Masters of the Air is the third entry in a collection of miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg about the United States’ involvement in World War II. Following Band of Brothers in 2001 and The Pacific in 2010, Masters of the Air takes to the skies to explore the U.S. Air Force’s efforts to take down the Axis Powers.
In speaking to Den of Geek prior to the series’ premiere on Apple TV+, executive producer of all three series Gary Goetzman explained how they were (or were not) related.
“We don’t ever cross over, you know,” Goetzman says. “Band of Brothers was its own thing. And the more anthological approach we took with The Pacific was its own thing. I feel this is different too. Their connection is they’re all facets of World War II performed differently and all heading for the same hopeful solution of getting rid of Hitler.”
Indeed, each of the three series follows a different facet of the Allies’ military effort to defeat Nazi Germany and its client states. Band of Brothers takes place on the fields and towns of Western Europe with the U.S. Army’s Easy Company advancing on the ground towards their target. The Pacific is set in the Pacific theater of the war and follows several units of Marines as they hop from island to island to fight imperial Japan. Masters of the Air, of course, is embedded with the Air Force and the 100th Bomb Group’s many aerial missions.
For those with a cursory understanding of the United States military’s structure, it seems as though only one major branch that fought in WWII is missing. Goetzman, Hanks, and Spielberg’s miniseries have spent time with the Army, the Marines Corps, and the Air Force. But what about the U.S. Navy? Is it possible that the filmmaking team has at least one more World War II effort in them covering the conflict from the seas? According to Goetzman the answer is more complicated than it first seems.
“It’s a funny thing. We did a teensy bit of Navy in The Pacific. But Tom [Hanks] has Greyhound. That’s probably our Navy annex over there with Tom writing that.”
Written and produced by Tom Hanks, 2020 film Greyhound was a big swing for Apple TV+, featuring a reported $50 million budget and garnering mostly positive reviews. Based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester, Greyhound tells the real life story of the Battle of the Atlantic, which was the longest continuous military campaign of World War II. Hanks stars as Ernie Krause, a U.S. Navy commander tasked with leading an escort destroyer group to defend 37 ships from German U-boats.
Not only can Greyhound now be safely considered a Brothers/Pacific/Masters-adjacent project, but apparently more could be on the way.
“Apple TV+ has been asking to do another adventure of [Greyhound],” Goetzman says. “We have the story of what it would be.”
With a conflict as monumental as World War II, the Band of Brothers team will have source material to continue making limited series indefinitely. But for now it sounds like they have all the major military branches covered.
The first two episodes of Masters of the Air are available to stream now on Apple TV+. New episodes premiere Fridays.