Fighter Squadron (1948) Movie Script

Fighter Squadron (1948)
British photographers.
Public relations OK'd them.
Are those planes
back from the 17th?
They ran into trouble
over Bremen.
They love trouble.
O.K., knucklehead,
don't let any Germans in here.
Next time he calls
me knucklehead,
I'm not going to let him in.
He'd love that.
It's about time you gentlemen
got around to
photographing my outfit.
You seem proud of
your group, sergeant.
Take guys like
Colonel Brickley
and Major Hardin.
They were born with
propellers in their mouths.
He's got a propeller
in his mouth, too.
It takes a good
man on the ground
to keep them together.
What I go through!
Dolan this, Dolan that.
If I wasn't here,
the outfit would fold.
O.K., gentlemen.
Hang around till you spot them
and go down the runway
for your pictures.
Thank you.
How about taking a picture
of me for your paper?
Tell them how I
run the outfit.
Thanks. If anybody
bothers you,
you just tell them that
Sergeant Dolan OK'd you.
Where's that crack
outfit of ours?
They were due 20 minutes ago.
If they were due
20 minutes ago,
they'll be here
20 minutes ago.
Jughead, ain't you got that
auxiliary tank filled yet?
There's 110 gallons
of gas in it.
Why don't you help?
I don't like those tanks.
If I was flying,
I'd drop them.
General Gilbert says
don't drop 'em.
He ain't flying.
I'd hate to have a
German chasing me
with 110 gallons of
gas on my belly.
You know that Swiss watch
you sold me last week?
It was made in Czechoslovakia.
You know how those
Swedes get around.
At ease.
Be careful, Wilbur.
Whenever there's officers around,
you don't have to salute me.
Any calls?
Sybil's mother called...
Three times!
I told her the general
sent you to Italy.
You're using your head.
You're going to
get these stripes
and a decoration.
The Iron Cross... Very
few Americans get them.
Clean up the jeep
and throw some
soap in the back.
Are you giving soap away?
No. I let them
wash their face,
and I take it back.
Let a cat out.
The only cat left
has a white paw.
Use shoe polish. Blacken it.
You'll get in trouble.
Let me worry about that.
I'm running this outfit.
That's right. I forgot.
Oh. The cat.
They're 24 minutes late, sir.
I know, Dolan. Watching
the clock won't help.
I brought those photographers.
Want me to drive them back?
No. Put that sign up.
Another sign?
If these signs get any lower,
only midgets and dogs will
be able to read them.
Get a load of that one.
"A man who wants
to get married
hasn't got his mind
on fighting..."
Till he meets his
wife's family.
That'll do, sergeant.
Post the weather report.
Dolan, look who's here.
What, again?
The pilots can't find
that black cat here.
Where'd you take
him last time?
Halfway to the village!
This time, take him
beyond the village.
Any particular village?
Here you are, Wilbur.
Bye, pussy.
Pussy, go that way.
I'm going this way.
Haystack, this is Yardstick.
We have two cripples.
Have the ambulance and
crash truck stand by.
We'll circle till you
clear us to come in.
Come in. Land to the
west if you can.
Colonel Brickley,
what happened to Major Hardin?
We don't know.
Dudley and Clement got it.
We had it today.
It's Hardin I'm worried about.
Relax, Stu. He may be O.K.
I'm supposed to fly his wing.
You had M.E.S on you.
How could you know he was
going after those Jerries?
Where's Brickley?
Control tower.
They may have picked him up.
All right. Go ahead.
Did you hear from
Ed on the R.T.
After he hit the deck?
We're going to the tower.
They might have.
Hey, Jacobs!
Did you see anything
of Major Hardin?
The last I saw was...
There's old
18,000-feet himself.
How does he find out?
Every time one of his
rules is broken,
he's here.
Comes in like a hungry beagle.
If Ed doesn't come back,
Gilbert will kill himself
so he can haunt him.
Captain Hamilton.
General Gilbert.
Captain Chappell,
Lieutenant Atkins.
What happened to Hardin?
Missing, sir.
Not shot down, I hope?
We don't know, sir.
You're his wing man?
Yes, sir.
Captain Hamilton was under
attack himself, sir.
Hardin went down
to the deck again?
Lieutenant Dudley was getting
shot to pieces by three 109s.
Colonel Brickley's in
the control tower
trying to get some
trace of Hardin.
Would you excuse us?
We'll make a full report
at interrogation.
I'll be there.
Go ahead.
Seacliff 88, any call
from Cobra Red Leader?
Seacliff 88 to Haystack.
No call from Cobra Red Leader.
Haystack to Seacliff 88.
Thank you and out.
Five fighter...
Mayday. Mayday. Have to ditch.
Fricktop blue two here.
Going down near midchannel.
Give me a fix. 1, 2, 3...
Five fighter bomber.
Yes, sir.
Say, little friend,
let a bomber pass!
You call that junk
heap a bomber?
That's Ed!
Your tail's drooping,
isn't it, peashooter?
Top cylinder's shot off.
I'm running on an eggbeater.
We thought you were
dragging your feet.
Hey, you, Thunderbolt!
Germans 5:00 high. See 'em?
I see them.
Get out! Run!
I haven't got enough juice.
Get under our wing.
We'll try and cover you.
Pretty close quarters.
Stick out your hand to turn.
Scratch one!
Cannon shell on the wing!
You all right, Thunderbolt?
Yeah, but it's letting
the sun in on me.
You can come up for
air, Thunderbolt.
The third one's running
to tell Adolf.
Thanks for the umbrella.
Glad we could
return the favor.
You guys have
helped us plenty.
Haystack calling Hardin.
Haystack calling Hardin.
Who's that... Stu?
You character! Come on home.
I'm in no condition
to go to London.
Here he comes.
Crash truck, fire
truck standing by.
Anything else you need? Over.
Landing gear jammed.
Bring me a wheelbarrow.
Let's get out there.
Let me talk to him.
Easy, Ed. Easy.
Go ahead!
Boy, did we sweat you out!
You're lucky.
You're telling me!
Let's see you fly it out.
Get in. We'll go.
Not me.
That ship's a wreck.
Have the taxpayers
get me another.
Sure, sure, I understand.
Get these directives
off my desk.
Four days to install
radio equipment?
Take a memo.
What will I say?
Tell them to do it faster.
Here's another...
Cutting our requisition
on gun cameras in half.
From now on,
order twice as
many as we need.
I won't have the Air Depot
tell me how to run things.
Who the blazes is
Sergeant Kinsey?
I don't know, sir,
but there's been a stream
of young ladies here
from Randall, Kentborough,
Stratford, and Dorset,
all complaining about
a Sergeant Kinsey.
He must be quite a Don Juan.
It can't be any of our men.
They don't get passes to
get around that much.
See that I'm not bothered
with this Kinsey again.
Yes, sir.
General Gilbert's here, sir.
Send him in.
Ah, hello, Mel.
Sit down. Have a cigar.
No, thank you, sir.
Your wing had it hot today.
14 lost, 9 washouts,
20 major repairs.
When fatso Goering puts up three
groups to protect the target,
that means our bombers
are hitting them where
they're tender.
What's the trouble?
How did you know?
When there isn't any,
you take a cigar.
It's a thing I
hate to request...
The court-martial of a
fighter pilot, Major Hardin.
On what charge?
Repeated violation
of combat orders
in the face of the enemy.
This is difficult.
Next to Brickley,
he has the highest score
of planes in the command,
and he's one of your boys...
That's got nothing
to do with it.
I didn't mean to
imply favoritism.
What's he done this time?
The same as before...
Refuse to stay
with the bombers.
In fairness, he went
down to the deck
trying to save one of his men,
but afterwards, he didn't
rejoin his squadron.
He kept on after
the enemy plane.
Did he get him?
He got three...
Two in the air, one
on the ground.
By strafing the field, he
subjected his plane to flak...
A cylinder shot off.
He had to wash out his plane.
It's lucky he wasn't lost.
That gives him, let me see...
16 victories.
Makes a court-martial
kind of tough.
It's because of that, sir.
He's a top ace.
The replacements
see him as an idol
and follow his example.
They must be taught in battle
the vital necessity of
their assigned duties,
to respect the tactical
judgment of the higher command.
He's violating your
own orders, sir!
Has the combat film on
the 17th come up yet?
Put Major Hardin's on.
Come on, Mel.
You ready?
Yes, sir.
Mel, it seems to me
that you've lost
sight of one thing.
Hardin was with the
Flying Tigers in China
before he joined
the Eagle squadron
with Hamilton, Brickley,
and Chappell.
In China, it was
every man on his own
and every Jap plane a
target, regardless.
My own personal feelings
after seeing that film
would be to recommend him for
another cluster on his D.F.C.
If you did that,
it would be a reward
for violating orders.
Yes, you're right.
By all the rules,
I ought to court-martial him.
The request is withdrawn, sir.
Good. Good.
But you were quite
right in making it.
Colonel Brickley speaking.
Your replacements didn't
arrive until 2100.
I won't bring men
back from missions
where they've seen
friends killed
and make them eat dinner
looking at empty chairs.
Have them here at 1800!
The major was very busy.
That chair is a hard seat.
A parachute pack is softer.
I put you on the spot
with Gilbert today.
Forget it.
To you, all Germans
have slant eyes.
I'd like to be there with you,
but the order is stay
with the bombers.
Gilbert's slogans.
"Escort over target
will retain auxiliary gas
tanks even if attacked."
That one, too.
You've refused to use our
friendship with Mike McCready
and go over Gilbert's head.
How long will you
let him hogtie us?
We got enough groups
to protect the bombers
and paste Goering's boys
before they get
off the ground.
Gilbert doesn't think so.
Gilbert isn't C.G.
McCready is.
Gilbert's uncle
is on air staff.
You won't do it.
You're an army officer
plus a gentleman.
I'm a China tramp.
I'm going to.
No, you won't.
That's an order.
Yes, sir.
It'll come in time.
When we're flying
rocking chairs.
Oh, they'll feel good.
A drink would feel better.
Let's make it two.
If I was flying,
we'd have had twice as many.
Keep busy, Wilbur.
Move around.
One time I was stationed
in Hollywood.
What a town that is!
One dame called for
me every Saturday.
Did she have a car?
Did you ever have
a chauffeur open
the door for you?
Did you ever have a lovely
blonde covered with perfume
entice you into a
$14,000 limousine?
Who do you think I go
with, hitchhikers?
Get a load of that captain...
Always talking about women.
If I had an airplane,
I'd have dames all
over the continent,
but I operate in a jeep.
Makes it tough.
Come on, Dolan. Get 'em up.
Hiya, Tennessee.
How are the boys taking it?
Some of them are
feeling mighty low.
A crap game usually helps...
Takes their minds off it.
Fellas, get out the dice.
I got $400. Where's Stu?
Let's go get him.
You'd rather shoot crap
than talk about women?
Let's root him out.
Speaking of dames, there
was a little girl...
If he doesn't stop
talking about women,
he'll wind up married to one.
They're starting a
game downstairs
with two dirty
cubes called dice.
Bust out your flying pay!
You go play. I'm
staying with Ann.
Why would she stay with you?
Let me get my luck on.
You better come barefoot.
These are the good-luck
boots of all time.
You should have seen them
in that London store...
A bombed-out pile of rubble,
gutted by fire,
windows smashed.
Ya da da...
They were the only
thing left...
Immaculate, not even singed,
not one speck of dirt!
