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What We Know So Far About Apple TV’s Masters of the Air: The Latest on Upcoming WWII Miniseries About The Mighty Eighth

Info below updated on November 8th, 2019

Update includes three more confirmed characters!

I have recently been working on some research for some Eighth Air Force veterans and their families, and the topic of the new Tom Hanks miniseries about the Mighty Eighth has come up a lot.  I am a huge fan of the work of Hanks and Spielberg and over the last five years, I’ve been keeping my own personal notes on what I have been able to find out about the miniseries.  I’ve basically been updating a document full of notes any time the project is mentioned in a veteran interview, discussion with someone who is working on the project, or any time an article is published about the project.  Since I get asked about it a lot as well, I thought it would be helpful to put all my notes together in a more organized format and post it here.  I will also update this page any time I find new information on the project. 

If you see any errors or if you have any info that you think I should include, please feel free to comment below or send me an email: dan@footstepsresearch.org 

Move to Apple TV+

Masters of the Air will be the third time Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks team up to create a WWII miniseries but will be the first time the series will not be aired on HBO.  That is because, Apple has just announced that they have secured the streaming rights for the new Masters of the Air and that it will be available exclusively on their new streaming service, known as Apple TV+.

This change is surprising but also not shocking.  The TV industry is seeing an influx of new streaming services, including both Disney and Apple and there are massive budgets being thrown around by these new competitors as they try to steal subscribers away from Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime.  One way of doing this is to create original shows that air exclusively on their own streaming service.  The PR team from HBO made it seem like HBO had passed on the project, but it is much more likely that Apple approached Hanks and Spielberg and offered them a bigger production budget and even larger promotional budget.  HBO told CNN recently, “After careful consideration, HBO decided not to move forward with ‘Masters of the Air.’ We look forward to our next collaboration with Playtone and Amblin.”  That statement appears to be just an attempt by HBO to not make it too obvious that they were simply outbid.  The reality is, Apple TV+ had already secured the streaming rights to Speilberg’s reboot of his 1980’s Amazing Stories series, and that along with Apple’s surplus of cash gave them an upper hand on getting Masters of the Air to switch to Apple.

Overview 

The series will follow the same 10-episode format, with each episode approximately 80 minutes in length (Update: There appears to be only 8 episodes now). There is no official word that this will be the last miniseries of a WWII trilogy for Hanks and Spielberg, but there is also no indication of any future projects.  I personally hope Hanks and his team continue to do a miniseries every ten years until 2040 when Hanks would be 84.  That would mean a total of five miniseries!  But for now, let’s just focus on the third one, Masters of the Air.

What will the name of the series be?

There is a lot of speculation on the name of the series, and there is a good chance that the title hasn’t even been decided yet.  However, the most likely name will be “Masters of the Air”.  There has been talk of the miniseries title being changed to “The Mighty Eighth”, writer John Orloff said in a recent interview that this is not true and that The Mighty Eighth will not be the title.  This rumor is probably a result of a what appears to be a fake teaser video that was uploaded to Youtube in 2014 titled “The Mighty Eighth – Exclusive Teaser Footage”.   The teaser video is poorly done in many ways and there is absolutely no indication that the video is in any way related to the miniseries by Hanks and Spielberg.  In fact, the opposite appears to be true. That video is a different project/movie entirely, and should not be considered in any way related to the Apple TV project.  The idea that Hanks and Spielberg would have been required by HBO or Apple to put together a proof of concept to give them a green light to do anything is absurd, not to mention the fact that it would have never been allowed to be released even if they had made a proof of concept.  Take my word for it and ignore that 2014 video, it has nothing to do with the real series.

When will Masters of the Air begin airing on Apple TV?

There is also a lot of speculation about the dates when it comes to both filming and eventual release.  If the length of time it took to produce Band of Brothers and The Pacific are any indication, the most likely timeline is that Masters of the Air will begin pre-production in early 2020, filming in late 2020 and begin airing in early 2021.  That also follows the ≈10 year gap between each series, Band of Brothers in 2001, The Pacific in 2010, Masters of the Air in 2021.  The move from HBO to Apple TV has probably not delayed the timeline, but the major constraint on the project right now is that they are currently working with only one head writer instead the multiple-writer concept that Band of Brothers and The Pacific used.  The good news is that they picked a great writer, more on that below.

Style and Themes of Masters of the Air

Everything we have heard about this project so far has indicated that the series will be of epic proportions.  I heard a budget figure in 2016 of $375 million and have even heard a couple of sources say the budget is as high as $500 million.   The recent deal with Apple TV can only mean the budget is on the higher side, as Apple has already committed millions of dollars to their streaming service investment.

Writer and Historian Don Miller, who consulted on HBO’s The Pacific, quoted Tom Hanks as saying “If this isn’t the best war film ever made, I don’t want to make it.”  Don went on to say that Spielberg feels the same way as Hanks. Tom Hanks has turned his office into what looks like an Eighth Air Force museum, complete with model airplanes hanging from the ceiling.  He has reportedly read Miller’s book Masters of the Air more than six times.

“If this isn’t the best war film ever made, I don’t want to make it.”

– Tom Hanks, discussing Masters of The Air in 2016

Just like in Band of Brothers and The Pacific, there will be interviews of the actual veterans featured either before or after each episode.  The filming of Eight Air Force veterans started back in 2011 and has been continuing through today. Many of the interviews were done at the Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia.

