Site hosted by Build your free website today!

"They used to boast there were only two ways to escape from Hitler's Beckstadt prison... to die...or to sprout wings."

Updated July 31, 2011

Guten Tag Kriegsgefangene, und willkommen zu Schlo Beckstadt!

Final News Update!

July 31, 2011


I am very pleased to announce that our 4 decade wait is finally at an end.

Just in time for 40th anniversary of the film's telecast, Timeless Media Group has released the full-length version of the film on DVD. It is currently available from for $7.98 USD.

Here is the link to amazon's webpage:

The film includes the opening POW camp sequence (not shown in the original 1971 ABC broadcast), and the two flashback scenes of Brevik and Davies that was often deleted from rebroadcasts.

Go to the link and order your very own copy of the film!

Now that our attempts to gain copies of the film are at an end, I would like to thank everyone for all of your input and support over the past 20+ years.

Special thanks to:

With film copies now available, I will be ending my maintenance of this web page. It has served its purpose.
It has been my pleasure to serve you in this capacity though all these years.
My best to you and yours in the years to come.

- Your fellow Birdbrain,
Jeff Popp

February 2, 2003

PBS' "Nova" series recently ran a program called "Nazi Prison Escape", and of course the Glider was featured. The PBS web site now has a page with details of the attempt.

NOVA - Nazi prison Escape - The Colditz Glider

Special thanks to Peter Saitta for bringing this info to my attention.

March 6, 2002

Want to own your own "Escape of the Birdmen" glider?

The web surfing skills of Peter Saitta discovered a scale paper model of the "Colditz Glider" at Fiddler's Green.

Here is the direct link to the glider:

If you decide to purchase the model, send me pics and I will post them!

February 21, 2002

We seem to be coming across more pics relating to the film. I may have to put together a new picture page soon.

Thanks to Melany and Joe Shapiro we now this image from a lobby card for the Mexican version of the movie.

I will be adding the translation as soon as I figure it out.

[Click here to view full size image]

February 7, 2002

Through the courtesy of fellow Ebay'er Mike Searle, I have obtained a pic of a Belgian poster advertising the film!

[Click here to view full size image]

It appears that the poster is multi-lingual, with French in the upper right and Dutch in the lower left. The English title "Escape of the Birdmen" is in tiny writing below the French. I believe the translations to be:
"In the claws of the SS" (French)
"In the claws of the Nazi's" (Dutch)

It's pretty funny how they made Kommandant Schiller (Richard Basehart) look like the embodiment of evil. In the movie he is portrayed as an officer and a gentleman who respects the Allied officers for their flying skills. Anything to sell movie tickets, I guess.

January 3, 2002

Since "Operation Braindrain - Codename: Chessboard" was made for British and European distribution, our current efforts to obtain copies of the film are now focusing there.

I have a contact in Switzerland who is attempting to locate copies anywhere on the continent. More info as it becomes available.

December 12, 2001

Recent investigation has shown that the European video release of the movie, "Operation Braindrain - Codename: Chessboard", is slightly different from the original that was re-broadcast after the debut in 1971.

The video release has several scenes that are not included in the domestic version. Thrse is an extensive opening sequence of Allied bombers and pilot briefings, the meeting of Cook and Brevik in a Nazi workcamp and their escape, a flashback as Brevik recalls failing to meet the commandos sent in to Norway to get him out, and another flashback where Davies recalls the incident that caused his blindness.

The opening credits are overlayed on stock footage of aerial bombardments and dogfights, and the closing credits are omitted and replaced with an abupt "The End". All the extra footage adds nearly 20 minutes to the runtime.

Thinking back, I can remember seeing the two flashback scenes in the original broadcast, but I am not sure about the opening sequence. I am also sure that the closing credits were shown in the debut as well.

I have to think that the opening escape was NOT in the original broadcast, since the runtime of 90 minutes would have allowed no time at all for commercials. So, it appears that "Codename: Chessboard" is something akin to the "director's cut", and includes shots not used in the first TV showing.

Film Information
The Original TV Guide Ad September 18, 1971
"The Birdmen" Movie Information Stars, Credits, Trivia and Goofs from the Film
Die Gedanken Sind Frei Words to the Movie Theme and Their Translation
Movie Audio Clips .wav Format
Movie Screen Shots .jpg images from the film
"The Birdmen" Link to The Internet Movie Database

Historical Information
The Original Glider The only known picture
The Colditz Glider The account of the original glider by Wade Nelson
The Birdmen Fly 55 Years Later! A replica of the original makes successful test flight!
The Colditz Castle Web Page Link to a great site detailing the home of the original glider

You are birdbrain number: