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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2017 10:38 a.m. PST

…Documentary about a WW2 Fighter Aircraft. But the Air Force Refused to Release It.

"Most if not all veterans and students of the Second World War know of and praise two related films; the documentary Memphis Belle, the saga of a B-17 bomber and its crew that completed twenty-five combat sorties in the European conflict, the subject of a recent HNN article. Also, the post-war Hollywood drama, The Best Years of Their Lives, the story of veterans coming home. Both films were the creation of the director William Wyler. Not widely known is that Major Wyler, at the request of the Army Air Forces (AAF) also produced Thunderbolt, a documentary of a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter unit during actual combat missions. When completed, however, Thunderbolt was rejected by the AAF Commanding General, Harold "Hap" Arnold, who demanded to know "what's this picture for" and failed to receive an acceptable response. Therein lies an interesting story.

William Wyler, along with four other leading Hollywood directors, went on active duty with the U.S. Military to visually present the conflict as both propaganda and recorded history. Their story is available in Five Came Back: A Story Of Hollywood and the Second World War, by Mark Harris. The other four directors were John Ford, George Stevens, John Huston, and Frank Capra.

A month after the Memphis Belle opened for public viewing Wyler flew to Italy "to begin preparations for his next assignment by the AAF, a documentary, a short [film] about the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter." It was to be completed "as soon as possible." It was an assignment, made almost casually, that would permanently alter the course of Wyler's life and career."…"
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