Did he tell it the same?
Last time, he put
the dirt first.
40 more.
You're covered. 60 more.
Yellow warning.
Yellow warning.
All personnel, prepare
to take cover.
Sic 'em, raf!
Big old nasty 7!
You better hold out
some money for cigarettes.
I feel lucky tonight. 200!
I got you.
Watch for those 11 freckles!
Four's his point!
Make a come bet. You
never made four yet.
All that says he doesn't.
What's that for?
As long as you're
betting leather...
Aw... Come on!
Let daddy make his point!
Red warning. Red warning.
All personnel, take
immediate cover.
Looking for that
great big four!
Hey, fellas,
where's that dough?
I made it... The hard way!
Hiya, Wilbur.
Hello, sarge.
Any calls?
Lady Woodbine called.
She said she'd meet
you tonight
at the same place.
On the bridge.
If it's raining,
under the bridge.
Gas up the jeep
and throw my white
tie in the back.
Wilbur, I'm a little short.
You got any money?
All I've got is a dollar.
You better write
home for some dough.
Yes, I think I'd better.
Let one out, will you?
Yes, sir.
Dolan, Colonel Brickley
wants to see you.
Yes, sir.
Yes, sir?
I have a memo here
from fighter command.
There's a sergeant been
spending a lot of time
in the towns of Randall,
Stratford, Kentborough, and Dorset
entertaining ladies, and
not by playing cricket.
When General
McCready finds him,
he'll have him hung... twice.
Can you describe him?
We know he's a sergeant.
His name's Kinsey.
Must be in the infantry.
Our men haven't had any
passes off the base.
And nobody's going
to get off the base.
Post that. Double
Fog's lifting.
Is that from Ann?
She sends her love.
She saw your father.
I'll bet the old man
talked her ear off.
You told her you'd be
coming home soon?
Four more missions
on this tour.
Only one more, if
this lifts today.
She knows you've signed
up for another one?
She never tried to
talk me out of it.
You got a good girl.
If only Brickley didn't have
that crazy rule
against marriage.
As long as he's in command,
we'll have to stick with it.
Mission's been scrubbed.
Fan mail?
This one, gentlemen,
is from a young
lady in Texas...
Blonde hair, big blue eyes,
and an oil well
in her back yard
that pumps out money.
Probably begging for
my hand in marriage.
Don't you know any poor women?
I avoid them.
A teletype came from
General McCready
ordering Brickley
to headquarters.
Smells like Gilbert.
Brick just left.
I have a message, sir.
"New fighter group 604 and 605
"will be assigned to escort
duty with 10th Bomber Wing
when fully operational."
Signed, "Curran."
Oh, hello, Brick.
Have a cigar.
Oh, you don't smoke.
Brick, we don't see
enough of each other.
I've been pretty busy.
Yeah. You've been
flying missions, Brick.
What do you think of
the combat policy?
I'll make the
question official.
I respect General Gilbert.
He's a perfect combat flyer.
His ideas were O.K. A year ago
when we didn't have
enough planes,
but he's out of
date on two counts
since the last five groups
became operational.
Belly tanks?
The target escort having
to hold on to them.
Staff requires full
flying time over target.
We get jumped on the way.
Our planes can't beat
the Germans with tanks.
The boys that find that
out haven't survived.
The second those
fighters jump us,
we should drop those tanks and
knock them out of the air.
They won't be around
tomorrow to give us trouble.
And, uh... what else?
We've enough groups
to send experienced ones
in ahead of each mission.
Smash up the airfields,
pin them down.
Yeah, uh... including
your own group?
Yes, sir.
That's a hard nut
to crack, Brick.
Statistics show
that our losses
are four times greater in
low-altitude operations...
Flak, machine guns,
rifles, pistols.
They even throw pots and pans.
The objective is to get
the most bombers over the
target free of attack.
If you believed in it,
you could persuade staff.
It seems a long time ago
since you fellas came to me
from the Eagle squadron.
It's been a lot
of flying time.
Brick, can you stand a shock?
I've held off as
long as I could.
I want you to give
up your group.
You're my best man.
I wanted to make you a
brigadier a year ago,
but your heart was
set on flying.
Take over a new group...
The 604th.
Make that a crack outfit, too.
I was afraid it
was a desk job.
You'd be no good
behind a desk...
Losing weight,
fighting ulcers,
fighting the Air Depot.
I know what your
group means to you,
and I'm not going
to pull rank.
Will you do it?
If you want it that way, yes.
Good. Now, who do you
recommend to replace you?
Ed Hardin.
Hardin? Ah, I don't know.
Hardin's a lone wolf...
Bad record with
violating orders.
He's a great fighter,
but he's not cut out
for organization.
He's never had responsibility.
You know how I feel
about my group.
He's the best man to see it
through the tough spots.
You've respected my judgment
of men in the past, general.
Kid, if you want it that way,
his orders will come
through this afternoon.
Thanks, Mike.
I beg your pardon, sir.
Great Scott, my pill!
What are you doing up so late?
Waiting for you.
The colonel sent
me on a mission.
There's a guy waiting for you.
Probably the girl's father!
Here I am, governor.
How many you got?
Half a dozen, about
3 years old.
You want the soap
or the cigarettes?
I'll take the cigarettes.
You'd better take the soap.
Get lost.
At ease, Wilbur. Any calls?
Victoria called... The
barmaid from Surrey.
I told her you were wounded.
You're practically a sergeant.
Give me a hand.
This batch ought
to last me a week.
Oh, they're nice.
Where's the other one?
There it is.
I'll save this one
for Saturday.
Aren't you afraid
you'll get caught?
By who? The officers?
When the war is over,
they'll be working for me,
and I got a job for you.
Thank you!
No salary.
I'll give you part
of the business.
Oh, thanks.
