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Victory Films

The 323rd Bomb Group

S u m m a r y

Title: Victory Films - The 323rd Bomb Group
Media: DVD
Price: USD$35.00 plus USD$16.00 shipping available online from Victory Films website
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Great footage, including color sequences; terrific inspiration for modellers.
Disadvantages:  
Conclusion: Three and a half hours of mostly color film on the air war in Europe from a different perspective. Every minute I was thinking it couldn’t get better but it did. I’m amazed that Victory Films continues to find classic hidden gems like this. I can’t wait to see what the next offering will be.

Reviewed by Floyd S. Werner Jr.

FirstRead

 

It has been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a Victory Films production.  The latest is centered around the 323rd Bomb Group of the 8th and 9th Air Forces. 

Packaged in a dual DVD case are two DVDs consisting of three and a half hours of beautiful color and black & white films.  To say that the video is astounding would be an understatement. 

 

 

Flying the B-26 Marauder initially as part of the 8th Air Force, the 323rd.  The medium bombers start out in 1942 and start flying combat operations in July 1943 as part of the 8th AF.  Just a little over a month later, they are transferred to the 9th Tactical Air Force. 

I’ll try to convey the professional look and feel of these DVDs.  Color footage with colorful markings and nose art.  Some great formation flying which is very different than what I’m used to with B-17s.  Another thing you’ll notice immediately is the varying degrees of weathering.  I hesitate to say that you can’t overdue weathering on these aircraft.  Some of them flew 180 missions.  You don’t hear of many B-17s flying that much. 

 

 

Besides the B-26s, there are some color shots of P-38s, P-51B “Texas Terror II”, P-47s and a B-17.  The first segment ends with the script of the accomplishments of the individual aircraft that were seen.  It I pretty amazing to me the number of missions.  These missions weren’t flown at 30,000 feet but at 2,000-5,000 ft.  Amazing stuff. 

Some new P-51Bs are on display to show the new kite off to the bomber crews.  This is followed up by D-Day activities and prep, including C-47s and gliders.  Again P-51Bs of the 9th AF are shown in detail. 

There is a segment that is narrated with what sounds like Tom Hanks and is the personal recollection of Carl Voelkers from D-Day. 

Ever heard of a single seat B-26?  I hadn’t but apparently, they tried that for a few weeks.  That is crazy.

 

 

There are some documentaries in here that highlight the contributions of the medium bombers during the build up and aftermath of D-Day.  There is lots of flak damage shown and the aircraft are still flying.  There are some crash sequences that are nail biting.  On one mission 26 of 32 aircraft came home with flak damage. 

Weekly digest newsreels take you on a mission.  After D-Day they had to remove the black and white stripes.  There is a sequence that shows you them doing just that with paint remover, rags, brushes, and brooms.  In this sequence we also get a close up of how the bomb doors work, which I found fascinating.

As you watch the formations over enemy territory it strikes me at how much flak there is.   While the B-17s have flak strewn skies, these are positively filled and very close.  Considering the low altitude that some of these missions took place at, they were subjected to everything they could throw at them and not just 88mm. 

Color photos close out the first DVD.  Yes, all of that was on the one DVD.  I was wondering what could be next.  The second DVD starts off with photos from personal photo albums.  Things you’ve not seen in pictures or video before.  Everyday life at forward airfields.  So many diorama ideas you’ll be hitting the pause button to take in the detail.  Amazing stuff. 

 

  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
  • Victory Films The 323rd Bomb Group DVD Review by Floyd S. Werner Jr.: Image
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Special Film Project 186.  Never heard of it but you won’t forget it.  The 4th Combat Camera crew switched to all color photography and video.  It is ALL COLOR and amazing. 

The Remagen bridge is photographed from one of the bomb group’s L4 or Stinson L5 and O-49s liaison aircraft. 

Combat missions in the B-26s are not massed boxes of bombers but appear to be formation of three aircraft elements flying is a loose formation with the others going to a target.  Now those three aircraft fly tight formation and us, as the viewer, are treated to some great views of the wingmen.  While they are filming them, there are some excellent shots of the interior of the B-26.

When on the ground, there are support vehicles of all sorts for the armor modeler to love on. 

On the missions there are beautiful cloud formations and scenery below the wings.  Again, they flew missions at a lower altitude which allows you to enjoy the scenery.  Provided you are watching a video and not flying the mission with Me-262s attacking your formation.  One of the aircraft with the camera operator on was hit by a 30mm from a 262 and it rips open the nacelle but continues to fly.  You get to witness the landing and aftermath as well. 

Using one of the liaison aircraft you are treated to an overhead view as the group takes off with them flying down the side of the runway.  Quite an unusual perspective from WWII.  One of the aircraft shown has a really cool shark mouth.  Only the second B-26 that I remember with a shark mouth.  I’d love to do that in decal form. 

The sequence is broken up to show Shermans and Tank Destroyers moving through a city.  It isn’t all war though.  There is a sequence late in the war with airmen on the French Rivera with women in two-piece bathing suits.  They seem to have caught the eye and lens of the camera man. 

The final sequence is amazing for me as a Luftwaffe buff.  Me-262s at Erding from K.J-54 Totenkopf.  Bunches of them and up close and personal too.  I’ve never seen this sequence before.  I was amazed and hit pause numerous times with my mouth agape.  The 262s fuselage and wings lined the road.  One of the most beautiful ones was “Yellow 2” which includes the unit emblem on the side of the fuselage.  I was amazed and inspired.

So, three and a half hours of mostly color film on the air war in Europe from a different perspective.  Every minute I was thinking it couldn’t get better but it did.  I’m amazed that Victory Films continues to find classic hidden gems like this.  I can’t wait to see what the next offering will be.  Time for a Luftwaffe title. 

Highly Recommended


Thanks to Victory Films for the review copy. You can obtain yours by contacting them at https://victoryfilms.us/ . Please let them know you read this review. While you are on that page, you’ll want to check out all the other titles which are just as good. You’ll go broke enjoying them.


Review Copyright 2021 by Floyd S. Werner Jr.
This Page Created on 26 January, 2022
Last updated 26 January, 2022

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