Masters Of The Air: next episode, cast, plot, trailer, release date, interviews and everything you need to know

Masters Of The Air on Apple TV Plus stars Austin Butler and Callum Turner as US Air Force pilots in World War Two.
Masters Of The Air on Apple TV Plus stars Austin Butler and Callum Turner as US Air Force pilots in World War Two. (Image credit: Apple)

Masters Of The Air is the latest installment in the Band Of Brothers war drama series, which started on Apple TV Plus from Friday, January 26, 2024.

The nine-part drama features a big-name cast led by Academy Award-nominee Austin Butler, Callum Turner, Anthony Boyle, Nate Mann, Rafferty Law, Academy Award-nominee Barry Keoghan, Josiah Cross, Branden Cook and Doctor Who's Ncuti Gatwa.

Based on the book Masters Of The Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller this war epic tells the story of the actions of the US Army’s elite Eighth Air Force of the United States Army, who brought the war to Hitler's doorstep by bombing Berlin, Hanover, Leipzig and Dresden, destroying enemy targets like rail facilities and oil refineries, while also being expected to engage in air-to-air fighter combat at 25,000ft. The missions were highly dangerous and produced many heroes. 

It reunites the award-winning team of Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman who also produced Band of Brothers and The Pacific.

“The reason to do this in the first place was to give a thorough examination of this specific event that happened that was locked in time but not locked in intent,” explains Tom Hanks. “The intent was pretty primal. It was the battle between good and evil because that’s what World War Two was."

Masters of the Air is a salute to the brave men of the 8th Air Force, who, through their courage and brotherhood, helped defeat Nazi Germany in World War II," says executive producer Gary Goetzman. 

"Tom and Steven have always wanted to visualize cinematically what our author Don Miller has called, this 'singular event in the history of warfare'. We’re thrilled that Apple TV Plus has given us the opportunity to combine the efforts of so many talented people, on-screen and behind the camera, to tell this important story."

Here’s everything you need to know about the epic war series Masters Of The Air...

Masters of The Air on Apple TV+ follows the American Air Force in Britain during World War Two.

Masters of The Air shows the heroics during World War Two. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Masters Of The Air release date

Masters Of The Air will premiere globally on Friday, January 26, 2024. The nine-part series will launch with two episodes, followed by one new episode every Friday through to March 15, 2024.

How to watch Masters of the Air: stream the World War Two drama online

The show will air on Apple TV Plus which costs $9.99 / £8.99 per month although there are Apple TV Plus free trials to help you test out the service without paying.

Is there a Masters Of The Air trailer?

You can see Austin Butler and the rest of the Masters Of The Air cast in action in an official trailer below. Take a look at both below for all the amazing World War Two action. Also take a look below at the behind the scenes production clip abour creating the set and costumes, plus stunning opening credits posted by Apple TV+...

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Masters Of The Air plot and episode guide

Here's our lowdown on the plot of Masters Of The Air plus an episode guide, with a few spoilers so do look away if you don't want to know...

Masters Of The Air will allow us to experience the dangerous daring raids carried out by Allied airmen during World War Two in this big-budget drama telling the story of a US Air Force bombing unit that flew some of the conflict’s most perilous missions over Nazi Germany. 

Episode 1: January 26
The action opens in May 1943 as the 100th bombing group arrives in Britain to help the Allies take the war to Hitler by attacking German factories and docks. Among them are best pals Major Gale ‘Buck’ Cleven (Austin Butler) and Major John ‘Bucky’ Egan (Callum Turner) yet neither are prepared for the dangers that await them in the skies above Europe. On their first mission, the unit arrive over enemy soil in Bremen to find cloud cover is obstructing their targets. They’re soon attacked by German fighters in a terrifying ambush that costs many lives. 
Masters of the Air episode 1 recap: 'A long road ahead'

Episode 2: January 26
The 100th bombing set out out on a raid targeting German submarine pens in Norway, with a special, highly secret piece of equipment that allows the US Army Air Force to attempt such a dangerous daytime mission. However, Lt Curtis Biddick (Barry Keoghan) only just makes it home... 
Masters of the Air episode 2 recap: 'Today is tomorrow'

Episode 3: Friday February 2
The 100th Bomb Group sets off on a high-risk daytime raid to destroy a German plane factory and come up against fierce resistance. One pilot, Lt Curtis Biddick (Saltburn star Barry Keoghan) takes a hit in his B-17 and faces a desperate battle to stay in the sky…
Masters of the Air episode 3 recap: 'Surrender or escape'

