Sky Watch (1960)

The film portrays a day in the life of Major Paul Dobbins, a commander of a B-52G missile bomber named Buzz Saw 48, and his crew as part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) of the US Air Force. Their mission is to maintain peace through a demonstration of military strength. The film opens with city life and transitions to Major Dobbins driving to work, highlighting that his job, unlike most, does not end at 5:00 PM. His duty is to keep the peace, a task shared by the 260,000 men of the SAC and other armed forces members.

The film details the pre-flight preparations and the rigorous checks performed on the aircraft and crew. It emphasizes the importance of precision and the high stakes of their mission. The B-52s, equipped with significant destructive power, patrol the skies for 24 hours, ready to respond to any enemy threat.

The narrative explains the strategic importance of the SAC, including the development of an early warning system over North America and the establishment of the DEW line to detect incoming enemy planes. As missile technology advanced, reducing warning times, SAC adapted by dispersing bases, maintaining a ground alert, and introducing an airborne alert to ensure a portion of their force could survive an attack and retaliate.

The crew undergoes rigorous training to ensure accuracy and readiness. The film shows a simulated mission where the crew practices firing decoy missiles and attacking practice targets, illustrating their preparedness for actual combat.

In a scenario where an enemy attack appears probable, the SAC commander can order the airborne alert planes to standby for attack orders, which would be issued by the President. The film depicts this tension, with the crew awaiting a possible go code for attack.

The SAC’s strategy includes a mix of bombers and ICBMs to ensure a versatile and powerful retaliatory force. The film shows the crew preparing for potential combat, highlighting the human element and the heavy responsibility they carry.

Ultimately, the film concludes on a peaceful note, with the go code not issued and the crew returning home. However, it underscores the ongoing need for SAC’s readiness as a deterrent to ensure peace and freedom in a world still grappling with the threat of nuclear war. The film portrays the SAC as a powerful force, casting a “shadow of peace,” enabling people to live without fear.

We digitized and uploaded this film from the A/V Geeks 16mm Archive. Email us at if you have questions about the footage and are interested in using it in your project.

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