"Salute the airframe, not the man" Masters Of The Air on Apple+

I was able to watch episode 1 during lunch.

Pretty good. They did an excellent job with the cg, the combat sequences looked great, music was good, and the characters all seem interesting. Austin Butler sure is something, I don’t think that I have seen an actor with that sort of natural easy charisma in a long time. Really works for his character in this, being a “cowboy” from Wyoming.

Some decent realism there too, you see a landing gear failure, an engine failure requiring an RTB, the importance of maintaining formation, difficulty spotting in the clouds (causing a mission scrub), as well as the reality that nearly half of all airmen in bomber groups died in service. (depending on the group, but this show is about the bloody 100th)

Hell, only 25% of airmen completed their first tour of duty.

Excited to see where the season goes.

You could always rent “Memphis Belle” for the kiddies. Kids love Harry Connick, Jr.!

Or show them William Wyler’s original Memphis Belle war documentary.

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https://www.researchgate.net/publication/356423816_Aircrew_Survival_Rates_in_Bomber_Command_and_the_Eighth_Air_Force_An_Investigation_into_the_Question_of_Bearable_Casualty_Rates_1_February_1942_-_19_April_1944

Found this study while looking up statistics.

Just amazing that these guys kept it together despite the staggering loss statistics.

Greater than 6% loss of airframes across all sorties for the time period. That means you send up 20 planes, on average 1-2 aren’t coming back every time you fly.

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Data in this study focuses on the 91st, but they flew heavy bombing missions in B-17s so they are quite comparable to the 100th

More info on the bloody 100th

By my math that basically means on any given sortie (given 10 men per plane) that your chance of getting killed or captured was about 4.5%.

— Alan

Yeah, pretty crazy stuff.

Watched the first and will be watching further. Did anyone else catch that the first episode was directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga? In fact, I just checked and CJF directs the first four (of nine) but none of the rest. Will be interested to see if I notice that come episode 5.

Something of note I just read, CJF’s father was born in a WWII interment camp in California. This is the air war in Europe obviously but I found that interesting.

My great-uncle was a ball turret gunner in a B-24 liberator. He made it to Europe in 1945, right as things were ending, and then traveled to the Pacific with a B-24 crew just as that theater of war ended too. He started college in 1943, but left to enlist, just a bit too late to see a lot of action.

Yup, basically every mission you had to make a saving throw to return unharmed. As we all know a 1 is always a failure.
As Slaughterhouse 5 points out the basic insanity is that you had to make 25 missions to complete a tour of duty. The reviews do mention don’t get attached to the characters.

Hmm… 1/20 chance, and I gotta fly 25 missions?

With those odds, only a 27.74% chance of survival over 25 missions. Good lord, that’s grim.

The study linked above has those statistics calculated, and it is about 23% (Because it is worse than a 1/20, it is closer to 1/19, but a d20 dice roll is easy to visualize).

Also, it isn’t dead, you don’t complete your tour of duty if you bailed out and were captured as a POW, or you got so injured you had to be discharged. Both not great options, but it isn’t a 75% killed rate, just 75% something really bad will happen to you rate.

. . . I remember rolling a 1 four times in a row playing D&D; I’m glad I never flew in a bomber.

It also had a lot to do with when/where you were stationed. Near the end of the war, when bombers had the P-51 escorts (like the Tuskegee airmen that have been teased in the trailers) they fared better, and depending on the theater, there was much less flak in the air. In the Pacific, there wasn’t a ton of US Army Air Force bombing, but it was less bad than in Europe, because it was truly at the end of the war when Japan’s air fleet was crippled by losses, and they just didn’t have the level of anti-air infrastructure as in Europe. Not to mention the B-29’s were the only planes that could go the distance (other than the B-26, but those were in Europe mostly) and they flew above typical flak range.

Anyway, that is to say, the show “Masters of Air” shows the worst case scenario for an American airman, the deadliest theater at the deadliest time in the bomber group with the 2nd most losses.

I am certain we will see an episode about the mission that cemented the nickname “The Bloody 100th”, I won’t spoil it here, but it makes a 6% loss amazing.

Also, much like Band of Brothers and “The Pacific” these are real guys, that flight-sick navigator? Major Harry Crosby

It looks like episode three will be raid Jon is talking about.


S1 E3 · Episode 3
NEW
Feb 2, 2024

“The group participates in its largest mission to date: the bombing of vital aircraft manufacturing plants deep within Germany.”

It appears that virtually all of the main characters we’ll see in the series are real people. One of the advantages of doing a show about the air war, is that because of the massive amount of planning and logistical operations involved in bombing campaigned it is well documented. Since airmen were literally the tip of a big spear, there has been a lot written about many of these men.

I’m not sure if Bucky will rise to the level of fame of Col. Winters, but he could.

Historically, I believe that the casualty rates for the American bomber groups specifically were higher than their British counterparts because the Americans insisted on daytime runs where they could, ideally, pinpoint their targets; whereas the Brits were content to fly nighttime missions and just carpet bomb their targets. I’m pretty sure that will come into play in the series; they already teased a sort of Yanks v. Brits tension; and you saw how the Colonel in the first episode scrubbed the mission because visibility was poor.

Um, no. I mean, I’m not a parent, but you see some nasty stuff in the first episode.

BTW, I’ve since seen videos claiming that the vaunted Norden Bombsight was not all that and a bag of chips, that its accuracy was mostly hype/propaganda.

This series seems pretty good so far, and strikes the right tone. I was afraid it was going to be a bit heavy on the cheese, so to speak, like Pearl Harbor but it’s bombers.

Actually from the study of records in 2021 I linked above, they weren’t much better off.

Still losing approximately 5% of airframes

Not insisted, per se, but more that American bombers and fighter escorts were more capable of operating during the day, due to their bomb sights, flight curling, etc. and the British bombers would not have been able to maintain flight operations long term with daytime bombing due to attrition. So the Americans took the daytime raids as joint strategy, but hardly was something they insisted on as a matter of desire.

At least this is what I’ve read about the topic was. Certainly there could be a coat of gloss over those negotiations to paint a more unified front than reality was.

Also meant to add above that shows like this make me so glad my late dad didn’t turn 18 till 1946. Obviously if he’d been KIA I wouldn’t be around to care one way or another, but if he hadn’t been and just been battle-scarred and traumatized, that would have really sucked. He joined up right after high school and was in the Occupation of Japan, but came back fine, got married to his first wife and was a family man by the time Korea happened.

His dad was a World War I veteran, and had been wounded somehow (some exposure to mustard gas, I think).

Thumbs up from me. Did not like the CO in the 1st episode but that worked out.