Sunday, January 15, 2017

633 Squadron (thanks Steve!)

In this classic war actioner based on a true story, Cliff Robertson plays Roy Grant, a combat-weary pilot whose R.A.F. squadron is ordered to destroy a Nazi rocket fuel plant tucked deep inside a Norwegian fjord. The bomb run is a logistical nightmare because the planes must run a gauntlet of anti-aircraft batteries before reaching their target.

 The film's scenario and characters were drawn from a novel by Frederick E. Smith published in 1956, which itself drew on several real Royal Air Force operations.

The original idea was to build a wooden bomber with no guns, but they said build a prototype to shut them up. Of course the prototype outran the Spitfire!

When the Norwegian resistance leader, Royal Norwegian Navy Lieutenant Erik Bergman, travels to Great Britain to report the location of a German V-2 rocket fuel plant, the Royal Air Force's No. 633 Squadron is assigned to destroy it. The squadron is led by Wing Commander Roy Grant, an ex-Eagle Squadron pilot (an American serving in the RAF before the US entered the war).

The plant is in a seemingly impregnable location beneath an overhanging cliff at the end of a long, narrow fjord lined with numerous anti-aircraft guns. The only way to destroy the plant is by collapsing the cliff on top of it, a job for 633 Squadron's fast and manoeuvrable de Havilland Mosquitos. The squadron trains in Scotland, where there are narrow glens similar to the fjord.

They used real Mosquitos, and by the way Cliff Robertson owned a Spitfire!


  1. Our grade school library had it !
    I did a book report on it too !

  2. ha I was just watching this last week - I read somewhere at one point during production they had some many planes - their were claims that it was the 10th largest air force in the world. I love the model shots in the movie..

    1. Coincidence is a strange thing

  3. In the early 1970s, Cliff Robertson used to have a highly polished P-51 at Friendship (now BWI) airport. Later, he also had an F-86 Sabre.