Film:Twelve O’Clock High
Group/Team:918th Bomb Group B17 Aviators
Organization:918th Bomb Group 8th.AF Army Air Corp
“Twelve O’Clock High” has stood the test of time for over 50 years as an in-depth look of leadership in adversity. The compelling characters are buffeted by actual combat scenes that add a stark realism to the dangers faced in combat; both physical and psychological. II. DESCRIPTION OF THE SITUATION
TaskThe leadership analysis will cover General Savage who replaces Colonel Davenport as 918th Bomb Group Commander to repair the group’s substandard performance. ,Twelve O’clock High,” depicts a General’s transformational journey as he leads a “hard luck” bomber group thru daylight bombing raids. The 918th Bomb Group is an organization that is suffering from high casualty rates, ineffective performance, and low morale. The bomb group starts out as an organization that situational leadership would classify as D2: Some competence and low commitment. The film chronicles the leadership choices that developed the bomb group into a group that would be classified D4: high competence and high commitment. The strain put on the unit during the harrowing daytime bombing raids illustrate the difficult environment that the General operates in. The group is ultimately tested with raids deep within Germany.
TimeframeThe timeframe is 1942 World War II
LocationThe location takes is Archbury Airfield, England. This is the home of the 918th Bomb Group and its 21 B-17 aircraft. A secondary location is within the B17s during bombing missions over Europe.
Group/Team and OrganiationThe group for this leadership analysis is B17 aviators. The organization is the 918th Bomb Group 8th AF Army Air Corp. III. ANALYSIS OF THE KEY INDIVIDUAL
The individual highlighted in this leadership analysis is a Commissioned Staff Officer, U.S. Army Air Corp and Bomber Commander. He is addressed as General Savage. His role is Commanding Officer, 918th Bomb Group.
Senior leadership understood that daytime bombing was a key factor for success against the Germans. The German war machine depended on the industrial complex that the bombers were tasked with eliminating. To optimize bombing capabilities the missions had to be flown during daylight hours. This strategy exposed bomber groups to artillery and fighter threats. Failure to accomplish its goals could have led to the bomber option being scraped as a primary offensive tool. The other bomber groups were performing with high mission success rates, but the overall mission depended on all bomber groups operating at high levels. The 918th lost sight of its mission because of the inherent threats of the task.
LESSON:As strong vision is essential for a leader to be able to communicate to their subordinates. Mission and goal act as a compass heading to keep an organization on the right track. Upon General Savages arrival to the 918th many aircrew claimed to be too sick to fly. They lost sight of the mission and goals because their leader let them. As a transformational leader, General Savage recognized the Group’s low commitment and led accordingly to reinforce the 8th AF Army Air Corp vision, mission, and goals for the group.
The senior leadership strategy for bombing missions created a parallel to the strategy General Savage enacted to improve the 918th. The bombing group flew in groups of five B-17s, and several groups to each mission. Every B-17 has ten guns to defend the integrity of the flying group. The initial strategy to develop the members of the 918th was to have them depend and be accountable to each other. He shut down the bar, eliminated base passes, and increased training. The environment that was fostered took the focus off the fear that had been hindering it. Individuals began to hold...