Historians At The Movies

Masters of the Air: Episode 8 with Sarah Myers, Colin Colbourn, and Luke Truxal

March 10, 2024
Masters of the Air: Episode 8 with Sarah Myers, Colin Colbourn, and Luke Truxal
Historians At The Movies
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Historians At The Movies
Masters of the Air: Episode 8 with Sarah Myers, Colin Colbourn, and Luke Truxal
Mar 10, 2024

This week Sarah, Colin, and Luke drop in to talk about the penultimate episode of Masters of the Air. We've a lot to talk about in this episode- inlcuding the air war in Italy and Romania, which highlighs the strategic and tactical operations of the 15th Air Force and the role of the Tuskegee Airmen. We also revist the prison camp storyline, to talk about the tensions and fraying relationships among the POWs. This leads to discussions on the themes of racism and prejudice in World War II, the importance of training and race relations, the need for prioritizing storylines and themes, the ineffectiveness of the spy plot, the need for a comprehensive air war series, unresolved plotlines and character arcs, the problem of multiple plots and poor character development, and our speculations on the final episode of the series. This is easily the best episode we've done on this series. Hope you like it.

Show Notes Transcript

This week Sarah, Colin, and Luke drop in to talk about the penultimate episode of Masters of the Air. We've a lot to talk about in this episode- inlcuding the air war in Italy and Romania, which highlighs the strategic and tactical operations of the 15th Air Force and the role of the Tuskegee Airmen. We also revist the prison camp storyline, to talk about the tensions and fraying relationships among the POWs. This leads to discussions on the themes of racism and prejudice in World War II, the importance of training and race relations, the need for prioritizing storylines and themes, the ineffectiveness of the spy plot, the need for a comprehensive air war series, unresolved plotlines and character arcs, the problem of multiple plots and poor character development, and our speculations on the final episode of the series. This is easily the best episode we've done on this series. Hope you like it.

Jason Herbert (00:00.886)
And welcome back to Historians of the Movies podcast, where we are continuing on with our mission, our mission from God, to talk about Masters of the Air. We are now into episode eight. Joining me as always, and actually contractually obligated for the rest of not only Masters of the Air, but actually the podcast in general for the rest of their lives, are Colin Colburn, Luke Truxall, and Sarah Meyers, who are now running for the door. And

Yeah, let's do this up. Um, guys, welcome back to this pod. We were, we've been tweeting back and forth all, all week about our thoughts on this particular episode. We've also been talking a little bit more of the show is becoming more and more of a Shogun Stan because Sarah, that's what I was alluding to off air just a few months ago is that Colin and I watched Shogun together Tuesday night, like two little kids texting back and forth.

Colin Colbourn (00:55.996)
I mean, it was more like a Netflix date kind of thing. We pressed play at the same time. I had to pause it when you had commercials. So, I mean, it was a great five. It was a great five, yeah.

Sarah Myers (00:59.225)

Jason Herbert (00:59.31)
Love it!

Jason Herbert (01:04.322)
I thought that was so sweet. It was so nice of you. It was a good time. It was actually a very kind of a quiet episode.

Luke Truxal (01:09.162)
I mean, I like how you guys are having like, I feel like y'all are more, shall we say, culturally diverse and kind of into what's going on in the world. Cause you know, I almost want to quote like Bull Durham at you guys, cause it's like, you know, my religion is the air war. And so I'm texting you guys all this stuff I'm finding on the air when you're like, hey, F1 is coming up, you know, we got the races, we got, you know, Shogun. And I'm just like,

Jason Herbert (01:31.813)
I'm sorry.

Luke Truxal (01:37.186)
But I just found this really cool Carl Spots document that's awesome. And y'all are just like, but F1's on Saturday, you know? So I feel weird. Yes, I.

Sarah Myers (01:43.821)
Yeah, it was very important, Luke.

Colin Colbourn (01:46.582)
That's why we desperately need you, Luke, honestly.

Sarah Myers (01:48.599)

Jason Herbert (01:48.91)
Yeah, because if you're listening in right now, what you'll know is over the course of the last eight weeks, how long we've been doing this, we've started like, at first we were like, okay, let's not talk to each other except for on Sundays. And then there's just like a full on throughout the week kind of, oh, I thought about this, I thought about that. Luke will interject something really brilliant about the air war and then I'll say something to the effect of, but it's chest day, Luke. You know, so, you know, these are the kinds of things, kind of scholarly discourse.

I was also just giving Colin hell for not joining in on Skull and Bones yet. Colin, do you want to introduce to the fan group what Skull and Bones is and why you're not playing?

Colin Colbourn (02:26.984)
I actually probably won't do a very good job of introducing Matt. I have, I have, I know that Jason is likes, loves all things pirates. So as soon as I saw there was a game that was coming out called skull and bones, I, I figured, and after he made me watch black, was it black, black flag, black sales. I knew that was coming. I know.

Jason Herbert (02:45.266)
Black sales!

Jason Herbert (02:50.923)
You watched the whole show before I could. I was doing rewatch and you caught me passed up and finished before I could.

Colin Colbourn (02:57.26)
Yeah, it's because the F1 season is so boring, man. There's not much for us to do, but watch other things. But I have other academic engagements, so I'm going to reward myself with Skull and Bones. I'm gonna download it and play it once I finish everything here.

Jason Herbert (03:13.25)
They're really like the bomber group of the seas of the Indian Ocean in 17th. Sarah says no. Okay. All right.

Sarah Myers (03:21.166)

Luke Truxal (03:21.314)
I mean there is a bomb group that had a skull and crossbones on its tail. It's a B24 group I think.

Colin Colbourn (03:26.612)
Yeah, the, I'd say the 90th bomb group, right? I think, I'm pretty sure it was. Jolly Rogers.

Jason Herbert (03:26.694)
Jeez, that's why we keep you here, Luke. We just bring it back.

Jason Herbert (03:37.664)
All right, let's jump into this episode. As always, we're going to give some initial thoughts on the episode. So if you haven't a chance to see it yet, and then we'll inevitably devolve into spoiling the hell out of this show. Where are we now? We're dealing with time jumps. General overall thoughts without spoiling. What are our thoughts on this episode? Where are we guys as far as when?

We think about what this episode did and does, what does well. What'd you think coming out of this episode? Where are we? Well, how do we feel about the series as we come to come to a close? We only have one more episode to go. Luke, you were very vocal this week.

Luke Truxal (04:14.386)
Uh, yeah. I think the best way to describe this episode is a jack-of-all-plots master of none.

Jason Herbert (04:17.513)
Hold on.

Colin Colbourn (04:25.04)
Very well put, very well put. Yeah, no, no kidding.

Jason Herbert (04:26.47)
That was much shorter than I was expecting Luke.

Sarah Myers (04:30.315)
Well you said he couldn't do spoilers, so there's only so much he can say, right?

Jason Herbert (04:30.578)
I was like sitting...

Jason Herbert (04:34.942)
I was going to sit down for seven minutes and just like go like check on dinner. Like I was just going to let Luke, I was going to let Luke cook if you will. So not unlike with Katie Britt. So Luke is coming to us. So Sarah, what'd you think?

Sarah Myers (04:51.181)
Yes, I thought they tried to do too much as well and that I was left feeling sad about things that they left out. I know that we say that as historians a lot, but I thought if they would have narrowed the focus, they could have covered more. So I'll just say that.

Jason Herbert (05:08.474)

Colin Colbourn (05:10.876)
Oh, I'm gonna take the bright side on this one. I enjoyed this episode. I think it was, of course, I don't think it's as good as our sort of like single narrative that we have running up through episode six. I'm not gonna pretend it's gonna be the same show because clearly we have spun off into many different things. However, I enjoyed a lot of the new things that we introduced. I think that they could have easily.

avoided or ignored a lot of the things that were introduced in this episode. Maybe some they should have. But I'm gonna try and paint a contrast throughout this episode and see if I can sort of bring the bright side to what they did for episode eight.

Jason Herbert (05:54.446)
Yeah, it feels though, and I think this has been part of the discourse that the four of us have had, is that this episode, that this series kind of made this weird change in tone and speed of the show and focus. Starting with the seventh episode, starting last week, and we looked at this going, looking at the clock going, oh my gosh, we only have so many episodes to go. How are they ever going to bring all of this to a conclusion?

So that was a, I mean, we talked last week, we all had a weird anxiety about this week going into it. And you know, I guess we'll just go ahead and start spoiling this because like, if you haven't heard yet, let's just pause it or whatever. And now we've got all these weird time jumps, we're introducing new characters with one episode to go or new people to new, it's.

we're not getting the focus is no longer feels like on the bombers themselves, the fort, which was an important character in this show. We haven't seen we didn't see a single bomber in the air this week. So um, alright, so we're jumping up. We start off with Rome. We start off early on with Tuskegee Airmen, right? This all out of nowhere, we are into the Italian campaign in June 1944.

Where are we guys? We start off with the Tuskegee US at the 15th Air Group. Luke, where are we here?