The series will be much more grounded in the actual realities of WWII and will try to avoid being too much of just a “celebration of America” and/or triumphalism.  The mood of the series will mirror that of movies such as Das Boot and show the brutality of WWII like movies such as Schindler’s List.  This series will not be shying away from any violence, language, or sensitive topics.  The air war was brutal and has some stories of deaths that are unimaginable, and this series will most-definitely feature a couple of those stories. 

I have more on this below, but as of right now, it appears the series will focus on both air crew and ground crew of the 100th Bombardment Group who were stationed at Thorpe Abbotts Airfield during the war.

A big part of the series will be dedicated to a storyline about downed airmen who were either killed, captured and became POW’s, or were helped to evade capture by underground movements.  This will include scenes at POW camps where they were kept, most likely Stalag Luft III, the POW camp run by the Luftwaffe. The storyline will most-likely show what happened to airmen who were in POW camps as well as follow some downed airman who are helped by the Belgian or French Resistance to make the long and frightful journey to British Gibraltar and eventually back to England.

According to one of the consultants on the project, there will be two major themes explored in Masters of the Air:

  1. Answering the question of how did men of such a young age mentally and physically get themselves into those planes for each mission and how did they deal with and overcome mental challenges before, during, and after missions?

  2. Demonstrating just how unique air combat was, especially in contrast to ground combat, and how a crew of ten men really fought as one unit.   Humans simply can’t survive at the altitudes the airmen fought at, and because of this, the men had to gear-up specifically for high-altitude warfare.  Much of this equipment had to be connected to the plane’s system in order to work. The electric-heated suits kept them from the deadly cold, the oxygen masks kept them breathing, and their radio headsets allowed them to communicate.  In other words, these airmen were tethered to and a part of the plane itself, all ten individuals inside becoming one machine.

Who is working on Masters of the Air?

It is no secret that Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are both already involved, as is consultant and writer Donald Miller who wrote the book that the series is based on, Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany (Simon and Schuster, 2007).   Gary Goetzman, who co-executive produced both Band of Brothers and The Pacific, is also involved again in Masters of the Air, as is Kirk Saduski from Playtone who also worked on the past two HBO WWII projects.  Don Miller is pictured below with Hanks. 

Some time in 2015, Tom Hanks had originally hired John Shiban, a former writer and producer on Breaking Bad, to help give the series the edgy tone he desired.  John’s job was not to write a script, but rather he was asked to write a 300-page bible, featuring central themes, main characters, and storylines. After Shiban completed the initial storylines, Hanks and Spielberg were left unimpressed and decided to part ways with Shiban and remove him from the project, most likely delaying the project at least a year.

Screenwriter John Orloff, who wrote two episodes of Band of Brothers, has been hired to write an unknown number of episodes for the new series as well.   One of the episodes that Orloff is working on will feature the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission of August 17th, 1943. Within the 80 minute episode, there is a 70-minute stretch that takes place only inside of two B-17 planes, showing no views from outside the planes.  You will only see what the men inside each of the planes saw, during the battle as they fight for their lives amid the chaos.   It’s important to note that the two Band of Brothers episodes that Orloff wrote are two of the top three rated episodes of the series, including episode eight, “Why We Fight”, which is the overall top rated episode.   In September of 2018, Orloff confirmed via twitter he was working on the project and in December 2018 he tweeted a reply when asked about my article that read: “Really can’t comment…. sorry! I know it’s frustrating how slowly things are moving….but it is extremely complicated project, lots of moving parts, & I am the only writer, and TONS more research has been required than on the other 2 projects, etc…”

A second writer, Graham Yost, has also recently been brought onto the project.  Like Orloff, he also worked on both Band of Brothers and The Pacific and it appears he is being asked to write a couple of episodes himself as well as collaborate with Orloff on some episodes.

Storyline and Major Characters

There are at least four main characters that have their stories woven together and are followed throughout the entire series.  There will be no composite characters (fictional characters based on more than one actual person). Tom Hanks has been adamant that every single character in the series will be based on one specific real person.  During filming of Masters of the Air, as was done in The Pacific, each actor will try and talk to the actual veteran they are portraying every day. If the veteran is no longer living, they will talk to that person’s family members.  Hanks and Spielberg are big believers in this sort of immersion for the actors as they try to become the people they are portraying.

It seems extremely likely that the series will mostly follow action and storylines of veterans within just one bombardment group, potentially just one squadron within that group.  They will go as narrow as possible in order to mirror the style of personal storytelling that made Band of Brothers so powerful. Focusing just on one platoon within Easy Company allowed for such great character and story development over ten episodes, so look for Orloff and the other writers to attempt that style again instead of what we saw with The Pacific, which focused on three different regiments of the 1st Marine Division.  I am not knocking The Pacific. I loved the series. But there was a noticeable difference in trying to tell too large of a story in only ten episodes. Trying to tell the entire story of the Eighth Air Force is just not possible in ten episodes, but telling just a couple of veteran’s stories in great detail and depth can do justice to what the entire Eighth went through during the war.

All indications point to the 100th Bombardment Group, known as The Bloody Hundredth, as the sole focus of the series.  Like I mentioned earlier, it will probably be more narrow than that, down to something as narrow as just the story of two planes.  However, since we know there are ground crew veterans featured, it will feel more like the focus is on one or two squadrons (most likely the 418th and 350th Squadrons of the 100th).

