns, 500 pound bombs, they also have cameras. The control tower gives the signal for the aircraft to take off. One by one the aircraft taxi and take off. View of the runway from the aircraft as it takes off. Aircraft taking off in pairs, lots of dust. View from a camera strapped to the wheel well of an aircraft as it takes off, close up of the runway as the aircraft builds up speed. The narrator names the pilots as they take off. The aircraft fly over a field of horses. View of the countryside. Views from aircraft of other planes in the squadron as they fly in formation. They fly over Corsica and then they are over open sea. It is 60 miles the Italian mainland. View of a castle, the squadron turn north and head over the Italian mountains in formation. The aircraft follow the Squadron Leader, he makes all the decisions. View of the aircraft flying in formation 10,000 feet up, the aircraft go through clouds. Looking down on mountainous countryside for their targets. A road and a river give the pilots landmarks. They find the bridge that is one of their targets. One aircraft peels off from formation, the rest follow at two second intervals. They bomb the bridge in turn, bomb bursts from the planes, view of the bombs exploding the bridge is on fire. Once the bombs are dropped the aircraft pulls up to gain altitude. View of one pilot in the cockpit, they feel faint from the G-force of climbing so steeply. View of tracer fire from the aircraft. The squadron has finished bombing the bridge and goes on flying in formation to find other targets. The Squadron Leader sees railway tracks. The aircraft follow the railway tracks until they spot a locomotive. The aircraft open fire with their guns, they attack the locomotive train one at a time. They shoot at the carriages. View of the train on fire. A big explosion and the train blows up. View of one of the pilots. Tracer fire as he attacks a radio station. Pilot shoots at people in a field and then at vehicles in a farmyard. They shoot at farm buildings. One of the farm buildings explodes in a fire ball, it was being used as a fuel dump or an ammunitions dump.
After the mission the pilots relax back at base in Corsica. They sit around playing dice and gambling. Some take a shower - dust is a problem in Corsica. Washing clothes by hand. Hanging lines of washing out to dry. Airmen make a improvised washing machine to make the task easier. They use a pump and an old tin barrel. Airmen getting a hair cut outdoors. Another reads a magazine, others on a transport vehicle. An airman plays with a yo-yo to pass the time. The airmen have periods of boredom between their missions, lots of hanging around. They pass the time by building things that they want, they build a swimming pool and have fun in the water with a boat. They swim in the sea. They use old parts of aircraft an vehicles to build a boat and use a parachute for a sail. Others make beer, airmen drinking beer and getting drunk. 'The American Airmen have their own community except what they really want…'. Airmen playing baseball while they wait for their next mission. Playing draughts or chequers beside their tents. They live there for months or even years at a time. Airman curled up asleep with a dog. The dog in a dingy on the water with the man. Airmen have their own pets - no family to share their lives with - view of an airman with three puppies, another has a pet raven that sits on his shoulder as he reads a book.

66 Squadron in formation flying. They head out on a mission as Squadron 65 returns to base. They pass each other in mid air. Missions are coming and going all the time. Squadron 65 is missing an aircraft - shot down? View of 65 Squadron as they come into land at the air base. Landing gives the pilots the opportunity to show off to those on the ground. Squadron 65 keep their formation tight as they come into land, they fly low over the runway then peel up climbing to reduce their air speed, the aircraft hold formation but space themselves so there is a 20 second interval between aircraft. The first plane lands. View from the aircraft of the wheels or gear coming down. The next group from 65 Squadron climb to reduce speed, space themselves for the 20 second landing and then land. The third group continue to circle the air base as they wait their turn to land. Ground crew watch the aircraft come in to land. The pilots are very tired after their mission, one misjudges and lands badly, bouncing on the runway as he lands. The pilot is embarrassed and the Colonel is not happy about the flak and bullet holes in the aircraft fuselage and wing. After a de-brief the pilots relax with donuts and coffee which is provided by the girls of the Red Cross who meet every mission. The young Colonel fills out a Missing In Action form for the aircraft that has not returned to base.
Map of Italy showing enemy held territory. It shows where the railway lines have been blocked and supplies stopped from the north of the country to the front lines. The airmen have been successful with their bombing missions. German troops have had to resort to moving supplies by road, so the airmen from the base in Corsica start targeting road transports. View of the road and vehicles being attacked by allied aircraft. Tracer fire from the planes guns. Various German vehicles attacked. View from aircraft of the vehicles on fire. Aircraft can shoot 800 rounds of ammo a minute, or 106 rounds per second. View of the road being shot up. Aircraft launches a rocket at a vehicle, it explodes. A line of German ammunition vehicles on fire in the middle of the road. Lots of black smoke. Aircraft fly through black smoke. Airmen average eight or nine missions a day and the French airmen do as many. Aircraft flying low in formation of an arrow. 324 and 86 Squadrons and 79 Squadron all flying in formation overhead. Smoke on the ground, a fire burning in a field - a wreck of a P47 Thunderbolt that crashed as it came into land back at the base on Corsica. The pilot is dead. Aircrew on the ground keep clear in case the aircrafts ammunition explodes. The rest of the aircraft from the squadrons land safely. The crashed plane's engines cut out on approach to the runway, only 200 yards from the runway. Other airmen stand around and watch the crashed plane burn. The dead pilot is dragged out, a badly burned corpse. Airmen stand and watch as the body of their comrade is carried away. View of the rest of the aircraft still coming into land.
Aircrews keep up the pressure on the German forces and make repeated raids on the Italian roads. By May, nearly all the road transports have been stopped. The Germans left in southern Italy fight the British 8th Army under General Montgomery have only two weeks' supplies left. Ground troops of the 8th Army and the US 5th Army can now attack. The towns of Casino and Anzio are taken and three weeks later Allied troops reach Rome.
Jeeps and tanks and other allied vehicles driving through the streets of Rome watched by Italian crowds - most look sullen, but some wave at the camera. Women on a balcony wave at the Allied troops. A soldier on a tank waves at the camera. An allied soldier in a horse drawn carriage with a pretty girl. Ground troops move north through Italy and see the work the air force bombings have achieved. Lots of wrecked German vehicles - 10,000 destroyed by allied aircraft. Convoys of German vehicles are burnt out and railway tracks and yards are destroyed. Trains destroyed, some carried gasoline that were destined to fuel German tanks on the front lines. Railway bridges were blown up, and railway tracks mangled. Views of bombed bridges. Views of dead German soldiers shot lying in the rubble. Allied ground troops sweep through Italy and take control. Air forces from Corsica fly other missions until the end of the war. View of airmen relaxing between missions, having a drink and a sing song, a man plays an accordion. Colonel Wyman's Country Club!
The airmen sing 'Little Brown Jug'.
'The End' with a big question mark over it. (filmed in 1944).


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