Wings (Discovery Channel TV series)
- 1 Original Series
- 2 Spin-off Series
- 3 Legacy
- 4 External References
Originally called Great Planes, the Wings series initially aired Wednesdays and Saturdays on the Discovery Channel in the U.S. from 9-10 p.m. Eastern beginning in 1988 and into the early 1990s.
"Great Planes" was the original subset of "Wings" episodes which focused on one particular aircraft type. The original "Great Planes" series was initially produced by Aviation Video International in Australia, and distributed by the Discovery Channel.
When it initially aired in America, the majority of episodes were narrated by the series' Australian writer and director, Luke Swann, with some others written and narrated by John Honey and Phil Chugg. In 1991 (notably following the first Gulf War), episodes were re-edited to include interviews with pilots of the profiled aircraft types before and following commercial breaks, and the narration was re-dubbed with American narrators Ron David and Tom Hair.
- Boeing 707
- Boeing 747
- Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
- Boeing B-29 Superfortress
- Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
- British Aerospace/McDonnell Douglas Harrier
- Consolidated B-24 Liberator
- Consolidated PBY Catalina
- Convair B-36 Peacemaker
- Douglas A-1 Skyraider
- Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
- Douglas A-26 Invader
- Douglas C-47 Dakota
- General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
- General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark
- Grumman F-14 Tomcat
- Grumman F4F Wildcat/F6F Hellcat
- Lockheed C-130 Hercules
- Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
- Lockheed P-38 Lightning
- Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
- Martin B-26 Marauder
- Martin B-57 Canberra
- McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II
- McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
- McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet
- North American B-25 Mitchell
- North American F-86 Sabre
- North American F-100 Super Sabre
- North American P-51 Mustang
- North American XB-70 Valkyrie
- Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter
- Republic F-84 Thunderjet
- Republic F-105 Thunderchief
- Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
- Rockwell B-1 Lancer
- Vought A-7 Corsair II
- Vought F4U Corsair
A series of six episodes, entitled "Strange Planes" (and later released on VHS video), focused on several unusual aircraft types:
Starting in the mid 1990s, newer Wings episodes (sometimes referred to as "Wings II") would focus on the history or operations of a particular foreign air force, such as the Israeli Air Force, a foreign aviation company or design bureau such as France's Dassault or Russia's Mikoyan, or the aircraft of a particular conflict such as the Korean War or the Afghan-Soviet War. These episodes, narrated by Stuart Culpepper, often had interviews with the aircrews and famed aviation historian/writer Jeffrey Ethell, the "Fighter Writer".
- (A-4) Hugging the Deck
- (A-10) Steel Rain
- (AH-1) Whispering Death
- (AH-64) Guardians of the Night
- (AV-8) Harrier
- (B-1) Doomsday Mission
- (B-52) Instant Thunder
- (F-15) Eagles Over Israel
- (F-16) Flight of the Falcon
- (F-105) The Thud
- (Mi-24) Bear Trap
- (SU-25) Flying Tank
- (U-2) Spy Planes
- (UH-1) Landing Zone Vietnam
- Flying Coffins
- Red October
- Top Guns
- Wings Over Europe
- Wings: Target Berlin (P-51)
- Wings: Dresden Firestorm (B-17)
- Wings: The Valiant Few (Spitfire)
- Wings Over the Pacific
- Wings Over Vietnam
- Wings Over Vietnam: The Cavalry
- Wings Over Vietnam: Gunships
Wings of the Luftwaffe
- "The Blitz" - Arado Ar 234
- "The Butcher Bird" - Focke-Wulf Fw 190
- "The Destroyer" - Messerschmitt Me 110
- "Gigant" - Messerschmitt Me 321/323
- "Iron Annie" - Junkers Ju 52
- "The Jet" - Messerschmitt Me 262
- "The Komet" - Messerschmitt Me 163
- "The Legend" - Messerschmitt Me 109
- "The Schnell Bomber" - Junkers Ju 88
- "Sea Wings" - German Seaplanes
- "The Secret Bomber" - Heinkel He 111
- "The Stuka" - Junkers Ju 87
- "V for Vengeance" - V-1 flying bomb
Wings of the Red Star
"Wings of the Red Star" was a separately-branded series that focused on Soviet Air Force aircraft from World War II to the modern era. It was narrated by actor Sir Peter Ustinov. While generally highly accurate, the series is marred with repeated factual errors where the narrator uses the term 'Russian' where the term 'Soviet' would be correct. For example, the title of the episode 'Russian Giants' is particularly egregious, as the Antonov aircraft profiled therein could only be described as 'Soviet' or 'Ukrainian', never 'Russian'.