Luke Truxal (07:24.382)
Well, in terms of like the air war, this is where kind of the time jumps a little bit. This is where I started speculating a little bit with you guys that I wonder if this was written for maybe two seasons and not one. Because there's plots left out and where we left last episode is we were going to win the air war. We're going to have air superiority. The bombers going to be the bait. That plot never came up in this episode. It just disappeared completely. But basically.

we see in the air war, the air forces, the strategic air forces beginning shaping operations, shaping the battlefields for operations in Italy, in obviously Normandy, and also something that doesn't get talked about enough in Romania as well. The 15th Air Force is actually doing actually three sets. I forgot Southern France. I can't forget Operation Dragoon or Cameron Zinsu is gonna light me up on Twitter. But,

Basically what they're trying to do is shape these battlefields. So a lot of attacks on transportation. As a part of that, fighters are also attacking bridges, key communications targets. The idea is that you isolate the battlefield for the ground forces, both with the upcoming offensives in Italy, which will eventually liberate Rome. I believe that happens on June 5th. Then the landings in Normandy on June 6th. And also again, the 15th Air Force is supporting.

Soviet ground operations of the second and third Ukrainian fronts out in Romania as well So these air forces are trying to shape these battlefields And not only are the strategic air force involved but also the 12th which is a tactical air force and also the 9th the 12th is out of Italy with the 15th and The 9th is also a tactical air force with the 8th out of England so they're trying to shape these battlefields that way the Germans are isolated and That way they can put the most pressure on it

Now the cumulative effect of all these attacks on transportation targets is that strategically in the big picture, the axis is having, shall we say, a railroad problem where they're having a hard time not just moving troops and material, but also like, you know, big picture stuff that, you know, major economic products, oil, coal, you name it. So there's all kinds of problems being caused by all these attacks on rail. With regards to the Tuskegee Airmen, where we open.

Luke Truxal (09:49.802)
Right now, at that point, on June 2nd, the 99th Fighter Squadron is completing its 500th mission with, at that time, it is the 15th Air Force. They had flown some with the 12th, they're now with the 15th. They're with a different fighter group at this point. This fighter group, I don't have the name off the top of my head, but basically it's kind of integrated because you have one basically all-black fighter squadron

fighter squadrons, which is kind of interesting. But the 332nd is on its way. It will arrive and become operational in July. And they will switch from the P-40 Warhawks, the 99th will switch from the P-40 Warhawks, to the P-51 Mustangs. And then basically, that's where we start. So there's a lot of catching up to do in terms of talking about what's happening. And this is where kind of the doing too much is a problem, because we can't contextualize things. And it may have.

been better to do two seasons, one on 43 and one on 44, or maybe drop some plots altogether.

Colin Colbourn (10:56.164)
Yeah, it's a little tough, because we're switching back and forth between theaters here, and that does make things quite complicated. And I think that, of course, I think what's happening is the story has shifted to the prison camp. And, you know, honestly, since episode six, Cros and Rosie have kind of been sort of secondary plots, right? They're kind of B plots.

Our main plot is kind of the prison camp, which is why they're bringing in this story of Alexander Jefferson from, you know, from 332nd and these missions from the 15th. And you're right. I mean, we have to, it's hard to sort of contextualize everything, including one of the questions I got was sort of how did combat differ for this tactical group, right? This is a.

a fighter group that's really doing mostly combat air support kind of things, and ground targets and really sort of attacking ground targets versus, how did that differ from what we're seeing for most of the series with the Eighth Air Force and in Northern Europe there? And I think that that's important because one of the questions I got, my brother Brian who sends me a whole list of questions once he finishes.

Jason Herbert (12:23.618)

Colin Colbourn (12:24.812)
This is the episode, which I love. And one of the questions was 500 missions. Yeah, I'll recruit him. 500 missions, like, I don't understand. I thought we're seeing like 25 to 30 missions being kind of like, you know, barely anyone can survive. And so, you know, Luke, this is one of the things I wanted to poke you about a little bit is if you could help us sort of talk a little bit about how

Jason Herbert (12:29.044)
Can he play skull and bones too?

Colin Colbourn (12:52.312)
what we're seeing with this group specifically in the 15th Air Force is different, from what's happening in the 8th Air Force. Cause of course the 15th has huge B-24 squadrons, they're flying 700 ship missions into, like you mentioned, Romania, Ploesi, all these places. They have their own big strategic bombers, but what's kind of the difference?

Luke Truxal (13:15.51)
The 15th Air Force is a fun story to talk about. I mean, 12th needs its story as well, but the 15th is conducting strategic bombing missions in Southern and Central Germany, including flying as far as Berlin. The 332nd Fighter Group, they, once they get the P-51s, and also due to some, and Todd Moy talks about this in his great book, Freedom Flyers, some of the debates that are happening in Congress on whether to continue this program, due to...

the commander of the 15th Air Force, Nathan Twiney, assigning them to escort roles, which they hadn't been assigned to prior to. With those new P-51s, they're doing both escort roles and ground support roles. So fighter pilots in the 15th Air Force will at times be flying long range escort missions in their P-51s and P-38s as far as Berlin, but also they could be carrying out.

air support operations for like Operation Degroom, which gets covered in this episode. And also they'll be carrying out air support operations and including strategic bombing operations in support of the 15th Air Force in Romania. In fact, there's a famous attempt by two fighter groups to dive bomb the Ploesti refineries because they've been putting up these smoke screens, which made it harder for the bombers to see through.

And so one idea was to dive bomb them. That went about as well as the one August 1943 rate. The fighter pilots got really shot up because when you're doing dive bombing missions and when you're doing strafing missions like we saw, you're not only facing the high altitude 88 flat that you see, the 88 millimeter guns that shoot high in the air and create that flak that the heavy bombers deal with, but by coming lower, you bring much more any aircraft fire into range.

And also if there are German fighters in the air, you have to deal with that as well. So the threat increases with the altitude drop. Now the benefit is, is accuracy. And so again, these fighters are basically wearing a lot of different hats. The 15th Air Force is doing that as well. One of the things that I love is the 15th Air Force will carry out strategic bombing operations, but also a lot of air support operations for armies in France.

Luke Truxal (15:35.23)
and also on the Eastern Front as well. And that story doesn't get told as much. In fact, one of my favorite things to talk about is that during the Battle of the Bulge, which is in the future, I don't think we'll get it covered in the show, but the 8th Air Force conducts air support for the Americans in the Battle of the Bulge against the German Sixth Panzer Army. That Sixth Panzer Army in 45 moves to launch the last major German offense of the war at Lake Balaton against the Soviet Second and Third Ukrainian Fronts. And...

Basically, the Eighth Air Force passes those air support missions off to the 15th Air Force as they come into range of the 15th Air Force. And so the German Sixth Panzer Army is constantly having its supply lines bombed by the Eighth and the 15th. So again, there's a lot to talk about with this Air Force. And that doesn't even get into the shuttle bombing, that doesn't get into the fighter sweeps, that doesn't get into the political and diplomatic and Cold War aspects of having to provide air support for the Russians.

Yes, there is an incident where the 15th Air Force actually accidentally bombed and killed a Soviet general. So this is a great story to tell, but needless to say, there's only so much air time, so many minutes, and they've tried to tell too much here. The history is not wrong in a lot of this, to be respectful of the rioters. They can't go into depth because they've done too much.

Colin Colbourn (16:51.824)
Quick side note, I've actually been to Lake Balaton with Project Recover looking for a B-24 that went down there. So that, yeah, it was, there's a lot of the, there's a lot of Hungarians that are really, really.

Luke Truxal (16:59.566)
That's super cool.

Colin Colbourn (17:06.032)
deep into research of a lot of US Air Force stuff that was going on there. And I relied on their knowledge quite a bit, but it's really fascinating. Lake Balaton, by the way, another side note, on average, only about 12 feet deep, massive lake in Hungary, only about 12 feet deep on the whole.

Sarah Myers (17:20.779)

Jason Herbert (17:22.81)
So it's not unlike Lake Okeechobee in Florida.

Sarah Myers (17:23.149)
Did you?

Colin Colbourn (17:26.67)
There you go.

Jason Herbert (17:27.054)
And these aren't side notes, Colin, these are flexes, by the way. It's like, by the way, I don't- oh-

Sarah Myers (17:30.034)
I know, I was like, this is great. Yeah.

Colin Colbourn (17:32.804)
That was there's P-51s lost out there in Hungary. There's B-24s. So we actually went out there to do that. But anyway, that was really cool. So.

Jason Herbert (17:40.966)
Did you have to dive it, Colin? I'm sorry. Real fast.

Colin Colbourn (17:43.7)
No, we did not. What we did is, it's so shallow. I mean, honestly, we were trying to figure out the viability of using side scan sonar in a lake so shallow because clearly mud and silt has covered anything that would have gone down. So what happened was, I guess we'll break into this. I'll be quick. There was a B24, it crashed. We believe it crashed. It was in the winter. I think, I don't remember the date, but it was, I think December or January 45.

it crashed into the lake which had been frozen over. Obviously shallow lake, it freezes over pretty quickly. And we think that, so several of the airmen actually ended up being recovered along places around the lake. Once the lake had thawed in, I think that March or April timeframe. And the aircraft has never been found since then. I mean, it's a very large lake. It's a very common.

place for sailing, it's a popular place for sailing out there. But so it's really just kind of a fascinating thing. Like we don't know for sure it crashed in the lake, but since these guys were recovered on the outskirts of the lake, we have a strong sort of belief that it is there, maybe just buried in mud. So then from our perspective, if it's buried in mud, you can't use it finding sonar. So we have to look at things like magnetometers and other sort of ground penetrating things that we can put on autonomous kayaks or

or autonomous vehicles or other kind of things in the lake. So that's kind of a big problem set we worked on.

