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Victory Films

“The Airborne Invasion of Europe WWII"




S u m m a r y

Title: The Airborne Invasion of Europe WWII
Media: DVD
Price: USD$29.00 available online from Wade Meyers Studios
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Great wartime footage, including color sequences; terrific inspiration for modellers.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended


Reviewed by Floyd S. Werner Jr.

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D-Day, 6th of June. Never before has such a historical event been planned and executed. A big part of that day was the airborne troops sent in on the night of the 5-6 June. Many parachutist and gliders were instrumental in making the invasion a success. This DVD chronicles that part of the invasion force.

We are first treated to a 53 minute documentary of the history of Allied use of airborne forces. It starts out in Sicily and then back tracks to the training in the states. The training is difficult enough without having to do it at night and under fire. No wonder there were so many accidents. There are some great shots of the CG-4A shots and some shots of British Horsa gliders. Interestingly, there are shots of the tow planes. Shown are a B-25, P-38, and a PBY. A B-17 is shown towing two gliders and even more amazing is the C-54 towing three into the sky. For those modeling C-47s from D-Day, there are close ups of the towing connection, as well as, the sloppily brush applied invasion stripes. Nothing neat here, chalk lines to give a rough outline and then white wash and black paint applied. When I do my C-47 I will hand-paint my stripes. These things were really not straight not symmetrical and most of all not neatly painted on. You will also see how the doors were taped up for the parachutist.


Aerial pickup is demonstrated. Talk about hairy training. It is amazing to see it in action. The pathfinders are illustrated. What strikes me is the amount of equipment that they have to carry. How they could move, let alone fight, is beyond me. I noticed a difference in the Horsa and the Waco gliders on the approach and this is even pointed out in the video. The Ike visit to the 101st Airborne troops is shown. The unique Mohawk haircuts and the face painting are there. These guys are carrying so much stuff that you can’t imagine jumping with all of it. The British leg pack makes just getting into the door hard. I learned about the para-packs that were slung under the wings of the C-47s. Very interesting. The first aircraft takeoff with the pathfinders is at 2145 hours on 5 June. Only two things are suppose to fall from the sky, bird crap and idiots. These guys were real heroes. How they ever found unit cohesion on the ground is beyond me.

Imagine landing a glider at night along with hundreds of your buddies into an area you can’t see all the while somebody is shooting at you. Really insane and courageous. The glider pilots weren’t trained for night landings and to do the first one on the continent must have been exciting to say the least. Interestingly it is pointed out that the Waco was used in these initial night drops while the Horsas were used in the subsequent airdrops.


If you have ever seen the “Band of Brothers” this is the real story. They look so young for the immense job they had to do. “Band of Brothers” is really very accurate.

There are some wonderful air to air shots of B-26 Marauders doing their thing over the beachhead. Some gun camera footage is included to show the support for the landings. The amount of glider losses is shown pretty graphically. The amount of gliders used and lost is amazing. No wonder we have no gliders in museums today.

The D-day Pathfinders are shown in a color sequence. It is interesting the colors of the uniforms and the markings applied to the airplanes. The first C-47 to takeoff and drop troops is shown. The tail numbers appear red instead of yellow. You can see the application of the paint and that it is not complete coverage. It is a shame that the lead aircraft did not have nose art or even the big yellow flight numbers on the side. Just your plain Jane C-47 with invasion stripes.

Gun camera film taken on D-Day proves that Pips Priller wasn’t the only Luftwaffe fighter in the air that day as the P-47s do a number on a couple. There are some incredible shots of a FW-190 flying defensively that are truly impressive. Ultimately, he gets shot down but the picture is so vivid. Some of the shots are so clear that you see soldiers jumping from the trucks to get to cover. Some great strafing stuff. No wonder James Goodson was called the King of the staffers. His shots are incredible. Tanks, half tracks, trucks and buildings are all brought under the fighters guns. Most of the times extremely close up.

A segment is included on Robert Johnson is next. His P-47 is shown from all angles and to great effect. Inspirational stuff for model builders. He was of smaller stature but when he was in that P-47 he was a big man. Wonderful stuff.


Operation Varsity the air drop over the Rhine is the next segment. Filmed in Black and White this film shows the last large scale use of gliders in combat. It is interesting to note the some of the gliders still only have the early war star with no bars. C-46s are used for the first time in the ETO. This allowed for the parachutist to leave both sides of the plane simultaneously. There is a dramatic crash sequence with a C-46 which loses an engine on takeoff. There are some more crashes of the gliders shown in a dramatic way. The Horsas and the tow planes are shown falling out of the sky at angles that can only mean death to the men on board. Watching B-24s at low altitude dropping hundreds of containers is impressive as well.

The next sequence is entitled “Beachhead to Berlin”. Filmed in color it shows the part of the US Coast Guard in the invasion of Europe. The color is superb and vibrant. There is even color footage of the Mulberry harbor. Battleships, cruisers, LST, LCVP, and every type of ship are shown. The weathering of these ships struck me as being pretty harsh. The amount of dead floating in the deep water was shocking. To see such large ships being tossed around gave me a new appreciation for the sailors.

The next sequence highlights Gloster Meteors at Wiesbaden in June 1945. Filmed in full color they offer a unique look at the first operational allied fighter. The early Meteors are actually very beautiful aircraft in flight.


Aviation cadets are highlighted in the final sequence as a recruitment film used at theaters. I was ready to sign up. With that this DVD comes to an end.

The Allied invasion of Europe thrust many heroes into the fray on Normandy. This film shows many of the tools and equipment used by these men to free Europe.

This DVD is typical of the quality historical video I’ve come to expect from Victory Films. They present a unique war time view of the conflict.

I highly recommend this title and the rest of the series. Great research material, color and B&W film makes these DVDs a great value for the money.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Wade Meyers and Victory Films for the review copy.

Review Copyright © 2007 by Floyd S. Werner Jr.
This Page Created on 02 May, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007

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