They make an awful
lot of noise
when they're fighting.
Or maybe they're hungry.
I got this money clip
from a dame in Chicago.
Now it's full of franc notes.
Why carry French dough?
In case I get knocked down.
He's been carrying the address
of some French dancer.
The most beautiful
French acrobatic dancer
at the Folies Bergere.
She does a dance of
rippling muscles.
If I meet her, you
guys could have
all the women I ever
told you about.
This dame probably
doesn't exist, either.
Jack Cotter at the 85th
was dying when he told me.
He got so excited,
he got well again,
but I already had her address.
What was that address?
I'm no stool pigeon.
I think I'll go show
Millie the village.
Dolan must be drinking alcohol
out of the compasses again.
He's saying Brickley's being
It's true.
Colonel Brickley
wants to see you
in his office, Ed.
This is no good, Brick.
We've been playing ostrich.
Lightning had to
strike sometime.
Who swung it. Gilbert?
No. McCready wants me
to break in the 604th.
That makes army sense...
Wreck the highest-scoring
outfit he's got.
Who else can they get?
You, colonel.
He's out of his mind.
I recommended you.
I thought you knew me better.
There's Hamilton and Duke.
I don't tick that way.
I can run a squadron,
not 48 planes in a rat race.
You could. You
never wanted to.
A cute kid lieutenant
in Honolulu,
you wanted to be a rover boy.
Threw up your commission
and went to China.
Play it high, wide,
and handsome.
Voluntary missions...
Plaster them.
Think of nobody but yourself.
We used to do that in
the Eagle squadron,
but you've made this war
your three-ring circus.
I've taken the rap.
Now pay me back.
This is my outfit.
Give every man a
chance to survive...
Keep them on their toes,
strict rules,
split-second timing.
Will you do it, or will you
keep flying for yourself?
Or can't you take it?
I'll take it.
"Cute kid lieutenant."
Oh, you...
Where's your bag?
She's in Peoria. He
kissed her good-bye.
It isn't every day we
get rid of a colonel.
We want his office!
Ten hut!
At ease, men.
Any man I ever chewed out
while I was C.O. of
this outfit, stand up.
Ha ha ha!
I'm sorry. Good-bye
and good luck.
Pull the rip cord!
Steady on your feet, Ed.
You never saw when I wasn't,
and don't get married!
Transfer from the group first!
Take him away, corporal.
Get them on straight.
Colonel Hardin's going
to be proud of those.
I keep pricking my finger.
That's practice for sewing
on your own stripes,
and you will soon
because I'm punching for you.
Don't eat the coat.
I wasn't going to.
Listen, get busy. Move around.
Don't let him catch you
sitting down all the time.
Yes, sir.
At ease.
Medical report. A-4 on
those major repairs.
Here's your blouse, sir.
Just finished sewing
on the leaves.
Kept sticking my finger.
I'll get you a pretty
Red Cross nurse.
I'd rather have a thimble.
I'd do anything for you.
Find Sergeant Kinsey. I'm getting
complaints from headquarters.
He gets around. He
must be a paratrooper.
Well, find him, sergeant.
Anything else, major?
Colonel, Dolan.
You haven't got the coat on.
Thanks, sergeant.
You're welcome, colonel.
Here's a letter
confirming your command.
This was sent before
Brick asked me.
He knew he could count on you.
Here's a reminder to write
letters of condolence.
Brickley always write
those himself?
Always. He never
could remember
how to spell "courageously."
I won't fit this desk.
Oh, you will, colonel.
Keep them on their toes,
strict rules,
split-second timing.
Tomorrow's mission, colonel.
2000 weather reports clearing.
Berlin. First
strike on Berlin.
We escort over target.
Goering won't have his
Abbeville boys up for this.
Still no permission
to drop tanks.
At least we'll establish
a new high in losses.
When I put the coat on him,
he was happy,
so I told him, "Wilbur
did all the sewing."
Then I put the pressure
on him for your stripes.
Gee! Do you really
think I'll get it?
You stick with me, you
know you'll get it.
Where's that no-marriage sign?
It was there this morning.
It was there this afternoon.
Who took it?
Captain Hamilton... Tonight.
And when I return, you'll
find me a changed man...
A man you will admire,
able to make a four at
the flip of the wrist
to support my lovely bride!
We've been waiting for you.
To the group commander...
Our beautiful big wheel.
Hooray! Hooray!
Now we can really celebrate.
One more mission, then
home to be married.
You'll still be
best man, by proxy.
To Mrs. Hamilton.
Sorry I can't drink to that.
Ha ha! Always a guy for a gag.
This is no gag.
You don't mean that
crazy idea of Brick's.
We followed it
while he was here,
but you're in command.
It isn't crazy. His rules
aimed to save lives.
The outfit is stuck with it?
We're also stuck with the
highest score in the group.
Brick wanted one kind of man
that thought flying, lived
for nothing but flying.
He said that when a man
has a wife and children,
he finds he can't
gamble his life
with split-second
That can make the difference...
one less pilot.
You've broken plenty of rules.
You're alive.
I've broken General
Gilbert's orders
but never one of Brickley's.
You're not Brick.
It's not your rule.
He asked me to take his place,
to see this outfit through.
I'm going to.
Corporal, take that sign
back to the hut.
Yes, sir.
"Transfer from
this group first."
I can do better.
I can get a training
job in the States
with a home and wife and kids.
Yes, you can, Stu.
Many men have gone
home after one tour.
You've put in two.
Until you make that
decision official,
you'll move to
squadron commander.
I'll make that official now.
Then fly your regular position
for your last mission
as my wing man.
Captain Chappell, after
tomorrow's mission,
you'll be squadron commander.
Atkins, take Chappell's place
as flight leader.
You may want to start
logging sack time.
Weather reports clearing.
