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Great Planes by the Military Channel — a 2 DVD set

16 February 2012

Great Planes by the Military Channel — a 2 DVD set

This 2 DVD set is a collection of ten individual TV episodes, one each for the following aircraft:

  • Disc 1: A-1 Skyraider, P-40 Warhawk, P-51 Mustang, B-25 Bomber and F-15 Eagle
  • Disc 2: F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet, PBY-5a Catalina, F-84 Thunderjet, F-104 Starfighter

Interestingly, all the aircraft shown to introduce each episode reside in Virginia — either in a museum or at an airbase — and underscores the richness of Virginia’s aviation heritage. The host, Paul “Max” Moga, presents well and knows more than most about flying fighter aircraft since he was selected to be one of the USAF’s Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor demonstration pilot — not mentioned in the DVD set but true and impressive all the same.

I found myself grinning after each episode. The information is presented accurately and completely. Especially laudatory is how the context of the design phase as well as service life of each aircraft is told. Though not rare it is certainly unusual and always needed to understand the place in history of an airplane and makes for why this DVD set is such a good one. The style of presentation is rapid fire — slowing to cover salient points and for interviews — and well paced to deliver a richness of information and video. Historical footage, much of it not seen often, is also part of the story in each episode. The research effort needed to produce this much information must have been impressive since there are no wasted minutes in each 45 minute episode.

I could point out one or two typos or video slips — but they number only one or two and are insignificant. I only mention the matter to have the reader aware that I viewed each minute and do not mention them specifically so as not to appear as an unproductive self-serving complaining critic.

The bottom line is that the DVD set is excellent to have and to see. I learned much I did not know, or know but was not really aware — for example:

  • The long and difficult history of the F-84 and how it was an aircraft that people made successful instead of anything inherent in its design — no punches pulled here. The Thunderjet, Thunderstreak and Thunderscreech are covered as well with their remarkable histories
  • The intertwined histories of the YF-17, F-16 and F/A-18 are capably illustrated. I learned that General Dynamics went all in on the design by ramping up for production during the design phase as well as selecting the engine also used in the F-15 Eagle. The USAF was presented with a speedy delivery date for the F-16 as well as simplified logistics. If you look closely you can see the Echo model (F-16E) which has conformal fuel tanks in some of the flying video.
  • PBYs were difficult to fly in a torpedo attack profile by the Black Cats of WW II and the pilot interviewed describes how it feels like to fly
  • No one seems to know why the P-40 was not supercharged — and each “shark mouth and eyes” on the American Volunteer Group P-40s was individual though nearly the same and Walt Disney’s company designed the AVG symbol
  • The Skyraider was designed in an incredibly short time, as was the F-104, having a long service life though a WW II design
  • Footage not usually seen regarding the Doolittle Raid is presented in the B-25 episode — and the raid is objectively assessed
  • Although the P-51H was not addressed, the development of the Mustang and especially the P-51D is brought forward wonderfully
  • The F-104’s history is also comprehensively addressed though not the difficulties the German Air Force experienced
  • Seeing solid rocket booster launches of F-84s and F-104s off of rails was a thing to behold!

There is more of the same for each aircraft episode. I learned unique aspects of each design as well as much with regard to the dynamic history that each of these aircraft was both born into and lived with — the world is complicated and Max Moga serves us well, giving us an unbiased situation report as reliably as the Sun rising in the east. As a bonus, many more aircraft — other than the ones in the titles — are covered in some detail in these episodes.

This DVD set would not fail to please an expert or a novice as both would be served well with them.

As I wrote — I found myself grinning after each episode 🙂

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Don Morin permalink
    1 July 2012 19:37

    Great Planes by the Military Channel — a 2 DVD set

    If this 2-DVD set is for sale, where is the information and cost?

  2. CWMarshall permalink
    27 April 2013 09:43

    This seems to be a reworking of the original “Great Planes” series produced in Australia for the “Wings” series on the Discovery channel.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      27 April 2013 12:53

      I have no doubt and thanks for the heads up to look for the Wings series from Oz 🙂

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