When the first teaser of Apple TV’s Masters of the Air came out in November 2023, for most of the world, it was a chance to discover something unknown. The series, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, is based on the book of the same name by historian Donald L. Miller and tells the stories of the real airmen involved in World War II: a group nicknamed the “Bloody Hundredth,” the 100th Bomb Group of the United States Air Force who focused in the bombing missions against Nazi Germany. It’s a true story, based on interviews and historical archives: let’s discover it.
The TV Series Masters of the Air will premiere on Apple TV+ on January 26, 2024: created by John Shiban and John Orloff and produced by Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg, the show involves a stellar cast including Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Anthony Boyle, and Nate Mann. You can watch the first teaser below.
Masters of the Air is based on the true story of the airmen of the 100th Bomb Group, the unit of the United States Army Air Forces that was assigned to multiple air combat missions against Nazi Germany during World War II. The unit was known as the “Bloody Hundredth” due to its high casualty rate and effectiveness in combat.
The group was initially stationed in the United States and flew the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a popular heavy bomber developed in America in the 1930s. In June 1943, the unit was deployed to England, stationed at Royal Air Force Thorpe Abbotts: from those bases in England, the 100th Bomb Group conducted daylight bombing missions over occupied Europe, trying to weaken the German army.
The group participated in numerous strategic bombing campaigns, including attacks on German industrial targets, transportation infrastructure, and military installations. Some of the notable missions the 100th Bomb Group took part in include the raids on the ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt and Regensburg, as well as the famous bombing of Berlin: in March 1944, the USAF unit dropped over 4,800 tons of high explosives in the German capital, representing the first American bombing of Berlin ever.
The 100th Bomb Group earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for its exceptional performance on several occasions. Despite facing intense opposition from German fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft fire, the group continued to press its attacks.
The unit’s combat record came at a high cost, with a significant number of crew members being killed, wounded, or taken as prisoners of war. The group’s dedication and bravery earned them a place in history as one of the most distinguished units in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. The reason why it was nicknamed the “Bloody Hundredth” was precisely because of the effect of their missions: besides destroying numerous military targets, the unit suffered huge losses, counting 177 aircrafts missing in action during World War II.
After the war, the 100th Bomb Group was inactivated in 1946, but it kept operating under different names during the Cold War. Converted into an Air Refueling unit, the group was recently involved in Lybia during the 2011 military operations driven by NATO.
Masters of the Air will be a new chance to watch the true story of the combats during World War II from an American point of view, a perspective that the world of cinema and series keeps proposing recurrently, always with good results. This time, we’ll also see the hands of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, two personalities who have already contributed to the history of war dramas with Saving Private Ryan in 1998.
Masters of the Air is set for release on Apple TV+ on January 26, 2024.