Luke Truxal (19:16.27)
I mean, Colin, you might be the first person I've ever talked to outside of like a few other specialists that like I mentioned Lake Balaton and they like know what I'm talking about, you know.

Colin Colbourn (19:28.124)
And it's great, great wine region out there as well. Tokai, the Hungarian wine is made out there. It's one of the cooler things I've, well, I've done a lot of cool things, fortunately, but that was really neat to go to Hungary for sure.


Jason Herbert (19:46.55)
We've got this intro here. We see also a bit of a fraying between Buck and Bucky. Is this documented in the archive or in their memoirs as far as Buck and Bucky kind of coming to blows quite literally in the prison camp?

Sarah Myers (20:06.125)
This is one of those things that I thought was representative. Yeah, you can go, Helen.

Colin Colbourn (20:06.622)
I mean, here's how.

Yeah, no, Sarah, please go ahead.

Jason Herbert (20:10.152)

Sarah Myers (20:12.461)
Well, I mean, Luke looks like he maybe knew specifics, but I was just going to say that I thought that this was an example of what it's like when you see Egan pretending to play a baseball game or maybe pretending to relive a baseball game. It was a little bit unclear, but regardless, he's talking about how he's eight months in and just kind of what happens to you over time being in like a space like that. I thought it did good representing that. And I thought, you know, there's examples of people like arguing, right? I don't.

know that I've read accounts of people like fist fighting, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. So I think it's just representing the tensions that build and how there's nowhere for that tension to go, right? Cause you literally aren't really, there's a very few ways to empower yourself or feel like you have agency beyond radio building that they spent in the last episode.

Jason Herbert (20:59.706)
Yeah, there's a very real fog of war that we don't have as viewers. We know this war is going to come to a close soon. We know what happens to these guys, whether or not they make it through the war. We already know this. These guys don't. And so I think one of the cool things that you're talking about is like the uncertainty of their of their own lives. You lose their alive, but they're dead in some ways, right? Because it's like you don't have control of your own lives. You don't have.

any kind of certainty over whether or not you're ever going to get home or if that's going to happen or when or anything like that. And there's this belief that it keeps that they're expecting to be liberated at any time, any point in time. And it keeps not happening. Had to drive these guys nuts.

Colin Colbourn (21:45.36)
I think I want to mention to Luke as well. Luke, you said something, must've been one of the first episodes I was on. We were first introduced to the POW camp. And you mentioned a source, I can't remember what it was, that maybe Buckhead said something at some point in time, that Egan had at one point crawled into his bed and was feeling very vulnerable and was clearly having some sort of, it's hard to see, you know, he was clearly,

clearly experiencing the trauma of being there. And I, Luke expand on where you got that from, but also to me, this is also showing that break a little bit, that sort of, he's kind of, he's alone. He's feeling very alone and he's sort of losing it.

Luke Truxal (22:29.474)
I'm going to be a bit careful with how I explain that because that might be a bit spoilery for the final episode, but that incident actually happened on the march that they will eventually take to a different camp. And that camp was not as good as, shall we say, the one that they were at Stalag Luft III in terms of quality. And so there were a lot of other things that kind of creeped them out about that camp. And so, yeah.

I think the other thing that they are showing really well in that scene is that complacency, doing the same old routine again and again and again is a real problem. Searching for purpose while stuck there is a real problem. And so, you know, I think they're showing that through Egan. I don't have, there's no real incidents of any kind of like fighting that I've seen, but there is like a really weird incident where like, you know, that

buck talks about where basically Egan just basically is like dude I need to like bunk with you tonight because I'm something about this camp putting me off you know and bucks kind of like this is weird this is not the Egan I know but there are a couple times where yeah guys mentioned that when Egan gets scared guys notice it because he doesn't usually show it he's kind of this very hard charging kind of guy so anytime he gives any kind of indication of fear

You see it noted in the 100th Bomb Group, anybody that flew with him or was with him as a POW, because it's just not the kind of thing he shows, you know.

Colin Colbourn (24:01.872)
I want to also put in here that interpersonal relationships in these POW camps are tense. We're seeing a lot of, and this could be more representative of this prison camp or maybe in Europe in general, we're seeing a lot of like, we're all in this together, we have these goals, we're going to dig these tunnels, we're going to strengthen ourselves, we're going to prepare. It's kind of like this, like, you know, we're going to get ready for it.

But from what I know of POW camps in Japan and other places too, there was lots of fighting. There was a fighting where guys end up getting killed. There was fighting over food, resources. There are hierarchies that sort of build throughout these camps. They become their own little sort of mini civilizations that are locked off with guys who are traumatized from the battles and things that they experienced that got them there in the first place.

And so they showed a little bit of that where one of the guys kind of snapped at Egan He's like you're gonna help or you're not gonna help at all, you know, and it's I thought that at least hinted at the fact that like Everyone is in this really stressful situation and not everyone's gonna get along even though you're all on the same side You all want the same things there are going to be tensions You know buck-and-buck again a fight, but I think that there's there are definitely examples of much worse stuff than that as well

Sarah Myers (25:28.237)
Can I ask a follow-up question? Oh yeah, you go. My follow-up question was just like, did you see it during the Pacific? Like I've read about it during the Pacific, but have you seen examples in like with the, these European POW camps where they're doing that? Colin?

Luke Truxal (25:28.446)
And Egan was...

Colin Colbourn (25:44.012)
I haven't, I don't have specific knowledge of that. I'm only thinking like, things are much different in Japan. I'm not gonna say that they're the same by any stretch of the imagination, but what you see in these POW campuses, like human nature comes out, right? And so you have guys that are taking advantage of other guys. You have, you know, like, I mean, things I've mentioned, like sort of the market economy that's happening, you're having gambling, you're having all kinds of things, you know, while they are all sort of...

Many are focused on things like trying to escape and doing all these other kind of things. Other people are just trying to live their lives and they're trying to get by better than the next guy. It's not horrific in these European camps. I don't think it's as bad for American POWs, but there is still this survival of the fittest thing that can end up as well.

Sarah Myers (26:37.337)

Luke Truxal (26:37.686)
Well, something we also have to talk about with the POW camps in at least Germany. Again, I don't know how it is for the Pacific, but Stalaglu III may not be at least this part of the compound, may not be the best way to tell that full story. And the reason I say that is these guys are officers. They're not non-commissioned officers, they're officers. They get treated differently by the Germans because they are American officers and therefore they're treated with a little bit more.

I don't want to say respect, but they are treated better than the NCOs and they are treated better than some of the other nationalities. So we are getting kind of, I would say not the best picture of kind of how the Germans treated POWs in the war. We're getting like kind of them on their, again, I don't want to say like they were on their best behavior, but this is about as good an experience as you'll get as a POW compared to like how the Soviets would be treated, how American NCOs would be treated. So

You know, there are differences in how the Germans treat different groups of, including amongst the Americans, they treat the NCOs, the conditions are worse. The food's not as great. There's less of it. So there is a difference in how they treat these men because they are officers.

Colin Colbourn (27:50.236)
That's a really good point.

Sarah Myers (27:51.349)
Yeah, it is.

Jason Herbert (27:55.022)
We're talking about things we haven't seen on screen. One of the things we didn't see was D-Day itself, which may be a bit of a surprise to people who are going in expecting for this big monumental thing. This whole show has been building up to D-Day and things like that. What we do see, however, is the chaos for Crosby, for our boy who passes out. Lucas, all this completely accurate. Does Crosby work himself into a coma?

Luke Truxal (28:22.83)
I don't know if he works himself into a coma. I didn't check and see that. Colin may have been able to look. I didn't have time to really look at that part.

Colin Colbourn (28:28.004)
Yeah, he said he passed out for 24 straight hours. It wasn't three days. He said it was 24 hours.

Jason Herbert (28:31.762)

Luke Truxal (28:33.23)
But he did work himself pretty hard during that period. And he was sent on a four week basically rest to go back to the States and go back to New York. And by that point, I think he's not just the group navigator. I think by that point, isn't he the navigator for the third air division at that point in the war? He might be. I don't have to check, but.

Colin Colbourn (28:58.285)
Unshort, yeah, I'm not sure.

Luke Truxal (29:02.206)
You know, this is not uncommon for staff officers. I thought this was good, you know, in that it showed, you know, what it's like to be staff officers and officers and the stresses that occur. Because we see this happen to generals all the time. We see this happen to staff officers where it's not uncommon in the war for these guys not just to pass out, but to die of heart attacks during the course of the war. You know, Teddy Roosevelt Jr. died of a heart attack during the fighting in Normandy.

while serving as the assistant division commander for the fourth division. There are a lot of German generals that die of heart attacks. There are a lot of American generals that die of heart attacks, not because they're on the front lines, but because they're just stressed and they're working these ridiculous hours, like Crosby. So it's not uncommon for generals and their staff officers and everybody working and planning these missions, not just in the air war, but even on the ground war, to have to be pulled out to rest them so they get a normal sleep cycle again.

because they are literally working themselves to death. And that it's, again, this is something I liked. Could have been portrayed a little bit better. Yeah, but for the most part, I liked it because it showed, also it shows the drugs he's taking to stay awake. That's not uncommon. It shows all the things he's trying to do to keep going. So again, not perfect, but it's still very good in that it shows kind of a new side of the air war and a new side of World War II that we don't really see a lot, which is the guys working behind the scenes to plan and...

put the combat men in the right position to succeed, they themselves are, you know, putting a lot of, have a lot of stress, the stress of basically sending men out to die, but also they're not sleeping. And as a result, it is wearing physically down on them to the point of where some of them pass out like Crosby, others just flat out die of a heart attack. So it's not uncommon.

