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Curator's Choice Video Collection

Cradle of Aviation Museum Historian and Curator, Josh Stoff, curates interesting short YouTube videos and provides commentary.

Virtual Museum Home > Curator's Choice > Grumman Duck and ‘Murphy’s War’

The Grumman Duck and ‘Murphy’s War’

YouTube Channel: British Classic Film Clips, posted May 5, 2019

The Grumman JF Duck was a biplane single-engine amphibious aircraft used by all branches of the U.S. armed forces from the mid-1930s through World War Two. It was first produced by Grumman in Farmingdale in 1936 as a transport, reconnaissance, and air-sea rescue aircraft for the U.S. Navy. Due to the pressure of work producing Wildcats and Hellcats following the US entry into the war, Grumman shifted Duck production to Columbia Aircraft in Valley Stream, NY, in 1942. A total of 584 were produced by Grumman and Columbia through 1945.

During the war, Grumman Ducks were heavily used for transport and rescue work but they were also used in one notable offensive operation. In 1943 a flight of Ducks, carrying small bombs, departed Iceland and attacked a German weather station established on Sabine Island on Greenland’s east coast. The attack largely destroyed the base and shortly thereafter a U Boat evacuated the survivors.

Murphy’s War was a 1971 drama starring Peter O’Toole and set in South America in 1945. The German Navy did operate off the coast of South America during World War Two, in fact, the German battleship ‘Graf Spee’ once put into neutral Uruguay to make repairs. The film focuses on the stubborn survivor of a sunken merchant ship who is consumed in his quest for revenge against the German submarine which had sunk his ship, killing the crew. After discovering the submarine hiding nearby, Murphy (O’Toole) uses the floatplane recovered from the ship, teaches himself how to fly it, and attacks the submarine using homemade bombs. Although the film was not well received, for airplane fans it is remarkable as the only use of a Grumman Duck in a film, all the more spectacular as it was filmed in South America on the Orinoco River. The aircraft used in the film is now on exhibit at the Air Force Museum in Ohio.

Now let's have a rare look at a Grumman Duck ‘in action’ in 1971’s Murphy’s War.