"12 O'Clock High" -Great Movie!

I just caught this classic on AMC…very well-done flick! I especially like how the movie was introduced…as a big flashback to the bomber wing’s doctor. After seeing this, you really know what those bomber crews went through…must ahve beena terrifying experience, with the german fighters and flak fire. Anyway, does the book explain what happened to Gen. Savage? Did he resume command or did he just go nuts?
The final raid was the famous “Schweinfurt” raids, where the allies attempted to knock Germany out of the war (by destroying the German’s ball-bearing factories).Was this a complete disaster? Or did the attacks on Schweinfurt at least shorten the war?
I recall that the British RAF gave up daylight bombing early in the war (their losses were unaccpetably high)…why did the USAAF keep insisting that daylight bombing was the path to victory?
Anyway, a TV series was made of this in the 1960’s-how long did it last?

It most certainly is one of the great movies, and would be even without the airplanes. There’s certainly more nuance in it than Davenport being relieved for fear he was too close to his men and was about to break, while Savage stayed necessarily remote and *did * break.

I haven’t read Beirne Lay’s semiautobiographical novel, so I don’t know if he even stretched the story beyond the limits of his screenplay. He did base “Keith Davenport” on a real squadron commander, Gen. Frank Armstrong of the USAAF base at Polebrook, England (Lay himself was the “Harvey Stovall” character, the adjutant/narrator). I’ve read elsewhere that Lay and Armstrong had been good friends before the war, even each other’s best man, but that they never spoke again after Lay had to support the decision to relieve Armstrong from his command. Armstrong was rotated back to group HQ and then back to the States to a training command. In the movie, I thought it was being set up for Savage to be rotated out anyway, his job of shaping up the squadron being done, with Ben Gately being given the command after redeeming himself in leading the final raid from the “Leper Colony”. YMMV.

The British kept up nighttime bombing, and the USAAF daytime bombing, throughout the war, partly because Harris and Eaker never could resolve their differences over it, partly so the Germans would never get any rest. The British concept was to protect the bombers with cover of darkness and hit big targets such as cities, so accuracy wasn’t a major concern. The US concept was to be able to see the target well enough in the precision Norden bombsights that they’d actually have an effect, and allow targeting of specific facilities. Another factor was that the RAF depended mainly on Lancaster bombers, which had huge capacity but no ball turrets and were vulnerable from below, while the US B-17’s and B-24’s could defend themselves better, especially with long-range fighter cover.

The effectiveness of the Schweinfurt raid in itself is not clear-cut - it was just part of a war-long campaign to destroy Germany’s capacity to fight.

www.imdb.com (yes, they have TV shows too) says the series ran 1964-67, with Robert Lansing as Frank Savage.

This movie led a lesser-known existence as a training film. I remember it being shown as part of our leadership training when I was in the military. The different syles of leadership and team-building are graphically illustrated in the film.

for many years after the war ‘Twelve O’Clock High’ was shown to officer candidates as a illustration of the problems of identifying too closely with the men under your command.
Experiences in 1939 quickly showed the British that their Hampden and Wellington bombers could not hope to survive in daylight raids. They switched to precision night bombing, but the belated realisation that very few bombers were coming even close to the target prompted the change to area bombing on a fairly large target already marked by the Pathfinder Force. The Americans felt that the Norden bombsight and close formations protected by .50 machine guns rather than rifle calibre weapons would enable them to fight through at high altitude by day with acceptable losses and achieve precision results. Ultimately this was shown not to be the case and the offensive had to pause until the long-range P-51 escort to become available.
The belief that strategic air power could, by itself, win the war without frontal attacks of the 1914-18 type or across-the-beaches invasions like Gallipoli was one which airmen in Britain and the USA believed in strongly. It was partly as result of the power struggles airmen in both countries had had to wage between the wars to achieve and maintain their existance as an independent service against the lobbying of the army and navy who would have liked them to be wholly subordinated to their needs

Just how difficult was it to precision bomb from a B-17? As the film showed it, it was rare to be able to fly on a bomb run without having to fend off attacks from German fighters. AS I recall, Air Marshall Harris believed that it was impossible to precision bomb targets…his belief was that Bomber Command should burn down the german cities, and deprive the herman workers of their homes…this obviously worked in the case of Hamburg!
As for Gen. Savage…would a general normally fly on bombing missions? Seems like a major risk of losing a senior officer.

General Curtiss LeMay did fly on many missions over Germany, he felt he had to set an example.
Under ideal conditions they could obtain very good results but such conditions rarely existed; industrial pollution haze (normal in the Ruhr) and smoke all degraded results.

It was worse than that. At least you could jink a little when there were fighters. When they got close to the target, they had to deal with the AAA. Once the bomber was on the bomb run, control of the aircraft passed from the pilot to the bombardier. The aircraft had to fly straight and level until it dropped its payload. All the Germans had to do was to fill in a “box” with flak.

You know that toby mug that starts off the film, and which sits on the mantel at the base? A lot of people thought it was a Royal Doulton piece. I was one who searched and searched for it, but couldn’t find it. I ended up getting a Royal Doulton “Mask On” Highwayman mug because it was the closest I could find. Turns out that the toby in the film was made for the film by the Fox prop department!

Eventually someone bought the rights to reproduce the 12 O’clock High “Robin Hood” toby mug. I bought three. One went to my g/f (at the time – geez, I was such an idiot!), and I have the other two. One of them is from the limited edition numbered run. :slight_smile:

My favorite part is when the nerdy kid hires this jock to beat up the bully so he won’t have to fight him, but the bully breaks the jock’s finger and decks him. It kind of stunk at the end because there’s no way that nerdy kid would have won the fight.

I don’t remember any fighter planes though. :dubious:

I’m with Scylla. How can you not like a movie with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly?

I do remember a train, but I’m not sure about the fighter planes… :dubious: