Color footage of America in the 1940s gives a rare look at the decade's most significant moments, including Nazi sympathisers in World War Two, Pearl Harbor, the Manhattan Project and the rise of post-war prosperity.
The flash of the first atomic blasts exposes a multi-billion dollar clandestine operation: The Manhattan Project. A modern state secrecy apparatus emerges directly out of Los Alamos – only to find itself immediately compromised as Russia announces its own atomic arsenal. Radiation testing on unsuspecting civilians. An 800 page American World War III battle plan that targeted 600 million civilians. Broken Arrows. And the real stories of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
D-Day is underway, but at Omaha Beach, 'the Bedford Boys', volunteers of the US 29th Infantry Division, find themselves thrown into freezing surf and a murderous German cross-fire. As the first assault waves are mown down on the ramps of their landing craft, it looks like the Allied invasion of Europe might be careering towards disaster. But at other beaches the British, Canadian and US troops are soon able to advance inland. For the local French population it is a moment of joy, but also great danger. Hundreds are killed when the RAF bombs the Norman town of Caen – one of their D-Day objectives. The fighting inland is no less fierce than on the beaches. As 'the Longest Day' draws to a close, rumours circulate on both sides that the enemy is shooting its prisoners.
In 1943 the British and Americans plan the opening of a 'Second Front' in Northwest Europe. Huge numbers of troops, aircraft and ships begin to assemble in England for the invasion of France. They train relentlessly for what will prove the largest amphibious operation in military history. Meanwhile across the Channel the Germans also gather their strength. Hitler sends one of his best generals, 'the Desert Fox' himself Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, to supervise the construction of coastal defences known as 'the Atlantic Wall'. But the Allies retain one crucial advantage that even Rommel's genius cannot compensate for – only the Allies know where and when they will strike.