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Vivid, mesmerizing, with rarely if ever before seen shots, Carrier Battles (Allegro; 55 minutes, B&W) rates high on the you-are-there charts. Part of a new British series called The War File, the DVD traces the development of the aircraft carrier from its pre–World War I birthing pangs to its coming of age at crucial confrontations like the Battle of Midway. What really soars is the archival footage. There are incredible views behind firing turrets of ships like the Yorktown during Japanese air attacks; of sailors scrambling upright over a slowly overturning hull as their ship begins to sink; of American planes flying over the still-foaming wakes of Japanese carriers; of kamikaze plunges into burning American flight decks at the Battle of Okinawa. By the film’s finish, you can almost taste the salt and smoke.


Originally published in the October 2007 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here.