Here are confirmed characters so far:

  1. Master Sergeant Kenneth “Ken” A. Lemmons – A Ground Crew Chief and mechanic with the 100th Bomb Group, 351st Bomb Squadron (pictured above).  The ground crew is often overlooked when discussing the Eighth Air Force, but there appears to be an effort by the producers to include a storyline that follows the ground crew and sources have confirmed Ken will be the one featured.  He was in England for nearly the entire length of the war.

  2. Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Rosie” “Bob” Rosenthal – Pilot with the 100th Bomb Group, 418th and 350th Bomb Squadrons.  Rosenthal is one of Masters of the Air writer Don Miller’s personal heroes, and much of his book features Rosenthal’s stories.  Here is a brief bulleted list of the many times Rosenthal’s personal war story intertwines with the Eighth Air Force as a whole:
    • Rosenthal flew more than 50 missions over Germany, when most veterans only flew between 25-35 combat missions.  In other words, he was around longer and his personal timeline see almost twice as much of the overall war timeline than a typical Eighth Air Force veteran.
    • He flew on the October 10th, 1943 mission over Münster. It was only his third mission with the 100th, and he flew the only plane out of the thirteen B-17s from the 100th squadron to return to base.  His plane had two engines dead, the intercom and the oxygen system was non-functional, and the plane had a large hole in the right wing.  
    • He was shot down twice, both times making it back to England.  The first time he was shot down, in September 1944, he landed in German occupied France, breaking his right arm and nose during the process. He was rescued by the French Underground Resistance and returned to duty after he healed.
    • The second time he was shot down was over Poland.  He landed in Soviet-held territory, but the other members of his crew were either killed in the crash or were captured by Germans.  We already know POW and downed airmen will be a central storyline to the series, and when you combine that with the fact that Miller, the lead historian on the series, already knows so much about Rosenthal, it makes sense why he will be one of the featured characters.  
    • Rosenthal ended up serving as an assistant to the U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, where he interrogated Hermann Göring.  Which could be tied into a final episode, similar to the last episode of The Pacific where we see the veterans back home. Note: Robert Rosenthal died on April 20, 2007.

  3. Gale W. “Bucky” Cleven – Gale was not only just a pilot in the 100th, but he was also the commanding officer of the 350th Bomb Squadron.  He joined the war early on, and flew his first mission in June of 1943.  He was shot down over Bremen on October 8th, 1943 and become a POW at Stalag Luft III.  His stories as a POW are featured in Don Miller’s book and Cleven really had some amazing things happen during his 18 months as a POW.  His story is even more interesting since he was not only a part of the forced march to Mooseburg in 1945, but was also able to escape during the march and make it back to England. 

    Cleven was known as both a great leader but also as a very charismatic person.  In fact, in Masters of the Air, author Donald Miller credits Cleven for giving the 100th Bomb Group its personality.  In an interview with 350th veteran Lieutenant Ronald Hollenbeck told this story of Cleven: “I had just gotten a couple engine replacements, and Cleven didn’t get to fly too much being squadron CO, so he comes over and says; ‘Hollenbeck let me fly your airplane for you, I’ll put some slow time on it,’ and the next thing I knew, is this god damn B-17 was coming across just about 25 feet off the runway and I looked up and all 4 engines were feathered.   Cleven had buzzed the tower with my airplane with all four engines feathered. That’s the kind of guy Cleven was. Cleven said ‘I wanted to do that all my life.'”  Note: Gale Cleven passed away on November 17, 2006.Above: The Two “Buckys”, John Egan (left) and Gale Cleven (right).

  4. Major John C. “Bucky” Egan  – No, that is not a typo.  Both John Egan and Gale Cleven had the nickname of “Bucky”.  Not only did they have the same nickname, but they were also good friends, both commanded a squadron, both very personable and charismatic, and both shot would be shot down within two days of each other.  Cleven was the commander of the 350th Squadron, while Egan was commander of the 418th Squadron (both squadrons were based at Thorpe Abbotts and part of the 100th Bomb Group. 

    The story of Egan and Cleven’s friendship and war experience is very compelling and was featured extensively in Don Miller’s book.  It is no surprise that they will also be featured in the miniseries as well.  They met early in the war, were roommates throughout flight school, and became very close.  It makes it that much more amazing that not only were they roommates during training, but they would eventually become roommates in a POW camp as well.  On October 10th, 1943, only two days after Gale Cleven was shot down, Egan decided to lead a mission in order to avenge his friend.  However, Egan was shot down on that mission, and upon arriving at Stalag III, he was approached by Cleven, who simply said, “What the hell took you so long?”

    Even though they were both shot down early in the war, both Cleven and Egan’s demeanor on the base and heroics on the missions they flew prior to being shot down set a tone that the 100th would have throughout the war.  The best way to learn about Cleven and Egan is to read Masters of the Air, as it does a great job telling their story.

    Notes: There is a small chance that Egan’s eventual wife, Josephine Pitz Egan, will also be featured.  She was a WASP who ferried B-17’s, PT-19’s, and C-47’s and was assigned to New Castle Army Air Base during the war.  John Egan stayed in the Air Force following the war, attaining the rank of Colonel before dying suddenly of a heart attack in 1961 at the young age of 45.

  5. Major Harry H. Crosby  – Harry was a Navigator in the418th Bomb Squadron and his inclusion in the series makes sense for many reasons, but the key facts are:
    • Crosby’s tour of duty spans the entire twenty-two months that the 100th Bomb Group was on operational status in WWII.  Harry arrived in June of 1943 and stayed all the way until the end of hostilities in May of 1945, flying a total of 32 missions himself, but also serving as Group Navigator.
    • Since three of the other main characters get shot down during the war, Crosby’s consistent presence at Thorpe Abbots helps the series always have a main character at the 100th headquarters to use on screen.
    • He also played a major role in the bombing missions that occurred in the weeks leading up to D-Day, which will most likely be featured as one episode of the series.  Here is a quote from Crosby about his work in the lead up to D-Day: “In the week before D-Day, I worked 24 hours a day superintending the preparation of maps, flight plans and formation for over a hundred different missions and variations. As a result, I worked for 75 hours straight. The night before D-Day I was a zombie and was ordered to go to my quarters and get some sleep.”
    • He is credited with making a last minute decision not to bomb the town of Bonn because he didn’t want to destroy where Beethoven went to school.  This storyline could also be featured briefly in an episode.
    • Last, but definitely not least, Harry wrote a book about his experience in the war, called A Wing and a Prayer, and it looks like the writers of the series will be using a lot of his materiel in the series.  The book is great and I highly recommend reading it prior to the series airing.
      Above: (Left to Right) Horace Varian, Rosie Rosenthal, and Harry Crosby
  6. Red Cross Girl, name unknown – The character is based on a real Red Cross Girl who kept a diary of her time with the 100th Bomb Group in England.  She will probably not be one of the four main characters, but will play a major role in the series.  This will be the first woman featured in a WWII miniseries who is serving overseas.  This should be a very powerful character and one that will help spread the awareness of how much of an important and under-appreciated role hundreds of thousands of women had in WWII.

How to prepare for the series:

I’ll keep adding to this list, but here are some ways to keep busy and prepare yourself for the series:

  • Reading Masters of the Air by Donald Miller is an absolute MUST.  The book is incredible and gives you a great base of knowledge on the air war over Europe.  You can get it on Amazon here.
  • You can begin researching the 100th Bomb Group, which appears to be the most likely outfit that will be featured.  The 100th has a really great website full of documents, photos, and research.
  • Read the lesser known book called A Wing and a Prayer.  It is written by a 100th Bomb Group veteran named Harry Crosby who will be featured as a main character in the series.
  • Read this article to learn about the underground operatives that helped downed crewman escape back to England.
  • Read about the Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission.  A good start is Edward Jablonski’s 1974 book called Double Strike: The Epic Air Raids on Regensburg-Schweinfurt, August 17, 1943.  
  • Read about Black Thursday, AKA the Second Raid on Schweinfurt, which occurred on October 14th, 1943.
  • Read the famous article by Doris Fleeson called I Keep a Rendezvous with Heroes that was written around the time of the Schweinfurt–Regensburg raid.
  • Watch Band of Brothers and The Pacific if you haven’t already!

 

If you see any errors or if you have any info that you think I should include, please feel free to comment below or send me an email: dan@footstepsresearch.org 

Showing 61 comments
  • Jeff
    Reply

    Hell yes!

  • TBower
    Reply

    This sounds incredible:

    “Within the 80 minute episode, there is a 70-minute stretch that takes place only inside of two B-17 planes, showing no views from outside the planes. You will only see what the men inside each of the planes saw, during the battle as they fight for their lives amid the chaos.”

  • Edward Teed
    Reply

    Thanks for the tips and preparation advice! Reading will commence immediately!

  • V-P
    Reply

    Thanks for the research and updates! One minor thing about the Band of Brothers though, you wrote “Focusing just on one battalion within Easy Company”, while you probably meant one platoon within a company. Companies consist of platoons and battalions of companies, not the other way around. Yes, I´m PBI myself 🙂

    • peterjmonfre
      Reply

      Good catch, and you are correct! I just fixed it.

  • Gay Lemmons
    Reply

    Kenneth Lemmons is my uncle. He watched for his older brother, my dad’s plane to return from missions. C.G.Lemmons, pilot of Homing Pigeon, were Arkanasas born and bred. Dad was stationed up the coast at Deenthorpe.

    • Michael Sherrill
      Reply

      If your Dad was at Deenethorpe, he must have been in the 401st Bomb Group, as was my Dad. When was he there, and what squadron was he in?

  • Mike Crosman - Airman's Preservation Society
    Reply

    As a life long fanatic of all things Army Air Force, I cannot wait for this series to air! When Hanks & Spielberg state that they want to release “nothing but the best WWII movie ever” you know it is going to be a blockbuster – and historically correct down to the smallest detail!

  • Pete Bruck
    Reply

    I had 5 uncles who severed in The Eight USAF, as pilits, navigators & bombader. 4 came back and the 5th a B26 pilot was killed on a flight on a mission to France in September, 1943. No crew members servived.
    I grew up with my uncles sharing only with me “unpolished stories of their WW II experiences” Yes they were part of the Greatest Generation

  • Mary McGuire
    Reply

    I grew up on my father’s stories of his war, starting in the Big Red One as a second lieutenant in 1940 then transferring into the Army Air Corp in 1942 to be able to support his bride. Was stationed stateside at Wright Patterson till he sent a telegram to Hap Arnold asking to be able to fight. He was 29 and over age for a B24 pilot but he got his orders. At the end of his life, dying of brain cancer at 70, he wrote out his stories in long hand and published them, “Hello Milfoil, Wee Willie Here”. I got it into the Library of Congress.