Tomorrow's mission
will be target cover
on the first
bombing of Berlin.
Wilbur. Hey, Wilbur.
What's the matter?
Throw them a bloater
and shut them up.
Oh, the cats?
We'll run out of fishies.
That's better than
running out of cats.
Let one out first
thing in the morning.
I got to be in Dorset.
I'm in trouble with
Sybil's mother.
She's hard of hearing
and kept tuning in
on our conversation,
so I stole her hearing aid.
There's a beef going
on at the house.
I'll get it back
in the morning.
Say something. See
if I can hear.
What can I say?
Good night.
She didn't hear
anything with this.
All pilots, attention.
Report to briefing room.
Report to briefing room.
All pilots, attention.
Report to briefing room.
All pilots, attention.
Report to briefing room.
Report to briefing room.
What are you doing?
If I have to get
up this early,
ain't no birds going
to be sleeping.
As you were.
Today's job is to fly
target support over Berlin.
They're making a test strike
with 30 B-17s.
When you fly over
the flak emplacements
on the Dutch coast,
have your squadron at
25,000 feet, Harris.
I'll be at 24. Ward,
you'll be at 23.
We'll fly a "V" by squadrons,
low squadron, up sun.
Takeoff time, 0900.
Dutch coast south
of Breskens, 1010.
Rendezvous with the
heavies at Belzig, 1115.
Break escort, 1200.
We've learned that Goering's
moved three groups
of Abbeville boys
to the Spandau and the
Charlottenburg fields.
They'll think this
strike's on Magdeburg
until you make the
rendezvous turn.
Then expect them to put
up everything they have.
Call. General McCready, sir.
The logical area of
interception will be here,
from the south...
Colonel Hardin speaking.
Your first one in command.
Good luck.
Thank you. I didn't
call for that.
I've got a favor to ask.
Brick talked about
dropping those belly tanks
but couldn't prove it.
Now we've got to.
I can't. Staff says
it's not policy.
We'd make it policy if
you'd give us a fighting chance.
Putting me on the spot?
I got to take those
men to Berlin.
They've never done it.
They'll be attacked.
If they can't
drop those tanks,
half of them will
never get there.
It's not only staff.
I'll have Bomber
Command on my neck.
I remember when you had
a tough neck, Mike.
All right, Ed. One mission.
I'll cut a tape on it,
but you'd better
find some Germans.
I'll get a fat one
for you, sir,
and thank you.
Good luck.
Hold it. Hold it.
General McCready just told me
he's sending through an order.
If we're attacked
on this mission,
we're to drop tanks.
He wished us good luck.
That's it.
In nomine patris, et filii,
et spiritus sancti. Amen.
O Almighty God,
the Supreme Governor
of all things,
whose power no creature
can resist. Amen.
[Speaking hebrew]
Looks like I got
the hex on me.
Sergeant Dolan!
What's that doing here?
Here's your friend.
We told you to get rid of it.
I took him 40 miles away
and dropped him
at a fish store.
Take it 50 miles,
but get it off this field.
Take it to London.
Yes, sir! Yes, sir.
What are we waiting for?
This is Yardstick.
We using runway 26?
Haystack to Yardstick.
Takeoff runway 2-6.
Wind from the
west, 10 degrees.
Taxi out when ready.
Over and out.
Hold this till I get back.
When do the fighters and
bombers rendezvous?
Third group to position
between hannover
and magdeburg.
Third fighter group 10
minutes from rendezvous.
Hardin checking R.T. Stu?
Hamilton. Roger.
Chappell. 1, 2, 3, 4.
This is Hardin. German
fighters, 2:00 high.
Drop belly tanks
if they jump us.
[Speaking German]
If we could see their
kissers now. Drop tanks.
[Speaking German]
Hold it, Fritzie.
Papa's got something for you.
That's it.
Heavy, isn't it?
Compliments of
Captain Hamilton.
Let's get 'em!
Right in the gas tanks!
Mein gott! Das schwein!
Hey, fellas, I got me one!
Weaver, look out! 6:00!
He's bouncing you!
Get him off my tail, somebody!
Du schwein!
Weaver, hit the silk!
I'm bailing out.
Chappell, take over.
I wish I had that Paris
blonde's address.
Paulette. 29 Rue de Rivoli.
Happy landing.
This is Hamilton. I'm
following him down.
They're gunning him!
Blue leader, I'm going down.
Take over.
Want to play rough, eh?
Burn, you crumb! Burn!
[Speaking German]
[Speaking German]
[Shouting in German]
Mach schnell!
Come on!
I thought you
wanted to get home!
I do!
[Shouting in German]
Comfy, darling?
You ought to go on a diet.
This will be a rough takeoff.
I hope Dolan can
find that cat.
I'd like to express
my gratitude.
First returning groups
now on Baker Three, sir.
Ha! Open the channel!
Thank you.
"Third fighter group...
"Berlin mission...
39 enemy planes destroyed.
Only one lost."
New record.
Staff will be happy.
Have a copy framed and
sent to Colonel Brickley.
Call it, "when our fighters
dropped their tanks."
No, better still, call it,
"Brickley's tactics."
He'll like that.
Hardin said they'd mop up.
Colonel Hardin seems
to be reforming.
Reformed? Yeah, he's reformed.
Now it's his other
two dizzy renegades,
Hamilton and Chappell.
I'm glad they saved
him, though.
I need that man.
Duncan, those boys are
giving the Air Force
some new fighter tactics.
Belly tanks!
Soon, you'll need
smaller numbers.
Or a bigger blackboard,
or the Germans will
need more planes!
Well, look who's back again!
Hooray! Hooray!
Welcome home!
Dolan, you're a genius!
Lucky cat!
Park this cat on the
parachutes every morning.
How did you find it?
I thought, "Where would
a black cat go?"
I went there.
You took it off the field?
It's the same one?
Smell him.
Who says black
cats aren't lucky?
A new record, the
colonel rescued,
and what did we find out?
Where does Paulette live?
29 Rue de Rivoli!
You shouldn't have told
Hardin over the R.T.
He's got to get to
Paris to call her.
When he does, I'll answer!
Here comes the
blushing bridegroom!
My boy!
You ran the show great
today, Tennessee.
Boys got hot without
those tanks.
I felt lost without
you, though.
From headquarters, sir.
At ease.
A message from headquarters.
"Effective immediately,
group commanders
"will caution pilots
of the obvious danger
"of attempting to
rescue personnel
"by landings on the continent.
"This message
should not minimize
"Captain Hamilton's gallantry
in his rescue.
"Pilots must be impressed
with the dangers involved
"and the overwhelming
odds against success.
"The probability of the loss
"of two aircraft and
pilots rather than one
will be brought forcibly to
each pilot's attention."
Signed, "Gilbert,
Wing Commander."
I thought you'd rate a D.F.C.
For your last mission.
At least I had the pleasure
of breaking Gilbert's pet
rule once.
So long, Duke.
Have fun.
I'll walk out with you.
So long, Stu.
See you, Stu.
Thanks again for
the ride today.
O.K. I'm sorry we
couldn't work this out.
How can we, Stu?
I'm a stubborn guy.
That makes two of us.
Give my best to Ann.
Any message for your father?
Yeah. Tell him I'm just
as tough on my men
as Brickley was.
I'll tell him one of them
had enough tours of Europe
and wanted to get married.
See you in the States.
It's a deal, Stu.
Let's go.
Our loss is 8...
Captains Gallagher and Kover,
Lieutenants Miller,
Dorr, Perry...
Rujesky, Karlen, and Musetti.
Total for March... 147
enemy planes destroyed.
Eight probables, 43 damaged.
The group's made
a fine record.
Two more, you'll be
top-scoring ace.
I'm looking forward to that.
Sanford, I'm going to ask you
to write these letters
to the boys' parents.
I find I'm not Brickley.
Good night.
Good night, colonel.
Stay as sweet as you are.
These shows are
getting rugged.
Funny how you can miss
one crummy pair of boots.
Yeah. Ah, the lucky dog.
What it must feel
like being home.
Wake up with a lovely wife,
nothing to do but relax.
I'd be a fat slob in a week.
Colonel, sir.
Come on in.
I'm Lieutenant Kirk.
A replacement from OTU.
You know Captain Chappell
and Lieutenant Atkins?
Captain. Lieutenant.
Would you answer
a question, sir?
About the girl
you left behind?
No, about flying.
You'd better ask the colonel.
Sit down.
Thank you.
When you're trying for
a deflection shot,
you don't watch
the enemy plane.
What you watch?
I watch his exhaust for smoke.
Cutting his engine
telegraphs his next move.
Then I put on my brakes.
If you do overshoot,
don't be brave.
Look for an empty hunk of sky.
Yes, sir.
Nervous about tomorrow?
I'm scared.
We all get it every day.
Maybe I'll get used to it.
Tomorrow, you'll fly my wing.
A wing man protects
his partner.
You'll do better
than you think.
That's an order.
Yes, sir.
Get some sack time.
Thank you.
Good night.
Were you ever that young?
I was born an old man.
There's your new ship, sir.
Remind me to thank
the taxpayers.
What's he doing?
He was out here before sunup.
He's checked everything
but the paint job.
Like a kid with a new toy.
He'll be all right.
Hurry up. You're
holding up the war.
Thanks for everything
if I don't come back.
This outfit don't
think that way.
I'll be waiting
to put lots of swastikas on
when you get back.
There might be a Jerry
with the same idea.
Forget it!
I've been thinking over
a new fighter tactic,
a low-level mission.
Go in ahead of the bombers
and plaster the airfields.
Get the Jerry planes
on the ground.
Keep them from attacking
our bomber formations.
I talked it over with Ed,
and he suggested...
You mean Colonel Hardin?
Ed felt it would be a
tactical advantage
to go down on the deck,
catch them napping.
You know my feeling about
low-level missions.
We have higher losses and fewer
fighters for bomber support.
We've got more planes now.
We should take advantage
of tactical surprise.
They won't expect a
wave of fighters
ahead of the bombers.
I would like to prepare
some facts and figures
to substantiate my opinion
on this type of operation.
No, no, no. This war
is moving too fast.
We've got to listen
to the new tactics
of our younger officers.
Hardin is very
keen about this.
I'm 99% sold on it myself.
I'll think the matter
over and let you know.
That's all, Gil. Thanks.
Haystack to Yardstick.
Yardstick to Haystack.
Go ahead.
Use runway three. Wind
velocity, 10 miles.
Well! Looks like they got
a piece of your tail.
Yes, they did, sir.
They shot Lieutenant
Fox's wing off.
I saw you knock down
that 109, Shorty.
You nailed him beautifully.
I think I'm going to be sick.
Sarge, give him a
blast of oxygen.
You guys give him a hand.
He's got a Messerschmitt
that's confirmed by me.
Put it on there.
Yes, sir.
Yep. It's all yours.
Four more, you'll be an ace.
Can't they make it bigger?
17 more, you'll be even
with Colonel Hardin.
I'm going to be sick again.
Some more oxygen?
Yes, sir.
Shorty, better drink
to your victory.
I'd like root beer.
A little warm beer
won't hurt you.
We'll make a man
out of you yet.
Come on around here, men.
This is something we've waited
a long time to hear.
You noticed those new German
squadron markings today.
Our target and
withdrawal escorts
ran into the rest of them,
plus the old ones.
202 over target,
244 on withdrawal.
We lost 59 bombers.
