Is Masters of the Air Based on a True Story?

As Steven Spielberg's latest masterpiece, Masters of the Air, takes flight on Apple TV+, viewers are transported to the thrilling world of World War II air combat. The nine-episode miniseries, a World War II thriller about bomber pilots, debuted on Apple TV+ on January 26 and has since become the talk of the town.

The series, which serves as a sequel to the well-known Band of Brothers and The Pacific, follows the heroic missions of the Eighth Air Force—a group of American bomber crews whose valor changed the direction of the war. However, the question arises: how much of their story is based on reality?

Is Masters of the Air based on a true story?

Yes, Masters of the Air is based on the true story of the 8th Air Force's 100th Bomb Group, which was dubbed the “Bloody Hundredth” due to their massive losses.

The 100th flew 8,630 missions in 22 months, from June 25, 1943, to April 10, 1945. During that time, 757 troops were killed or reported missing in action, more than 900 became prisoners of war, and the group lost 177 aircraft.

Is Masters of the Air Based on a True Story?

The series is based on Donald L. Miller's novel of the same name and Harry Crosby's memoir A Wing and a Prayer (played by Anthony Boyle, who also serves as the series' narrator).

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“By the conclusion of the war, the Eighth Air Force would have had more fatal casualties (26,000) than the whole United States Marine Corps. Miller said that 77% of the Americans who flew against the Reich before D-Day became casualties.

How accurate is Master of the Air?

The answer is simple: extremely. While some have criticized Masters of the Air for juxtaposing American and British “philosophies,” each episode is meticulously planned and researched, and it has received acclaim from Donald L. Miller, who also acted as a historical adviser.

“[Tom] Hanks' mantra for us was to not make up anything. There's no bullshit. Tell the f***ing story. Exactly as it happened. There's enough genuine content that you don't need to exaggerate. We were interested in the psychological and emotional toll paid by these young men, the majority of whom were under the age of 24. That's what drew us to this stuff. How the heck did some of them get through it?

Is Masters of the Air Based on a True Story?

“We tried to capture the vibe of Das Boot. Not over-the-top Hollywood nonsense, but battle as it is. Hanks kept saying, “I want a movie where men just do their jobs.”

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Miller also told USA Today, “The big difference between making this and The Pacific is that back then, a lot of those vets were still alive, and the actors could call them or have them on set, and they'd tell us what happened.” With this, I was practically the only person who knew or interviewed many of these genuine veterans. So the performers would come to me, and I'd do my best to help.”

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