Ships with Wings

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Ships with Wings
Directed by Sergei Nolbandov
Written by
Produced by Michael Balcon
Edited by Robert Hamer
Music by Geoffrey Wright
Distributed by
Release date
November 1941
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Ships with Wings is a 1941 British war film directed by Sergei Nolbandov and starring John Clements, Leslie Banks and Jane Baxter. [1] The film is set during the Battle of Greece (1940-1941). It depicts military aviation.



During the Second World War, pilot Lieutenant Dick Stacey is expelled from the British Fleet Air Arm for imprudence, but later has the opportunity to redeem himself when he takes part in the fight against the Germans in Greece.



The film was made by Ealing Studios, but filmed at Fountain Studios in Wembley Park, north-west London. [2]


The film premiered in November 1941 and went on general release in January 1942. [3] It was a commercial success and was the second most popular film in British cinemas that month behind It Started with Eve . [4] The sinking of the Ark Royal, on which a number of scenes were set and shot, in November 1941 added a sense of topicality to the film. Ark Royal portrays the fictional HMS Invincible - a name not used for a Royal Navy aircraft carrier until the 1970s. The most recent ship named HMS Invincible until then was a battlecruiser sunk at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Critical reception

The film received an overwhelmingly positive reception from the popular press on its release. [5] However, it came under attack from a number of intellectuals for what they considered its lack of realism while the Prime Minister Winston Churchill objected because of the large number of British casualties shown in the film which he considered bad for morale. [6] The producer Michael Balcon was disturbed by these criticisms and commenced a shift in Ealing’s production away from such films towards what were considered more realistic portrayals in an attempt to counter this perceived lack of authenticity. However, except for Dead of Night , Ealing's films for the remainder of the war failed to enjoy the same commercial success as the earlier "unrealistic" war films and were eclipsed at the box office by the Gainsborough melodramas. [7]

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  1. BFI | Film & TV Database | SHIPS WITH WINGS (1941)
  2. team, Code8. "On screen - WEMBLEY PARK". Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  3. Aldgate & Richards p.316
  4. Aldgate & Richards p.324
  5. Aldgate & Richards p.317
  6. Aldgate & Richards p.319
  7. Aldgate & Richards p.327