A documentary of two halves, this one. The early stages feel very niche as a procession of lavishly moustachioed elderly pilots reminisce about fighter planes and presenter James Holland goes up in in a Meteor Jet courtesy of the very Partridge-sounding ‘Classic Air Force’. But soon, subtext becomes pretext and things get much more intriguing.
Postwar Britain was skint. But we were world leaders in aviation technology. So given our financial desperation and our already huge debts to the USA, who would we sell to? Surely not the USSR? Well yes, actually. Those deadly emblems of Cold War peril, the Russian MIG fighters contained Rolls-Royce engines. And yet at the same time, we happily provided pilots to fly U2 spy planes, a policy still never admitted by British governments.
In the end, a decent film, albeit much better on the ambiguous morality plays of the Cold war than on the simplistic backslapping patriotic boosterism. Part two, which concentrates on the putative delivery of armageddon, should be well worth catching.