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Watch: “The Fighting Lady” Starred The Navy’s Finest In World War II

The Carrier Yorktown, Her Crew, Her Air Group, and Task Force 58 Star In This Classic 1945 Recruiting Film

Official US Navy Photograph

The documentary film “The Fighting Lady” was produced by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1944 and released in 1945. Billed as a “Newsdrama of the Pacific” and shot aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10), the film stars the Fighting Lady and her crew. A supporting credit went to the carrier’s air group and their Grumman F6F Hellcats, Grumman TBF Avengers, Curtiss SB2C Helldivers, and even a few Douglas SBD Dauntlesses. Famed Naval photographer Lieutenant Commander Edward J Steichen supervised the photography for the film and Naval Reserve Lieutenant (and actor) Robert Taylor narrated it. YouTuber AIRBOYD uploaded the film.

Official US Navy Photograph

The majority of the footage was indeed shot aboard the Yorktown but some additional scenes were captured aboard another Essex-class carrier, the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). It’s obvious that some of the footage used in the film was shot earlier (and some later) as aircraft insignia and paintwork are inconsistent, but the film is in good shape and the transfer is very clean overall. Captain “Jocko” Clark’s voice sure sounds like that of a young Harry Morgan, but that could just be the wax in my ears. The film explains a great deal about how the carrier functions and its layout.

Official US Navy Photograph

The Yorktown served the nation for a total of 21 years. She earned 11 Battle Stars during World War II in the Pacific, was decommissioned in 1947 and recommissioned in 1953 as an attack carrier (CVA-10) and later changed to an antisubmarine carrier (CVS-10), before being decommissioned for good in 1970. She served as the recovery ship for Apollo 8. The crew was comprised of Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders. The Fighting Lady also found time to earn five Battle Stars during the Vietnam War.

Official US Navy Photograph

Other Yorktown Screen Credits

When Twentieth Century-Fox made another movie about carrier aviation the Yorktown seemed like the natural choice. But this time around the carrier served as a Japanese carrier for the dawn launch sequences of “Tora Tora Tora”. A bunch of converted T-6 Texan and BT-13 Valiant trainers playing Japanese Zeros, Vals, and Kates in the movie. In 1975 the Yorktown became a museum ship at Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She starred in at least one additional movie, the 1984 New World Pictures science fiction film “The Philadelphia Experiment.”

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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