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In 1940, the British Royal Air Force fights a desperate battle vs. the Nazi Germany Air Force for control of British air space to prevent a Nazi invasion of Britain.
Baron von Richter: David, we are not asking for anything. Europe is ours, we can walk into Britain whenever we like. Sir David Kelly: If you think we're going to gamble on Herr Hitler's guarantees, you're making a grave mistake. All those years in England seems to have left you none the wiser. We're not easily frightened. Also we know how hard it is for an army to cross the Channel. The last little Corporal who tried came a cropper. So don't threaten or dictate to us until you're marching up Whitehall... and even then we won't listen.
Air Vice Marshal Evill: [ACM Dowding is sitting at his desk reading reports. The phone buzzes. AVM Evill picks up the phone] Yes? [listens] Air Vice Marshal Evill: Yes, one moment [turns to ACM Dowding] Air Vice Marshal Evill: The Air Minister, sir. on the scrambler. Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: [picks up green scrambler phone] Yes? Minister: Ah, Dowding. Er. Look. Our people in Washington are having trouble with the American Press. It's about today's figures. German sources there are saying that our claims are wildly exaggerated. Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: [listens, but says nothing] Minister: Hello? Are you there Dowding? Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: I'm here Minister. Minister: Well I mean, can you verify the figures? Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: [clears throat] I'm not very interested in propaganda. If we're right, they'll give up. If we are wrong, they'll be in London in a week!. [pauses then hangs up]
[Squadron Leader Skipper and Simon are doing training in Spitfires. Skipper has just ordered Simon to engage him in a dogfight, but Simon has lost sight of him and is blinded by the sun. Suddenly Skipper bursts towards him from the sun] Squadron Leader Skipper: [imitating a machine gun] DAKA-DAKA-DAKA-DAKA-DAKA-DAKA-DAKA-DAKA-DAKA! [flies past Simon] Simon: Hello Rabbit Leader - thought you might come in from the sun! Squadron Leader Skipper: DON'T THINK! Don't just glance! LOOK! Search for the bastards! OK, let's try it again.
Warr. Off. Warrick: Put that cigarette out! The mains have gone, can't you smell gas? Section Officer Maggie Harvey: Don't you yell at me, MR Warrick!
[With the aid of an interpreter, Edwards has berated the Polish pilots for attacking German bombers against orders, before pulling a telegram out of his pocket] Squadron Leader Edwards: Finally, and God alone knows why, I've received the following signal: [looks down] Squadron Leader Edwards: "Congratulations! As of today, this Squadron is operational." Signed, Air Vice Marshall Keith Park, AOC 11 Group [the men start cheering, and Squadron Leader Edwards smirks, before the scene changes to Dowding's office] Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: I was wrong about the Poles. Air Vice Marshal Keith Park: We also have the second Polish Squadron. Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: [Donning his cap] I *thought* you'd mention them. Allright, make them operational. Air Vice Marshal Keith Park: And the Canadians? Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: And the Czechs. We need them *all!* [They exit]
Air Vice Marshal Keith Park: [during the raids on September 15th] Is everything up? Wing Cmdr. Willoughby: The lot, Sir! Air Vice Marshal Keith Park: Reserves? Wing Cmdr. Willoughby: None! Air Vice Marshal Keith Park: That's what I've just told the Prime Minister! [walks back into office with Winston Churchill watching the progress]
[Narration] Winston Churchill: Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
Senior civil servant: Churchill puts great faith in radar. Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: It's vital, but it won't shot down aircraft. Senior civil servant: Ha... well I must say you don't, exactly exude a spirit of optimism. Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: God willing we will hold out minister. Senior civil servant: I see. So I tell the cabinet, that you're trusting in radar and praying to God, is that right? Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding: [chuckles] more accurately the other way round. Trusting in god and praying for radar. But the essential arithmetic is that our young men will have to shoot down their young men at the rate of four to one, if we're to keep pace at all.
Squadron Leader Skipper: How many time have I told you - never fly straight and level for more than 30 seconds in a combat area! [pauses] Squadron Leader Skipper: You call your wife? [Andy shakes his head slightly] Squadron Leader Skipper: All right, boy! Get in! [cocks his head toward his small maroon Austin Ascot 12/6]
Squadron Leader Colin Harvey: Never let me catch you doing a victory roll over my airfield again. Understood?
Wing Cmdr. Willoughby: [hanging up the phone and looking down at the plotting table, showing a large number of RAF Squadrons in place to intercept a Luftwaffe raid on London] This should give them something to think about!
Squadron Leader Colin Harvey: I'll give you a piece of advice: stay single.
Squadron Leader Canfield: The *engine's* overheating, and so am *I*! Either we stand down, or *blow up*! Now *which* do you want?
[after berating Simon, a young pilot] Squadron Leader Skipper: How many hours in Spits? Simon: Ten and a half, sir. Squadron Leader Skipper: Let's make it *eleven*, before *Jerry* has you for *breakfast!* Pilot Officer Archie: Spring chicken to shitehawk in one easy lesson. [at low volume, almost whispering, after Simon and Skipper leave the building for their aircraft] Pilot Officer Archie: daka!-daka!-daka!-daka!-daka!-daka!-daka!-daka!