- "The Backfire Bomber" - Soviet supersonic bomber development, including the Tupolev Tu-22M 'Backfire' and the Tu-160 'Blackjack'
- "Duel over Korea" - Development and career of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 'Fagot'
- "The Flying Tank" - Ilyushin Il-2 'Sturmovik'
- "The Foxbat" - Development leading up to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 'Foxbat'
- "The Great Patriotic War" - History of the air war on the eastern front during World War II
- "The Last Generation" - Late-model Soviet fighters, including the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 'Fulcrum' and the Sukhoi Su-27 'Flanker'
- "The Nuclear Bear" - Development of long-range strategic bombers, including the Tupolev Tu-95 'Bear'
- "The Phantom's Foe" - Supersonic fighter development leading to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 'Fishbed'
- "Russian Giants" - Giant Soviet transport aircraft leading up to the Antonov An-124 and Antonov An-225 Mriya.
- "Soviet Rotors" - Development of Soviet helicopters
- "Straight Up" - Soviet Vertical Take-off aircraft, including the Yakovlev Yak-38 'Forger' and Yak-141 'Freestyle'
- "Supersonic Transport" - Development of the Tupolev Tu-144
- "The Swing-Wing Solution" - Development leading up to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23/Mikoyan MiG-27 'Flogger'
- Grumman A-6 Intruder ("Thunder from the Sea")
- Grumman F9F Panther/Cougar
- Grumman F-14 Tomcat ("Defender of the Fleet")
- Grumman TBF Avenger ("The Avenger")
- Lockheed P-3 Orion ("The Hunter")
- Lockheed S-3 Viking ("The Scout")
- McDonnell-Douglas F-18 Hornet ("The Killer Bee")
- North American A-5 Vigilante
- Dassault-Breguet Super Etendard ("The Falkland Surprise")
- Vought F-8 Crusader ("The Last Gunfighter")
- Air-sea rescue aircraft and operations ("Wings of Mercy")
Wings Over the Gulf
Following the Gulf War of 1991, Discovery produced a new short-run series, "Wings Over the Gulf", profiling the air war over Iraq before and during Operation Desert Storm, and select aircraft types used by coalition forces. The series was narrated by Will Lyman, and was released on VHS.
- "First Strike" - The run-up to and beginning of Operation Desert Storm (McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle/Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk)
- "In Harm's Way" - The air war over Iraq at the height of Operation Desert Storm (Panavia Tornado/Grumman A-6 Intruder)
- "The Final Assault" - The final days of Desert Storm, including the ground war and the liberation of Kuwait (General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon/Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II)
A separate episode that aired around this time period was "Nighthawk: Secrets of the Stealth"
Wings Over Vietnam: The Missions
In 2002, this 8 episode series was aired, hosted by David Scott.
- The FACs
- Dust Off
- Rolling Thunder
- The Jolly Greens
- Spookies, Spectres, and Shadows
- MiG Killers
- Wild Weasels
- Linebacker II
After a lengthy run in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the Wednesday/Saturday time slot, Discovery moved "Wings" to every weekday from 6-7 p.m. Eastern, under the banner "Weekday Wings". The series ended its weekday run in the late 90s.
The series formed the programming backbone for the Discovery Wings channel in the United States and United Kingdom, which launched in 1999. Discovery Wings was rebranded into the Military Channel in 2005 and Discovery Turbo in 2007, respectively.
Some episodes are available on VHS via Ebay and Amazon. "Great Planes" episodes are available on DVD in Australia through Magna Pacific. Avid fans of the show have posted episodes on various "tube" sites as well as making them available via torrents.
In 2008, "Great Planes" was revived in a modernized format, hosted by Paul "Max" Moga and Terry Dietz, that aired on the Military Channel in the United States.
Luke Swann died on 6 October 2000 after a brief battle with liver cancer. He is survived by his two daughters, Emily and Madeleine, and son Jack.
Producer Phil Osborn went on to found AeroCinema, an online aviation history video web site which produces and hosts documentaries similar to "Wings" and are viewable online only via paid subscription.