And I really liked that they showed that because I think it's an element that was missing from Band of Brothers and the Pacific where kind of those staff officers, the guys on the frontlines kind of sneer at them and they're like, man, they're just back in the back doing nothing. It's like, no, they're trying to, they feel the importance and the weight of their decisions in the losses that they see come back.

Colin Colbourn (31:21.976)
Yeah, a lot of that was straight out of the out of Crosby's book. I read that chapter to sort of see, you know, really, I wanted to see if he mentioned drugs or pills, which he never did. What I did find very interesting, because I think every time I hear someone order a coffee extra hot, I don't know if any of you guys are extra hot coffee drinkers, but I don't like hot, I like iced coffee anyway. But Crosby, the great a great line from his book was that he like he drank so much coffee that like

It wasn't really even the coffee. He would order it basically boiling so that it would essentially burn himself awake. It was, it was both the coffee, like itself, the caffeine and how hot it was that was trying, that was basically keeping him awake. He doesn't remember eating at all during that period. And again, he said he was out for 24 hours. I actually think in terms of the D-Day invasion, I mean, they show it, they show Rosie, right fly. He talked to, he was talking to Kraj. He's like.

Jason Herbert (32:15.182)
Yeah, yeah, we see that. We see that for a second.

Colin Colbourn (32:17.928)
We see it for a second, which is fine. I think that's fine. Because when we're talking about the hundreds, we're talking about the eighth Air Force, on D-Day itself, they're flying missions in a lot of other places. They're trying to do things that are, you know, you don't want bombers dropping bombs anywhere near the guys landing on the beach. And Crosby actually mentions this quite a bit, is that when he woke up, he was listening to news reports and all the news reports that were, you know, early, early news reports.

were saying that we had landed at Cherbourg, that we had landed at these places where Kraz had planned all these missions that made the Germans think that we were going to be going there and not to Normandy itself. And so I thought that was really cool too. And so, and it's the same thing because we were gonna be doing a bunch of work. We still may do it. We're obviously on the 80th anniversary of D-Day coming up here. And so we were looking at MIAs associated with D-Day.

And when I was looking at MIAs, MIAs again, in this situation, are a lot different than KIA, because most of the bombers that went down over land, usually they found the bomber and they usually recovered many of the remains and stuff like that. But there are very few, very few at all MIAs on June 6. A lot of the MIAs are in the preparation, the lead up and then the follow on after that.

And that's really what Kraus is planning at that point in time. And they talked about it. Rosie talked about it. They're actually flying not one mission per day. We've talked about the Munster mission, the Berlin mission. They're flying three to five missions per day. I mean, that's insane. And of course on D-Day itself, the Luftwaffe didn't get up really in the air and Luke may be able to expand on that a little bit more. But they were relatively

uncontested in some ways. And so I didn't mind that we didn't really sort of look and like really focus in on the D-Day side of it. Of course there was tactical Air Force stuff that's happening. Most of the planes in the air on D-Day are C-47s, honestly. The vast majority of planes that are in the air is gonna be C-47s, Ferris and those guys over.

Luke Truxal (34:32.734)
I mean, there's a number of reasons why I think they didn't do it. One, a lot of the best work by the air force with regards to D-Day happened before in shaping the battlefield of D-Day. So what you have to understand is they're trying to cut all the railroads, roads, things that allow the Germans to move reinforcements rapidly to the beachhead and to the area. This puts the Germans in a bit of a predicament because now they have to guess where the right area is. And this leads to the famous, you know, do we deploy the tanks forward?

or do we keep them in a reserve? And the reason why I think it was wise to kind of keep them in a reserve, if you guess the wrong beach or the wrong area, it's a lot harder to get those tanks to the right area. But making matters worse, it was hard for the Germans to get any of their tank divisions rapidly to Normandy because the Americans had control of the air and the P-47s from the 9th Air Force, if they spotted those guys in a day,

they would just strafe them and destroy them, but they can't even use the railroads and a lot of the bridges are out. So they have to use these small little country roads or some of the highways at night to move the tanks, which slows the reinforcement rate of the Germans down to the Normandy area in moving those tank divisions from the reserve area to the front. But in addition to this, you got to remember that also operation fortitude is going on, which is the big deception operation, which is to try to sell that the landing is actually going to happen at Collette.

And when that happens is a good chunk of the German forces are posted at Calais. And it's not easy for those forces to basically turn from Calais because of the eight air forces work after fortitude works. Well, guess what? They can't move back into Normandy very quickly because you have a whole army over there and the railroads are out and the bridges are out, and then you have to move at night because of the ninth air force. So you have that element of it.

So that's a lot of stuff that, you know, it's hard to cover on screen anyways. But the other reason is tactically, the 8th Air Force, I know this is going to sound bad, but the 8th Air Force doesn't play a big role on June 6th tactically in terms of its air support. As Rosie describes, he couldn't see anything because it was all overcast. Well, guess what? They missed the German defenses. The bombing was awful on D-Day in terms of the immediate like pre-bombardment.

Luke Truxal (36:57.726)
with the 8th Air Force. The carpet bombing was not there. They did a lot of carpet bombing trying to support the British taking Khan. They did a lot of carpet bombing in June and July to try to break the German defenses. Ultimately, they finally do succeed on July 25th in Operation Cobra. But again, going back to Colin's point about the accuracy is that, you know, I don't know if we've had a show yet where these guys have missed their target. And during Cobra,

One of the groups takes a wrong angle and misses, like most of the carpet bombing actually hit the Panjolera Division really hard on July 25th during the start of Operation Cobra and completely blew up the entire division, like tanks exploding and being tossed around. But one group took the wrong angle and missed and they hit the Americans and they killed an American Lieutenant General, Leslie McNair.

there was not much left of him. He took a direct hit, his headquarters took a direct hit as he was observing the pre-bombardment of Operation Cobra, which was the famous breakout from Normandy. So why are they not covering that really in a lot of detail? Why are they just kind of doing it really quick? Well, in large part, it's because tactically, the bombing on D-Day was not that effective. And two, it's hard to really convey, I guess you could say, the role that the Eighth Air Force and Ninth Air Force are playing in terms of air support.

It's not something that shall we say the Air Force sells a lot and tries to pump out a lot in its history. They like to talk about strategic bombing. Tactical close air support is not something that, you know, a lot of airmen at this time found interesting. You know, they didn't see that they wanted to go bomb Schweinfurt. They want to go bomb Berlin. They want to go bomb big strategic targets. Tactical close air support missions is not something that the...

Army Air Forces at that time really wanted to do. They did it because Eisenhower told them to do it and because it was necessary, but it's not what they really wanna do. So again, that's another aspect of this. So again, I get why it's not shown. And again, some of it's effectiveness, some of it's hard to portray. And the other part is that even in its history, the Army Air Forces doesn't try to talk about, shall we say, all the things that they did in terms of supporting the ground war because they wanna talk more about the strategic bombing of Germany.

Jason Herbert (39:22.994)
Can we pivot back to something? I want to actually go to something off screen and I actually want to talk about the training that's going on, because I'm thinking now about Crosby being forced to go back to New York. That's got me thinking about the war effort back home. That's got me thinking about women in the war that which brings me to think about Sarah's book. So Sarah, I'm wondering if maybe you could talk a little bit about how is the D-Day invasion being received by people who are prepared, who are doing this war effort at home? You know, you wrote this amazing book.

book on the wasps. How is this being received back home? What's going on back home as all of this is unfolding in Paris, or excuse me, in France?

Sarah Myers (39:58.491)

Sarah Myers (40:07.381)
Yeah, so people back home only know what they're told, right, in the media and by the government, which is also coming from the Propaganda Commission. And so they don't know, like, when, you know, D-Day is going to happen or that D-Day is going to be a thing, but they know that we're building up to an invasion, right, of mainland Europe and going to hopefully eventually get to Germany. And so there's in 1944 for my women pilots.

