Meanwhile, Karl is serving aboard a zeppelin that is flying over London for an attack from high above the clouds. Karl is the bombardier as he is lowered below the cloud-line in a pod, but because of his love for England he directs the zeppelin over a pond on a farm and bombs that instead. Before his superiors find out, RFC fighters are summoned, including Roy and Monte, to shoot down the zeppelin. Unbeknownst to them, the airship commander decides to sacrifice Karl by cutting the cable that secures his pod in order to obtain more altitude and speed to escape the English fliers. The sacrifice is in vain, as is the suicide of several German personnel who jump ship "for Kaiser and fatherland" in a harrowing sequence. German machine gunners manage to shoot down Roy and Monte's plane, which has a deeply unsettling effect on the latter. After his machine guns jammed on him, the last English pilot aloft steers his fighter into the dirigible, killing all aboard in a blazing fireball.
Word gets around that Monte is developing a "yellow streak" and Roy is determined that his brother restore his reputation. In a fit of anger and under enormous pressure from Roy, the brothers both volunteer for a dangerous bombing mission over Germany.
In the night before the raid, Roy discovers Helen in the arms of another officer in a pub. When he tries to take her home, she causes a scene and publicly splits up with him, leaving him devastated.
After the successful raid on a German munitions dump an aerial dogfight ensues, the brothers are shot down and captured. Given the option of a firing squad or treason, Monte's yellow streak fires up again and he plans on giving the enemy any information they want when the Germans promise that his life will be spared. Roy is forced to act so as to protect the thousands of British troops that would be harmed should they squeal, so he kills Monte and then refuses to divulge any information to his captors and is killed by the firing squad.
The film ends with footage of British soldiers successfully attacking the German front lines.
|Ben Lyon||Monte Rutledge|
|James Hall||Roy Rutledge|
|Jean Harlow (as Jean Harlowe)||Helen|
|John Darrow||Karl Armstedt|
|Lucien Prival||Baron Von Kranz|
|Frank Clarke||Lt. von Bruen|
|Roy Wilson||Baldy Maloney|
|Douglas Gilmore||Capt. Redfield|
|Jane Winton||Baroness Von Kranz|
|Evelyn Hall||Lady Randolph|
|William B. Davidson||Staff Major|
|Wyndham Standing||RFC squadron commander|
|Lena Melana (as Lena Malena)||Gretchen, waitress|
|Marian Marsh (as Marilyn Morgan)||Girl selling kisses|
|Carl von Haartman||Zeppelin commander|
|Ferdinand Schumann-Heink (as F. Schumann-Heink)||First Officer of zeppelin|
|Rupert Syme Macalister||Pilot|
|Hans Joby||Von Schlieben|
|Wilhelm von Brincken||Von Richter|
The two color scenes provide the only color glimpse of Harlow on film. During the shoot, Hughes designed many aerial stunts for the dogfighting scenes. He hired actual World War I aces to fly the stunt planes, but they reportedly refused to fly for the final scene. The aviator in Hughes came out and he flew the scene, getting the shot. As the pilots predicted, however, he crashed the aircraft, escaping with only minor injuries.
One of the aviators was Rupert Syme Macalister, an Australian pilot. Three of the aviators were killed during production. Al Johnson crashed after hitting wires while landing at Caddo Field, near Van Nuys, California; C. K. Phillips crashed while delivering an S.E.5 fighter to the Oakland shooting location. Only mechanic Phil Jones died during filming; he failed to bail out before the crash of the German Gotha bomber.
Like many other classic films, Hell's Angels has been re-released on VHS and DVD formats by Universal Studios, who in later years acquired the rights to the film.