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Masters of The Air

The long-awaited debut of Masters of the Air is a milestone event on a more than ten-year journey for members of the 100th Bomb Group Foundation along with veterans and their families.

This nine-episode portrait of the Eighth Air Force in World War II captures stories of the 100th, from the hard stands at Thorpe Abbotts to flak-filled aerial battles and the harsh realities of POW life at Stalag Luft III. The Apple TV+ press release describes it this way:

Based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, and scripted by John Orloff, Masters of the Air follows the men of the 100th Bomb Group (the “Bloody Hundredth”) as they conduct perilous bombing raids over Nazi Germany and grapple with the frigid conditions, lack of oxygen and sheer terror of combat conducted at 25,000 feet in the air. Portraying the psychological and emotional price paid by these young men as they helped destroy the horror of Hitler’s Third Reich, is at the heart of “Masters of the Air.” Some were shot down and captured; some were wounded or killed. And some were lucky enough to make it home. Regardless of individual fate, a toll was exacted on them all.

Masters of the Air is the third story in the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks World War II trilogy, preceded by Band of Brothers and The Pacific. Told through the lens of the 100th Bomb Group, many of the 100th’s best-known aircrew members are portrayed by a group of exceptional actors. 

Never-before-seen, state-of-the-art special effects and CGI technology depict the danger, drama and intense physical and psychological rigors of air combat. Life on the airbase and the contributions of the ground crews and other support personnel are not overlooked.

Although not a documentary, the producers invested a reported budget of $300 million dollars into the project. Meticulous attention to accuracy and detail have been priorities throughout the production. Filming in England included sets that featured full-scale, non-flying replicas of B-17s, while members of the 100th BG Foundation served as technical and historical consultants.

The 100th Bomb Group Foundation is proud and excited that its veteran airmen and ground crews are featured, including Harry Crosby, Buck Cleven, Frank Murphy, Howard Hamilton, Everett Blakely, John Brady, Jim Douglass, “Rosie” Rosenthal, and many others. 

Scenes from Episode 1

Austin Butler as Gale "Bucky" Cleven
Filming locations in England
Anthony Boyle as Harry Crosby
 
On the eve of the release of “Masters of the Air,” the 100th Bomb Group Foundation extended sincere thanks to everyone involved in bringing this incredible production to fruition, specifically:
 
Our deepest appreciation to Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Gary Goeztman, Kirk Saduski, John Orloff, Donald Miller, and the dedicated teams at Playtone, Amblin and Apple.
 
Thank you as well to every member of the talented cast and crew who worked tirelessly to bring this story to the screen.
 
Last but not least, thank you to the 100th Bomb Group veterans and their families who provided insights and information in support of the production.
 
While the series may have focused on the “Bloody Hundredth,” the 100th Bomb Group never flew a mission alone. So Masters of the Air truly honors the collective experience of all Army Air Forces veterans—from every bomb and fighter group—who faced the same fight, the same challenges, conditions, and dangers in the air over Europe during World War II.
 
Masters of the Air will help ensure that the service and sacrifices of all those brave aircrews and dedicated ground personnel will never be forgotten, and serve as a reminder of so many heroic actions. And the work of the 100th Bomb Group Foundation will continue to forge ahead to preserve the legacy of our veterans.