They're really just focused on the jobs of the home front. They're not so much, like they're paying attention to the news as it comes in, but they're not talking in an anticipatory way where they're like saying what they're anticipating we're gonna do next. It's more, this is when this happened and we were, you know, remember it, right? And then, you know, prior to D-Day and after D-Day, they talk about like, we're so happy that we could be like a part of.

this larger effort to support the war through what we're doing on the home front so that men could fly these missions overseas. And so they frame it that way. Even when you think about people who are working in the factories that are producing things for this, they talk the same way. They don't necessarily talk in an anticipatory way. Like they know anything's coming or when it's coming. They talk about hoping that the war will end or feeling optimistic about it. If you think about...

you know, there's other populations. So I've been walking my students through the book, Shockwave about the first bomb that dropped on Hiroshima in Japan. And like what the Japanese are experiencing is we talk, you know, about how like governments are always controlling what the public is receiving, like what information, right? Because you want to keep up morale. So for Americans, they're trying to boost morale by.

by having these little news reels prior to movies that people see in theaters and things like that, and then larger newspaper discussions. In Japan, the same thing is happening where the Japanese public thinks like, oh, the war is going well, et cetera. So you have different publics who are fully embracing the war effort and thinking it's going well, despite in reality for the Japanese, their food resources are dwindling and things are getting.

Sarah Myers (42:27.469)
desperate, but yet they still are, you know, not everyone, right? But lots of people are listening to their government. So I'd say it's similar in the US where they don't really know this larger trajectory and they're not necessarily thinking of it from a strategic perspective, but they are responding as they hear news. Basically, I was thinking about the airmen in particular, too, because the airmen in the episode, they were they didn't say it directly. But at the beginning of the episode, you see them in this like officers club and they're all talking.

So the officers club were segregated. So even though they are also officers because it's a Jim Crow military, they're separate, which is why you don't see any white officers in this club with them, right? And then I got really excited when they brought out Alex, right, because I had mentioned in a previous podcast episode that I was hoping they'd bring in Alexander Jefferson based on the German POW camp that they were doing. And obviously that's where they took it. But when he's talking...

at the beginning of the episode about the possibilities of combat. For the Tuskegee Airmen, they were described as an experiment for the war. We don't know whether, kind of like what you see for previous US wars, right? We don't know about black men's, it's just a stereotype, of course. We don't know what black men's fortitude in combat, and we don't know what their performance will be like. It's based on their intelligence, but it's also based on these assumptions about them.

that are racist in nature and whether or not they can perform in combat and make, you know, the quick decisions that are needed like on the fly. So it relates to intelligence, but also relates to skill in that specific way. And so when he's talking about like the possibilities of doing more and that CEO is telling him, oh, well, we're still, you know, like be, be patient was like the quote. I thought that was interesting because the diski airmen are put into these combat positions in

in a way that is described as experimental, but it also relates to the larger history of rights in this country, where black Americans are often told, thank you for your service during this war, now just be patient, right? Like, or thank you for whatever service, but just be patient, it's coming. And so I thought it was interesting that was like the way that they used this commanding officer to talk about the possibility of combat, to tell them to be patient,

Sarah Myers (44:53.869)
for me reflected that larger argument, but also reflected without them saying it directly, right? That they aren't being, you know, like there's hesitancy to put them in certain roles during World War II. And then of course, as we know from the episode, but also from life, they perform to the best of their ability and then are no longer described as experimental because they've quote unquote proved their abilities. I think that was best represented in the scene where they are.

preparing for Operation Dragoon where they're saying, like, you know, all cheering together. And I thought that was a good way of showing how black pilots, just like women pilots during World War II, felt like they had to prove themselves because they felt like if they made mistakes that everyone would say, oh, well, then we shouldn't have black pilots anymore, right? Et cetera.

Colin Colbourn (45:41.656)
Well, one thing to add onto that too, is they're never given the best equipment either to do the job. And that's represented with the P-40s that they're flying over there, right? They haven't received the P-47s yet. This is in June. They will get the P-47s, but when they do get the equipment, and this is something that, it's a small thing, but I think it is important is that when they get the P-51s, they're not the new P-51s. They're old P-51s. They're P-51Cs.

The ones that are depicted in the film, they have that like glass dome cockpit and stuff like that. That's P-51D. Those are the brand new models with all the new, you know, new and improved stuff, which Luke can add onto, I'm sure. The P-51C is an improved airplane on a P-40 for sure, and improved in general, but they're still not given the best equipment, and they still outperform that equipment to do the job in many cases.

Luke Truxal (46:35.902)
Well, also,

Luke Truxal (47:05.398)
uh... in nineteen uh... forty three uh... and uh... there's uh... the ninety ninth which is an all black fighter squadron the commander of the of the uh... thirty third uh... fighter group uh... let me check his name right it's uh... mom here basically tried to he was not supportive of the program he was not supportive of trying to get these guys in the combat he was trying to kill it and so what he did was

is he rotated his three white fighter squadrons to the front and had the 99th serving in the rear. Furthermore, he cites the only time they engaged in air-to-air combat with the Germans. They kind of made a very common mistake is they kind of broke, not broken, but basically they broke their formation and pursued very aggressively. And basically he files that in a report not with

Benjamin O. Davis, who commands the 99th Fighter Squadron, he doesn't bring it up with Davis. He waits till Davis has to go back to Congress to defend the program. Then kind of, it somehow gets leaked to the press. Then he puts it out there. And you know, there are, Hap Arnold really wants to kill this program. And I will say there are other generals that don't want to kill this program. And so, Mom, you're just kind of trying to.

help kill this by basically taking one combat report that is basically indicative of them being a green unit, not necessarily them being bad. And it's the same thing that you see a lot of white fighter squadrons do as well. And as a result of this, it creates a huge controversy and Davis has to defend it. And basically, this is kind of why basically they argue give us a prominent fighting role, let us play a big role.

At this point, one of the key players comes in to help them out, which is Nathan Twining, the commander of the 15th Air Force says, hey, I need a really good fighter group that can stick to the bombers. Because one of the things that Twining disagreed with Doolittle on fighter tactics. Twining wanted very defensive fighter tactics to protect the bombers and lower his attrition rate. Doolittle wanted very aggressive fighter groups. This is something that doesn't get talked enough about in air power circles.

Luke Truxal (49:29.046)
but it is something that's kind of coming back to the forefront. We're starting to see people talk about it more. But basically, the fighters groups under the 15th Air Force, even though they were defensive, they had this tendency to get away from the bomber formation and go hunting for German fighters, which left the bomber formation exposed. Now, that would have been OK for Doolittle. That was not OK for Twining. And so.

Davis, when he now has the 332nd fighter group and brings the 99th into that, he makes, based on what happened with the Mom Year Report, and based on what has happened with the experience that he has and his talks with Twining, he basically tells his guys, you need to snuggle up with those bombers really, really tight, tighter than, and again, even the bomber crews noticed that this fighter group, this particular fighter group that they really didn't know a lot about stuck closer than any other fighter group than they had.

even just in formation flying, even when there's no combat going on, they were extremely tight. And that made them feel a lot more comfortable. And they didn't go chasing after German fighters. And again, one of the big problems with this episode is we don't get an introduction into Benjamin O. Davis Jr. We don't learn that his father actually is a general in the United States Army at this time, and is working with Ira Aker to improve race relations in the Eighth Air Force. That would have been a nice little nugget.

We don't get to see the training. We don't get to see what they have to overcome to get here. We get basically a token representation and we don't get to see them fly in formation in July before we see them shot down. We don't get to see them fly in formation and we don't get to see those tight formations. We don't get to see those new tactics or really not new, old, but we don't get to see them do what they become famous for, which is flying extremely tight to the formation and protecting air crews. The other problem with this episode, and I'm just riffing now because

I don't know if riffing, but I'm just losing it, I guess, because I thought that this was just underdone. But when we get to the prison camp, everybody goes, oh, it's the Red Tails. Most airmen, most white airmen did not know that these guys were Black Fighter pilots. Only a few found out by accident. And in fact, a lot of times if you read Miller's book and if you read Moy's book,

Luke Truxal (51:48.422)
on the subject, you'll find out that it's later air crews who get shot down after these guys arrive that are the ones that are go, Hey, you're part of the Red Tails. But a lot of times white pilots don't even know that these guys are black. They just see the Red Tails. That's all they see. They know that they know the unit insignia. They know the unit name. In fact, one B 17 did not even know there was a base because it was not on the map. The Ramatilli

I'm sorry, I butchered the Italian there, but it was not even on white pilots maps. And they landed there and they go, oh my goodness, we didn't even know there's a fighter unit here. And then they were shocked to find out that there were black fighter pilots. And so, yes, it becomes more known over time, but even then it's not like widespread knowledge. This is something that, you know, there's a divide over amongst how to talk about it amongst the Eighth Air Force, not the Eighth Air Force, but the Fifteenth Air Force, how to do, do we talk about what they're doing?

And so a lot of what we learn is either late in the war or after the war. And so again, during the war, a lot of these airmen did not know that the 332nd was a black fighter pilot. Yes, some do learn eventually. And yes, there was an account that Dr. Moy writes about in his book and Miller writes in his book about where yes, a guy does recognize them as the Red Tails, but that person I think was shot down later. And basically,

He came in after they were already in the prison camp. So again, this goes to the problem with how they chose to talk about this subject, which is we don't talk about the race really. We kind of, it's in the background, you know, and it's very lightly touched upon. We don't talk about the training and all the problems they dealt with. We don't talk about their experiences in Italy. We do get a little bit of a taste of what those race relations are like in the camp, but that...

That is very unusual. Alexander Jefferson, I think Sarah could expand on this more, but he noted that how he was treating the camp was very different from how he was treated in the rest of the Army Air Forces and particularly back at home. So if you're gonna talk about that camp perspective and you go to such great lengths to talk about how they're treated differently at the camp, then wouldn't it serve the show and the plot and the coverage of this group better to talk about the training and the racism that they received and all the roadblocks they had to overcome?