  • Paul
    Reply
  • Mike La Penna
    Reply

    My father was a ball turret gunner in a B-17. His plane was shot down and he was one of three crew who escaped to be taken prisoner. I jus visited his air base at Ipswich – great museum tended by local volunteers. I also made the pilgrimage to the site of Stalag Luft IV in Poland.

    Looking forward to the film. Before going on my trip, I visited with a crew mate from his flight wing. If anyone knows of a living WWII B-17 crew member, go visit him now. Yes, this was the greatest generation.

  • Dan Johnson
    Reply

    If it’s based on the 100th BG then it better include Harry Crosby, The two Buckys Cleven and Eagan, Cowboy Roane, Frank Valesh etc. That group was full of personalities. The last flight of “Just a Snappin” could be a movie in itself.

    Obviously it couldn’t be done without Rosie as a central character as his story reads like fiction as is.

  • John Collins
    Reply

    will it be filmed with actual aircraft or CGI? Hope actual aircraft. CGI just doesn’t work, compare 12 oclock high and Red tails.

    • Jack Barker
      Reply

      There are currently only 47 B-17s in existence in the U.S., and none are known of anywhere else. Of those 47 only 11 are airworthy, the balance being on display, in storage, or restoration projects in various states of completion.
      It is almost certain that mockups will be used for interior scenes, and definitely some CGFX for scenes of entire squadrons or BGs in flight. OTOH, I can also imagine there will be medium shots of the real things in formation flight with CGFX for the background.

      • Mark Bobrowicz
        Reply

        My father who is living in Philadelphia now was a tail gunner as part of a B17 crew in the 34th bomb group, 18th squadron, flying out of Mendlesham England . He kept a detailed diary of each of his 35 missions. I recently visited the airfield and met a wonderful gentleman who was a boy living on a farm located at the end of the main runway at the time of the war. He produced a through document of the planes leaving and returning from missions from the airfield. He recorded the serial numbers and Marino’s of the planes as well as nose art. It is absolutely remarkable the consistent detail presentation of his observations as a 16 year old boy. What is even more incredible he noted my fathers airplane details returning from a mission with a shell hole in the tail stabilizer . My father described the event in his diary and had told me the story. There I was sitting having lunch with this gentleman on his farm, where he has always lived, looking out at the same view of the end of the runway at the age of 90 and my father at the age of 94 connecting the events of my fathers plane returning battle damaged and having been diligently recorded by an inquisitive boy of 16 years old . We did a live video call so that they could discuss in 74 years later. There was a interesting interconnection between the airmen and staff of the 8th Air Force and the local population who witnessed all of the developments. It echos today generations later, in the local populations who live in and around the bases and the physical remnants that remain. I would be happy to expand into more detailed information if you are interested.

      • Ross Sharp
        Reply

        Oh dear ! Ellie Sallingboe, the owner of Vega-built B-17G, ‘Sallie B’ will not be pleased when she hears this. This B-17G is most certainly airworthy and is based at Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire, which is part of the Imperial War Museum (another static B-17 is also on display there).

  • Anthony
    Reply

    Holy smokes! the same people who made “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” are now making one in the skies with B-17Gs! this ought to be good! You guys make high quality stuff! seriously can’t wait after the second I heard about it!!!

  • TJ
    Reply

    Thank you for posting this info!

  • Fredrik
    Reply

    The quoted tweet by Orloff actually refers to another project he is working on about the Guantanamo base. He’s definitely on for the “Masters of the Air” project as well though. Nice write up!

    • peterjmonfre
      Reply

      Thanks Fredrik, you are correct. I have since corrected it to embed a better tweet of his where he talks about Masters of the Air.

  • Dennis Meeder
    Reply

    Nice compilation, can ‘t wait till the serie will Come out. Liked the previous serie. Have seen BoB like 10 times.

    The book Masters of the Air is a great book to read. With increadible stories.
    Also a great story is the book A Higher Call you learn the story from both sides and this happening in the mids of a war. Hope they will bring it and the stories of the vets Alice.

    • Tony Rogers
      Reply

      Thank you so much for this site and all the information. What an amazing this series will be – 100% faith in the Hanks-Spielberg magic pulling this off to perfection. Glad to know it’s progressing. I have a long held fascination for WWII aviation and visited the 85th and 100th BG museums in Suffolk numerous times. It’s gonna be good and worth waiting for!

    • Edward J Butner III
      Reply

      My dad passed away in 2017, and he really wanted to live long enough to see this. 487th bg, lavenham England, 35 missions, two confirmed kills, two water dichings, a DFC, and a long, but not long enough life. I am going to see it for him.

  • Scott Nelson
    Reply

    I had heard from someone involved in the project that Buck Cleven, 350 sqd. commander would also be a major character. Buck was shot down on the Oct 8, 43 Bremen raid. Quite a story there, hope it is portrayed, he sailed right into the back door of a German farm house!
    I got to know Buck after he retired to North Dakota. He and his friend George Ott (92nd BG) who he met at Stalag Luft 3 would visit about all the humorous things that happened at the POW camp.

