‘The Bloody Hundredth’ documentary puts real faces to TV show’s heroes

by Vern Evans

The World War II story of the Eighth Air Force’s 100th Bomb Group, which came to be known as the “Bloody Hundredth,” made its way to TV screens this year with the release of the Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks series “Masters of the Air.”

For viewers looking to learn more about the larger-than-life troops depicted on the show, a companion documentary titled “The Bloody Hundredth” is just the ticket.

Directed by Mark Herzog and Laurent Bouzereau, the 62-minute film features interviews with living B-17 bomber pilots who flew some of the war’s most dangerous missions. And while many of the conflict’s air crew members have since passed away, Herzog was able to source previously recorded footage that fit seamlessly within the story.

“We found interviews that were conducted in the ‘80s, the ‘90s, and the 2000s, and then we augmented that with interviewing veterans who were still with us, including John “Lucky” Luckadoo and Bob Wolff, who are both 102,” Herzog told Military Times. “Being able to tell the story to the audience and have them get just a little bit extra beyond what the series can deliver is great.”

One of the biggest challenges, Herzog added, was sifting through the archival combat footage to condense it into something palatable. The flight scenes, he noted, aren’t quite the same as what viewers will see in the television show.

“While our battle sequences in the sky will never be as visceral as what the series portrays, I really love the flight sequences in the series,” he said. “Ours were actual footage filmed on handhelds, so it’s a little hard to see sometimes.”

The documentary is narrated by Hanks, whose steady voice lends authority to the subject matter. It is one of several companion documentaries Herzog has done to supplement other programming. He also produced a documentary for the HBO series “Band of Brothers” and “John Adams.”

“A good story is a good story, no matter when that story happened,” he said. ”A good story can always teach us and enlighten us to what’s going on.”

“The Bloody Hundredth” is available on Apple TV+.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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