Luke Truxal (54:14.39)
just to get into combat. So again, this is where I really got frustrated with the show because, and it goes back into some of my frustrations from last episode. And so, I think this is probably the only time in the podcast you've heard me get a little bit almost raising my voice in frustration, but that's kind of where my frustration lies with how they have constructed this series overarchingly.

Jason Herbert (54:25.33)
Thanks for watching.

Sarah Myers (54:36.253)
And I could not agree more because it's important for us to talk about, right? Because Luke and I were talking a little bit in the group chat about the Red Tails movie, just slightly like hinting at our opinions about it. It's so tragic. And so it's like, here's a moment where we can redeem ourselves, you know, and actually talk about racism. Yeah, Colin.

Jason Herbert (54:37.042)
Listen, Luke, I...

Jason Herbert (54:47.526)
We don't have to talk about that.

So bad.

Colin Colbourn (54:53.828)
I do.

Do we have enough space though? Like, I, I'm not sure, but I mean, it's like, I feel like if they made more space, I think there's, the argument would still be, there's not enough. And then it's like, what, you know, what do we need to do? Do we need to have a whole season? Yeah, I agree. We should have a whole season dedicated to this. But really again, the, the point is getting, is, is like getting Alexander Jefferson into the camp, right? So that he can play his role.

Sarah Myers (54:59.993)
We could have made space. We could have done something different.

Jason Herbert (55:18.834)

Colin Colbourn (55:27.092)
Um, but that's why, like, you're not going to have all of the, all of these really important, I agree things, but if you're making this series, um, I just don't think you can cover it enough, even if you took this whole episode or like two episodes to do it, I am not sure that you could cover it as well as you might want to, honestly.

Sarah Myers (55:49.145)
agree with that, I just wish they would have shown, like Luke said, the tight formation. Because that is what they become known for, and how pretty would that have looked in the sky for them to show us that, you know?

Colin Colbourn (55:57.752)
I totally agree with that and that seems like a really terrible oversight. And I agree, and like I said, they're showing them flying equipment that they didn't even have at the time. And there was lots of issues with it. I just like, either you have to kind of ignore that he was there or you have to introduce him to the camp and then you do that in a way. I thought...

I thought that they did it in an okay way. I agree, there's things that they missed. But I was actually expecting less to be quite honest than they actually gave us.

Sarah Myers (56:34.893)
I did write down a list of things they did well. So with the POW Alexander Jefferson experience, because I was trying, because obviously I had lots of complaints. So my list that I wrote down, this is taken from his memoir, which I'm assuming they read, like they have the others based on their incorporation of some of the details. So like he talks about the Germans taking his lucky strikes, which we saw in that, you know, once he'd been captured scene. He does talk about how he had a roommate that had a quote, Southern drawl.

and how he was worried about that roommate. And then he says, but the good news is that, so he essentially says that there was quote, an undercurrent of hesitancy and a kind of guarded inquisitiveness to best support what Luke is saying, right? Where people don't fully understand who he is. Like they, you know, he's saying he's a fighter pilot. They're like, you know, this is news to a lot of them. But he says that at least they know he wasn't a German plant. So that reaction that you see, they do that well.

He did a lot of drawings and in his memoir that he published, he included a lot of those drawings. So that part was included. And then he also talked about, this was the first time I think based on the background, I could have not observed it from the previous episodes, where they show the room with the books in the background, like that library. And so in his memoir, Jefferson talks about how there was a library with books.

and how this is one of the things they filled their time with. And he also mentioned the checkers and cards and drawing supplies and how that... They didn't show it coming from the Red Cross, but he says all of that came from the Red Cross. So I thought they had like a subtle nod to that. And then the only thing, the only other thing that he talks about that they sort of incorporated, but not, was dreaming about food. Because he says like people talk about, you know, like what they dreamed about or nightmares. And he said, yeah, people had nightmares in the campus, etc.

Colin Colbourn (58:19.543)

Sarah Myers (58:25.601)
He said for him the thing that he remembers most viscerally was dreaming about food because the food was so awful. And so I thought that was sort of incorporated in the episode.

Jason Herbert (58:35.002)
Must have ran out of cats. So.

I actually, I think you guys are absolutely right. And there's so much here. I wanted to, I couldn't watch this episode without not thinking about Red Tails, which really we did on HATM one night on the Sunday night thing. It is in my mind, the singularly worst film we've ever done, which is a shame because that story is such an important story to tell. And that I remember thinking when I watched it, that this was a collection of like sound bites stitched together to form a film. It's a-

Utterly incoherent film. It's terrible. However, I felt like HBO's Tuskegee Airmen really was like a shadow over this film. And I almost felt like there was a hesitancy to dive into to dive into the Tuskegee story because it's almost like, well, you already know this. And I think sometimes it's almost like a problem we have as scholars. I know that in my own work, whenever I'm writing about indigenous Florida or things like that, I'm like, well, should I even talk about that? That's too well known. Well, that's well known to me.

Colin Colbourn (59:10.332)

Jason Herbert (59:39.098)
Right. And I often think that as we're writing, a lot of times we have to make the assumption that the things that we're putting before someone is really maybe their first, the first time they're ever going to see or hear it. So there is, um, an obligation to dive into those things as well as you possibly can. And that meant here, you really have to tell this Tuskegee airman story, because look, the HBO show that we all know with Laurence Fishrun, it's like 30 years old. That's a...

It's an older series and it was I think in its time Luke, Colin, Sarah, you could correct me I remember thinking that it was good. Um Retails not so much. So I also felt like you're absolutely right There's a real hesitancy to get into race relations in this episode and we're really missing a part An opportunity to show the divisiveness of the American people of American servicemen Let's not you know, let's not deify these young men who are over there. I think

by showing the racial complexities, the complexities of racial attitudes, you humanize this experience by saying the United States in the 1940s was really wrestling with racial attitudes. And maybe the shame of that is that it's best illustrated through that conversation with the German interrogator who says, why would you fight for this country when all they do is oppress you? And when we go, and it's a very real question, because when we go back and look at

enlistment numbers by percentage, highest rates of enlistment in the armed forces in World War II, in Vietnam, are Native Americans number one, right? I want to say African Americans number two. People of color, people of historically marginalized communities in this country have overwhelmingly served in its defense. I find that kind of fascinating that the show

Hold the punch.

Colin Colbourn (01:01:31.852)
No, no, they definitely left that. And it's, it's hard because it is a negative. There's when you read letter, I've read so many letters now where like, you read those offhand comments at the bottom of the letter and you're like, you know, you're learning all about the sort of the combat and you're sort of reading about their experience and then all of a sudden they start going off about black soldiers that they thought were in the wrong place and shouldn't have been associating with so-and-so and we're talking about guys who are in England.

Um, and you're like, you're just sort of snapped right back into the reality of the time. And, and, I mean, you're absolutely right. And this almost falls into the thing that I was talking about with the guys in the POW camp, right? Like it's a little mini society that represents the time and not everyone's going to be, uh, you know, shaking hands out there and, and it's not all just sort of like, woohoo, we're all Americans, one goal, uh, one fight kind of thing. Um, those views were.

Pervasive it wasn't just sort of like a couple a couple of bad guys from the south. That's not how that was by any stretch

Luke Truxal (01:02:37.45)
Well, I mean, here's the other problem is that the way they handled it is they try to make that racism faceless. And I mean this by like, you know, it's off screen. It's just some people, you know, faceless. There's no person to focus on, you know, in terms of like, you don't see a person come up and share these attitudes towards the members of to Alexander Jefferson. What would have been useful?

I get why some people don't want to do the Tuskegee Airmen movie because they don't want to cover training in a World War II combat movie because let's face it, sometimes training can be boring to cover on television. Tuskegee Airmen actually did it really well and made it very entertaining and did a really good job in diving into the shall we say deeper issues of race. But if you want to skip the training with them, there's a way to cover race and get them into combat. Talk about Mom Year.

talk about the 33rd fighter group. And you could have done this because they enter in April of 43. You could have inserted snippets of them throughout the series and the struggles they're dealing with. And maybe you could have cut, I mean, I know where you, I know you're probably gonna roll your eyes at me. You could have cut some of Crosby's infidelity for screen time and put a more important, deeper topic up front and center. You could have gotten rid of the spy stuff. You could have gotten rid of all the

romance stuff you could have inserted less of that save those minutes for more important issues like race relations you know and tell the story better you may not have to be able to give it as much airtime as maybe the hundredth bomb group but you can at least add minutes by taking away from less important plots that we covered in previous episodes i'm not saying they're unimportant i'm not saying they don't matter and i'm not saying they didn't happen i'm saying that

You have to prioritize certain things in a TV series like this. This should have been prioritized much higher than some of the other stuff we've had covered.

Colin Colbourn (01:04:39.48)
Yeah, two things. One, the spy plot in this is so dumb. I literally can't believe it. But two, and I want to talk about that because I totally agree with you, Luke, there. Number two, training can be very exciting. Let's remember that both top gun movies are almost 95% about training. And those are some of the most popular aviation movies of all time.

