Revealed WWI Top Gun


The birth of the fighter plane between 1914 and 1918, tracing how the development of aircraft technology during the pressure cooker of war changed what was an eccentric folly into a deadly weapon. The documentary explores the brave new world of dogfights, aerial reconnaissance and bombing missions, as British pioneers such as Geoffrey de Havilland competed to outdo Anton Fokker, the Dutchman whose planes helped Germany dominate the skies. The story is rounded out with experiments and demonstrations using the Vintage Aviators, filmmaker Peter Jackson’s fleet of replica First World War aircraft. This documentary tells the story of how a small band of pioneering aircraft designers and engineers invented modern warfare, turning the aeroplane from an eccentric novelty to the decisive weapon of modern conflict. The programme includes a series of dazzling aerial experiments, as present day test pilots push the meticulously recreated planes to the limit. On both sides of the war, experimental engineers scrabbled for superiority of the skies, with British pioneers like Geoffrey de Havilland competing to out do Anton Fokker, the Dutchman whose planes helped Germany to dominate the sky. These were men working in the dark with a brand-new technology, battling the scepticism of their superiors while the fate of thousands of men rested on their ability to beat the enemy to the next engineering breakthrough. Demonstrations and experiments with the aviators show the mechanical evolution of military air power by the Allies and Germany to reveal how visionary technology saw the emergence of the first fighter planes and a major shift in modern warfare. The rivalry between German and Allied engineers pushed the planes to new heights. We see how the need for accurate sketches led to changes in planes, how complications with air-to-ground communications led to advanced radios and, crucially, how the need to protect the pilots led to race for plane armament and the development of the first all-purpose fighter plane. With no living survivors from the Great War, the experiences and knowledge from the Vintage Aviators flying and making these machines provide an opportunity to reveal these unsung heroes of World War I, and how the most pioneering branch of the military played a crucial part in winning the war.