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Masters of the Air

Last year HBO announced it was producing, in association with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, a multi-part film centered on the B-17 – the plane, the crews, the targets.  As the basis for their film, they are using the book Masters of the Air, subtitled America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany, by Donald L. Miller, published by Simon and Schuster.

I strongly recommend this fine book. In addition to comprehensively covering the history of the Air Force, the technology of the planes, the strategies of air warfare, and the combat missions, both major and minor, that were flown, Professor Miller interweaves tragic, sad, poignant, and comic stories of individual pilots, crew members, grounds crewmen, and their officers to provide a strong human context to the larger historical overview. A clear portrait of WWII England is also painted.

Of all our WWII documentaries, Pistol Packin’ Mama, the Missions of a B-17, has been the most popular.  It has been favorably compared to Twelve O’clock High, a great film, and my favorite WWII film, among many great WWII films. 

Here’s hoping that the HBO/Spielberg/Hanks team does as well for the B-17s and its crews as they did for the infantry on Band of Brothers and the Marines in The Pacific

They deserve it.


Jeff Hohman


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