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World War 2 Behind the Scenes V7
Behind the Scenes in World War 2 - Vol 7. News & Information films seen only by U.S. Armed Services personnel
World War 2 Behind the Scenes Volume 7

Behind the Scenes in World War 2 - Vol 7
*354th Fighter Group D-Day Pilot Interviews
*Ramrod to Emden Special Annotated Edition
*"Fighter Kills" Gun Camera Action
*B-26 Missions to France 1944

*Bombing Missions Against the Japanese
in the Pacific & Burma 1943-44

*Aerial Photography: Processing the Film
* "Welcome Home" World War 2 Veter

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Description Our DVD Specs

Behind the Scenes in World War 2 Volume 7

* 354th Fighter Group D-Day Pilot Interviews June 7th 1944 (12:00)

The 354th, known as the “Pioneer Mustang Group,” was the first unit to fly P-51 Mustangs fighters in combat in Europe, starting on December 17, 1943. The Group, part of the Ninth Air Force, was comprised of three Fighter Squadrons: the 353rd, 355th & 356th. On the night of June 6th, 1944 as part of D-Day invasion operations their mission was to escort Douglas C-47s towing gliders full of paratroopers to be launched over the Cherbourg Peninsula in Normandy. They had no previous experience with night escorts and - as you'll see - something they weren't very happy about doing.
After successfully completing that mission they returned to their base at Boxted Airdrome, Essexshire, England refueled & took off very early on June 7th to fly combat air patrol over the D-Day landing beaches, encountering no opposition. They didn't see any enemy fighters, but give colorful account of what they saw on the landing beaches.
This film has interviews with 354 F.G. pilots conducted immediately after their return to base after the morning mission, still wearing flight gear. You'll see & hear 354th F.G. CO Col. George R. Bicknel, and Squadron leaders Maj. Jack T. Bradley (353rd), Capt. Robert W. Stephens (355th) and Maj Richard E. Turner (356th), along with some of the Groups most experienced pilots giving their accounts. Most of them aren't formally identified, but we were able to name them using archival photos.

It was rare during World War 2 to do on the scene, live sound recording. Unfortunately, there's a lot of background noise & “hum" on the audio track, which is probably why the film was never released. (This is raw, unedited footage.) But fortunately for us, we were able to virtually eliminate all that noise using state of art digital processing. So, we're very lucky this unique film survived!

* “Ramrod to Emden – The Thunderbolts” Special Restored and Annotated Edition. (33:00)
This classic documentary film shows the legendary 56th Fighter Group P-47s on a bomber escort mission to Emden, Holland, in October , 1943, from early morning briefing, through action packed fighter opposition over target to touch down and debriefing.

That alone makes it worth seeing - but something has always been lacking.
Probably due to war time censorship, out of all the pilots and personnel shown, only fighter Ace Francis “Gabby” Gabreski, then CO of the Group's 65th Fighter Squadron, is identified by name.

For the first time anywhere, using surviving archival photos taken at the time as a reference, we've been able to put names to many faces, including 56
FG CO Hubert “Hub” Zemke and legendary aces like Major Dave Schilling, Captain Walker “Bud” Mahurin, Major Gerald “Jerry” Johnson and many more. And using aircraft databases, we've been able to match plane unit I.Ds with the pilots inside. So when you see P-47D “UN-B” taxi by ready for takeoff, we've identified it as “Bat Outta Hell,” flown by 1st Lt Gordon E Batdorf, 63 F.S. and superimposed a wartime picture of him in the corner of the screen.
One of our long term missions has been to identify and thereby pay tribute to the previously anonymous men & women shown in these films and preserve their individual contributions for the historical record. Very satisfying work.

And last but not least, we've done a scene by scene digital restoration of the video and audio, made from the best archival copy of the film available. Again, you won't see this quality anywhere else!

* “Fighter Kills” Gun Camera Film, Europe, January to December 1944 (34:00)
“Fighter Kills” is a series of gun camera film compilations of air to air and air & to ground fighter attacks produced by Army Air Force Combat Camera Units (AAFCCUs) and distributed to serving personnel as news, instruction and motivation. You'll see shoot downs of Me 109s, 110s & 210s, Fw 190s, Ju 88s, an FW 200 transport and more. Highlights include taking down an Me 163 “Komet” Rocket Plane and numerous shots of attacks on Me 262 “Schwalbe” jet fighters, accompanied by a description of their known capabilities and tactics to use against them.

Air to ground attacks include “locomotive busting,” strafing rail yards, bridges, airfields with parked planes, truck convoys, tanks and more. Another highlight is a series of dramatic A-36 “Apache” (dive bomber version of the P-51) attacks in central and northern Italy. Very high quality footage. Over half an hour of non stop action!

* USAAF Bombing Missions Against the Japanese in the Pacific & Burma, August 1943-July 1944 (28:00)

Newsreels shot by 5th, 6th, 10th & 13th Army Air Force Combat Camera Units.
The opening film shows a series of attacks by A-20s, B-24s and B-25s, escorted by P-38s on Japanese shipping North of New Guinea and the harbors at Wewak & Hansa Bay. Highlights include very low level attacks by A-20s and B-25s with in cockpit views. The sound track from part of this sequence has been lost, but I was able to add appropriate special effects & supplementary graphics for a very realistic recreation.

This is followed by a series of high quality newsreels showing B-24 & B-25 attacks on Rabaul, Rangoon & numerous other targets in Burma, Nauru in the Gilberts by B-24s based at Guadalcanal, and more B-24 missions targeting Pacific islands including Wotje, the Woleai Group and Wake Island. Includes footage showing USAAF bases & personnel, in the air action including fighter attacks and overhead views of “bombs away.”

* Martin B-26 Operations in France 1944 (18:00)

Three films:

  • Double Header Marauder Operations 4th AAFCCU documentary footage shows round the clock B-26 tactical missions in the spring of 1944 leading up to D-Day. You'll see base operations as well as in the air footage of Marauders attacking a wide variety of targets including supply depots, airfields & more.

  • French Rail Lines Bombed focuses on a mission to hit the important rail yards at Dreux, South West of Paris, on June 12 to hinder the Germans ability to bring reinforcement to Normandy shortly after D-Day

  • Interdiction was filmed after the Allies had swept across Northern France to show how precision bombing missions had destroyed key bridges across the Seine & Loire Rivers to further hinder the flow of men, weapons and supplies to the front lines in Normandy. A very detailed bomb damage report.

*Aerial Photography: Processing the Film 1941 (17:00)
Ever wonder how they processed the huge sheets of film (up to 9 inches wide) shot by reconnaissance planes like the Lockheed F5 during World War 2? Well this film, a gear head's delight, shows how they did it, step by step from the moment the massive camera is taken off the aircraft through the finished product – all done using specialized equipment and without a darkroom. And as an added bonus, you'll see how the developed prints, shot simultaneously from different angles, were pieced together into a tabletop sized “mosaic” for analysis and planning. A true “behind the scenes” look at World War 2 Tech.

Welcome Home” for returning World War 2 Veterans – 1945 (20:00)

If there's any suspicion that returning soldiers are not fit for civilization, I can only say it's an indictment of our civilization.

This dramatic film was produced to prepare the American people for the return of millions of service men and women from overseas duty at the end of World War 2. But as you'll see, it's message is timeless and applies to every conflict before and since. War changes people. This film operates on several levels to show its effects and lessons to be learned from the experience. It's has a no holds barred sweeping montage of combat scenes from the steaming jungles in the Pacific to the frozen forests of Northern Europe, including the loss of beloved comrades and self sacrifice to show the folks back home a glimpse of what they endured. The film addresses the real fears that civilians had that returning vets had become hardened into emotionless killing machines. Or that they would be changed beyond recognition. But to the contrary, it shows the what vets wanted most was a return to the lives they had before the War and get away as far a possible from it's horrors. That meant getting real jobs, not handouts. It emphasizes the positive skills learned – everything from leadership, tolerance and teamwork to advanced mechanics, drafting, inventory control, supply & distribution, cooking, medical aid, pipe laying & fitting, road construction & much more. Yes, they had changed, but they were the same people at heart and should be “welcomed home” with understanding and open arms.

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