Thursday, 8 December 2016

Tora! Tora! Tora! ... the replica aircraft

Writing my recent blog entry about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour reminded me that I had not watched the film TORA! TORA! TORA! for some time ... so I did.

Because the film's makers took such pains to try to get as much of the detail right (there are quite a few errors, but they do not - in my opinion - detract unduly from the overall desire for accuracy in the film), it is a film that I think has stood the test of time, and is as good to watch nowadays as it was when it was first released back in 1970. In fact the film was made by two separate teams of film makers, with one based in the United States, where their work was directed by directed by Richard Fleischer, and one based in Japan. The Japanese team was initially led by Akira Kurosawa, but early in the filming he was replaced by Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku. As a result the American and Japanese segments have very distinct styles, each style reflecting the traditions of that nation's films.

One thing that the makers did that showed their commitment to getting things right was the use of replicas where there were no flying examples of the original aircraft available. North American T-6 Texan training aircraft were modified to look like Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters, ...


... Vultee BT-13 Valiant training aircraft were used to replicate Aichi D3A Val dive-bombers, ...


... and the rear fuselages of several Vultee BT-13 Valiants were grafted to the front ends of North American T-6 Texan to produce replica Nakajima B3N Kate torpedo bombers.


6 comments:

  1. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" is a far, far better film than the more recent "Pearl Harbour" and has, as you say stood the test of time. I remember about ten or 15 year ago I was in my garden (in Essex)when a formation of some of these aircraft (from the then Confederate Air Force)flew over en route to a display at Duxford. A very impressive sight - it is the wing outline seen from above/below which gives away the Harvard origins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David Bradley,

      I don't know how the producers of 'Pearl Harbour' had the nerve to put it out on general release. I've seen far worse films go straight to DVD!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. I have vague memories of seeing it in the cinema with my Dad, as we saw Battle of Britain and Devil's Brigade. He was always pleased when the films managed to get the feel right. In Devil's Brigade the cinema had a new sound system that gave the impression of shells flying overhead. It imoressed him and reminded him of his time in Italy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ross Mac,

      Back in the days before CGI there were some great war films made. (There were also more than few duds ... but lets ignore them!) If only such films were being made today!

      All the best,

      Bob

      PS. A British actor (Peter Butterworth, I think) went for a role in POW escape film based on true events, but was turned down for not looking convincing enough to be a prisoner. Interestingly enough he had actually taken part in the real escape!

      Delete
  3. About ten years ago, one each of these 'rebuilds' flew over my house, headed to an airshow in Alabama. (The next day I saw a Ford Trimotor). I wanted so badly for them to fly over my dad's house on the way back to Florida, where they were apparently based, but he never saw them. They were flying very low, and looked fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steven Page,

      What a wonderful memory! I am extremely envious!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete