The Thousand Plane Raid

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The Thousand Plane Raid
The Thousand Plane Raid - 1969 - Poster.jpg
1969 Film Poster
Directed by Boris Sagal
Written by Donald S. Sanford (screenplay)[1]
Robert Vincent Wright (story)
Starring Christopher George
Laraine Stephens
Music by Jimmie Haskell
Cinematography William Spencer
Oakmont Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • July 1969 (1969-07)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Thousand Plane Raid (aka The One Thousand Plane Raid[2]) is a 1969 film directed by Boris Sagal. It stars Christopher George and Laraine Stephens.[3] Although claimed to be derived from Ralph Barker's The Thousand Plane Raid, the storyline inaccurately portrays the first raid as an 8th Air Force mission while the actual attack was undertaken by 1,047 Royal Air Force bombers against the city of Cologne, Germany in May 1942.


In 1943, Colonel Greg Brandon (Christopher George), stationed at a United States Army Air Forces 8th Air Force, 103rd Bomb Group base in England, repeatedly attempts to persuade superiors that massive daylight bombing will hasten the end of World War II. In spite of the mission's extreme difficulty, his plan is finally put into effect against a German aircraft factory.

During preparation for the raid, Brandon alienates his men by insisting that normal bombing operations continue. His disdain for cautious Lieutenant Archer (Ben Murphy) and brash RAF Wing Commander Trafton Howard (Gary Marshal) further antagonizes his associates, including his girl friend, WAC Lieutenant Gabrielle Ames (Laraine Stephens).

When his bomber crashes the morning of the mission, Brandon boards a bomber manned by Archer and Howard. During the effective air raid, he is impressed by Archer's courage and Howard's judgment.



The film was shot in a budget-conscious manner. The main sets were in Santa Maria, California, and principal photography took place in winter 1968. The local village and airport realistically portrayed a typical British wartime base. Period-style maintenance shops, an operations center and a wartime-style control tower were added to re-create the fictional Steeple Bassington base.[4] Additional studio work was completed at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood.[5]

Aerial sequences included a mix of stock wartime footage, including the Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944), some of it colorized to match original footage.[4] The air-boss was legendary Hollywood stunt pilot Frank Tallman, but the most spectacular scene was a low-flying B-17 scene flown by Don Lykins. Another crash scene was taken from Twelve O'Clock High, the famous crash-landing carried out by Paul Mantz, another of Hollywood's leading stunt pilots, and Tallman's one-time partner in Tallmantz Aviation, before his death in 1965.[6] Three Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers (DB-17P 44-83684 [N3713G] from The Air Museum at Ontario, California, DB-17P 44-83525 [N83525], from Tallmantz Aviation at Santa Ana, California, and B-17F 42-29782 [N17W]) from Aircraft Specialties at Mesa, Arizona, were used in the production.[7]


Critical reviews commented on the "stereotyped adventure yarn" aspect of the production while noting that the aerial footage was often exciting.[5]

Home video[edit]

This film is available on home video and is not often shown on television.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " 'Midway' writer Donald S. Sanford dies at 92." Variety, February 15, 2011. Retrieved: February 24, 2011.
  2. ^ Evans 2000, p. 183
  3. ^ "The Thousand Plane Raid." Retrieved: September 18, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Orriss 1984, p. 186.
  5. ^ a b Orriss 1984, p. 187.
  6. ^ Orriss 1984, p. 185.
  7. ^ "The Thousand Plane Raid." Retrieved: September 18, 2011.
  • Dolan Edward F. Jr. Hollywood Goes to War. London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124-229-7.
  • Evans, Alun. Brassey's Guide to War Films. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2000. ISBN 1-57488-263-5.
  • Harwick, Jack and Ed Schnepf. "A Viewer's Guide to Aviation Movies". The Making of the Great Aviation Films, General Aviation Series, Volume 2, 1989.
  • Orriss, Bruce. When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War II. Hawthorne, California: Aero Associates Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-9613088-0-X.

External links[edit]