Episode 4: Friday February 9
The aerial action in this sweeping war saga is exceptional, yet this episode introduces us to some of the conflict’s more unsung heroes. After bailing out over occupied Belgium, US airmen William Quinn and Charles Bailey are helped by brave members of the resistance, who risk their lives in a bid to get them back to Britain. The Nazis are desperate to infiltrate the network, so one mistake can mean death and with Quinn still haunted by his inability to save Babyface from their doomed B-17 as it fell from the sky, it’s a painful and perilous journey. 
Masters of the Air episode 4 recap: 'Stupid means dead'

Episode 5: Friday February 16
There’s a brooding sense of dread every time the men from the 100th Bomb Group take off on another mission and this week’s raid over Münster sees US planes dropping from the skies like rain. The doom-laden scenes showing airmen scrambling to escape stricken bombers are both unbearable and masterful, with the rising whine of failing engines only adding to the tension. Yet one man who won’t bail out is Major Robert ‘Rosie’ Rosenthal (Nate Mann), a pilot who becomes a hero when he steers his men home against all odds in tonight’s episode.
Masters of the Air episode 5 recap: 'Where is everybody?' 

Episode 6: Friday February 23
Bel Powley joins the series, playing Subaltern Alessandra Westgate, a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. She’s in Oxford for a conference of the Allied nations and when B-17 navigator Captain Harry Crosby (Anthony Boyle) is sent along to represent the 100th Bomb Group, the pair are surprised to find themselves sharing quarters. Westgate is very secretive about the role she plays in the fight against Hitler, but the pair hit it off immediately as they enjoy life in Oxford…

Episodes 7 to 9
We will update these Masters Of The Air episodes as the series progresses, so please do check back.

Is Masters of the Air based on a true story? Meet the real heroes

Masters of the Air.

Meet the daring pilots of the 100th bombing group Masters Of The Air as episode 1 kicks off. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Masters of The Air cast — Austin Butler on playing Gale 'Buck' Cleven

Austin Butler takes the main role in Masters Of The Air of American airman Gale Cleven. 

“What was so interesting to me about Cleven was that his men looked up to him because he led by example,” says Butler. “Before I started this project I assumed that the infantry had the really tough job in the trenches and the guys in the sky had it relatively easy. I don’t think Cleven was the type to share his worries or concerns with anyone but with Egan he found someone to confide in because only each of them knew what the other was going through. It’s a very powerful thing to take responsibility for other men’s lives. It was a true honor to be able to walk in his shoes for a bit.

“To be in your mid-twenties and to be leading a squadron, some of those guys were 16 you know. They were so young and the bravery, it was the most treacherous conditions you could imagine. 

"In the past you might have done this with just green screen but we had this technology with high-definition screens in a horseshoe shape and we’re in a gimbal that’s 50 feet in the air, so you’re suspended and you’re able to see fighter pilots and flack in the air. It’s kind of incredible.

“It was incredible to be inside an exact replica of a B-17. The attention to detail was amazing. That’s the joy of working with a team where you have people at the absolute top of their game and there’s nothing spared as far as getting the highest quality set they possibly could. It helped so much to be able to live truthfully in those circumstances and to feel like you were living real life and not just pretending.” “When those planes were moving down the runaway at a pretty good rate of speed to simulate a take-off it was an amazing feeling,” agrees Turner. “It just added another layer of truthfulness where you weren’t thinking as an actor, you were just experiencing being in a plane because they built it to scale.” 

* California-born actor and musician Austin Butler has received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Elvis Presley in the hit 2022 biopic movie Elvis by Baz Luhrmann. He's previously had roles playing James "Wilke" Wilkerson in the TV series Switched At Birth, Tex Watson in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Jordan Gallagher in Ruby & The Rockits, Sebastian Kydd in The Carrie Dairies and Wil Ohmsford in The Shannara Chronicles

Masters Of The Air star Austin Butler plays airman Gale Cleven.

Masters Of The Air star Austin Butler as airman Gale Cleven. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Austin Butler and Callum Turner talking about Masters Of The Air on This Morning.

Austin Butler and Callum Turner talking about Masters Of The Air on This Morning. (Image credit: ITV)

Anthony Boyle on playing Major Harry Crosby

Anthony Boyle plays Major Harry Crosby in Masters of The Air who is a navigator. While others on the crew are concentrating on the tasks at hands or are in the deep recesses of their subconscious wondering if they’ll get hit by flak or be trapped in a spiraling B-17 on fire, Crosby’s initial missions are overwhelmed by one fact: he can’t stop throwing up. However, he ends up becoming group navigator due to his uncommon talents. 

