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Dive Bomber

Dive Bomber First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2005 Title Dive Bomber
Publisher Warner Brothers Published Original 1941, DVD 2005
Format DVD Region 2 MSRP (GBP) £15.99

First Look

Tired of pouring through black and white photos to see how US Naval aircraft looked before World War 2? Want some interesting action to get you inspired for your next "yellow wing" project? You're in luck - Dive Bomber is now available on DVD!

This movie was filmed in the 1940-1941 timeframe and was released to theaters in mid-1941, before the US entered the war. The story centers around Errol Flynn who is a naval flight surgeon in the days before aviation medicine was really understood. Together with Fred MacMurray, Flynn begins to look at G-induced black-outs which introduced the early G-suits and altitude sickness which lead to cockpit pressurization or the use of pressure suits. While much of the story is Hollywood, the flightline is full-press Navy! And yes, you also have a few good looks at the immediate pre-war USS Enterprise which was used for some of the scenes. It seems the Enterprise was in San Diego to trade in her older air wing of F2A, SBU, etc., for newer aircraft. Saratoga's air wing was present as well as she too was exchanging her aircraft.

What you'll especially enjoy is the movie was produced in Technicolor! The images are vivid. You'll see F2A Buffalos, SBU Helldivers, SB2C Vindicators and TBD Devastators, all with yellow wings. If you watch this movie on your high resolution computer monitor, you'll see quite a few details of the US Navy in transition. In some shots, the background aircraft have the remains of the neutrality patrol markings. Most aircraft still have their national roundels on all four positions of the wing, but some show up, still with yellow wings, using the new upper left/lower right roundel directive. According to Wayne, the Bureau Numbers, Squadron Numbers, Aircraft Position Colors, etc., are all authentic. Only a handful of aircraft have the notional 'Top Hat' squadron insignia. While you'll see Fred MacMurray take off from the Big 'E' in a Buffalo, cruise in a Helldiver, and land in San Diego in the Vindicator, you're still seeing some incredibly clear footage of pre-war US Navy aircraft in color.

There is some good news and bad news here. The color and details look great on a decent computer monitor as long as your computer has a DVD player. The bad news is that the movie is produced for Region 2. The US is Region 1. This is because Warner Brothers, who released this DVD, have the rights to the movie outside the US market. Ted Turner has the rights to the US market and has not released this movie to date. This all means that if you live in the US, the DVD player in your home entertainment system won't run this DVD. The DVD player in your computer doesn't give a rip about regions and it will play the movie just fine. I've already watched this great movie and I'll be queuing it back up again soon!