Spielberg's New War Series is Based on Harrowing True Story

Spielberg's New War Series is Based on Harrowing True Story
Image credit: Apple TV+, Legion-Media

Spielberg and Hanks' new series once again tells the story of events that really happened.


  • Masters of the Air, the new military drama from the creators of Band of Brothers and The Pacific, has debuted on Apple TV+.
  • Only a few episodes in, the series has already received critical acclaim.
  • Much of that is due to its historical accuracy, as the plot is based on a book by Donald L. Miller, who consulted with actual eyewitnesses to the events.

Speaking of war dramas, perhaps some of the most famous are two high-profile series from HBO, 2001's Band of Brothers and 2010's The Pacific, which chronicled the valor of the 101st Airborne Division and the 1st Marine Division, respectively.

Both series were praised for their superb writing, dramatic acting and spectacular direction, depicting both the everyday experiences of World War II survivors and the immediate horrors of war, full of grief and loss. But more than that, the series became famous for the names of the men behind it, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

And now, in 2024, a new project has been released in which Hanks and Spielberg have once again taken on the duties of executive producers, Masters of the Air. This time, as the title suggests, the series is dedicated not to the infantry or the Marines, but to an undeservedly underrepresented side of World War II, the Air Force.

Just three days after its release, Masters of the Air has already received high marks from both critics and viewers, largely due to the fact that the story is based on real events.

A New War Drama Executive Produced by Spielberg

The creators of Masters of the Air are John Shiban, who has worked on such TV hits as The X-Files, Smallville, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Breaking Bad, and John Orloff, who wrote two episodes of Band of Brothers in 2001. But the latter is not the only one who has made a splash in war dramas.

As mentioned above, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are executive producers, and Gary Goetzman, co-founder with Hanks of the production company Playtone and a producer on both Band of Brothers and The Pacific, has been promoted to executive producer. The directors are veterans as well: Tim Van Patten directed three episodes of The Pacific and served as supervising producer.

The result is another fine war drama, this time not on HBO, but on Apple TV+. Though only two episodes have been released, critics are already raving about the masterful visual effects, which convey both the horrors of war and the valor of its participants far more effectively than its predecessors.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the critics' score is an impressive 83%, but the score will only fluctuate with the release of new episodes.

The True Story Behind the Show

Masters of the Air is based on the 2007 bestseller Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by American historian Donald L. Miller.

The story centers on the Eighth Air Force of the US Air Force, specifically the members of the 100th Bombardment Group aka the Bloody Hundredth, a unit of B-17F heavy bombers based in eastern England during World War II. Throughout World War II, the unit repeatedly demonstrated its military prowess in the air, effectively confronting Third Reich forces and destroying enemy bases.

However, according to Miller himself, who acted as a creative consultant in the production of the series, the production of such a show in 2023-2024 posed an enormous number of challenges. After all, the real-life veterans of those events are sadly long dead.

'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 we'd have them on set, and they'd tell us what really happened. With this, I was practically the only one who had known or interviewed many of these real vets. So the actors would come to me, and I'd help best I could,' he shared.

The next episode of Masters of the Air is coming to Apple TV+ on Friday, February 2.

Source: USA Today.