“His air sickness slowly went away and he discovered his calling,” says Boyle. “He became an extraordinary navigator — neither he nor anyone else could figure out why but he always got his fort home.” Crosby’s drive is equaled only by his self-doubt but he opens up to Rosie and eventually the two become as close as brothers. “In Don’s book he essentially says that there can’t be war without love,” says Boyle. “In other words, you love the crew you’re flying with because all of you are going to keep each other alive. Nowadays we live such different lives compared to these young men who made such a sacrifice for our freedom. They were putting their lives on the line and many were just kids. You really get a sense of that in the series.” Boyle also provides the narration for Masters of the Air as Crosby is the one constant at Thorpe Abbotts and witnessed it all. 

* Anthony Boyle starred as Brian Wood in the BBC2 drama Danny Boy, based on the true life story of a soldier’s journey from hero to alleged war criminal. He's also appeared in Ordeal by Innocence, The Plot Against America, Tolkien and Derry Girls.

Anthony Boyle playing Major Crosby.

Anthony Boyle playing Major Crosby. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Callum Turner on playing Major John 'Bucky' Egan

After the wartime bombing campaign depicted in Masters Of The Air, real-life American Air Force hero Major John Egan served in Korea and the Far East. Then, after attending the National War College in Washington DC he was assigned duties in the Policy Division, Directorate of Plans. At 45, he died of a heart attack in 1961 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Callum Turner, who plays Egan, says: “Egan was such a larger than life character,” says Turner. "He’s adventurous, a bit naughty, he’s daring, likes to sing and is generally a lot of fun to be around. I suspect he volunteered because he needed a space to channel all the energy and appetite for life that wasn’t being fulfilled in the small Wisconsin town he grew up in. The Army Air Force provided that for him in abundance.

“This drama is about the people who saved the world. These guys really changed the direction of the war and without them, we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing now. To honour them, play them, and tell their stories — it’s a beautiful thing.

“These guys, what they did, was for us. There is always a level of responsibility when you're taking on a real person. You have got to honour their legacy. I am so grateful to them for what they did.

“My grandad was in the war. He was sixteen years old when he came home and he gave my grandma a piece of paper to sign and said it was for a school trip but it was to join the army. He went up when he was sixteen”

* Callum Turner received a nomination for a Best Actor BAFTA for his performance in the 2019 thriller The Capture. He’s also known for starring as Theseus Scamander in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and as Frank Churchill in the 2020 film Emma. He's starring in the 2024 George Clooney movie The Boys in the Boat.

Callum Turner

Callum Turner as Major John Egan. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Raff Law is Sgt Ken Lemmons

Rafferty Law will play Sgt Ken Lemmons in Masters of The Air. He is just 19 years old and responsible for 15 men — is getting the flak damaged planes repaired and back in the air. And on one occasion even manages to do while the B-17 taxies down a runway. 

Is that Jude Law's son in Masters of the Air? All we know about Raff Law

* Raff Law took the lead role in Twist, the modern take on the classic tale of Oliver Twist, alongside Michael Caine, Rita Ora and Lena Heady, and has appeared in modeling campaigns for Dolce & Gabanna and Timberland.

Raff Law

Raff Law as Sgt Ken Lemmons. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Josh Bolt is Lt. Winifred 'Pappy' Lewis

Josh Bolt is playing the airman Lt. Winifred 'Pappy' Lewis in Masters Of The Air. The actor told the podcast My Time Capsule a little about the experience, which he says has been absolutely incredible. "The scale and the scope of it is amazing — it's Apple TV, it's Spielberg! The only downside to it was I had to have a really horrendous haircut for eight months! The director called me down to set and said the guy I was playing was nicknamed 'The Bald Eagle!' because he went bald at 20! So they shaved off my hair and made me a bald patch! Every morning I'd sit with the lovely make up team who'd give me a head shave. But I knew it was Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg producing so of course I didn't mind."

 Josh played Rob Dawson in the hit ITV comedy Benidorm, and he also starred as Raff in five series of BBC drama Last Tango In Halifax. Josh is no stranger to filming war epics — in 2018 he starred as US airman Dunbar in the Channel 4 adaptation of Catch 22 directed by George Clooney. In 2020 he portrayed killer Michael Barton in the BBC1 drama Anthony by Jimmy McGovern. 

