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Tom Hanks’ Masters of the Air looks like the Dad TV event of 2024

Band of Brothers creator’s latest effort has dads everywhere anticipating the new year

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The first trailer for Masters of the Air, Tom Hanks’ spiritual successor to Band of Brothers and The Pacific, debuted last week. In it, we get our first look at an absolutely stacked cast in action, which includes Austin Butler, Callum Turner, and Barry Keoghan, among others. But we also get our first taste of the particularly brutal style of aerial combat, which defines the ambitious nine-episode streaming series debuting on Apple TV Plus in January.

The trailer is narrated by Anthony Boyle, who plays Major Harry Crosby, the 100th Bomb Group’s original navigator. It was Crosby’s job to plan routes for the fleet of B-17 bombers, each crewed by 10 men, before they were flown into combat over Europe. It was under his tutelage that the 100th Bomb Group would become known as The Bloody Hundredth, with harrowing missions taking a heavy toll on its air crews throughout the war.

Master of the Air’s camera angles feel particularly inspired by historical photos, some of which were taken from inside the planes by crew members during combat missions over Europe. Production videos shared on Instagram show sets with partial B-17 fuselages dotted with non-standard holes and other access points, presumably to provide videographers access for filming the action both inside and outside the aircraft.

Odd holes aside, the trailer’s attention to historical detail is of particular significance. The B-17s themselves appear to have been recreated in loving detail, right down to the tail numbers and markings of prominent planes in the fleet — including tail number 48824 “Mike,” an airframe that participated in both combat and relief missions, dropping food over Holland as part of Operation Chowhound. There’s also several scenes depicting the legendary red-tailed P-51s flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, as well as a vignette inside what appears to be the officer’s club of the 99th Pursuit Squadron — the United States’ first African American fighter squadron.

Masters of the Air, based on the book of the same name by Donald R. Miller, premieres Jan. 26 on Apple TV Plus.

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