April 11, 1955: Warner Brothers Team Visited Edwards Flight Line and Shot Several Action Scenes for “24 Hour Alert"

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  • Air Force Flight Test Center

A Warner Brothers production team visited the Edwards flight line and shot several action scenes for a motion picture, “Twenty-Four Hour Alert.” Actor Jack Webb starred in the movie, which included footage of several Air Force Flight Test Center Century Series fighters and a B-52.

24 Hour Alert is a 31-minute 1955 American Docu-drama, made by Warner Bros. The film describes how, in 1955, the United States Air Force is ready for enemy attack during the Cold War.  24 Hour Alert was directed by Robert M. Leeds from a screenplay by Beirne Lay Jr. and Richard L. Breen. With the rising number of complaints about noise from military aircraft in the 1950s, the film was intended to acquaint viewers and residents in the United States as to the importance of air defense.  When filmmaker and old friend Jack Webb visits Col. Jim Breech, a U.S. Air Force base commander to gather information on Air Force "lingo", he finds there is something going on at the temporary base. Col. Breech has received civilian complaints about noise from Mayor Hogan, the mayor of the nearby town, which he treats seriously.  After the mayor attempts to have the base relocated, on their flight returning from Washington, D.C., the mayor and town council encounter heavy fog that could be deadly. An interceptor from the base is able to help coax them to a safe landing speaking. The mayor is now convinced that the air force is important and along with the base commander. he sets about educating the town leaders and residents about the importance of the work of the USAF.  A series of promotional events including tours of the base and an air show serve to bring residents out to the base. Ultimately, the town learns to accept the presence of the air force base as a necessary part of the defense of the United States.

The name "Century Series" stems from the fighter (F-) designation number being in the 100–109 range. The term became popular to refer to a group of generally similar designs of the 1950s and early 1960s.

As it evolved, the attribution of the Century Series moniker reflects models designated between F-100 and F-106 which went into full production:

The term "Century Fighters" does not include less successful models between the F-100 and F-109 that did not go past design or prototype stage: the Republic XF-103 Thunderwarrior and North American XF-108 Rapier interceptor concepts, the North American F-107 tactical fighter prototype (cancelled in favor of the F-105), and designation "F-109" which was originally assigned to the F-101B Voodoo and later requested but not granted for the Bell XF-109 VTOL concept.  The F- series number sequence used in USAF was a continuance of the pre-USAF pursuit aircraft (P- series) numbering, stretching back as far as to the 1920s. The numbering would continue sequentially up to the General Dynamics F-111, and after this number the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system restarted the numbering back from 1. The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighter-bomber was briefly known as the F-110 Spectre. The USAF continued the naming convention with the CONSTANT PEG program as an operations security measure. The last known aircraft with a "Century Series" designation is the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth attack aircraft.