Best WWII air battle movie scenes
July 12, 2009 3:25 PM   Subscribe

What's the best WWII movies for air battle scenes (domestic or foreign)?

Documentaries are fine, but I'm really looking for dramas.
posted by keith0718 to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Battle of Britain 1968, without parallel
posted by A189Nut at 3:29 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Saving Private Ryan, Stalingrad & The Boat for Drama
posted by mattoxic at 3:30 PM on July 12, 2009

Seconding Battle of Britain, maybe Tora, Tora, Tora in a sea warfare context. None of what mattoxic says, since planes barely feature in them.
posted by biffa at 3:39 PM on July 12, 2009

I realize that you're probably more interested dogfights and bombing runs, so maybe this is a big off topic, but the beginning of the second episode of Band of Brothers shows the airborne jump over Normandy that began D-Day. It's pretty well done for a TV show, and planes feature prominently. Worth a look if you haven't seen it.
posted by dseaton at 3:47 PM on July 12, 2009

It's been quite a while since I've seen The Longest Day, but I seem to recall the D-Day scene being pretty damned impressive.
posted by JaredSeth at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2009

Memphis Belle is fantastic in this regard.
posted by Iosephus at 3:58 PM on July 12, 2009

For bombing, Dambusters can't be beat. Set in WW2 with racial insensitivity intact; Our Hero's dog Nigger figures in as a plot point.

Not much actual dogfighting, but there's high-quality plane porn (Mosquitos no less) in 633 Squadron.

Not much plane porn, but rounding things off with 12 O'Clock High is always a good idea.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:18 PM on July 12, 2009

Since you're looking for drama, maybe you wouldn't mind digressing into WWI air battle scenes. Flyboys is all over that.
posted by espire at 4:18 PM on July 12, 2009

Dambusters was also a big influence on the attack on the Death Star.
posted by zoinks at 4:41 PM on July 12, 2009

posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:50 PM on July 12, 2009

The first answer is correct. The "Battle of Britain" was made in the early 1960's and a lot of WWII combat aircraft were still flyable at the time, and were used in the movie.

And a lot of the air bases used in the film were real ones left over from WWII that they cleaned up.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:50 PM on July 12, 2009

Yeah, Battle of Britain is pretty much the canonical example for fighters, along with Memphis Belle & The Dambusters for bombers.

I'd also throw in Tmavomodrý svet (aka Dark Blue World), which re-uses footage and outtakes from the first two as well as nicely-done new stuff of its own. Bit of a different take than you probably want though - less warfare (or, at least, not concentrated in a finale like most war movies), more drama.
posted by Pinback at 4:53 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I believe most of the Air Fight scenes in Midway are stock footage from Tora! Tora! Tora!.
That being said, Midway is STILL one of my favorite WWII movies. My Grandmother took me to see the film in the theater back in 1976. I was only 9 at the time, and it is one of my fondest memories of her.
posted by GurnB at 5:30 PM on July 12, 2009

Not only is Midway fantastic (cast of thousands!) but you also get a glimpse of the young, dashing Eric Estrada.

If you're interested in planes and dogfighting, and have a remote handy, Pearl Harbor is a fantastic film of dogfighting and bombing, featuring absolutely no contrived and obnoxious love-triangle plot.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:33 PM on July 12, 2009

It might be a little outside your requirements, but A Bridge Too Far shows a pretty astonishing parachute drop sequence at the beginning of Operation Market Garden. It gets bonus points for using so many great actors in an ensemble performance.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:47 PM on July 12, 2009

I believe most of the Air Fight scenes in Midway are stock footage from Tora! Tora! Tora!

The scenes of Zeros taking off from Tora! Tora! Tora! were shot by Akira Kurosawa and they look great. He was originally slated to direct the entire Japanese side of the production, but after taking two years on just the shots of planes taking off, he was fired and replaced by Kinji Fukasaku, a damn fine director. This is explained here in a commentary on the trailer by John Landis.
posted by item at 10:32 PM on July 12, 2009

What about the British series "Piece of Cake"? After "Battle of Britain" it's pretty high on my list.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2009

Thanks for the info everyone! My son and I will have fun checking these films out. Please add more suggestions if you think of any.
posted by keith0718 at 11:15 AM on July 13, 2009

Band of Brothers' characteristically mind-blowing air battle scene.

I can't recommend Band of Brothers highly enough. It is completely awesome.
posted by Methylviolet at 12:57 PM on July 13, 2009

Seconding Piece of Cake.. I saw it a long time ago, but it was great.
posted by mbatch at 5:17 PM on July 13, 2009

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