Intelligence reports new
German fighter concentrations
at Flagerstadt and Grisha
airfields outside Berlin.
Tomorrow morning, we're
going in at 30,000 feet
an hour ahead of those bombers
and giving the fields
a good going-over.
The 18,000-foot rule is off.
Now we can go down and see
whether they're
blondes or brunettes!
Let's give it to him!
Oh, General Gilbert
Oh, General Gilbert
We're leaving you high
and dry to hit the deck
General Gilbert's in the pan.
Such disrespect!
Honeymoon too tough?
He saw his mother-in-law.
Where did you go?
Niagara Falls.
You take your wife?
Stu! Did you see my old man?
You owe him 80 bucks.
What brings you back?
That training school.
That's not hard to take.
The honeymoon is over.
I never put through
those transfer papers.
I got back just in time.
Got room for me in that
rat race tomorrow?
We'll need every old
hand we've got.
How about a drink?
Let's drink to tomorrow!
Ah, the boots.
Things look normal.
Sack it up. We're
cutting grass tomorrow.
Good night, fellows.
Good night.
Thanks for saving it
until we got up here.
You married, Stu?
Aren't you going to
congratulate me?
Yes, I do. You both
deserve happiness.
We have it.
But you signed up
for another tour.
Yeah. She... she understood.
I couldn't stay out.
Tomorrow, I need
your written request
for transfer to another group.
You wouldn't make
me go through that.
You left me no choice.
I could have lied to you.
You're not the type.
I left my wife, my marriage,
a chance for a home.
Came back.
Isn't that proof
of my loyalty?
There are over 100 loyal
men in this group.
But I told you...
If Brick was still in command,
would you have
done this to him?
O.K., Ed.
I'll have it on your
desk in the morning.
What about tomorrow's mission?
Will you give me that break?
I can't do it.
I've flown your wing
a lot of years.
Been waiting a long time
for this order
to hit the deck.
It isn't much to ask.
All right, Stu.
Let's take this out
on the Germans.
I got some shoe-shining to do.
[Speaking German]
All right, Stu. You wanted it.
I'm right behind you.
Time for the jackpot.
Good luck.
[Shouting in German]
Berlin! Berlin! Flagerstadt!
There they are,
like sitting ducks.
[Man shouting in German]
Stu! That flak tower...
Let's get it.
Pardon me, boys. Here comes
the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.
I've been working
on the railroad
[Speaking German]
[Speaking German]
[Speaking German]
Stu! Bail out, Stu!
Canopy's jammed.
Get your back on it.
No dice, Ed.
You and Brick were right.
I thought about Ann.
Sorry to keep you waiting.
I had expected to find
you in your office.
But then, there were several
things I had expected of you.
What was that, sir?
I had expected that you knew
enough of army procedure.
Everything presented
to the higher echelon
must go through channels.
I'm well aware of
that, general.
You didn't seem to be
when you went to
General McCready
about dropping belly tanks.
There was no time, sir.
I'll remind you that I am
your immediate superior
in this fighter wing.
In the future, everything
you say to headquarters
will be sent through me.
Do I make myself clear?
Yes, sir.
You've been very successful
in furthering your own ideas.
First, the dropping
of the belly tanks,
and now, low-level missions.
That order came
from staff, sir.
Yesterday, following
out your tactics,
you became the
top-ranking ace.
22 victories.
Very commendable.
But it also caused the
death of Captain Hamilton.
Now perhaps you can understand
why I've always opposed
low-level missions.
The loss ratio is always
four times higher.
"Stay with the bombers."
"Keep the belly tanks."
Stupid slogans made up
while you were
flying your desks.
You ought to be up there,
have someone banging
at your tail.
How would your rules hold?
You'd leave the bombers
and drop the tanks.
Maybe you'd get some sense
through your paperwork heads.
We're up to here with
channels and red tape!
Get out of here!
Are you aware of
what you're saying?
Get out.
You're a case of combat
fatigue, Hardin.
What about those stripes?
You'll get them.
You promised them
for my birthday.
That's when you'll get them.
But my birthday was last week.
Why didn't you tell me?
Why didn't you write it down?
Sir, I know when it is.
Keep me posted
on the next one.
Go clean up the bar.
I've got to see
General McCready.
You look worried, sir.
There's trouble.
General Gilbert?
I really did it this time.
Wish me luck, Dolan.
Sergeant! Your picture
is in the magazine.
Everyone is talking about it.
I got scrapbooks loaded
with these things.
I'll take this one, though.
Where is Sweeney?
He's in intelligence
interviewing women.
That's my racket.
I'll give him a hand.
I'm sorry about
Hamilton's death.
I'll miss him, too,
almost as much as you.
I know, sir.
I can't lose any more of you.
Big things are coming up.
I need old hands here
at headquarters,
the old gang from
the Eagle squadron.
Brick's reporting tomorrow.
I want you to
come up with him.
Did General Gilbert
put me on report?
Combat fatigue?
No. He told me about
it, said he was sorry.
He said he'd been wrong.
But you believe it.
No. I've begun to think
that my tactics are wrong.
I've always hated pulling
men out of the sky
and putting them behind desks.
But it's what I
should have done.
Hamilton's death
proved that to me.
When can you report?
I'd like to finish this tour.
How many more missions?
You let Hamilton
go just one more.
I'd have asked for
the same thing.
I am now.
I've watched those
bomber concentrations
over Normandy the
last few weeks.
I've flown a long time
waiting for D-Day.
I want to do some
paying off for Stu.
I could order you to
report to headquarters.
I suppose you'd obey orders.
Yes, sir,
but these oak leaves
are temporary.
I request to be reduced
to my permanent
rank of captain
so I could keep on flying.
All right, Ed.
Go on back to your group.
Thank you, sir.
But when your tour is
over, you report here!
Yes, sir.
What's going on out there?
