Is Masters of the Air Based on true events? Untold WWII air combat tales | Hollywood - Hindustan Times
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Is Masters of the Air Based on true events? Tom Hanks unveils untold WWII air combat tales

ByAditi Srivastava
Jan 28, 2024 07:49 AM IST

‘I don’t think you’ll find combat anywhere in history as intense as these air fights’, Masters of the Air stay true to real-life experiences of eighth air force

As Steven Spielberg's latest masterpiece, Masters of the Air, takes flight on Apple TV+, viewers are plunged into the heart-pounding world of World War II's air combat. Now the buzz of the town, the nine-episode miniseries, a World War II drama focused on bomber pilots, debuted on Apple TV+ on Jan. 26. Serving as a sequel to the renowned Band of Brothers and The Pacific, the series chronicles the daring missions of the Eighth Air Force—a team of American bomber crews whose courage played a pivotal role in changing the course of the war. However, the question arises: how much of their tale is grounded in reality?

Masters of the Air: A World War II Drama Grounded in Reality(Apple TV)
Masters of the Air: A World War II Drama Grounded in Reality(Apple TV)

The real history behind Masters of the Air

Revealing the lesser-known stories of individuals like Major Gale Cleven and Major John Egan, Masters of the Air goes beyond just showcasing intense air battles and struggles. It delves into the emotional impact these young men experienced. The series is reportedly grounded in the true story of the American Eighth Air Force, a group of bomber pilots who served from 1942 to 1945 during the war.

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Although the show frequently introduces fictional characters to keep the plot moving smoothly, it largely stays true to the real-life experiences of its American protagonists, drawing from Air Force records and interviews with veterans.

Is Masters of the Air taken from the book?

Yes, the film produced by Steven Spielberg and with Tom Hanks was influenced by the book Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany, written by biographer Don Miller.

Are characters in Masters of the Air real?

Speaking to the Daily Mail, the book's author shared further details about the narrative. Miller emphasized that all the major roles in the miniseries are based on actual individuals, particularly highlighting the main characters portrayed by Austin Butler as Maj. Gale Cleven, Callum Turner as Maj. John Egan, Barry Keoghan as Lt. Curtis Biddick, Anthony Boyle as Lt. Harry Crosby, Nate Mann as Maj. Robert Rosenthal, and Sawyer Spielberg as Lt. Roy Claytor.

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About the actual B-17 bomber mission

Miller emphasized that the deadly and intense air battles depicted in the story are unparalleled in history. He highlighted that the scenes showing captured bomber group members crafting homemade radios and plotting escapes from camps operated by German Air Force personnel are based on real events. “I don’t think you’ll find combat anywhere in history as intense as these air fights,”says the author of the book. “You’re in an aluminum tube so thin a guy with a screwdriver could punch a hole in it. German (fighter pilots) would aim for the pilot and co-pilot, and a lot of pilots were beheaded by gunfire,” he continued to add.

In a stark statistic, outlined by TIME, the Eighth Air Force suffered 26,000 deaths, representing roughly 50% of all U.S. Army Air Force casualties and exceeding the entire number of Marine fatalities (24,511).

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