Jason Herbert (01:04:46.002)
It's gone!

Sarah Myers (01:05:00.025)
This is true.

Jason Herbert (01:05:01.298)
Ooh, why haven't we done that?

Colin Colbourn (01:05:03.364)
And so I actually kind of disagree with you a little bit on that. I think training can be something really interesting to look into. And especially because training then in the 1940s was very dangerous. This is not just sort of like, you know, sort of everything's easy and it's kind of like, ah, go up, come down, go up, come down, you're losing guys all the time. Um, guys are washing out and you're, you're flying several different kinds of aircraft in order to train. Yeah. Thank you. Uh, in order to train.

Jason Herbert (01:05:23.235)
and women.

Jason Herbert (01:05:30.251)
I read a book.

Colin Colbourn (01:05:31.444)
And of course, the race relations that they're experiencing at their training bases, I mean, is oftentimes horrific. And, you know, of course, as a Marine Corps historian, I'm most familiar with sort of the Montford Point Marines and North Carolina and stuff like that, but North South Carolina. But I definitely would say that there is plenty of room for something about training. But back to the terrible spy B-C-V plot, I don't know. Yeah, do it.

Jason Herbert (01:05:58.374)
Can I interject on the training real fast? Just two seconds? Have none of you seen a Rocky film? Of course training is good. We needed a montage is what we needed. This show doesn't have montages. All right.

Luke Truxal (01:06:10.734)
I concede the point, training can be entertaining if done well.

Sarah Myers (01:06:14.077)
I love it. Well, they're also... Sorry, Colin, you go.

Colin Colbourn (01:06:18.446)
They didn't have any P-51s slamming on the brakes so they could fly right by them, and I think that really is the problem.

Sarah Myers (01:06:24.689)
Sure. Well, also I was going to say there were at one point there were 61 Tuskegee Airmen who were arrested because this fight and this officers club. I mean, there are multiple times they were being arrested. Like all of that is great on film.

Colin Colbourn (01:06:37.308)
But again, there's so much to it, it's its own thing. Like you cannot, I don't think, treat it with respect. I think one episode, two episode, you're still in the tokenism, you're still in the sort of like not diving deep enough into this area.

Jason Herbert (01:06:53.874)
Does it not feel like what we should have gotten was actually an air war series that took place over say four or five seasons? Where you can talk about this, you can actually talk about the Pacific, you can talk about, Colin you're talking about these guys who were flying these C-47s, is that correct? I'm sorry, what was the, right? These are, you know, the paratroopers, you're talking about the gliders, all, like there's all this kind of different stuff that we really.

Colin Colbourn (01:07:03.381)

Luke Truxal (01:07:05.043)

Colin Colbourn (01:07:14.416)
Yeah, yeah, the paratroopers coming out of the C-47s.

Jason Herbert (01:07:24.918)
I feel like we saw so much potential in the first six episodes. And now we're just like, oh man, we're running out of time. We're touching base on all this kind of stuff and then we're leaving it. Whereas in reality what we really needed was there was too much of an emphasis on making this fifth tone style shape of Band of Brothers in the Pacific in a single season series that follows a relatable cast or crew.

all but forget about Cross and Rosie, even as Rosie starts to merge as like the new center point of the show. But all right, come on, go ahead.

Colin Colbourn (01:08:02.672)
I mean, I guess we don't really know. I mean, it is just called Masters of the Air, so there could be other seasons where they tackle, I mean, not only other air forces in Europe, but also in the Pacific, but also naval air forces and stuff like that. There's lots of, I think the opportunity is there, so we need to just get ahold of Tom Hanks and see if he can help us.

Jason Herbert (01:08:25.622)
Well, I think we are due, at least you say the Naval Air Forces, I think we're certainly due for a naval story, which we haven't really seen when we're talking about, you know, a series that talks about the aftermath of, say, Pearl Harbor, things like that, that talks about Midway and Guadalcanal, things like that, you know, all these different places, because Midway is a fascinating story. We're making a pivot here. But Midway is phenomenal. Yeah.

Colin Colbourn (01:08:48.484)
I want to mention real quick to Tuskegee Airmen, you mentioned Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Fascinating, his father was the first Brigadier General in the US Army and then Benjamin O. Davis Jr. becomes the first Black Brigadier General in the US Air Force in 1960. I thought that was really fascinating. The other thing I wanted to mention is First Lieutenant Langdon Johnson. I don't think they mentioned his name in this.

But he actually went down on the same raid against Toulon. He was a Tuskegee Airman flying one of the P-51, and he went down in Marseille Harbor and is one of the MIAs that we have on our list that we are searching for. So I thought that was a really interesting one as well. So just a couple of individuals that I think need highlighted.

Jason Herbert (01:09:38.79)
All right, let's talk about Sandra and the other what felt like a complete letdown of an emerging plot. We thought based off, we saw as much for in the teaser for this week as we saw in the episode of her character. She's gone. What the hell?

Colin Colbourn (01:09:58.972)
I mean, it's really what happens in the book, too. I mean, Luke, you can see, I mean, she comes and she goes. What, and I actually tend to, I tend to agree while I, whether or not they should have shown the affair or not, we don't know whether it happened. But the lack of any information about her that he has in her book, and clearly no one else could find anything else about her, it's kind of like, why even bring this up?

Jason Herbert (01:10:03.822)
I get it.

Jason Herbert (01:10:07.427)
That's a story.

Jason Herbert (01:10:30.894)
Except to show. I'll make an argument for it. Aside, if you don't believe in showing the affair, clearly you're a heartless son of a bitch who does not believe in love, romance, longing, nostalgia, human existence, purpose, anything. What are you fighting for, Luke? If you don't believe in affairs with some lady you've just met in London. Anyway, maybe the point here is like, it's not all a happy conclusion. There's a lot of stuff that these guys just don't know.

Colin Colbourn (01:10:42.272)
Luke raised his hand, I want to say that.

Jason Herbert (01:10:59.746)
She just drops off the reader and that's the way it goes. We know like when we saw the Pacific, these relationships, they come and they go, and you're just kind of left hanging. But it did leave something.

Colin Colbourn (01:11:13.648)
something, and left everything to be desired. Had nothing to do with Americans at all, or the hundreds, or anything to do with it.

Jason Herbert (01:11:14.162)
That's it. Something. Yeah.

Luke Truxal (01:11:24.402)
This is the problem with the episode though is that by being again, this is the phrase that keeps coming into my head. Jack of all plots, master of none. They aren't even introducing characters or plot lines very effectively because they're switching so fast. I was getting whiplash with how I had to pause and stop and rewind because we would be talking at Stalag Luft 3 and all of a sudden we're at, you know, Operation J'Grun. It's like, wait, two months just passed. What happened? You know.

Jason Herbert (01:11:25.17)
Thank you.

Luke Truxal (01:11:51.822)
Uh, so again, and in fact, one of the things that I, Sarah and I were talking about on Twitter is that operations are doing actually got more screen time because of the, uh, air rates at Toulon by the three 32nd, uh, then, uh, overlord did, which was interesting, uh, to say the least, but, uh, yeah, this is kind of a problem with the series with, you know, this Crosby affair with a lot of, this is the problem with the episode.

They covered about six months of time, from what I could count, from 2nd June to really the end of the year. And I think we might even be in January 45 at this point, where the episode ends. They just touched on stuff and they don't properly introduce characters, they don't properly introduce plots. And not even from a historical perspective, but from a viewer perspective, that was hard to follow.

Jason Herbert (01:12:49.934)
All right, so we've kind of, we've left this now, we've seen all of our characters, we saw a little bit of Rosie in this episode, not a whole lot, we've kind of touched on Crosby, we've seen all these different plots, we have one episode remaining, for those of you listening who are gonna recap next week's episode, then we're gonna come back after the four of us have had like a week to kind of give our thoughts and do like a kind of a summation episode. So we got two more weeks after this of this little series that we're doing.

What are we looking for in this final episode? As we head into the final episode of Masters of the Air. Sarah?

Sarah Myers (01:13:27.353)
I mean, I assume that we're going to get closure on at least some of these things, right? I'm not even sure because we can't find information on this entire spy story and what happened to her after the war. I'm wondering if they'll just drop off and he just like never hears from her or something weird is going to happen. But I assume that with, you know, the POW camps are going to get liberated, right? And at least...

Jason Herbert (01:13:42.626)
love story.

Sarah Myers (01:13:55.965)
you know, the one that they're going to end up in, right? Cause we know they're not going to end up in the one they're in, but I won't say more about that. And so I assume that that'll happen. And I assume that May 8th, 1945 will, you know, be before us. And we'll see like a celebratory moment, but beyond that, I'm not sure what they're going to finish off because they've started so many things that I, I don't know. What do you guys think?

Luke Truxal (01:14:20.03)
I think we are going to see kind of the Mooseburg March that seems to be very telegraphed. That plot I will say they've covered decently and they've kept it consistent. So I think we're going to get some kind of conclusion with that. With Rosie, we're going to see his participation in another raid on Berlin. I should point out though, I think that is another area bombing one. I think that's another punishment bombing raid. I'm curious how they're going to cover it. It looks like they're going to focus more on it looks like Rosie getting shot down.

