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The working titles of this film were Skyway to Glory, The Story of Number Five and Destination Tokyo. According to a February 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M went back and forth on the various titles before settling on Pilot #5, the title of the original screen story. Most reviews list the title as Pilot No. 5. Opening credits include the following written foreword: "Millions of men have taken up arms to defend their freedom against the forces who would destroy it. One of these millions was George Collins. This is his story, before and after Pearl Harbor."
Although George White receives onscreen credit as editor, Albert Akst is listed as editor in Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts. In June 1942, Hollywood Reporter announced that Philip Dorn was to star in the picture with Franchot Tone, Marsha Hunt and Gene Kelly. Wally Cassell is listed as a cast member in Hollywood Reporter, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Some scenes were shot at the Cal-Aero aviation training school near Riverside, CA, according to Hollywood Reporter. Pilot #5, which was the first Hollywood film to deal with the Japanese invasion of Dutch East Indies, was one of six M-G-M pictures that was criticized by Sgt. Bill Davidson of Yank magazine for being "insufficient to the war effort."