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My three Documentaries on the 325th Fighter Group - "The Checkertail Clan"


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Due to various hosting issues, links being deleted, and reuploaded over the years, sadly the views down't tell the entire story, but as a rough approximation, the trilogy has had round 1.5 million views when direct DVD downloads are included 🙂

All the footage was either via interviews I made, original WW2 images and video, original 325th FG home video from WW2 and the flight/fight sequences were created using IL2:1946.

So here's a brief summary of how they came about.

In 2007, I had just finished a short film about Robert S. Johnson's survival against all the odds stacked against him when he was shot up and trapped in a burning aircraft after his canopy jammed. That film was called "Not My Time To Die!" and was narrated by Ralph Gimenez (known on forums as "Monguse"). He and I became friends through our mutual interest in Flight Simulation, WW2 Aviation history and a passion to keep these great stories alive.
Ralph is a dedicated historian of B-25's that flew in the Mediterranean Theatre of operations and during one of our chats on Skype he mentioned that the B-25's would often be escorted by P-51's of the Checkertail Clan..........and that's when all my problems began!

My interest was hooked, and I decided to make a short 5-minute film depicting one-battle fought by the 325th.

I sent a speculative email to Art Fiedler, a P-51 Ace who flew with the 325th and didn't really expect a reply. However, never under-estimate a Checkertail! Art replied, and the detail and enthusiasm he went into regarding my questions made me realise that this could be more than just a fleeting 'action flick'. I steadily set about researching the 325th and through books and emails my knowledge soon grew, and I became entranced by their history and the people who served with them. My search for more information led to me contacting the "Virtual325th" who take part in online historical battles using combat flight simulation software and from this I made contact with Ian MacDonald who had more contact for me to follow up. Steadily my emails became full of incredible stories and anecdotes and I realised I would need to meet these surviving members to record their memories, so generations would be able to see and hear what these veterans did to preserve our freedom.

Along the way I have met many great people, in-fact too-many to mention, but a few do stand out. Ian MacDonald hired an aeroplane, and we flew from his home in New Hampshire to meet Jerry Edwards, so I could film his memoirs, Ralph Gimenez arranged for groups of 'virtual' pilots to fly battle-scenes that were required to make some of the action scenes, as-well as making the paint-schemes that appear on the aircraft suing his knowledge of Photoshop. Frank Lawless who's Father-in-Law (Gordon McDaniel) became an 'Ace-in-a-day' replied to one of my many speculative emails, and he paved the way for me to contact Gary Bullock who has appeared in many Hollywood productions and ultimately jumped at the chance to narrate my project.

With reference to Gary, he has been tireless in his dedication to create a professional Narrative, which has seen him editing and re-writing my very amateur script and making it into a full-blown piece of art! As an aside, I should add that when I made the original edit of part 1, I had to record the Narration myself to 'time' the footage to, so that I could progress quickly with the project. This was great until Gary read it 'properly' like a Narrator should. Sadly, I had talked at the speed of a typical 'natter-jack' and Gary was rock-solid and smooth, making sure each intonation was exactly as it should be read. This meant that once I got his Narration back and put it onto the timeline, what had taken me 10-seconds to say, took Gary 18-seconds to say! Cut to me pulling my hair out and having to re-edit my edit! However, it was worth every second of effort.

Part 1 detailed the history of the group flying P40's and P47's.

Part 2 showcased the P51 era for the group

Part 3 was the stories and anecdotes that just didn't fit into Part 1 or 2

 Everything that you see in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 has been created for free, as a hobby and to share the memories of the last remaining members of the Fighter Group. There is no agenda, no 'money-making', no profit. Everything has been created just because I could and what greater motivation can there be, than to honour these great men who served for us and protected us and ultimately gave us the freedom we now take for granted. To quote from the opening of Part 1:

"The following is the story of one unsung group of Pilots, who stood up to be counted when the time came to fight back against the rising tide of tyranny.  They were young men, who, like us, all had hopes and dreams of what their future would bring. Yet when all hope seemed lost, they did not cower, they did not run, they stood firm and chose to fight.  Many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice in that fight. This is our tribute to these men, who were feared and known by their enemies as ........Checkertails"


Anyway, here are the films, cheers, Mysticpuma

Checkertails Part 1:
Checkertails Part 2:
Checkertails Part 3:
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