Before the United States enters World War I, some American youths volunteer for the French military. Subsequently, they become the first U.S. fighter pilots and form a squadron known as the Lafayette Escadrille, whose exploits and heroism become the stuff of legend. This fictional version follows a laconic Texas rancher, an eager Nebraska kid, a Black boxer already in France, and a New York swell, as they arrive green for training, get their baptism by fire when German planes ambush them on their first mission, and graduate to heroics. Rawlings, the Texan, falls in love with a young woman he meets at a brothel.Written by
The triplane fighter flown by the German pilots is the Fokker DR 1 designed by Dutch aviation pioneer Anthony Fokker. Due to the fact that Manfred Von Richthofen (the Red Barron) and a few other high scoring German aces developed an almost cult-like devotion to the plane, it has always enjoyed a reputation out of all proportion to its actual merits or contribution to the German war effort. In truth only 320 were produced and they were only in front line service from late 1917 to mid 1918. The plane's chief merits were a rapid rate of climb and the ability to make lightning fast turns to the right due to the torque effect of its rotary engine. Highly experienced pilots were able to use this to great advantage in combat but these same characteristics were very dangerous to inexperienced aviators and there were numerous accidents. On the down side the design was plagued with structural problems, chiefly the tendency of the ailerons to separate from the upper wing or the total structural failure of the upper wing during high G maneuvers. These problems were initially attributed to poor quality control at the Fokker plant and that was certainly a factor, but post war testing also revealed that the plane had serious design flaws that caused a dangerously high G loading on the upper wing during air combat maneuvering. Ironically, Fokker's follow on design, the biplane Fokker D7 fighter is widely regarded as the best fighter design of the war and yet it receives considerably less attention than his problematic triplane. See more »
The anti aircraft artillery shown in use by the Germans was not of any type used by any side in the First World War, nor was anti aircraft fire nearly as effective or accurate as shown. Were any of the portrayed shell bursts as close as they appeared in the film, they would have instantly destroyed the aircraft with the combination of the explosive power, fire, and shrapnel. See more »
By the start of 1916, World War I had wreaked havoc across Europe. Over nine million people would eventually die.
Although the airplane had only recently been invented, it was quickly adapted into a war machine.
The young men who flew them became the first fighter pilots and a new kind of hero was born.
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When I first saw the previews and read the synopsis, I was expecting a horrible film like Pearl Harbor. Fighter pilots in love with a girl. Happily the love story is not sappy or sickening and actually helps create character development. And how the love story ends is a very nice non-Hollywood ending.
The Planes look magnificent, but could have been done better. The use of German Dr1's (the Fokker Triplanes) as the only German fighter is understandable as distinguishing friend from foe. However, making all of the Dr1's (except for the main villains ) solid red is extremely annoying. While it is up to some discussion if the Red Baron's Dr1 was all red or mostly red, it does not mean that all Dr1's were red, especially all red. The Dr1's came from the Fokker factory usually in an olive drab paint scheme with a light blue underside. The film makers could have added a red scheme to the planes but left a portion olive drab and blue underside, it still would have made the Germans distinctive without being clones of Manfred von Rictoffen.
The dogfights are fun to watch and are fairly exciting, however the planes fly highly unrealistically at times. Overall the CGI is excellent but at times it is noticeable as CGI. The planes that explode (Explosions are such a Hollywood staple :) ) are unrealistic. The planes are traveling 70 t0 100 miles per hour in reality, but the explosions react as if the plane is standing still, going up in a ball instead of being spread along the doomed plane's path.
Over all it was fun to watch and covers a historical period that has long been neglected in film.
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