  • Scott Nelson
    Reply

    I heard from someone close to the project that one of the main characters will be Gale (Buck) Cleven, commander of the 350th Sqd. 100th BG. Cleven is mentioned in numerous books and publications. Cleven participated in the August Schweinfurt/Regensburg raid where his bomber was riddled by enemy fighters but kept control of the plane and went on to bomb the Messerschmitt plant at Regensburg. Quite a bit written about him in the book “Double Strike” by Edward Joblonski. The movie “Twelve O’clock High” is said to be based on Cleven and this raid. He was shot down on the Oct 8, 43 Bremen raid where he parachuted right through the back door of a German farm house!
    I got to know Cleven when he retired to ND in the early 2000s. I would enjoy listening to Buck and his friend George Ott (92nd BG, Deputy lead, 2nd Schweinfurt) when they would visit about all the humorous things that happened at Stalag Luft III where they were interned. They were also at SL III when the Great Escape occurred.

  • Russ
    Reply

    This is the best news I’ve read in some time. I consider Band of Brothers a masterpiece. The Pacific is just behind, but still a wonderful series. Masters of the Air sounds like an awesome capstone to the trilogy. Thank you for the good info.

  • Jeff
    Reply

    This is an excellent readout, thank you for sharing!

    Coincidentally my grandfather, a B-17 pilot for 384th/545th Bomb Squadron, was one of the founders of the Air Force Reserve Squadron at Lafayette Collage in Easton, Pa. Same College where Professor Miller is a full-tenured faculty member for the history department.

  • Don
    Reply

    Thanks for compiling this information. As a student of WWII history and a pilot, I am looking forward to this production becoming a reality.

  • Zach
    Reply

    Super excited about the project, and it sounds like you have some good intel…the part about the specific episode focusing on the POV of the interior of the plane sounds amazing.

    One thing you might want to re-look at, I believe the tweet you reference is in regards to a separate third project Orloff is doing, GTMO. I believe it references a project he is doing about Guantanamo, and is not related to MOTA. Orloff does have many tweets and replies referencing his work on the HBO project though.

    • peterjmonfre
      Reply

      Thanks Zach, you are correct. I have since corrected it to embed a better tweet of his where he talks about Masters of the Air.

  • Josiah
    Reply

    Super excited to see this! I’ve seen Band of Brothers and the Pacific twice. I just read dozens and dozens of books on WW2 and the air war in particular. I’m 24 years old and it seems like most of the people interested in what actually happened and what these great men have gone through are either relatives or military families. I am neither, but I recognize their tremendous sacrifices they have made for us so that we can live in freedom from tyranny. I hope that this series will help spark an interest in my generation to look back and learn from these men’s sacrifices. They are truly the greatest generation in my mind, and they are my heroes.

  • Robert Roskey
    Reply

    Thanks for all the detail. No one does ww2 better than Hanks/Spielberg and this has been an area of the war that has been heavily overlooked when it comes to films. I’ve been looking for more info on this since 2016 and it’s a bit of a bummer it’s not closer to release but either way there’s nothing at all I’m more excited about than this miniseries. Band of Brothers is my favorite film ever made which I’ve watched probably 15 times and I can’t wait to get to get more from the best ww2 film creators in history.

  • John Wertz
    Reply

    Ecstatic about this. First heard about it on a Summer 2013 business trip to the UK. W/a few days off after, arranged a trip to dad’s base (Molesworth-303rd BG, 427th Sqd), which is now a High Security Joint Command. After that, the British-American gent, who arranged my day, then sent me to see the curator at the American Cemetery at Maddingly(no time for lunch) and finally to the British Museum. It was while on the prototype of the Concord, one of the docents said “too bad you’re not going to be here next weekend, to which I asked “why?”. He said “Hanks & Spielberg are going to be here next weekend to discuss/scout locations for the filming of their next 10 part series(MOA)”.
    He went on to tell me that filming would likely start beginning of next yr(2014) and wrap up in 2015, with possible release dates at the end of 2015/beginning of 2015(so we’re a little behind that schedule, because Hanks went on to make Sully and also his wife was battling cancer). At any rate, he told me he wasn’t sure where B17 takeoffs and landings would be (Masden??) but that they would likely use the tower at Bassingbourn(10 miles to the west). I drove over there, but they were having drills that weekend and couldn’t get access. Looking forward to this. Only a few of these flyboys left, including my dad’s ball-turret gunner.
    Dad and crew were shot down on their 24th mission (Feb 16th, 1945) near Kleve Germany and were immediately captured, except the three KIA’s(Toggler, Engr. and tail gunner).

  • Nick de Seve
    Reply

    Looking forward to this series as well. My dad was the crew chief/top gunner on a 17 with the 3o6th (I believe) bomb group out of Thurleigh, England in late ‘44 early ‘45. Thank God that by the time he flew his 25 combat missions the Forts had excellent fighter escort and the Luftwaffe was decimated – but the flak was still there.
    The name of his plane was “Paper Doll,”which,co-incidentally, is the name of the incredible novel by Jim Shepard written about a dozen years ago – you all should check it out, beautifully, heartbreakingly vivid portrayal of the crew of one ship and the doomed Schweinfurt (most likely) mission.

