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World War 2 Behind the Scenes V4
Behind the Scenes in World War 2 - Vol 4. News & Information films seen only by U.S. Armed Services personnel
World War 2 Behind the Scenes Volume 4
Behind the Scenes in World War 2 - Vol 4.

Crack that Tank!
Photography Fights
Kill or be Killed

Suspended Runway
Building a Tank
Road Expedients
Medical Services in the Invasion of Normandy
D-Day & Normandy Campaign Situation Maps
Movies at War

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Description Our DVD Specs

More than two hours of unique films!
* Crack that Tank!

(1943,B&W,14:00) Part of the Army's "Fighting Men" series shown only to troops. Tanks were justifiably feared by the infantry. In this nuts & bolts training film, an experienced "tanker" gives troopers the inside dope on what they need to know to take them on, including digging in for protection and camouflaging your position, what parts of a tank are most vulnerable, how to "blind" a tank, how to force tanks to "button up," using the right weapons including anti tank guns, rifle grenades and even Molotov cocktails -- and a lot more. Supplemented with numerous examples shot in the field and captured German film of armored attacks.
* Photography Fights
(1943,B&W,14:00) This is a dramatic recreation of actual events. A small group of U.S. Navy aerial photography analysts labor away in a steaming bunker at an obscure Pacific island airbase during the battle for Guadalcanal, combing over air reconnaissance photos developed by a dour, pop song singing seamen in their little lab. They use magnifying "gizmos" to view the pictures, hoping to find new evidence of Japanese activity. Their position is bombed regularly by the enemy, sometimes with fatal results. The tale is told in a deadpan style, chocked full of period lingo. They work closely with a laid-back F4F-7 Wildcat recon pilot who flies their missions. "As usual," not much out of the ordinary happens. That is until an anomaly is detected in a photo taken of a spot in the jungle at Munda on the Japanese held Island of New Georgia, within striking distance of Guadalcanal. Careful analysis reveals likely airfield construction under camouflage. Heavy American airstrikes are launched to hit it.
In actual fact, the Japanese were using palm trees suspended from cables on Munda to hide construction activities. The airbase was eventually completed, but its effectiveness was severely hindered by early detection and continuous airstrikes until it was overrun later in the War by Allied forces.
* Kill or Be Killed
(1943, B&W,10:00) ) Another training film in the Army's "Fighting Men" series shown only to the troops. Americans are brought up with the ideal of "fair play" in sports competition. The goal of this film is to bluntly drive home the reality that "fair play" can get you killed in a hurry on a battlefield. The idea is to kill the enemy first, without putting yourself in unnecessary danger. (Just because an enemy is sprawled out like a corpse, don't walk up to him nonchalantly without a weapon at the ready.) The emphasis here is on one on one encounters, including hand to hand combat, using any means necessary, with a weapon that will be most appropriate for that situation. When to use a rifle instead of a pistol. How to pursue a fleeing enemy soldier. Using sawed off shot guns, bludgeons, brass knuckles, trench knives and a kick in the privates for close combat. This film is purposely designed to shock trainees out of complacency and into a "kill or be killed" mindset.
* Suspended Runway
(1944, B&W 23:00) This amazing 'How To" documentary is from the top secret World War 2 archives of the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) the forerunner of the C.I.A. It could be right out of a James Bond film. In essence, you'll learn how to quickly construct a "Suspended Runway" capable of landing, raising and lowering and launching light aircraft in the jungle, above the undergrowth. Using an elevated 500 foot cable & harness suspended between support masts, you can pu up a suspended runway in where a conventional runway can't be built. All you'll need is a nine man crew and an equipment parts bundle that can be brought in by a 5 ton truck or air dropped to remote locations. This ingenious system was invented and perfected by U.S .Army Lt James Brodie. You'll see every step in the the installation of a suspended runway in the field by G.I.s using ropes and block and tackle without any power tools. You'll see a real launching and retrieving a Taylorcraft L2B "Grasshopper "observation plane. This film is a gear heads delight, in the tradition of "Field Assembly of a P-47 Thunderbolt."
* Building a Tank