As a child star Josh took the lead role in the British movie The Be All And End All, plus ITV drama Just Henry in 2011. He was also a teen when he played Pete Shotton in the John Lennon movie Nowhere Boy.

* Take a look at Josh Bolt in Masters Of The Air with his co star Louis Greatorex in the below Instagram post...

Josh Bolt as Dunbar (top right) in Catch 22.

Josh Bolt as Dunbar (top right) in Catch 22. (Image credit: Channel 4)

Barry Keoghan plays Lt. Curtis Biddick

Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) plays Lt. Curtis Biddick. The Irish actor won an Oscar nomination for The Banshees of Inisherin, and starred in 2023 movie Saltburn, plus hit TV series Chernobyl and Love/Hate

Barry Keoghan as Lt. Curtis Biddick.

Barry Keoghan as Lt. Curtis Biddick. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Kai Alexander as Sgt. William Quinn

Kai Alexander plays radio operator Sgt. William Quinn who was one of the first American airmen to come to England. On his 10th mission he had to parachute over Belgium where he was taken in by the Comet Line, the Belgian resistance. But before he bailed out of the B-17, eating the radio codes on rice paper as he went, he was witness to a tragedy that he'd never forget. 

* Kai Alexander is a voiceover lead in the animated series Rhona Who Lives By The River and also played a young Richard Branson in Desney Plus and Hulu series Pistol.

Masters of the Air episode 4

Kai Alexander as Sgt. William Quinn in Masters of the Air. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Ncuti Gatwa on playing Second Lieutenant Robert Daniels

Ncuti Gatwa plays Second Lieutenant Robert Daniels, an airman who held a degree in engineering from Howard University where he graduated top of his class. He was combative with authority figures and wasn’t afraid to talk back, but he was also exceptionally bright and possessed confidence in himself and his skillset. 

“It was an honor to play a Tuskegee Airman,” says Ncuti Gatwa. “The entire story of what all of these men did during the war was so profound. The American government didn’t want them fighting in the war. They didn’t think they had the intellect or passion, so this was a special challenge for the Tuskegee Airmen because they had a lot to prove and a lot to fight for.” 

* As well as his role in Sex Education, Ncuti Gatwa is also the new Doctor Who.

Ncuti Gatwa as Second Lieutenant Robert Daniels.

Ncuti Gatwa as Second Lieutenant Robert Daniels who turns up in episode 8. (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Who else is starring in Masters Of The Air?

Also starring in Masters of The Air are American actor Nate Mann (Licorice Pizza, Little Women, Ray Donovan) as Major Robert Rosenthal, aka Rosie 

Louis Greatorex (Catch 22) plays Captain Joseph 'Bubbles' Payne. Freddy Carter (Shadow and Bone) plays Lt. David Friedkin, Sam Gittins (The Smoke) is Sgt William McClelland and Nikolai Kinski (son of late German actor Klaus Kinski) is Colonel Harold Huglin. Mikey Collins (The Terror) is Lt. Paul Joseph Schmalenbach. 

Fans of musicals might be excited that Luke Baker, who starred as the school bully Dean in the West End stage version of Everybody's Talking About Jamie, will play Sgt. Vern M Best and James Murray (Prince Andrew in The Crown) will be playing Colonel Neil 'Chick' Harding.

Nate Mann says: “I watched ‘Band of Brothers’ on DVD as a kid and then when ‘The Pacific’ came out our family watched it together every week. My grandfather was a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project [the code name for the U.S. effort to develop an atomic weapon during World War II] and as a kid I just loved planes. I knew of the B-17 and the P-51 Mustang but until I read the book, I had no idea of the unimaginable mayhem these guys went through in the air." 

Masters of the Air.

Nate Mann as Major Robert Rosenthal (Image credit: Apple TV+)

Bel Powley as Sandra Wingate 

Bel Powley plays Subaltern Alessandra Westgate, aka Sandra Wingate, a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service who arrives in episode 6 of Masters Of The Air. 

* Bel Powley previously starred in Disney Plus series A Small Light, Moominvalley and was Bianca Dyke in British sitcom Benidorm

Masters of the Air characters — who's who

Major Gale ‘Buck’ Cleven
(Austin Butler)

The bomber pilot met his best pal Bucky in basic training before America entered the war. 

Major John ‘Bucky’ Egan
(Callum Turner)

Bucky lives life to the full when he’s not in the air, but is dedicated to his comrades. 

