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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.

Examples of Bombers on the Screen include:


  • Fail Safe (the original version, at least). Stock Footage was also used.
  • 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.
  • Dr. Strangelove shows the bombers of the 843rd Bomb Wing on The Big Board in The War Room approaching their targets in Russia.
  • Independence Day had shots of this interspersed with action shots.
  • Taken to the ultimate level in War Games 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.

Light Novel and Anime


  • Ender's Game had 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 Television

  • The second half of 24 Season 2. Stock Footage was not used.
  • Used with a twist in an episode of Stargate Atlantis - the war is a computer simulation, designed to force peace between two countries.
  • 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.
    • In cheaper, 1970s computer graphics, you saw the same in the Original Galactica's bridge.
  • Very often used in documentaries about war, such as The World At War or Battlefield.

Video Games

  • Used in Harpoon, since it is representative of what you'd see in an real ship Combat Information Centre.
  • DEFCON is built around this trope, being mainly inspired by War Games.
  • Wargames 1983
  • 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 Mi G 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.
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