Here’s a list of aviation movies that focus on combat, dogfights, and so much more. From WWII classics to Cold War stories, here’s the list of the ten best aerial combat movies of all time:
10. Les Chevaliers Du Ciel
This 2005 French military action film is known internationally as Sky Fighters.
While the plot may be a little cliche, the sheer scope and magnificent imagery provide the film with a high level of watchability. The opening dogfight between the film’s protagonist pilots and enemy forces is mostly devoid of CGI. It also features superb cinematography and stunning action sequences.
9. Memphis Belle
This movie follows the story of a B-17 crew that survived 25 successful bombing missions during WWII. The movie gives viewers a glimpse of the vintage B-17 Flying Fortress in action – five of which were actually rebuilt and used during the movie, with one even crashing during filming.
8. Hell’s Angels
Hell’s Angels follows two brothers who joined the British Royal Flying Court at the start of the First World War and ended up volunteering for the same risky bombing mission. The film became the landmark of early sound and color use.
7. The Dam Busters
Dam Busters is one of the most famous British World War II films. The movie chronicles the development of the bouncing bomb as well as its subsequent deployment in the famous raid that would end up destroying Germany’s strategically important dams in May 1943.
This Christopher Nolan-directed film was a critical and commercial success. It depicted the evacuation of soldiers from the titular town.
Although it lacked a complex plot, the sequences that constantly escalated tension made up for it. This can be seen in the film’s opening dogfight between RAF Spitfires and Luftwaffe dive bombers.
5. Tora! Tora! Tora!
This film retells the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Told from the Japanese and American points of view, it lays out the precise chain of events that happened that fateful day on December 7, 1941.
The movie features plenty of WWII aircraft, dogfights, bombing runs, and so much more.
4. Battle of Britain
The massive effort to gather an unnecessary number of Hurricanes, Messerschmitt, Spitfires, and Heinkels was worthwhile for this movie and the special effects are pretty impressive, too. The film brings the infamous WWII battle to the big screen.
Wings is a silent film set in World War I and became the standard which future aviation movies. It featured innovative aerial shooting and a realistic depiction of flight and dogfights.
2. Top Gun
With Tom Cruise jumping back again to its sequel, this aviation film list wouldn’t be complete without this classic. The movie is filled with airborne stunts and well-executed dogfights giving viewers plenty of electrifying action.
1. Twelve O’Clock High
This film takes advantage of the still available B-17s and extensive combat footage adding a sense of authenticity to the flight scenes. It is all about the psychological price a leader must pay for sending men to their deaths.