WWII aficionados around the world can finally let out a yelp of excitement.
“Masters of the Air,” the third installment of the Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks-led trilogy that includes “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” has officially begun filming, according to an Instagram post from director Cary Fukunaga.
Fukunaga, the Emmy award-winning director behind the masterful first season of HBO’s “True Detective,” is signed on to direct the first three episodes of the 10-part series.
The development of the miniseries, which includes production costs that could exceed $200 million, was originally confirmed by HBO in January 2013, but delays and budget considerations led to the project being dropped, according to a statement from the network. Announced as an Apple TV+ production over 18 months ago, the filming was once again delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Based on Donald L. Miller’s book of the same name, “Masters of the Air” is expected to follow American bomber pilots of the U.S. Eighth Air Force, who repeatedly risked flying at 25,000 feet in frigid temperatures — in broad daylight — to bring the fight to Hitler’s doorstep.
Three years — from 1942 to 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.
“The Eighth Air Force was one of the great fighting forces in the history of warfare,” famed war correspondent Andy Rooney once wrote.
“It had the best equipment and the best men, all but a handful of whom were civilian Americans, educated and willing to fight for their country and a cause they understood was in danger — freedom. It’s what made World War II special.”
Reuniting with Spielberg and Hanks on the aviation-centered series is “Band of Brothers” writer John Orloff, who also served as a consultant on “The Pacific.”
Orloff tweeted out the good news today.
The production is codenamed “Whirlwind,” not unlike the whirlwind of excitement Fukunaga’s post has generated.
So, to history and cinephile fans alike, rejoice! It’s finally happening.
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.
Claire Barrett is a digital media editor at HistoryNet and a World War II researcher with an unparalleled affinity for Sir Winston Churchill and Michigan football.