[Sgt Pilot Andy is reading a letter, while the pilots are waiting for the call to scramble] Sgt. Pilot Andy: Silly Bitch! Pilot Officer Archie: He's calling you names again, Arnold! Sgt. Pilot Andy: I spend half my leave getting her settled in the country, and now, "I'm bored", she says!
[Park has just landed, to be met by Group Captain Hope] Group Capt. Hope: Bad as we thought, Sir? Air Vice Marshal Keith Park: [upset] Worse! Kenley and Biggin are a *shambles* and the rest not much better. God Knows how many aircraft we'll have in the morning! All because 12 Group couldn't do their stuff. Leigh-Mallory and his big wings! Might as well stay on the *ground* for all the *use* they are!
Sgt. Pilot Chris: [the British Spitfire pilots are having an easy time shooting down the feared German Stuka Dive Bombers] It's like shooting rats in a barrel. Squadron Leader Canfield: *You'll* be "in a barrel", if you don't watch out for the *fighters*!
Polish R.A.F. pilot: [Polish pilot parachutes from his plane when it is shot down. He lands in a hayfield] Good afternoon,sir [in a Polish accent] Farmer: [the farmer points a pitch fork at the pilot thinking he's German, and replies in an angry sarcastic voice] Good afternoon my arse, you boche bastard. Come on put your hands up. Polish R.A.F. pilot: Why? Farmer: Come on, put 'em up. Polish R.A.F. pilot: I'm a Polish pilot, I'm fighting on your side.
Tank crewman: [after watching a Hurricane perform a victory roll] Who's he trying to kid!
Squadron Leader Skipper: Corporal! Re-fuel them immediately. Corporal at French airfield: Yes, sir. [Turns back to the other ground crew] Corporal at French airfield: So anyway... [continues his conversation] Squadron Leader Skipper: Corporal - I don't mean with your blood! And re-arm them! Corporal at French airfield: Yes, *sir*! [Runs towards the aircraft]
[to his flight of non-English-speaking Polish pilots] Squadron Leader Edwards: Shut up! Silence - in Polish!
Section Officer Maggie Harvey: [to Squadron Leader Colin Henry] I'm just not cut out to wave a wet hanky and sooty stations.
Sgt. Pilot Andy: [Novice pilot Simon has made a very bad landing] You can teach... Pilot Officer Archie: [joins in] ... *monkeys* to fly better than that!
Squadron Leader Skipper: Where have you been? Sgt. Pilot Andy: [soaking wet and miffed] Learning to swim! Squadron Leader Skipper: Did you get one? Sgt. Pilot Andy: All I got was a bellyful of English Channel!
[the Germans are about to overrun the airfield] Squadron Leader Skipper: Right! Let's get the hell out of here! Pilot Officer Archie: Where are we going, sir? Squadron Leader Skipper: [Walking rapidly toward his plane] Why don't you follow me and find out?
Group Capt. Baker: Section Officer Harvey! [yells] Section Officer Maggie Harvey: Sir [walks up to him and gives a salute, which he returns] Group Capt. Baker: Section Officer Harvey, I've noticed that some of your girls are now using the men's trenches during air raid practice. It's got to stop. Section Officer Maggie Harvey: Sir Group Capt. Baker: And another thing... Gas mask cases [tapping Maggie's case] Group Capt. Baker: They're for gas masks, They're not handbags. I do realize, of course, that female requirement differ somewhat from the male. Nevertheless that's no excuse... [stops in mid sentence as he hears German bombs exploding behind him. He and Harvey turn around and see bombers approaching] Group Capt. Baker: God's teeth! [at full volume] Group Capt. Baker: Take cover! [Baker and Harvey run into the same nearby trench]
Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory: [protesting to Dowding] We were up, sir, trying to knock out the enemy air mass. It takes time to assemble forty or fifty aircraft at... Air Vice Marshal Keith Park: [interrupting] It takes far too long! By the time your "Big Wing" is up, the enemies have already hit their targets and are on their way home. Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory: All that matters is to shoot them down in large numbers. I'd rather destroy fifty after they've hit their targets than ten before. Air Vice Marshal Keith Park: Don't forget, the targets are my airfields, Leigh-Mallory. And you're not getting fifty. You're not even getting ten!
Air Vice Marshal Keith Park: [on being told that the radar stations are out of action due to German bombing] So we're blind, so now we've only got the Observer Corps!
Squadron Leader Skipper: [His squadron has just been scrambled and is also under attack by the Luftwaffe] Well don't just *stand* there! Get one *up!*
Section Officer Maggie Harvey: I left out the bit about the wolf whistles. You're better at it then I am. WRAF Corporal Seymour: The Erks have other things on their minds these days thank goodness!
[British pilots in France are listening to a French officer talking about the German advance] Pilot Officer Archie: For the benefit of the uneducated among us, I shall now translate.