I thought about sharing this on Veterans' Day, but as much as I like Roddy McDowall, my take on these characters he played in '12 O'Clock High' and 'Combat!' makes them unworthy to be seen in Inner Toob on a day when we honor those who fought for our country.....
During WWII, the fighter planes were given colorful names, the most famous - in both the real world and in Toobworld - would probably be the Enola Gay.
Over in England there was Angel Babe, which was coming up on her fiftieth combat mission. A film crew had come over from the States to get some footage before Angel Babe was retired and sent back to go on a publicity tour (probably to raise money through war bonds.)
And sure enough, a string of misfortunes happened that kept preventing Angel Babe from reaching that fiftieth mission milestone. When she finally did go up, she almost didn't make it back to base and T/Sgt. Willets lost faith in her. But she got them all home safely, only to burst into flames as soon as everybody was clear.
But what if it was sabotage? Who could have done such a thing?
I think it was T/Sgt. Willets. And I believe he was a Nazi spy.
Willets showed up a few months later in France, only now he was an infantry man named Murfree. But he still looked the same, still had that "good ol' boy" Southern drawl. He infiltrated Sgt. Saunders' platoon and was eventually revealed to be a Nazi.
Both roles were played by Roddy McDowall - Willets in '12 O'Clock High' ("Angel Babe") and Murfree in 'Combat!' ("The Long Walk").
I think he had special equipment secretly installed on board which aided the efforts of the enemy every time the plane flew over Europe. Perhaps it passed messages, perhaps it gave the German guns exact directions for shooting down the other planes around it. Maybe that's why it was able to reach the fiftieth mission mark unlike many other planes.
"Willets" knew that the heightened interest in Angel Babe would make it impossible for him to get the hidden equipment safely removed without revealing his true identity. And so he set the plane up to explode - once he was safely away from it, of course. And then a few days later - unseen by the viewing audience at home in the Trueniverse - "Willets" went AWOL and fled to France. There he killed an American soldier by the name of Murfree and wore his dog-tags in an attempt to pass himself off as American until he could reach the safety of his own kind.
Here's the 'Combat!' episode "The Long Walk":
Two for Tuesday!