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A spoken foreword notes that this picture was photographed in combat zones by cameramen of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces and by pilots of the 12th Air Force, who operated automatic cameras in the plane during combat missions. Footage was shot on 16mm film and transferred to 35mm for the film's release. Actor James Stewart then reads a letter from General Carl Spaatz, Commander General of the U.S. Army Air Forces, which states that the film, made in 1944, is about one American fighter bomber group in the Italian campaign, but could be told about all the men of the Allied forces who fought for freedom. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Stewart's introduction was filmed in late January 1947. During the war, Stewart, an Air Force Colonel, commanded a bomber wing and was an instructor of Flying Fortress pilots. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service. By the time of the film's 1945 press screening director William Wyler had returned to civilian life. Although the film was screened for the press at the end of 1945, it was not released to the general public until 1947, around the time of the anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Army Air Force. At that time, 50 percent of the film's gross revenue was donated to the U.S. Treasury and the Army Air Force Relief Fund, according to a June 17, 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item. Thunderbolt was re-released by Monogram in 1950 when the U.S. became involved in the Korean war.