‘Masters of the Air’ from Hanks & Spielberg Set in Norfolk Finally Happening

Craig Bowman
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg

Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are teaming up on a miniseries about US airmen in World War II.

While it had appeared that the show would not be moving forward due to high production costs, it now seems the series will be a flagship show for the new Apple TV+ streaming service.

The drama is based on Donald L. Miller’s book, Masters of the Air, about the bomber pilots of the US Eighth Air Force. It is the third WWII-based series from the pair.

Eighth Air Force going hand in hand against a tough and determined foe
Eighth Air Force going hand in hand against a tough and determined foe

It follows the award-winning Band of Brothers and The Pacific. Both of those series aired on HBO.

Miller, John Orloff (who wrote the script) and Kirk Saduski (an executive from Hanks and Spielberg’s production company Playtone) toured the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum in Thorpe Abbotts in the United Kingdom back in 2017.

At that time, they stated that the show would focus on the crew of the “Bloody Hundredth” which was part of the Eighth Air Force stationed at RAF Thorpe Abbotts starting in 1943.

Orloff called the 100th a good representation of the story of the airmen in WWII. He said that they got off to a rough start in the war and were led by very dynamic characters.

Squadron Leaders John ‘Bucky’ Egan, left, and Gale ‘Buck’ Cleven based at Thorpe Abbotts on which the series will be based. Picture: 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum
Squadron Leaders John ‘Bucky’ Egan, left, and Gale ‘Buck’ Cleven based at Thorpe Abbotts on which the series will be based. Picture: 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum

It is expected that the series will use John “Bucky” Egan and Gale “Buck” Cleven as its main characters.  The two men were squad leaders who were shot down days apart and then reunited in a German prisoner of war camp.

Sophie Towne is a volunteer and a trustee of the museum. She said that the show has been long rumored and that she is looking forward to seeing “the history brought to life in a big budget drama.” Hanks & Spielberg have a habit of pulling off such challenges.

She noted that Band of Brothers led to a spike in tourism at Normandy and hopes that Masters of the Air can do the same for all the museums in the region around Thorpe Abbotts.

“Masters of the Air is a direct hit.”– Allan R. Millett, Director, Eisenhower Center for American Studies, University of New Orleans

“Masters of the Air is a direct hit.”
– Allan R. Millett, Director, Eisenhower Center for American Studies, University of New Orleans

There is a rumor that Tom Hanks may have visited the museum a few years ago. He may have signed the guest register as “Woody,” a nod to his Toy Story character.

It is unlikely though that the series would be filmed at Thorpe Abbott. According to Towne, the museum is not likely suitable for such a large production to film over a prolonged period of time.

The 100th Bomb Group gained the nickname, “The Bloody Hundredth,” due to the high number of losses they incurred on their missions.

On their very first mission, they lost three planes and 30 men. Over 22 months they were credited with 8,630 missions. During that time, the group lost 732 airmen and 177 aircraft. It became known as an unlucky group to be assigned to.

The 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum at Thorpe Abbott is designed to teach visitors about the Bloody Hundredth and to serve as a place for reflection on the sacrifices made by the men that served there.

Another Article From Us: Maurice Mounsdon, One of Last Members of ‘The Few’, dies aged 101

Major John Bennett of the 100th Bomb Group said that what the men of the 100th didn’t seem to have in luck, they made up for in courage.