Kenwood Productions got it right in this fascinating inside-look at the US Navy’s Fighting 17 - The Jolly Rogers.
Candid interviews with Tom Blackburn, the charismatic leader of the cross-bones crew, and other Jolly Rogers pilots, together with plenty of film and still footage, provide the viewer with a gripping account of those few months when the best Japanese Naval aviators fought and died trying to defend their strategic base at Rabaul from the Allies.
Involved mainly in Bomber Escort and Carrier Defense, the Fighting 17 could proudly claim that no bombers or carriers were destroyed under their watch (An amazing feat considering the repeated raids on the heavily defended Rabaul airfield by the Americans and the many attempts made by the Japanese to destroy the US carriers).
Thanks largely to the efforts of the men of the 17th, who destroyed 154 enemy planes for the loss of only 13 pilots in just 76 days of combat, the Japanese lost Rabaul and the American advance went into high gear.
The folks at americanherofilm.com have a real winner in this production. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in WW2 aviation, but it is a must-see for those of us curious about what it was like to be an American fighter pilot in the Pacific campaign.
The only thing I found disappointing about this film was that it was too short. Not because, at 52 minutes, it IS too short, but because I found it so interesting, I just wish it could have gone on and on … and on …