Masters of the Air TV Series

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks previously brought the stirring World War II drama of Band of Brothers and The Pacific to HBO. But with Spielberg tooting the horn for Apple TV+, it should come as no surprise that his latest war drama collaboration with Hanks is heading to the forthcoming streaming service instead of sticking with cable.

Masters of the Air is a new event limited series heading to Apple+ from Speilberg’s own Amblin Television and Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman‘s Playtone production banner. The series is based on Donald L. Miller’s book, which carries the full title of Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought The Air War Against Nazi Germany. Find out more below.

Published in 2007, Masters of the Air follows the American Eighth Air Force as they fought in World War II. These young men flew bombers high above the battlefield, striking hard at Nazi Germany as they hit Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden. Here’s some more information from the official synopsis for the book (via Amazon):

Fighting at 25,000 feet in thin, freezing air that no warriors had ever encountered before, bomber crews battled new kinds of assaults on body and mind. Air combat was deadly but intermittent: periods of inactivity and anxiety were followed by short bursts of fire and fear. Unlike infantrymen, bomber boys slept on clean sheets, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of Glenn Miller’s Air Force band, which toured US air bases in England. But they had a much greater chance of dying than ground soldiers.

The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors who were a microcosm of America—white America, anyway. The actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber boy, and so was the “King of Hollywood,” Clark Gable. And the air war was filmed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and covered by reporters like Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite, all of whom flew combat missions with the men. The Anglo-American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of World War II, a war within a war. Until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war, it was the only battle fought inside the German homeland.

You read that right. Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart both served during World War II as pilots. Gable rose to the rank of major, and received the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross, and Stewart rose to the rank of brigadier general, becoming the highest-ranking actor in military history. In addition to the combat they saw in the skies, the two also appeared in military documentaries of the time. It’ll be interesting to see if the two have a pivotal role in the series or not.

As for the series, Deadline reports it’s said to be eight hours in length with a budget over $200 million. That makes it quite the pricey production for Apple TV+, who is using this show as a launchpad for its own in-house studio. But this will undoubtedly help bring in some subscribers who want to see another series in the vein of Band of Brothers and The Pacific, both of which packed a powerful punch like Spielberg’s feature Saving Private Ryan. It was originally set up as HBO as the completion to a trilogy of sorts, but they held off for awhile, and the series moved to Apple.

Masters of the Air has Spielberg, Hanks, and Goetzman executive producing along with Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey at Amblin Television, as well as Steven Shareshian of Playtone. It also brings back Band of Brothers writer John Orloff, who is yet another executive producer on the series along with Graham Yost (Justified), who also worked on the aforementioned HBO series.

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