  • Dano
    Reply

    I’ve been a big military aviation enthusiast since I was a kid. My father was a Marine grunt in Korea & Vietnam, and I was a Marine Harrier ordnanceman. I even did a stint as a paratrooper in the Foreign Legion (in the anti-aircraft platoon!) I’m also a retired firefighter. I’ve been anticipating this series for years. We all know ‘Band of Brothers’ was a huge hit, but that ‘Pacific’ was not so much.
    When I read the above statement – “The series will be much more grounded in the actual realities of WWII and will try to avoid being too much of just a “celebration of America” and/or triumphalism.”, I thought, “Oh, no!” – PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, DO NOT let the poison that is political correctness corrupt this project! As it has with so many others.
    Those men DID ‘Celebrate America’, and DID ‘Triumph’ – It that so wrong? Is that something that should be ‘avoided’?
    If you’re saying it just to appease the hollywood crowd, then that’s Ok.
    But I’ve read about, and talked to the men who were at, Munster, Politz, Kassel, and Berlin. And also Tobruk, Burma, and Tokyo – None of them were concerned that ‘AMERICA Won TOO much’.

    • Edward J Butner III
      Reply

      My dad passed away in 2017, and he really wanted to live long enough to see this. 487th bg, lavenham England, 35 missions, two confirmed kills, two water dichings, a DFC, and a long, but not long enough life. I am going to see it for him.

    • Edward J Butner III
      Reply

      My dad played his part in this triumph not because of patriotism, but of a deep seated revulsion of bigotry, racism and totalitarianism. We could use alot more of this in this country today. Stop worrying about how Hollywood portrays these men, and acknowledge the bravery and dedication of these fellows, all volunteers, who thought it was worth it to rid the world of the threats to all mankind. Sadly, it’s seems to be making a comeback.

  • Walter Craig
    Reply

    I can’t wait to see this, the 8th Air Force lost more men in the skies over Europe then all of the Marine Corps did in the Pacific during WWII, a full one third of all the US combat personal killed or injured in the European theater of operations were 8th Air Force, just one thing, I hope they don’t put the famous ball turret/belly landing incident in the story, it isn’t true, Andy Rooney made it up, letters have been written to the Air Forces historical department and they have confirmed that no such incident had ever occurred.

  • Travis
    Reply

    Great information can’t wait to see it when the series airs. Just watched a family produced interview of a B-17 tail gunner named Kenneth Wolf on YouTube. The video is called Tail Gunner always liked hearing the stories from the veterans 1st hand. His account of some of his missions he was on is amazing. Suggest anyone who reads this or is interested in the mini series watch the video. Thanks for posting the info.

    TSgt Travis Turbeville
    USAF Ammo

  • Eric C Parlee
    Reply

    My Dad, 1st Lt. Charles Wesley Parlee (Westinghouse Charlie to his buddies) was Bombardier on “Daylite Delivery” piloted by Lt. James Musser, 418th Squadron, 100th BG. They flew 17 missions out of Thorpe Abbotts from early Nov ’43 until late Feb ’44 before being transferred to the 97th BG, 15th AF in Foggia. From there they met up with their 100th BG buddies over Regensberg during “Big Week”. Dad and most of his crew were Stateside on or before D-Day, having finished 31 total “there and backs” by late April/May ’44. Musser trained with Rosie and he and my Dad and an original crew were supposed to be in Thorpe Abbots by May/June ’43 along with Rosie, but had a “mishap” running out of gas over the North Atlantic 150 miles off the west coast of Rekjavik, Iceland. Long story, but eight of the crew survived thanks to the Royal Navy just happening to be nearby as the plane was flying on the last of its fumes. The RN dropped the survivors off in Argentia, Nova Scotia. Six of the survivors including Musser, my Dad, TTgnr/ TSgt Don Atkinson, TSgt Kermit Ward, TSgt William (Slugger) Clough and TSgt Robert Shearer insisted on staying together as a crew and got to England successfully in Oct ’43. When Musser met up with Rosie, Rosie allegedly said “Where the hell have you been…?” When attending a 100BG reunion some time in the mid 80’s, Musser encountered Gen. Ira Eaker, who annotated his Mission List to credit a total of 50 missions, giving him and his crew more than the 25 with the 100th BG to belatedly get their “Luckye Bastardes” certificates. That meant more to my Dad than any other medal or distinction and was the only one he himself ever framed.

  • Robert Kelleher Jr
    Reply

    I sincerely hope the series gets produced and that it features a Red Cross donut Dolly. My mother served on a ARC Clubmobile in Scotland and Germany from ’45 to ’46.

  • Jack Barker
    Reply

    “Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Rosie” “Bob” Rosenthal – Pilot with the 100th Bomb Group, 𝟰𝟭𝟴𝙩𝙝 and 𝟯𝟱𝟬𝙩𝙝 𝘽𝙤𝙢𝙗 𝙎𝙦𝙪𝙖𝙙𝙧𝙤𝙣𝙨.”

    “He flew on the October 10th, 1943 mission over Münster. It was only his third mission with the 100th, and he flew the only plane out of the thirteen B-17s from the 𝟭𝟬𝟬𝙩𝙝 𝙨𝙦𝙪𝙖𝙙𝙧𝙤𝙣 to return to base.”

    *Something wrong here. You probably meant ‘100th BG’ instead of “100th squadron.”

  • Karl Pitwon
    Reply

    If this miniseries is coming out of the same stable as Band of Brothers and Pacific ……..it will definitely be worth waiting for.

  • Jerry
    Reply

    Thanks for the research Dan. This is a great update and more in-depth information than I’ve heard in a long while. I’ve been trying to follow this project since it was green-lighted about 4 years ago. It had seemed to drop out of sight for a few years. Thought maybe it was scrapped.
    Since you’ve set the bar so high, have you looked into the filming of the new Battle of Midway film? All I can find is that they should have started filming last fall.

    Thanks!

