Saving Private Ryan was a cinematic triumph that showed audiences a gritty and honest depiction of WWII. With an emphasis on realism and accuracy, many of the film's props were later reused in the 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Producer Gary Goetzman and Executive Producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks crafted an iconic 10 episodes that became legendary in both the military and civilian communities.
Maintaining a balance of attention to detail and cinematic quality, the three men went on to release the 2010 HBO miniseries The Pacific; a Marine Corps version of Band of Brothers. Both miniseries are even used as teaching aids in the U.S. military. In 2024, audiences will be treated to an Air Force Band of Brothers with the new series, Masters of the Air, available on HBO and Apple TV+.
Band of Brothers was based on the Stephen Ambrose book of the same name and The Pacific was based on the memoirs of two Marines: With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene Sledge and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie. Masters of the Air is based on Donald Miller's book of the same name and follows the 8th Air Force's 100th Bomb Group, "The Bloody Hundredth." During WWII, the 100th flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from RAF Thorpe Abbotts in England. The unit flew over 300 combat missions in Europe and earned two Distinguished Unit Citations with a loss of 177 aircraft. Masters of the Air chronicles the stories of the airmen who flew these deadly missions.
The Allied bombing strategy against Nazi Germany saw the British RAF flying night raids while the U.S. Army Air Force flew daytime raids. Although the night sorties were generally safer for the bombers, daytime sorties allowed the bombers to be more accurate. However, it also made them easier prey for German fighters and anti-aircraft guns. Flying at a freezing 25,000 feet with little oxygen, these bomber crews faced a ruthless enemy in conditions that tried them physically and mentally.
Distributed by Apple TV+, Masters of the Air stars Academy Award-nominees Austin Butler and Barry Keoghan, as well as Callum Turner, Anthony Boyle and Nate Mann. Spielberg, Hanks and Goetzman returned to executive produce. "'Masters of the Air' is a salute to the brave men of the 8th Air Force, who, through their courage and brotherhood, helped defeat Nazi Germany in World War II," Goetzman said in a press release. "Tom and Steven have always wanted to visualize cinematically what our author Don Miller has called, this ‘singular event in the history of warfare.’ We’re thrilled that Apple TV+ has given us the opportunity to combine the efforts of so many talented people, on-screen and behind the camera, to tell this important story."
One shorter than Band of Brothers and The Pacific, Masters of the Air features nine episodes. The series will premiere globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, January 26, 2024.