Understanding the Air War
Playtone and Apple TV+ looked to IWM to advise on their upcoming mini-series Masters of the Air due for release in January 2024. Having provided historical consultation across a range of areas for Band of Brothers in 2001, IWM were a natural choice of collaborator.
Following the men of the 100th Bomb Group over the course of America's bombing campaign during Second World War, the B-17 Flying Fortress plays a central role in the series. IWM advised on the production from the outset, by helping scriptwriters John Orloff and Graham Yost to understand the perilous conditions of the US strategic bombing campaign. They and other key members of the production team were led on tours of IWM's B-17 Flying Fortress by American Air Museum Curator Emily Charles between 2017 and 2019.
Bringing history to life
Emily Charles was also IWM's principal historic advisor on the series, supplying remote advice to the production team, from 2020 to 2022. While the experiences of the men of the 100th Bomb Group are well documented, the enormous scope of the series meant that IWM was often enlisted to answer the production team's most challenging questions.
Emily also helped the production team to bring to life the locations seen in the series. IWM's rich visual collections of film, art, photographs and posters were used extensively by the art department as reference material to recreate the day-to-day routine of life on an airbase, the streets of wartime London, and the deprivations of a prisoner of war camp.
Featured areas of consultation
B-17 Flying Fortress
IWM's B-17G Flying Fortress, as the most complete surviving example of its type, was also a crucial reference for the art department, in constructing the CGI and life-sized replica aircraft and interiors used for filming Masters of the Air.
©IWM (HU 21063)
Stalag Luft III
As the camp where the series protagonists are imprisoned, Stalag Luft III is a major location in Masters of the Air. The art department relied on the photographic collection of Oberst Von Lindeiner, the commandant of Stalag Luft III, to help bring daily life as a prisoner of war to the screen.
© IWM (HU 54542)
Masters of the Air will explore the experiences of Black Americans in the US Army Air Forces, an area that to date, has received little attention in dramatizations of the Second World War. IWM's small, but insightful collections on this topic were used to inform the Black storylines depicted in the series.
Imperial War Museum’s Curator Consultancy service can be used for a variety of projects, both big and small, from television and film to consumer products and publishing. Further information can be found on our website and enquiries can be sent to [email protected] or through the enquiry form online.