First Lt. Clark Gable's 1943 Color Feature Film That Follows The Men Of The 351st Bombardment Group Of The US 8th Army Air Force All The Way From Gunnery Practice To Combat Missions Over Germany!
The opening credits state that the film was produced "through the cooperation of the 351st Bombardment Group, AAF." The film ends with the following written statement: "Enemy, look at these men. They're not going to lose, brother." Information provided by NARS states that General H H Arnold assigned Clark Gable, who was then a first lieutenant in the US Air Force, to produce this film. In addition to narrating the film, Gable is seen interviewing several servicemen.
Four hundred pilots and 3,600 crewmen of the 351st Bombardment Group assemble at a Colorado air base in preparation for overseas duty. The men come from all over the United States and are from many different ethnic backgrounds. When the troops arrive in England, they are welcomed by the Royal Air Force.
The 351st becomes part of the 8th Air Force. By air, their base is twenty minutes away from the battlefields. The newly arrived troops begin training for battle and attend daily lectures on security.
After receiving the order for their first mission, the men are briefed. They are reminded that their main job is to bring back their B-17 planes, also known as Flying Fortresses. Before the planes take off, all equipment is checked thoroughly. The planes then depart at fifteen second intervals.
The first mission of the 351st is a success, as all twenty planes and all the men return. Back on base, the men clean their guns. The 351st flies many missions and downs many German planes. After each flight the men are questioned. When they are not flying, they partake in activities including games, socializing and worship. The U.S.O. brings entertainers such as Bob Hope to visit the base. At a seaside resort, the Red Cross provides the men with rest and recreation.
On some missions, U.S. planes are lost, and soldiers are killed and wounded. The wounded are cared for at a nearby hospital. Sometimes the weather prevents the planes from dropping their load of bombs. In 1943, some of the pilots receive medals for exceptional service, and the base is visited by General Ira C. Eaker, commander of the 8th Air Force.
The 351st participates in a big mission into Germany. After flying for about three hours, the B-17s' fighter escort turns back. As the planes get close to their target, enemy fighter planes appear. The U.S. planes drop their bombs, which include incendiary bombs and anti-personnel bombs. When the bombs are all dropped, the planes must evade flak from the ground defense. After an extensive battle, the U.S. planes return to base, ready to fight again until the war is over.
Contents: COMBAT AMERICA (1943, TECHNICOLOR, 1:00) Created and narrated by the eminent Hollywood actor Clark Gable, this film, entirely in color, follows the 40 B-17 Flying Fortresses, 400 crewmen and 3600 support crew personnel of the 351st Bombardment Group, from the end of their training at a Colorado training field to actual combat over St. Nazaire, Emden, Kiel, Wilhelmshaven, Bremen, Hamburg, Amien, Flushing, Stuttgart, Brussels & more.
Bonus Feature MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: THE STORY OF THE FLYING FORTRESS! (1944, 8:58) A chronicle of an autumn 1942 8th Army Air Force mission over Europe, from the preparation of the planes straight through to return to base, including aerial footage of the bombing mission itself.
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