  • Chris Martin
    Reply

    Well written article and thank you for the updates Dan.
    My dad flew 35 missions as a Top Turret Gunner / Flight Engineer out of Polebrook Air Base in the spring and summer of 1944. I visited several years ago and it is remarkable how little has change after 75 years particularly the surrounding areas. The main hangar is basically intact as is the bisecting runways which are fairly visible although grass covered. Walking the grounds there are remnants of the living quarters and offices. Relics are strewn about. I wish he were around to read your update. It is absolutely amazing what these men accomplished. All the best.

  • Roger Cooper
    Reply

    Author Donald Miller told an audience at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth in Savannah to expect a ‘big announcement’ about the TV series before the end of this month (May).

  • Roger Cooper
    Reply

    Earlier this month (May 2019), Masters of the Air author Donald Miller told an audience in Savannah GA to expect a ‘big announcement’ about the TV series within weeks.

  • Matthew C Jacques
    Reply

    Thank you for compiling all of this information in one place! I hope that this project picks up the pace soon.

  • Pavelski
    Reply

    I wonder if Glenn Rojohn’s unbelievable experience will be depicted:
    https://www.foxnews.com/story/brave-hearts

  • Bart Logan
    Reply

    If the movie is even remotely like the “teasers” that have appeared in social media over the last year or so then I hope the master reels are accidentally incinerated.

  • Randall Wakefield Sr
    Reply

    Worthy film. I am looking forward to it. Please dont leave out the Liberator boys. The 15th and 8th Air Forces really paid a high price for our victory. Bless em all.

  • Dano
    Reply

    I’ve been reading about the Air War over Europe since I was kid (a long time ago) – They have a A LOT to work with here. This is a brilliant opportunity for all involved, including the public. But let’s be honest. “Band of Brothers” was fantastic, “Pacific”, not so much. And with PC statements above like, “..will try to avoid being too much of just a “celebration of America” and/or triumphalism.”, I get a little worried that it might take away from the real story. I mean, as well as with the rest of the Allies, this is the story of America’s son’s GREAT ‘triumph’ over the enemy!
    But, that being said, the thought of seeing maybe the Eagle Squadron in their Spitfires flying through the clouds, or the unimaginable action & terror of the Munster mission, is quite exciting.

  • Unikr Undici
    Reply
  • Mix-Movie.com
    Reply

    I think Masters of the Air has the potential to be the best of the three mini series so far. Or at least on par with Band of Brothers. The best approach I can think of would be focusing on one crew for their entire tour with brief look ins into other aspects. So you could have an episode that looks at the ground crews and the emotions and struggles they go through sending guys off getting to know guys and seeing so few of them return, you could also have other aspects like that with a core focus for the majority of series with 1 bomber crew throughout the series. The Pacific struggled from being too scattered. Not one unit fought in the majority of major engagements and its hard to jump around and follow the war in the pacific. The h air force has a much more chronological and understandable narrative than a pacific that jumps all over, more in line with what Band of Brothers saw. Another war would be interesting as well but I think the Bomber Crews in WWII really don t get the kind of attention that the most of the rest of the theaters do get, and the war was so different and unique for them compared to any other conflict.

  • Mark
    Reply

    Hi Dan, any new updates worth sharing? So looking forward to the release =o)

  • CostumeLooks.com
    Reply

    I think Masters of the Air has the potential to be the best of the three mini series so far. Or at least on par with Band of Brothers. The best approach I can think of would be focusing on one crew for their entire tour with brief look ins into other aspects. So you could have an episode that looks at the ground crews and the emotions and struggles they go through sending guys off getting to know guys and seeing so few of them return, you could also have other aspects like that with a core focus for the majority of series with 1 bomber crew throughout the series. The Pacific struggled from being too scattered. Not one unit fought in the majority of major engagements and its hard to jump around and follow the war in the pacific. The h air force has a much more chronological and understandable narrative than a pacific that jumps all over, more in line with what Band of Brothers saw. Another war would be interesting as well but I think the Bomber Crews in WWII really don t get the kind of attention that the most of the rest of the theaters do get, and the war was so different and unique for them compared to any other conflict.

  • mike
    Reply

    as a next series (in 2030) I d like to see and learn why this international allied comradery on the western front in battle AND in POW camps was NON EXISTANT in the war in the far east.
    There are so many accounts (and a book I forgot its title) how the brits disliked the aussies, the dutch and the yanks , and all vice versa, and the level of distrust during the malaya “campaign”, ABDA and the absent coordination inside the jap camps between the POW and civilians of different nations.
    The whole liberation route of McArthur is one if contempt of foreign colonial (but not the US in philippines..of course) interests but instead go on a private campaign in philippines and thus wasted valuable time and resources to “liberate” (at an IMMENSE cost of philippino civilian lives) philipine economically and militarily USELESS islands.
    I ‘d like to see how Spielberg e.a. would be able to tackle this. Not just soldier’s misery, but interwoven with scheming politicians and ogling businessmen..

  • Selim Atalay
    Reply

    Screen writer John Orlof tweeted ” Hang Tough” so there will be a announcement.I think best possible release date 2021.Filming will begin next year maybe.

  • 2livedrew
    Reply

    Yes please!!! and then on to the next miniseries on the Big Eazy baby!!! back to the Pacific fingers crossed!
    “USS Enterprise”

  • Cecile R Uhry
    Reply

    How much will the fee be to view this. Will we be able to access on computer and/or TV, etc?

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