We're going to, so that is an interesting aspect. We see the return of Crosby back. What I'm curious about, I guess, there's two plot lines I'm curious about and I don't know if they're going to come up, is are they going to cover Operation Frantic at any point in this series? Because Crosby participated on it and he was there. We see the Russians now, the Soviet Union now showing up in some of the teasers. So

I think there's a possibility we see Operation Franic, which is the shuttle bombing raids. The problem is that we are so late in the war based on the timeline, is that most of those Franic missions, in fact all of them happened in the summer of 1944. We're past that, so I don't think we're going to see that. But I'm holding out hope that we get at least some kind of shuttle bombing mission aspect to it. The final thing is I'll go back to the Sandra is it Westgate plot. I think she's going to Lubik.

on a spy mission here's my theory about how this plot's gonna end and I'm just I have no basis for this is just me taking a guess I'm gonna guess that somebody's gonna bomb Lubick and kill her and that she's gonna die from American or British bombs my bet is British bombs knowing the series but and they're gonna find out about it as

Colin Colbourn (01:16:08.038)
I'm sorry.

Jason Herbert (01:16:10.17)
Winston Churchill will show up himself and shoot her.

Luke Truxal (01:16:13.774)
But no, I mean, in all seriousness, that a good way to end that plot would be to have her die by American or British bombs. And it would have an impact on Crosby. It would have an impact on those who knew her. And so again, and it would have an impact on the viewer. So the only way to salvage that plot would be to kill her in one of her missions in Germany through like the bomb bombs dropped by American or British bombers. And we do know that American POWs were killed by American bombers.

during raids, especially on that march. So again, I think that is kind of, that's kind of, I guess you could say my wrinkle that I think might happen.

Jason Herbert (01:16:54.118)
Thank you, Luke, for giving us the American strategy in Vietnam with the strategic handlers. The only applied to the plot of the show, which was the only way to save it was to destroy it. So thank you for that, Luke. Colin? It's like, yes, I took a class in Vietnam. Thank you.

Colin Colbourn (01:17:11.024)
Yeah, um, gosh. Yeah, I agree with everything they've said so far on where we're going. I think it's interesting, um, and an, an unnamed, a person I will not name brought up to me that they, that a non-historian, someone who's not really familiar with World War II, um, they thought that D-Day was sort of at the beginning of World War II. They thought that sort of like this was where, you know, where we, where we all began. And I think that's...

Jason Herbert (01:17:36.582)
We all just made the same face.

Colin Colbourn (01:17:40.24)
I think that's okay. Like if all you get is some history in high school, it's entirely possible that you come away not really understanding sort of the timeline of the war. And so I do want to reiterate too that, I mean, we're seeing a lot of time sort of blow by here. And in some ways I'm okay with it. In some ways I kind of wish it was the opposite. I kind of wish we blew by sort of.

you know, sort of the 1943 and maybe just sort of dug into 1944 and sort of spent more time in 44 and 45. But I mean, I've liked sort of, you know, the early episodes about the terrible, the monster, the, you know, those raids and stuff like that. And I think it's interesting, too, like my I was looking at the missions that my great uncle flew, and he did not arrive and start flying missions until August 28 44. So like

It wasn't really until nearly the end of this episode that he's only arriving in, and he'll get 18 missions in before he's shot down over Germany. And so there's a lot going on, but at the same time, by the time D-Day happens, we have less than a year left in the war in Europe, and the missions get so different as we push forward, and the Soviets are pushing forward, it's a lot less.

places to sort of keep bombing and do all that kind of stuff. So I think that's why they're shifting toward the prison camp narrative, which I think is to me, it's the most compelling one with all of our main characters and stuff like that. Um, and, um, I mean, I'm happy they brought, um, Alexander Jefferson into it and make it in these guys in order to sort of show the complexities of what's going on there. But, um, I mean, I think Luke, if you're right about, um,

Sandra slash Landra story, I think that would be, I guess an appropriate ending to that plot line at least. And we don't know, maybe someone knows more about her. Just none of us amazing historians could find more about her. Maybe there's some Brits out there. Yeah, right.

Sarah Myers (01:19:44.725)

Jason Herbert (01:19:46.962)
My grandmother, Colin, just so you know. All right.

Luke Truxal (01:19:51.038)
Can I ask a quick question about whether or not a plot may or may not be covered or a mission may not be covered? Does anybody actually think they're going to cover Operation Thunderclap and the firebombing of Dresden?

Colin Colbourn (01:20:02.288)
That's a great question.

Sarah Myers (01:20:04.056)
It is a great question.

Jason Herbert (01:20:06.298)
doesn't feel like we're gonna have time because that's such a big deal. It's almost like these things is like, the firebombing of Dresden is such an important thing. We still talk about it to this day. And it's like, how are we gonna bring all of these things to a head in 54 minutes and also talk, I mean, Dresden might get like, hey, did you hear about Dresden? What was Dresden? You may get the D-Day.

Colin Colbourn (01:20:25.432)
Yeah, yeah. That's what I was thinking, is they'll talk about it. Exactly, the D-Day treatment. They'll talk about it happening. The guards will be angry. Maybe they'll be, as they're doing their march, maybe they'll come across local populations that are very angry and stuff like that. I don't know as much about when that happens and how that, you know, but it's a great question, Luke. Great, I don't know.

Jason Herbert (01:20:48.77)
Alright, before we go, I've got two more things to do, one of which is Sarah's got a plug for some stuff that listeners should be checking out.

Sarah Myers (01:20:55.957)
Yes, so there is a Gilder Lehrman book breaks. So if you literally just Google that book breaks on Sunday, March 24th at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, the author of Masters of the Air, Donna Miller and then the executive producer of the show are going to be in conversation about the series so far and the making of it and things like that. It is free if you are an educator of any kind. So K through 12 at anything in the collegiate level.

You can literally just like, like I said, Google Book Breaks and it'll come up and you'll see the instructions for how to register for the event for free. But it's Sunday, March 24th at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Jason Herbert (01:21:37.414)
All right, last question before we go tonight. Oscars are tonight, we're recording this, it's 3.30. My time, Oscars are gonna come on here just a little bit. Who do we like for best picture?

Colin Colbourn (01:21:48.956)
Gotta be happy.

Jason Herbert (01:21:51.962)
Luke, what you got?

Luke Truxal (01:21:55.557)
I haven't watched that many movies so I guess Oppenheimer?

Sarah Myers (01:21:59.385)
I was like, I don't even know who's nominated. I'm so sorry. I don't know if I wanted to be Abinheimer. I don't know. I feel conflicted about that. What are, what are.

Jason Herbert (01:22:01.998)
It's Oppenheimer. We're all going Oppenheimer, right? And World War II? Me too. What else do you want? There's that other movie with like him? Yeah, oh, don't f-

Colin Colbourn (01:22:09.348)
Ferrari, gotta be Ferrari, Jay.

Sarah Myers (01:22:13.377)
Yeah, what are my choices? Do we know what our choices are?

Jason Herbert (01:22:15.666)
It's definitely not Ferrari, because Colin and I discovered that was bad.

Colin Colbourn (01:22:17.292)
It's a mic.

Jason Herbert (01:22:21.67)
Poor Things, Killers of the Flower Moon. Here's the movie that should have been nominated. Oh, Holdovers. That's got some heat. That could steal Best Actor from Killian Murphy. I think Murphy holds on, but there's been a lot of buzz for Giamatti. Who's a history teacher, by the way, in that film? I know. The film that should have been nominated, Godzilla Minus One. I am gonna stan that movie until all of you watch Dune Park 2.

Colin Colbourn (01:22:23.516)
poor thing. Paul Giamatti won.

Colin Colbourn (01:22:41.441)
I know, I know.

Jason Herbert (01:22:51.95)
because I've been saying that Oppenheimer was the second best film of the 21st century and Dune Part II has got me rethinking everything I think about movies. The more I think about that movie, the more I know, but we didn't watch it together. How dare you. It's just a sad movie.

Colin Colbourn (01:23:02.435)
I watched it.

Colin Colbourn (01:23:08.092)
I know. Well, no, what I was just going to say is when Godzilla minus one is streaming, I want to know like immediately when that happens so we can so we can watch. But I did watch I did watch Dune Two today, and that was phenomenal. I actually really, really enjoyed that.

Jason Herbert (01:23:17.414)
Well, we're definitely doing, we're going to do that on the Sunday night thing. And we've done a pot on it. It's terrific.

Jason Herbert (01:23:28.122)
So good. So, all right. That's it for today. Colin Colburn, Luke Truxall, Sarah Meyers. One more flight. I'll see you guys next week.

Colin Colbourn (01:23:38.231)
Adios, thanks man.

Sarah Myers (01:23:39.513)
See ya.

Luke Truxal (01:23:39.554)
Thanks for having us on.

Jason Herbert (01:23:42.17)
All right, and that is a wrap here at Historic to the Movies podcast. I, of course, am your host, squad leader, commander, general, brigadier, fighter. Just to be quiet now, guys, thanks for being here. And thanks, of course, to Colin, Luke, and Sarah for continuing to be here and talk about this. This has been awesome. So we got one more episode to cover, episode nine next week, and then a follow wrap up episode. So we got two more episodes remaining. Thanks for being here. Ciao for now. Bye.