God Is My Co-Pilot

God is My Co-Pilot is a 1945 American black-and-white biographical war film from Warner Bros. Pictures, produced by Robert Buckner, directed by Robert Florey, that stars Dennis Morgan and co-stars Dane Clark and Raymond Massey. The screenplay by Abem Finkel and Peter Milne is based on the 1943 autobiography of the same name by Robert Lee Scott, Jr. (April 12, 1908 – February 27, 2006) and tells the story of Scott’s involvement with the Flying Tigers and the United States Army Air Forces in China and Burma during World War II.

God Is My Co-PilotAt age 34, Army Air Force pilot Major Robert Lee Scott Jr. (Dennis Morgan) is considered too old to fly in combat, but he is recruited and volunteers to fly in a secret bombing mission from the Philippines against Tokyo, the Japanese capital. When the mission is cancelled after his arrival in India because of the fall of the Philippines, Scott is promoted to Colonel and is then assigned to fly transport aircraft. He flies dangerous, unescorted missions over The Hump from Burma to China in order to supply aviation gasoline and other much-needed supplies to the three squadrons of the American Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers.

Over time, Scott persuades General Claire Chennault (Raymond Massey), the commander of the Flying Tigers, to let him fly with his experienced airmen, like “Tex” Hill (John Ridgely), who have been fighting the Japanese as mercenaries while technically being members of the Chinese Air Force. Scott gets his chance to finally fly one of their Curtiss P-40B/C Tomahawks, engaging in aerial combat missions and becoming a double-ace while flying with the Tigers.

On America’s Independence Day, the 4th of July, during a surprise bombing and fighter raid on Japanese-occupied Hong Kong, Scott once again engages in combat with the infamous Japanese fighter ace nicknamed “Tokyo Joe” (Richard Loo). Even though Scott’s engine is hit and losing power, he suddenly drops his landing flaps, his speed being quickly reduced. “Joe” suddenly flies past and directly into Scott’s cross-hairs, where the Zero is machine-gunned at very close range. As Scott riddles Joe with bullets, he says in triumph over his radio, “there’s your six-feet of China, Joe, now go fill it up”. The now burning Zero fighter spins out of control and crashes, as Scott’s damaged P-40 continues to smoke and lose altitude. When Scott doesn’t return to base, and no further word of him is heard after a couple of days, he is presumed killed in combat. As Chennault begins to write a letter to Scott’s widow, he hears a commotion outside that grows ever louder. A nighttime, torch-lit, gong-playing Chinese procession enters the Tigers’ compound, with an injured Scott being carried at its center, bearing “Tokyo Joe”s Samurai sword.

After a physical examination, despite Scott’s assurances that he is fine, the doctor must ground him because of his age, signs of combat fatigue, and other related health concerns. As a result, he must now sit-out the largest air-raid against the Japanese ever planned in China. As Scott listens through an open window to the mission briefing details, Chennault looks on, studying him, having come to a command decision. Out on the airfield is a new P-40 fighter with more firepower and a more powerful Allison engine. Chennault tells Scott the aircraft is his for one last mission, a gift from “the old man”. Elated, Scott fires up the engine and rapidly gets airborne. He quickly climbs skyward to join the squadrons of fighters and bombers formed-up and now heading east toward certain victory.

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