Published On: Tue, May 11th, 2021

Masters Of The Air brings out the big guns for a scene on the set of new World War II series

A former World War II airfield in rural Oxfordshire went back in time on Tuesday as filming continued on the set of forthcoming miniseries Masters Of The Air. 

The new drama, the latest instalment in the Band Of Brothers series, is based on the exploits of the Eighth Air Force of the United States Army, who famously brought the war straight to Hitler’s doorstep by dropping bombs on Berlin

With work already well underway on the show, an adaptation of Donald L. Miller’s 2007 novel, a replica Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was seen getting into position on a large airfield in Abingdon, some six miles south of Oxford. 

Authentic: A former World War II airfield in rural Oxfordshire went back in time on Tuesday as a replica Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was jockeyed into position for forthcoming miniseries Masters Of The Air

The impressive plane was a double for the famous four-engine bomber, built by the United States Army in the 1930s and deployed to bomb enemy targets across mainland Europe during World War II. 

Classified as a strategic weapon, the B-17 played a pivotal role in toppling Nazi Germany’s grip on Europe during the 1940s, dropping more bombs than any other US aircraft during the bitter conflict.  

From an estimated 1.5 million tons of bombs to decimate Germany and its occupied territories – among them France, Belgium, Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands – more than 640,000 tons were distributed from the B-17 before the Nazi stranglehold on Europe was loosened. 

Powerful: The impressive plane is a four-engine bomber, built by the United States Army in the 1930s and deployed to bomb enemy targets across mainland Europe during World War II

Powerful: The impressive plane is a four-engine bomber, built by the United States Army in the 1930s and deployed to bomb enemy targets across mainland Europe during World War II

Deadly: Classified as a strategic weapon, the B-17 played a pivotal role in toppling Nazi Germany's grip on Europe during the 1940s, dropping more bombs than any other US aircraft (pictured dropping bombs on Germany in 1943)

Deadly: Classified as a strategic weapon, the B-17 played a pivotal role in toppling Nazi Germany’s grip on Europe during the 1940s, dropping more bombs than any other US aircraft (pictured dropping bombs on Germany in 1943)

Two non-flying replica B-17’s are understood to be in use while filming continues in Oxfordshire, with ground vehicles used to jockey them into position ahead of every scene. 

Cast-members dressed military uniform from the period were visible as they mingled alongside US army jeeps between takes on the Abingdon airstrip.  

Producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have constructed a sprawling US airforce base in the British countryside to film the drama – at an eye-watering cost of £5 million.

Like the real thing: Two non-flying replica B-17's are understood to be in use while filming continues in Oxfordshire, with ground vehicles used to steer them into position

Like the real thing: Two non-flying replica B-17’s are understood to be in use while filming continues in Oxfordshire, with ground vehicles used to steer them into position

WHO ARE THE EIGHTH AIR FORCE?

The Eighth Air Force was part of the United States Army, and brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep by bombing Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden to destroy enemy targets like rail facilities and oil refineries during World War II.

It was established in 1944 after the redesignation of VIII Bomber Command, and was the largest in terms of personnel, aircraft, and equipment deployed in the war.

As well as strategic bombing, the aircrews were expected to engage in air-to-air fighter combat at 25,000 ft. 

Their bombing against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of the Second World War. 

Bomber crews were an elite part of the American Air Force, with notable members of the team including actors Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable 

The Hollywood heavyweights are producing the Apple+ TV series, which started shooting in the UK in February and features Callum Turner, Austin Butler, Anthony Boyle and Jude law’s son, Rafferty, among its cast.

Masters Of The Air is based on Donald L. Miller’s book Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany.

It was initially reported that HBO had planned to televise the series, when rumours first swirled almost a decade ago back in 2012, by 2019, it was revealed that Apple TV had made a deal with Spielberg and Hanks’ production companies for the series.

A force to be reckoned with: Classified as a strategic weapon, the B-17 played a pivotal role in toppling Nazi Germany's grip on Europe during the 1940s

A force to be reckoned with: Classified as a strategic weapon, the B-17 played a pivotal role in toppling Nazi Germany’s grip on Europe during the 1940s

While Deadline Hollywood reports 10 episodes at $200 million, the Hollywood Reporter has claimed it will be nine episodes at $250 million. 

Established in 1944 after the redesignation of VIII Bomber Command, the Eighth Air Force was the largest in terms of personnel, aircraft, and equipment that was deployed during the war.

Their bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest of the Second World War and was considered a war within a war until Allied soldiers crossed into the country in the final months of the conflict.

Impressive: Producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have constructed a sprawling US airforce base in the British countryside to film the drama - at an eye-watering cost of £5 million

Impressive: Producers Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have constructed a sprawling US airforce base in the British countryside to film the drama – at an eye-watering cost of £5 million

Bomber crews were an elite part of the American Air Force, with notable members of the team including actors Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable, and they were expected to engage in air-to-air fighter combat at 25,000 ft.   

It is hoped that the series will emulate the success of Band Of Brothers, the American war drama miniseries also produced by Spielberg and Hanks back in 2001.

Based on based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 book of the same name, the show dramatised the history of “Easy” Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division.

Nissen Huts: The wood and corrugated metal structures created in 1916 by British Army and used during both world wars

The famous Nissen Hut was created in 1916 by Major Peter Nissen of the 29th Company Royal Engineers of the British Army, whose prefabricated semi-circular structures were widely used in both world wars. 

Before the end of the First World War 100,000 huts, made from wood and corrugated metal, were produced. They were turned into churches and bomb stores, as well as being used for accommodation.

The Nissen hut could be packed in a standard Army wagon and could be erected by a small team of men. The record for putting one together was one hour and 27 minutes. 

The Nissen Hut went through three prototypes before being produced for the British Army

The Nissen Hut went through three prototypes before being produced for the British Army

Nissen patented his prefabricated steel structure in the UK in 1916 and patents were taken out later in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia.

After production dropped off between the wars, they again began to be mass-produced in 1939 and came into their own across the globe in World War Two.

But while they were quick to erect, they were not always loved by those who stayed in them.  In Britain people complained they were cold and draughty – in the Middle East they were felt to be hot and stuffy.

After the war the huts were sold and the Government paid Nissen £13,000 –the equivalent of around one million pounds now.

The Major was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order).

Major Peter Nissen was awarded the equivalent of £1million

Major Peter Nissen was awarded the equivalent of £1million

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