‘Chronicles of Courage’

Now that the date that will live in infamy has passed, we can spend four years commemorating the 75th anniversary of American participation in World War II itself. A good place to start could be the just-launched 10-part series Chronicles of Courage: Stories of Wartime and Innovation.

All of the short-form episodes are available for free streaming at NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News. The content, narrated by NBC newsperson Kate Snow, is derived from The Flying Heritage Collection, a philanthropic project of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen which has spent over 15 years compiling oral history video archives on war and aviation. A third partner on the series is Allen’s Vulcan Productions.

By clicking on the “Lessons” tab for each video, you can also access lesson plans for high school and middle school students that were developed by the National Science Teachers Association and NBC Learn. For example, here’s the lesson plan for the episode, “Flying the Beam.”

Here are descriptions of the 10 episodes:

  • “Pearl Harbor”: US Navy sailor Stuart Hedley describes the horror of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the engineering that made the Mitsubishi A6M Zero such a deadly fighter plane
  • “P-47 and the Turbo Supercharger”: US fighter pilot Archie Maltbie shares his D-Day experience, and the innovation behind the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt’s engine
  • “Flying the Beam”: US fighter pilot Jerry Yellin describes a low-tech but innovative navigation technique deployed on long missions after Iwo Jima was secured
  • “Flying Tigers”: Flying Tigers squadron leader Tex Hill describes how their daring dive tactics with the P-40 airplane were successful against the Japanese Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa, aka the “Oscar”
  • “P-47 and the Double Wasp Engine”: US P-47 fighter pilot Benjamin Cassiday Jr. describes his encounters with German Messerschmitt Bf 109s. The P-47’s 18-cylinder engine is also examined
  • “The Doolittle Raid”: Richard Cole, co-pilot for James Doolittle, details the U.S.’s top-secret mission to bomb Japan by launching bomber planes from an aircraft carrier — a feat that had never been done before
  • “B-17 and the Ball Turret”: US gunner Mason Howe describes his experience inside the ball turret, the underbelly of the B-17 Flying Fortress
  • “F6F Hellcat”: Demonstrating innovation against all odds, the U.S. Navy’s Fast Carrier Task Force introduces the F6F Hellcat and its unique folding wing
  • “Tuskegee Airmen”: Fighter pilots William Holloman and Robert Friend are among the first African-American pilots admitted into the United States military, flying the P-51 Mustang. The Mustang’s drop tank is also explored
  • “WASPs”: A deeper look at the more than 1,000 women who were activated as Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, flying military planes in a wide range of crucial missions.



About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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