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Delmer Daves's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by." The film ends with the following written acknowledgment: "To the United States Navy for its aid and cooperation in making this picture possible our grateful thanks." A press release indicates that Warner Bros. had begun to work on the idea for this film as early as May 1945. According to a news item in June 29, 1948 Los Angeles Times, Robert Montgomery was to star in the film. The item adds that the studio had obtained Technicolor shots of the last six months of the Pacific war.
A October 17, 1948 New York Times article reports that director Delmer Daves and producer Jerry Wald found original black and white footage of the Langley, shot in 1923 at the silent speed of 16 frames per second. Similar footage was discovered of the Saratoga, an intermediate stage in the development of the aircraft carrier. By optical processes the old film was adjusted to the sound speed of 24 frames per second. In order to incorporate this footage, Wald decided to shoot the first half of the film in black and white and switch to color with the scenes of the Enterprise at Pearl Harbor. World War II footage includes shots of the Battle of Midway, the Japanese attack on the Yorktown and kamikaze damage to the Franklin. The article also names Patricia Neal as a member of the cast, but she did not appear in the completed film.