Smithsonian Channel launches new series ‘The Pacific War in Color’

NEW YORK – A groundbreaking new eight-part series traces the epic struggle of the Pacific War using rare and never-before-seen color visuals from every corner of the conflict. Smithsonian Channel takes viewers on a vivid journey from the home front to the battlefront, examining the pivotal moments, wartime innovations and social upheavals that still reverberate today. THE PACIFIC WAR IN COLOR premieres Sunday, June 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.

THE PACIFIC WAR IN COLOR immerses viewers in a graphic and dramatic look through an unfiltered lens. Rare home movies from servicemen capture intimate images of troops on tropical beaches, naval hazing rituals when sailors cross the equator, and morale-boosting USO shows on dusty desert islands. Personal movies shot by pilots in cockpits crackle with intensity, and color combat footage bursts with the nervous energy of storming beaches, white-knuckle dogfights and face-to-face island-hopping warfare. Remarkable home movies from General Douglas MacArthur show his family in the Philippines before the war and later in Japan after the surrender, offering a different view of life during wartime.

In each episode of THE PACIFIC WAR IN COLOR, viewers hear unvarnished first-hand accounts from the men and women who lived it, revealing their humor, fear and courage as they confront the limits of the human experience. From Pearl Harbor to the Philippines, Burma to Tarawa and Peleliu to Iwo Jima, the series adds authentic perspective and dimension to the gripping story of a campaign waged across a vast ocean. The series also goes beyond the battles and bombardments, strategic invasions and critical turning points to address the internment camps, the role of women and other changing social norms. 

AN OCEAN APART, the series premiere, reveals some of the first color images of the peaceful locations that the Pacific War will soon make infamous – Midway, Wake Island and Guam. They are among the last films taken before the region is thrust into chaos. Viewers relive the surprise attack on America’s naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 through the only known color footage of the raid and devastation, filmed by sailor Clyde Daughtry. As the world struggles to respond to Japan’s blitz, a patriotic surge unites a divided America and inspires tens of thousands to enlist. 

Subsequent episodes of THE PACIFIC WAR IN COLOR are:

SHOCKWAVES

Premieres Sunday, July 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

Months after the Pearl Harbor attack, shockwaves of war shake every corner of the Pacific, and young Americans deploy to stem the enemy advance. Culture clashes within the Allies erupt in Australia, but Allied forces later bond over efforts to thwart Japan’s move to control New Guinea. Rare footage from military cameramen and other soldiers capture life behind the battle lines, showing there is more to the war than combat.

ISLAND HOPPING

Premieres Sunday, July 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

In the fall of 1943, the U.S. engages in a new series of island-hopping invasions, starting with the Gilbert and Marshall Islands and driving up through the Central Pacific. The first stop is the Tarawa atoll, where thousands of troops embark upon the largest amphibious invasion ever staged in the Pacific to fight one of the costliest battles of the war. Never-before-seen color footage from a captain in the U.S. Army Air Force shows airman camp life and low-level air attacks on Kavieng, New Guinea.

THE ENEMY UNDERGROUND

Premieres Sunday, July 15 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

By summer of 1944, America is gaining the upper hand in the Pacific War with better training, troop numbers and supply lines, but the Japanese dig in and exact brutal tolls with each foothold. The U.S. aims for the heart of Japan’s inner defense ring, engaging in a historic naval battle for Saipan in the Marianas. America plans to rush in to service the new top-secret, long-range Boeing B-29 bomber to strike directly at the mainland. 

STRIKING DISTANCE

Premieres Sunday, July 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

Allied forces move to take two valuable islands that threaten American air operations: Tinian and Guam. Taking back Guam, a U.S. territory with a Marine base before the war, is both personal and tactical to the Navy. Meanwhile, in India, rising star General Curtis LeMay is tasked with a top-secret assignment: fly over “The Hump” – the Himalayas – and bomb Japan. His own words and his personal footage, never broadcast before, show the desperate difficulty of the problems he faces. 

FIRE FROM THE SKY

Premieres Sunday, July 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

Allies slug it out on the nearby island of Peleliu in a long and bloody campaign to pave the way for General MacArthur’s return to the Philippines. Never-before-broadcast footage shows troops enduring the muddy muck in the Philippines that bogs down the supply line. In the Battle of Leyte Gulf, an immensely fierce naval battle, Japan unveils a devastating new tactic: the kamikaze. Finally, General LeMay designs a radical raid on Japan, resulting in the deadliest single day of the war – the firebombing of Tokyo. 

NO SURRENDER

Premieres Sunday, August 5 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

By the spring of 1945, America begins to take back the Philippines, Manila is liberated after a devastating battle, and the USO show comes to boost morale. On Borneo, the Australians invade Labuan and liberate the Indonesians from oppressive Japanese occupation. When the U.S. invades Okinawa, Japan makes a strong stand and launches the biggest kamikaze attacks of the war. Record-shattering casualties – including the generals from both sides – mount in island-hopping’s last epic battle. POWs are rare. Japanese forces fight to the end, with no sign of surrender. 

FROM THE ASHES

Premieres Sunday, August 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT

President Harry Truman momentously decides to drop a new weapon – the atomic bomb – on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Emperor Hirohito surrenders, and General Douglas MacArthur arrives to oversee the country’s occupation. Mortal enemies must now become partners in Japan’s rebirth. In America, the internment camps are closed, but many Japanese-Americans have no homes to return to and fear reprisals. For survivors on both sides, the long journey home is the final exhausted act of the war. 

THE PACIFIC WAR IN COLOR is produced by Smithsonian Channel. The series producer is Dan Wolf and the producer is Justine Schmidt. Executive producers for Smithsonian Channel are John Cavanagh and David Royle. 

About Smithsonian Channel

Smithsonian Channel, owned by Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution. Among the network’s offerings are series including Aerial America, America in Color, First Ladies Revealed, Polar Bear Town, The Lost Tapes, Amazing Monkeys, America’s Secret Space Heroes, Mighty Ships, Mighty Planes and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include Titanic’s Fatal Fire, The Obama Years: The Power of Words, Nightmare on Everest, Diana and the Paparazzi, Diana: The Day We Said Goodbye andFlying High with Phil Keoghan. Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Earth, through SN Digital LLC., a new subscription video streaming service delivering spectacular original nature and wildlife content. To learn more, go to www.smithsonianchannel.com.

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