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Posted on Jan 13, 2008 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Roaring Glory Warbirds DVD Collection

By Richard N Story

warbirds.jpgDVD Review – Roaring Glory Warbirds.

The closest many of us will get to a restored warbird is on the flight line of an airshow. The chance to fly one, much less own one, is highly improbable. To ease the longings for a chance to sit in the cockpit of a World War II fighter or bomber; Digital Software Services Inc. teamed up noted aviation historians and pilots Jeff Ethell and Steve Hinton to produce a ten DVD set of noted aircraft still flying from the war.

Each DVD follows the same basic format. There is a section on flying the airplane which includes, usually, a right side walk around. Cockpit instrument briefing on how and why the plane’s instruments were set up the way they were. Engine startup and taxi along with the various checklists and take off. It is after the take off that the beauty of each aircraft shines with some stunning air to air shots made from a chase/camera plane. Finally the flying part ends with a landing and engine shut down with the appropriate check lists. Usually at that point the presenter (Jeff Ethell or Steve Hinton) closes with a few remarks about the aircraft and its part in the war.

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Another common featurette is the series called ‘The Young Pilots’ which takes written narratives by pilots who flew that particular plane and combined it with reenactors, archival film footage and some shots from the main Roaring Glory Warbirds footage. This feature was very interesting as you heard from the pilots who actually flew the aircraft and their thoughts on that plane. Oddly enough, the only two DVDs that did not follow in this format of having a separate flying/reenactment sections were on the two bomber DVDs. For these planes they combined both sections into one. For the B-17 the change between flying demonstration to reenactment was a bit jarring. Despite this seeing archival footage of B-17s in action was worth the abrupt switch between now and then.

Then comes what the producers call the Special Features section. Each one of the DVDs contains a photo album slideshow and a fact sheet. The fact sheet is filled with the usual details but in the details section is something every historian craves; hard numbers on the each of the variant built of that aircraft. However it appears the numbers are limited to what served in the US. For example on the P-40 there was no listing of the number of Warhawks, Kittyhawks and Tomahawks made for the UK and Commonwealth air forces. Also the F-4U didn’t include the numbers (or at least separated out) for the Goodyear FG-1 and FG-2s nor did they include the number of specialty built AU-1s for the Marine Corps. Still, the fact sheets were worth the time to browse through for the details alone.

Other special features included in all the DVDs were trailers for the other planes in the series and optional sound setup for Dolby 5.1 surround sound. Some of the others include interviews with the pilots with whom they did the ‘Young Pilots’ section including Masajiro ‘Mike’ Kawato. Unfortunately the interview with Mike Kawato could have used some subtitling despite his excellent use of English. Subtitles would have insured that the listener did in fact correctly understand him correctly. My favorite special feature was the inclusion of archival training films for some of the planes and of these the scene of the anthropomorphized P-38 being disgruntled after being nosed in by a pilot trying to do a nose gear first landing is priceless. Finally each DVD has a CD-ROM component for Apple and PC computers. The bare minimum in the CD-ROM section is a printable photo album. However the better CD-ROM bonus for 6 of the 10 titles was an authentic pilot’s manual.

The series is generally well researched and presented, but when an error does creep into the show it’s disconcerting because of the very basic facts that were wrong. For instance claiming that Grumman built F6Fs in New Jersey was shocking as every aviation historian knows that Grumman was based in Bethpage, New York. Or claiming the yellow identification stripes was a feature of the Japanese Zero when they were in fact merely campaign markings – and not all Zeros had them.

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1 Comment

  1. Hello, I am shopping for a friend and would like to purchase the dvd…”Roaring Glory Warbird Complete Series”
    Could you tell me how I can place an order for this series please?
    Cheers, Dianne

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