Lt. Curtis Biddick
(Barry Keoghan)

The bomber pilot clashes with his English colleagues, who only embark upon night-time raids. 

Major Harry Crosby
(Anthony Boyle) 

The flight navigator knows he must overcome his airsickness or face risking his comrade’s lives. 

2nd Lt. Robert Daniels
(Ncuti Gatwa)

The US airman arrives in Britain some months after the 100th Bomb Group, to join the fight against Hitler. 

Sgt. Ken Lemmons
(Raff Law
)
A member of the US Air Force’s ground crew, Sgt Lemmons works tirelessly to maintain the bombers.

Sgt. William Quinn
(Kai Alexander) 

The US airman faces a battle for survival when he’s shot down over occupied France. 

Major Chic Harding
(James Murray) 

The man in charge of 100th Bomb Group, knows the danger his men face in every mission. 

Masters of The Air on Apple TV+ follows the American Air Force in Britain during World War Two.

Austin Butler as Major Gale ‘Buck’ Cleven. (Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Masters Of The Air filming locations

A former World War II airfield near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, was used as a Masters Of The Air filming location, as well as nearby Dalton Barracks. Meanwhile, a sprawling US Airforce base was constructed for the drama at the site of a disused university and hotel in the Buckinghamshire countryside near Chalfont St Giles, at a cost of $7 million. This will be the large personnel hub of a US Army Air Forces airfield, and has a collection of full-sized Nissen Huts plus other outbuildings. The sleepy Berkshire village of Bray was filled with extras to film scenes at the Hinds Head pub.  

In August 2021 filming moved to Oxford, around Radcliff square, the Bodleian Library and in Catte Street. Of course, many of these locations are currently used for the hit ITV crime series Endeavour. In early September 2021 there was filming in the old town Hemel Hempstead, which has previously been used in the Netflix comedy After Life with Ricky Gervais.

The Masters Of The Air production team decided to film in England given the state-of-the-art crews and the fact that the real story took place there, however, the most vital aspect to get right was how to cinematically capture the exterior and the interior scenes of the B-17s and securing B-17s — or sections of them — as well as building them from scratch. “It was easily the biggest challenge we faced,” says co-executive producer David Coatsworth. "In our investigation into the B-17s, we discovered that they still do exist, that they can be moved around and maybe even get airborne from time to time, but they just didn’t possess the functionality you’d need for a show as demanding as this. I got into a conversation with Neil Corbould, our special effects supervisor, who floated the idea of actually building a B-17 for us.” 

Neil Corbould recalls walking out of that meeting and thinking, “‘What have I gotten myself into?’ And then my business partner Stuart Heath and I went to a museum to see a B-17 and it hit us that this was going to a massive job.” 

Corbould had experience with war movies having worked on Saving Private Ryan.  He and Heath pored through scores of books on the B-17 as well as visiting several of the B-17 Flying Fortresses remaining in England which proved invaluable. “We probably couldn’t have built the planes without being in the actual space of the plane,” says Corbould. “When you see the size of what they actually look like up close, it’s an eye opener. What struck me most was how tiny they are. It’s a big plane from the outside but inside they’re quite small and claustrophobic. We also got the original Boeing drawings —over 30,000 of them — and we picked our way through to find the drawings we actually needed, to make sure we got the planes we were building as authentic as possible." 

The production designers built two movable B-17 replicas with steel frames and aluminum cladding, one that could actually taxi and another that would be towed. “We had a team of seven designers, each doing a section of the plane from the original drawings,” explains Corbould. “We had to simplify it but still have it strong enough that it would support itself. At the end of the day, the wings had to flex because if they didn’t flex, they'd break. We ran all the math. We did all the simulations on 3D software to make sure that we were in the ballpark and that everything was safe for the crew to work around.”

A brief guide to Masters Of The Air prequel Band Of Brothers...

World War Two drama Band Of Brothers.

World War Two drama Band Of Brothers. (Image credit: Alamy)

The 2001 war drama Band Of Brothers dramatized the history of the US Army’s "Easy" Company (part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment). Over ten episodes it detailed their exploits during the war, starting with jump training, through to the Normandy landings and the end of World War Two. 

At the time it was the most expensive TV series ever to have been made, and went on to win an Emmy and two Golden Globes for best series.

The show was created by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. The all-star ensemble cast included Damian Lewis as Major Dick Winters, David Schwimmer as Captain Herbert Sobel and Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon. Dexter Fletcher, Colin Hanks and Marc Warren also starred.

* More top shows on Apple TV+ or coming soon are below...

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.