Mosquito Squadron

Mosquito Squadron is a 1969 British war film made by Oakmont Productions, directed by Boris Sagal and starring David McCallum. The raid echoes Operation Jericho, a combined RAF–Maquis raid which freed French prisoners from Amiens jail in which the Mosquitos took part.

Mosquito Squadron
Mosquito Squadron.jpg
Theatrical release quad crown display poster
Directed byBoris Sagal
Written byDonald S. Sanford[1]
Joyce Perry
StarringDavid McCallum
Suzanne Neve
Charles Gray
CinematographyPaul Beeson
Music byFrank Cordell
Production
company
Oakmont Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • January 1969 (1969-01)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

PlotEdit

The Royal Air Force (RAF) begins attacking German V-1 flying bomb installations in early summer of 1944. [N 1] The de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber aircraft of Squadron Leader David "Scotty" Scott (David Buck) is shot down during a low-level bombing raid on a V-1 launching site. Scott and his navigator/bomb-aimer are killed. Following the raid, his wingman and friend, then-Flight Lieutenant (later insignia Royal Canadian Air Force squadron leader) Quint Munroe (David McCallum) comforts Scott's wife, Beth (Suzanne Neve), and a romance soon develops, rekindling one that they had had years earlier.

After nearly losing his own life on a photographic reconnaissance mission over the Château de Charlon in Northern France, Munroe, under orders from Air Commodore Hufford (Charles Gray), is tasked to lead an attack against the château using a Barnes Wallis-type land-use "bouncing bomb" (referred to as Highball). Following the reported capture and assumed torture by the Gestapo of a French Maquis resistance fighter, Allied prisoners, including a very-much-alive Scott and other shot-down RAF airmen, are held as "human shields" to thwart a raid. This is seen in a disturbing film dropped by a Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter that, in tandem with others, bombed and strafed the airfield, killing a number of RAF personnel.

The Royal Air Force target is a tunnel leading to an underground Nazi factory on the château grounds, where new "V-3" long-range, multi-stage rockets are being constructed. The prisoners are held in the chapel during Sunday morning mass to concentrate them in one location. This is part of a coordinated attack that will allow French Maquis resistance fighters to get them out, once a Mosquito has used a Highball bomb to blow a hole in the outer wall closest to the chapel. But not before Father Belaguere (Michael Anthony), a Catholic priest and Maquis agent, is killed by an enraged German army officer, Leutnant Schack (Vladek Sheybal), for refusing to order the airmen back to their cells. The prisoners disarm Schack, pushing him outside, and stay holed-up inside when the RAF begins the raid.

Munroe and Bannister drop their first two Highballs, but both miss. After wingman Clark is shot down by a Bf 109, they have just two left for two targets. Bannister is shot down by flak and crashes into the tunnel, his bombs exploding, leading to the destruction of the factory. Munroe blows apart the prison wall, just as the Germans are about to breech the chapel door and machine-gun all their prisoners. This allows most of the airmen to escape. The senior RAF officer, Squadron Leader Neale (Bryan Marshall), is killed by German machine-pistol fire during the prisoner breakout. With the help of the resistance fighters, his comrades make their way out of the château and its grounds. The bombing raid continues with a second wave of Mosquitos dropping conventional bombs that obliterate the château buildings.

Munroe and Scott are briefly reunited after Munroe's Mosquito is brought down by flak. Scott, still suffering from amnesia and unable to remember his name (he sports a chalked "X" on his uniform for identification), rebuffs Munroe's attempt to get him to remember, ignoring a mention of his wife's name. Scott later sacrifices himself to stop a German tank with a captured bazooka. He saves Munroe and others but is too late to save Flight Sergeant Wiley Bunce (Nicky Henson), Munroe's navigator.

The next day, after rescue by submarine, Munroe, along with other survivors of the raid, is repatriated back to his RAF airbase in a Airspeed Oxford transport aircraft. After being congratulated by his commanding officer, Wing Commander Penrose (Dinsdale Landen), as well as Air Commodore Hufford, he is reunited with Beth and her brother, Flight Lieutenant Douglas Shelton (David Dundas). Shelton is an ex-pilot who lost his right hand in combat. He sports a hook in its place and now serves in the same squadron in charge of training. He conceals from her that her husband survived and was captured (both he and Shelton had, in fact, discovered that her husband had not been killed, thanks to the dropped German film).

CastEdit

Actor Role
David McCallum Squadron Leader Quint Munroe, RCAF
Suzanne Neve Beth Scott
Charles Gray Air Commodore Hufford, RAF
David Buck Squadron Leader David ("Scotty") Scott, RAF
David Dundas Flight Lieutenant Douglas Shelton, RAF
Dinsdale Landen Wing Commander Clyde Penrose, RAF
Nicky Henson Flight Sergeant Wiley Bunce
Bryan Marshall Squadron Leader Neale, RAF
Michael Anthony Father Bellaguere
Peggy Thorpe-Bates Mrs. Scott
Peter Copley Mr. Scott
Vladek Sheybal Lt. Schack
Michael McGovern Flight Lieutenant Bannister, RAF
Michael Latimer Flying Officer Clark, RAF (uncredited)

ProductionEdit

Although not a sequel, the film is similar to the 1964 film 633 Squadron and was influenced by it, even using some of its footage. The pre-title sequence (including the aforementioned opening music by Frank Cordell) was also taken from the WWII film Operation Crossbow. Bovingdon Airfield in Hertfordshire was a location for many scenes; four "flightworthy" de Havilland Mosquito aircraft, including RR299, which eventually crashed and much later was destroyed in July 1996, were based at the airfield. The "chateau" used is actually Minley Manor, near Farnborough in Hampshire, Southern England.

The Highball weapon featured was an actual development of Barnes Wallis's "dam-busting" Upkeep bomb, and the footage of Mosquitoes dropping Highballs on land is genuine WWII archive footage. Charles Gray's character mentions Barnes Wallis during his briefing, in such a way as to imply that the name was well known to the RAF personnel. The special Highball bombsight is also a genuine representation of the one used in combat.

The car driven by David McCallum is a 1935 Godsal V8 Corsica.

SoundtrackEdit

The film features a memorable music score (starting with pounding bass drum beats to background the V-1 flying-bomb scenes) composed and conducted by Frank Cordell. Cordell's score was intended as a soundtrack album from United Artists Records that was never released until Film Score Monthly finally issued it on CD, paired with Cordell's score for Khartoum.[2]

ReceptionEdit

Most reviewers concentrated on the low-budget production values, but the script and cast also received severe criticism from some quarters. In 1968, McCallum, attending a film festival in Nice, was quoted, “I’ve seen bongo films better than that Mosquito rubbish”. [3]

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The first V-1 fell on London on 13 June 1944.

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ "'Midway' writer Donald S. Sanford dies at 92." Variety, 15 February 2011. Retrieved: 24 February 2011.
  2. ^ http://www.musicweb-international.com/film/2004/Apr04/khartoum.html
  3. ^ Cressy, Ben. "Mosquito Squadron (1970)." angelfire.com. Retrieved: 20 February 2011.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit