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Bombers on the Screen

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An alternative way to show war without the use of Stock Footage, but can be used with it.

A real-time computer map is used, showing the positions of military units. In WWII era stories, it might be tiny models on a big map instead.

See also: The Big Board, Sensor Suspense, Spreading Disaster Map Graphic.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Battle of Britain showed a command center where personnel (many of them female auxiliaries) had a giant map of Great Britain and the surrounding areas (coastal France, Norway, etc.) using croupier sticks to move counters representing friendly fighters and enemy bombers. Britain's dire situation is clearly illustrated partway into the film when this command center has part of the roof cave in due to a near miss, with the table getting smashed by fallen roof supports.
  • Dr. Strangelove shows the bombers of the 843rd Bomb Wing on The Big Board in The War Room approaching their targets in Russia.
  • Fail Safe (the original version, at least). Stock Footage was also used.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, during the bombing of District 13, President Coin and her staff watch the radar to know what's going on on the surface, while the bunker rocks from each missile hit.
  • Jack Ryan gets a little exposition with the help of a video situation board (complete with '80s graphics, which at least in terms of graphical quality is Truth in Television) in the movie version of The Hunt for Red October, allowing him and the audience to catch up on what the Soviet Navy is doing to pursue the runaway Red October by the time Ryan gets out to the Enterprise.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country showed this from the Klingon perspective, with icons showing the USS Enterprise and the USS Excelsior during the final battle.
  • Independence Day has shots of this interspersed with action shots to drive home the scale of the aliens' attack across the world (and by "world" we mean the continental United States).
  • Taken to the ultimate level in WarGames where thousands of nuclear missiles were shown on a giant map traveling across the world and exploding, not once but hundreds of times, as the WOPR computer displayed multiple strategies to try to "win" a nuclear war.

  • Ender's Game has bombers on screen. Command School's simulators would simulate countless battles for which one would have to fight through using whatever "ships" supplied. However the awesome reveal at the end shows that the "simulators" are actually representations of REAL ships and that Ender, by beating the simulators time and again, actually wiped out an alien race during an invasion that he was unknowingly in control of.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The second half of 24 Season 2. Stock Footage was not used.
  • Andromeda: Many a ship battle used a display screen to show the location of the Andromeda and other ships relative to it, though this usually came along with shots of those ships moving and firing.
  • Battlestar Galactica (1978): in cheaper, 1970s computer graphics, you saw the same in the original Galactica's bridge.
  • Speaking of Combat Information Centers, you'll see a lot of this in Battlestar Galactica CIC, mixed with (usually not stock) footage of the actual battle. Bonus points for using both screen displays showing what the ship's sensors are picking up, AND a big table with models giving a low-tech picture.
  • The models on a big map version is parodied in Blackadder Goes Forth, "Plan F: Goodbyeee". when Field-Marshall Haig is shown sweeping up the figures with a dustpan and throwing them away.
  • Used with a twist in an episode of Stargate Atlantis — the war is a computer simulation, designed to force peace between two countries.
  • Used during the Dominion War arc in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with Starfleet and Dominion insignia representing the ships.
  • Very often used in documentaries about war, such as The World At War or Battlefield.

    Video Games 
  • DEFCON is built around this trope, being mainly inspired by WarGames.
  • Used in Harpoon, since it is representative of what you'd see in an real ship Combat Information Centre.
  • A version is shown on screen during Huey's monologues about how Peace Walker works in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. The targets are shown as butterflies.

    Web Comics 
  • Played with in Air Force Blues, where an AWACS controller offers a visiting fighter pilot the chance to see a Quraci MiG get in a dogfight with a Predator drone... and we see a shot of a very simplistic line rendering on the radar screen with all of the contacts being represented by dots with a short text description. To be fair, the AWACS controller never said it would look cool.

    Web Video 
  • World War II: When the series isn't being presented by Talking Heads narrating by themselves or over Stock Footage, it's maps overlaid with symbols representing the units involved and shifting colored lines of battle as fronts advance and retreat.