Warning: you are likely to lose track of time watching this film!
Today’s look back at aviation history is a real knee slapper that would probably never get made in this day and age. The film, “Launch ‘Em”, was made by Carrier Air Group 12 while returning to the United States after their 1955-1956 Far East deployment aboard the carrier USS Hancock (CV-19). A gag film in the finest traditions of Naval Aviation, this one will make you laugh out loud even if you’re not familiar with the goings on aboard an aircraft carrier. It is said that the film was made scarce during the 1960s because it was “politically incorrect” (they had that back then?) but I think the viewing public these days is sophisticated enough to realize the flick is a comedy from beginning to end- entirely unlike some of our more recently highlighted films such as Ready on Arrival.
At the time of the making of this film, Carrier Air Group 12 consisted of VF-121 Pacemakers flying Grumman F9F-8 Cougars, VF-124 Gunfighters flying Vought F7U-3 Cutlasses, VA-125 Rough Raiders flying Douglas AD-5 and AD-6 Skyraiders, VMJ-1 Detachment G flying McDonnell F2H-2P (photo) Banshees, VC-3 Blue Nemesis Detachment G flying McDonnell F2H-3 Banshees, VC-6 Firebees Detachment G flying North American AJ-2 Savages, VC-61 Eyes of the Fleet Detachment G flying Grumman F9F-6P (photo) Panthers, VC-35 Night Hecklers Detachment G flying Douglas AD-5N (night attack) Skyraiders, VC-11 Early Eleven Detachment G flying Douglas AD-5W (early warning) Skyraiders, and HU-1 Pacific Fleet Angels Detachment G flying Piasecki HUP helos.
VF-121 receives top billing in the film but it’s obvious many of the air group personnel and ship’s company were also involved in this celluloid caper. Thankfully the CAG wakes up from his exceedingly bad dream at the end of the film. Literally a laugh a minute, “Launch ‘Em” is the forefather of Fighter Fling, Rhino Ball, and other gag / cruise videos still being produced (and thoroughly enjoyed) today.
Thanks to Periscope Film for uploading a watchable copy of the film and to our Facebook followers for suggesting it.