Television enthusiasts rejoice, because a follow-up to the wildly successful World War II series, “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” is officially on the way.
“Masters of the Air,” produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, will run as an in-house, Apple-exclusive series on the tech behemoth’s new Netflix-style streaming service, Apple TV Plus, which launches November 1.
Based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, the show will follow American bomber pilots of the U.S. Eighth Air Force who, on a daily basis, risked flying at 25,000 feet in freezing air — in broad daylight — to bring the fight to Hitler’s doorstep.
Three years (1942-1945) of death-defying bombing runs by the Eighth’s Flying Fortresses over cities like Berlin, Dresden and Hanover were, for much of the war, the only battles Allied forces waged inside the territorial borders of Nazi Germany.
The Eighth’s effort to pry Europe from the claws of the Third Reich — one that included unleashing 697,000 tons of bombs — proved to be overwhelmingly costly.
By war’s end, over 47,000 of the 115,000 U.S. Army Air Force casualties were from the Eighth.
In the summer of 1943, Oscar-winning director William Wyler (“Ben-Hur”) and a film crew embedded with men from the Eighth to film air combat missions aboard Boeing B-17s. The footage Wyler’s group captured would eventually become the 1944 World War II documentary, “The Memphis Belle: A story of a Flying Fortress.”
One of Wyler’s own camera crew, Harold Tannenbaum, was killed during the filming process.
Most recently, director Erik Nelson resurrected Wyler’s footage for a new documentary, “The Cold Blue,” a film dedicated to the heroic actions of the men of the “Mighty Eighth” who stared down death each time they climbed into their cockpits and bombardier enclosures and took to the sky.
Joining Spielberg and Hanks on the aviation-centered series is “Band of Brothers” writer John Orloff, who also served as a consultant on “The Pacific.”
“Masters of the Air” is projected to run about eight episodes long, according to Deadline, with production costs that could exceed $200 million.
The trilogy’s first two installments, “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” earned over 40 Emmy nominations, taking home 14 of the awards.
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.