(1941, B&W 20;00) You'll get a behind the scenes look in a defense building the complex M3 Lee medium tank. The Lee was the Army's first mass produced World War 2 battle tank, as seen in the Humphrey Bogart Hollywood classic "Sahara." It featured a turret mounted 37mm quick firing antitank gun and a hull mounted 75mm gun. It was exported in large numbers to Britain, Commonwealth countries and the Soviet Union as the "Grant,"with several British mandated modifications. It first saw combat in North Africa in 1942 where it was more than a match for contemporary Axis tanks like the Panzer III and proved very reliable with its air cooled aircraft engine. When large numbers of M4 Shermans became available in 1943 and the Germans introduced their powerful Panther & Tiger tanks, the M3 was withdrawn from Europe, but continued in service a little longer in the Pacific & with the Indian Army.
Inside the newly constructed Detroit Tank Arsenal, you'll see all aspects of M3 production using 10,000 workers. One of the under appreciated aspects of the process was the design and production of over 4,000 precision machine tools needed to manufacture and assemble all elements of the Lee, all of which had to be in place with trained workers before a single tank could roll off the assembly line.
* Road Expedients
(1943, B&W, 21:00) Like our popular video "Tank Expedients," this is another film in a series used to train troops on quick & dirty solutions for problems in encountered in the field of battle: aka "Expedients." In this case, for building roads in a wide variety of terrains and climates, using material and equipment available on the spot. Among the many examples shown on location are elevated wood plank roads, corduroy roads using tree trunks, different solutions for jungles and deserts, re-purposing airfield landing mats for roads in marshes and using chicken wire to bind material in the desert. Inventive solutions for a wide variety of challenges!
* Medical Service in the Invasion of Normandy
(1944,B&W,15;00) Most documentaries on "D-Day" focus on the logistics that went into military aspects of the combined amphibious & airborne assaults. This fascinating "Restricted" documentary gives a behind the scenes look into the complex planning and execution that went into providing rapid and effective medical services for wounded servicemen & women, saving thousands of lives. In the U.K. a series of purpose built facilities were built to handle incoming casualties: Holding Hospitals with Emergency ERs on the Southern Coast of England, Transit Hospitals a bit inland for intermediate treatment and routing, and General Hospitals in the midlands and North for extended care. There's are never before seen footage of soldiers being treated by medics on the beach on D-Day before being evacuated on specially modified LSTs the had fully equipped ER that could treat 200 patients on the way across the channel. By D-Day plus four, fully staffed Evacuation Hospitals were set up in Normandy, with Triage Units close to the front line. Within a week, aircraft were taking the seriously wounded to England for immediate treatment. But at the heart of the story are doctors, nurses and Medical Corpsman saving lives, often risking their own, under very adverse conditions.
* D-Day & Normandy Campaign Daily Situation Maps: 12th Army Group Headquarters, June 6 though August 25, 1944.
(1944 -Color Maps - 7:00) From the U.S. National Archives. This remarkable series of Top Secret "situation maps," shown in slow motion time lapse, are the actual ones used by Allied 12th Army Group Headquarters to show the position of Allied and German military units in the Normandy Invasion area from D-Day June 6 through the "Breakout" across Northern France through August 25th, 1944. Standard military unit symbols are used as necessary from Battalion through Army Group HQs. The "Front Lines" are clearly shown. This gives a unique perspective on the course of events. Advances, followed by stalemates, build ups, and then advances in other areas, until front lines are blurred in the rapid dash across France to Paris & beyond.
*Movies at War
(1944, B&W, 10;00) When I talk to World War 2 vets, often some of their fondest memories come from watching movies in the field during a "break in the action," in tiny ad hoc theaters. But the role of "movies" for American forces goes far beyond entertainment, which is what this short documentary is all about. All of the training films shown on our web site were produced as part of the "War Effort," both by Armed Forces Film Production Units around the world and at dedicated production studios in Hollywood. The Academy Award winning 'Why We Fight"' series was produced to educate the American public on the root causes of the War. More than a thousand training films were shot, to be viewed by millions of troops. (Most of them, unfortunately, have been lost or destroyed.) And these films were not only seen by American troops, they were distributed to our Allies and dubbed into numerous languages, including Chinese, as you'll see in this film. Some of the highlights of the film are scenes of servicemen & women watching movies around the world, from relatively fancy wooden theaters like the wooden one built on Bougainville to projecting movies on bed sheets, watched under pouring rain by troops huddled in ponchos.

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