Quiet! Quiet, please!
What in blazes is
going on here?
Look at this picture.
That is Sergeant Kinsey.
Quiet, please!
So you are Sergeant
Kinsey, eh?
Ladies, I promise this
man will be punished.
What about my daughter's cat?
I didn't take Sybil's cat.
I didn't take Sybil's cat.
Over. Roger.
Roger? He was at
our house, too.
Quiet, please, ladies.
Kinsey, consider
yourself under arrest.
Take this character
out of here.
It was the best
cat we ever had.
Sometimes I wish I
was a sergeant.
If I was a general, this
wouldn't have happened.
Black cats are
always bad luck.
No. Once, riding with
my mother-in-law,
a black cat ran in
front of the car.
I hit the brakes... Boing!
She hasn't talked to me since.
That's good luck.
This way, sir.
Am I getting out, sir?
In time, I imagine you will.
We were cleaning up your
room and found these.
I think you've been dealing
in the black market.
Enjoy them, Dolan.
Major, General McCready
is on the phone.
I came to thank you, Dolan.
You said I'd get it.
I got it.
It's no good. The
cat racket is dead.
Yes, sir.
Take one of those cats
to Sybil's mother.
Yes, sir.
Soldier, hand me a tame one.
Yes, sir.
You don't have to salute
me when you're in jail.
Get busy. Keep moving around.
Don't let them catch
you standing still.
Come on, pussy. We're
going to town.
My congressman will
hear about this.
Is this it?
I hope so.
My flying time is running out.
Get everybody into
the briefing room.
Yes, sir.
All leave is canceled.
All pilots on leave
are recalled at once.
All personnel will
wear sidearms.
All guards doubled.
No one leaves or
enters the field.
There is to be no communication
with the outside.
Strict radio silence
will be maintained.
All planes will be fully armed
with .50 caliber and rockets.
"A" squadron will be
armed with napalm bombs,
"B" squadron with
fragmentative 260s,
"C" squadron, first
section, with frag 500s,
second section, with
phosphorus 500s.
All planes will be
ready for takeoff
at 0300 tomorrow.
Is this the big show?
Could be. Let's go.
"Dear Ann,
"your letter has given me the
courage to write about Stu.
"I followed him down.
"The last thing he
said on the R.T.
Was that he was
thinking of you."
Your move.
Jacobs, don't flip your lid.
Don't tell me
he's going with us.
We're going to need everything
we've got in the air.
Black Leader, Black Leader.
Hello, Black Leader.
It works.
No word.
Clear as a bell.
We used to hull corn at
night back in Tennessee.
I didn't hull corn, but it
was a night just like this.
Southeast, southeast.
Shallow's here.
Naval bombardment
ranging beachhead now.
Division 14, Division 14.
Landing craft still
1/4 mile off Omaha...
Radio silence broken at 0611.
They're hitting the beaches.
It's the invasion. D-Day, sir.
No Fritzes up here today.
Take a look. The
invasion's really on.
Look at that beach.
Looks like Coney
Island on Sunday.
Cobra Leader, Cobra Leader.
Beagle ground control calling.
Cobra Leader to Beagle.
Go ahead.
We're on Omaha Beach. We'll
control you from here.
Attack Beauville. The
village Beauville.
L-24 your map.
Infantry in houses.
Tiger tanks. Two block houses
above village to east.
Try to knock them out.
Holding up our troops at
the head of this valley.
Cobra Leader. L-24
on block houses.
[Speaking German]
Beagle to Cobra Leader.
Correction, correction.
Take sector 17 10 miles
behind coastline.
Patrol St. Clair
and Alencon road.
Cobra leader to Beagle.
You're a different voice.
The other operator was wounded.
I have taken over.
What do they call the
Brooklyn Dodgers?
What? I don't understand you.
I'll say you don't. Hey, Duke!
They ought to know
about Ebbets Field.
Village ahead. Arm your bombs.
Plaster it.
Block houses dead ahead.
Right behind you, Ed.
Double bull's-eye!
Not bad bombing, huh?
Let's get those Tiger
Tanks on the road.
Where are you going, junior?
Cobra Leader to Beagle,
Cobra Leader to Beagle.
Plug it in, sergeant.
O.K., Cobra. You did it.
A hot job, baby.
Our troops are moving up.
Fly sector five now,
1-3 miles behind beach.
Attack all reinforcements
they're bringing up...
Railroads, troops,
road convoy.
Sector five, 1-3 miles. Roger.
Cobra Leader to squadrons.
Select your targets,
and let's go.
I see something hidden
in those trees,
and it's no picnic ground.
A man could get
his tail burned.
Hey, fellows. A gas station!
Fill 'er up!
By the rocket's red glare
Have one on me!
Don't report for
work tomorrow.
Hey, this flak is
getting rough.
Colonel Hardin!
Cobra Leader! Colonel Hardin!
He's going down. Flak hit him.
Ed! Ed, answer!
It was flak. No German
plane would get him.
You didn't see him crash.
No. I never got another look.
None of us.
Was his plane spinning?
No, sir. Just heading down.
Slow spiral.
He's alive.
I gave him Paulette's address
in Paris...
29 Rue de Rivoli.
He'll get there.
Sir, your temporary orders
putting you in command
of the group.
And these are my orders.
Fly low, strike hard,
and blast a hole for those
ground boys to get through.
I got to be in Paris
before Hardin.
What are we waiting for?
And so the brilliant page
of history was written,
thanks to the Mike McCreadys,
to the inspiration of
the Bill Brickleys,
to the laughter of
the Duke Chappells,
to the eagerness of
the Shorty Kirks,
to the youth of the
Tennessee Atkins,
to the loyalty of the
Stuart Hamiltons,
and to the courage
and the daring
of the Ed Hardins,
who streaked across the skies
to make possible
the victory below.