• Short Summary

    Documentary tracing the role of the Royal Air Force in wartime.

  • Description

    Retrospective documentary about the use of aircraft in wartime.

    01:09:46 Aerial shots of cloudscapes. Lyrical voiceover about how until recent times the skies had no role to play in the world of men. "The sky had nothing to do with history." But then "the sky became an arena". Winston Churchill's speech on the soundtrack "Never in the field of human conflict..."

    01:10:45 Retrospective montage about the development of aircraft. "Britain was an island no longer." Narration details the development of two special companies of the Royal Engineers - one with airships the other with aircraft. In 1912 The Royal Flying Corps was created - various shots of Air Force personnel and their aircraft (possibly Sopwith Camels?) Montage of shots of men attaching bombs to the bottom of aircraft. A door with the words: "WRAF - Women only" painted upon it is opened and a woman walks out. Interior of the wooden building - a long table with women seated on either side having a meal Exterior - two shots of women working on aircraft manufacture.

    01:11:43 "Soldiers of the air" leave their quarters and walk towards the camera. A man is helped into his flying coat. He smiles and shakes hands with his dresser. The Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force in 1918. A biplane takes off and flies through the sky. Air to air shots of biplanes in flight. Rousing music on the soundtrack. Planes fly in formation.

    01:12:36 Second World War. High angle shot of London. Churchill stands with RAF (Royal Air Force) personnel. White Cliffs of Dover. RAF scramble and planes take off. Montage of Battle of Britain footage. Plane in flight, shots being fired, planes being hit, Spitfires, Hurricanes, air to air shots of combat. "The heart of a plane is its engine, but the pilot is its soul." Aerial shot of the blitz - buildings on fire. Various classical images of London bomb damage, buildings on fire, nurses being helped across rubble, firemen fighting blazes with hoses etc.

    01:13:52 Low angle shot of RAF (Royal Air Force) Halifax, Stirling, Lancaster bomber aircraft taking off. Aerial shot of bomb blasts on the ground at night. Air to air shots of planes in flight, bombs being dropped, explosions on the ground, etc.

    01:14:55 Radar equipment is shown and described. The inventor of radar - Robert Watson Watt - is mentioned. Good shots of women in a wartime operations room plotting aircraft courses by pushing markers on a flat map. C/U of the map and markers. Various shots of men on telephones giving the women their instructions.

    01:15:20 617 Squadron led by Gibson trained with special bombs for raids on dams supplying the Ruhr. We see the Squadron receiving a visit from King George VI. "The famous names began to emerge..." shots of two unnamed RAF personnel. Raid on a jail led by Pickard (?) enabling French resistance workers to escape is discussed. Aircraft fly over the sea. Aerial shot of a snow covered landscape with a smoking building below - the aforementioned jail? C/U of General Dwight Eisenhower in military dress in discussion with colleagues in war operations room. Aerial shots of earthquake bombs. Buildings and aircraft on the ground destroyed. Air to air shot of an aircraft being hit and exploding. Explosions, bombs, smoke etc.

    01:16:41 Aerial shot of large numbers of gliders lined up on an airfield. Various shots of gliders being towed. Arnhem "tragedy and glory". Huge number of parachutists drop down from the sky. Shots of the parachutists landing. Heroes of the sky are mentioned and shown: Harris of Bomber Command, Douglas of Fighter Command, Bader "tin legs and iron courage", Nicholson, Sergeant Hannah, Sergeant Waugh (?), Squadron Leader Finolkey (sp?), Nettleton.

    01:18:08 Whittle pioneered the jet engine. Shot of Frank Whittle at some kind of awards ceremony. "Suddenly pistons were old fashioned but not pilots." Section follows about record breaking air speed attempts. Meteor - RAF's first operational jet fighter. The Canberra - holder of 18 world records, we see the plane taking off and in flight. It can fly from England to America and back in one day! Various shots of the plane and an airport control tower. Fairy Delta 2 seen taking off and in flight. Holds the official world speed record. Shots of observers timing the flight, radio operator, Fairy Delta in flight.

    01:19:32 "This is the fantastic progress of 39 years." Ready for action now and in the future. Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip are driven past aircraft in an inspection. We then see the royal visitors boarding a Royal Air Force Transport Command aeroplane (could be a Comet).

    Narration written by Paul Jennings. Spoken by Jack Hawkins. Made for Colombia Pictures.

    Note: patriotic and majestic voiceover about the aims and achievements of men of the air.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    British Pathé
    Issue Date:
    1910 - 1949
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Black & White
    Time in/Out:
    01:09:46:00 / 01:20:42:00

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