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‘Masters Of The Air’ Shows Aerial Warfare And The Horror Of Fighting In A Flying Fortress B-17 Unlike Ever Seen Before

‘Masters Of The Air’, Aerial Warfare And The Horror Of Fighting In A Flying Fortress B-17

Swarms of German fighters tear through American bomber formations like deadly bolts of lightning in a sky streaked with condensation trails and the murderous glare of tracer fire. A furious, desperate combat takes place on an infinite battlefield in the sky above. B-17s are shot down, plunging towards the ground or spinning around like the burning leaves of giant trees. The pilots of the Flying Fortresses try to maintain formation so as not to become solitary prey for enemy fighters. And in the midst of the storm of destruction, the gunner in the exposed ball turret on the plane’s underbelly explodes in a cloud of blood when hit.
A B-17 pilot in the series 'Masters of the Air'
A B-17 pilot in the series ‘Masters of the Air’

“Superb,” said the British James Holland, one of the fashionable military historians, of the new World War II miniseries Masters of the Air. Of course, stories of air combat have been told before, but never the war waged by the American heavy bombers over Germany and occupied Europe, and certainly not with the realism and emotion with which it appears in this nine-episode Apple TV+ miniseries. Masters of the Air is very faithfully based on the extraordinary 2006 book by Donald L. Miller of the same title.

With the same successful formula as Band of Brothers (parachute regiment) and The Pacific (marines) and Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg as producers, Masters of the Air follows an American unit’s campaigns throughout World War II. This time the story focuses on the members (pilots, crews, mechanics, and commanders) of the “Bloody 100th,″ a long-suffering Bombardment Group in the famous US Eighth Air Force, stationed in eastern England. From their base in the English countryside the famous Flying Fortresses — impressive four-engine Boeing B-17 heavy bombers — took off pregnant with a devastation they intended to make rain down to subdue Nazi Germany.

A B-17 'Flying Fortress' in a promotional photo for the miniseries 'Master of the Air' on Apple TV+A B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’ in a promotional photo for the miniseries ‘Master of the Air’ on Apple TV+

Throughout the series we witness sensational, bone-chilling scenes, our hearts in our mouths and amazed at what human beings are capable of suffering (and inflicting) in war. In one scene Messerschmitt Bf 109s attack the bombers from the front, spraying them with bullets that open large holes in the cabin, in the fuselage and in the flesh of the American aviators. In another we see the little puffs of black smoke that comes from the Flak (the German anti-aircraft defense). The projectiles dot the sky and shake the bombers when they detonate — so much for modern-day turbulence — these little explosions can literally burst the planes and their crews wide open.

At one point, the crew of a B-17 debris from other disintegrated bombers rain down, including a body that hits their wing. Other shocking scenes are the one in which a crew member gets caught in the bomb hatch while trying to parachute out of his plane while it plunges into a dizzying fall and a comrade tries desperately to free him, or when a returning crew member falls to his knees and vomits violently as he tries to comprehend the slaughter he witnessed on an failed mission.

The series shows very well the contrast between the powerful bombers, which were marvels of aeronautical technology at the time and that take off in impressive formations, and the way in which they are destroyed. As one pilot summarized when trying to assimilate the vision of ten men and three tons of metal reduced to a cloud of black smoke, “it seems impossible that something so big could disappear so quickly.” In the scene featuring a forced landing of a bullet-riddled B-17, with two engines out of action, no wheels, and several crew members dead or badly injured, it is impossible not to shudder when the pilot utters the phrase: “Crew, prepare for landing.

Un B-17 abatido por un Me-262 sobre Crantenburg (Alemania).Un B-17 abatido por un Me-262 sobre Crantenburg (Alemania).

Most of those scenes come from the book, and from real testimonies collected by Miller. The most incredible thing about the series is that in reality it truly was like that. And after surviving bloody and terrifying missions, those young people from the four corners of the United States and from all social classes were able to get back in their planes the next day. 26,000 airmen of the 8th Air Force died. They suffered more fatalities than the Marine Corps. Masters of the Air shows definitively that if there was anything worse than serving in submarines during World War II, it was serving in the bombers.

To the soldier’s usual fear of death, being part of a bomber crew added vertigo and claustrophobia — the planes look big on the asphalt, but they are laden with bombs and space on board is tight. Not only that, the environment at 10,000 feet is extremely hostile. The lack of oxygen and the cold, along with the atmospheric conditions, were among the mortal dangers that the aviators faced, and the series shows this very well. In one episode, we see how a machine gunner who removes his gloves to unjam his weapon gets his hands stuck-frozen to the metal and tears his skin off as he frees himself.

The group’s adventures are especially well represented — as in Miller’s book — through a set of real characters, played by actors, such as Majors Gale Buck Cleven (Austin Butler) and John Bucky Egan (Callum Turner), Lieutenants Harry Crosby (Anthony Boyle), Glenn Graham (Darragh Cowley), and Curtis Biddick (Barry Keoghan, the in vogue star of Saltburn), and ground Sergeant Ken Lemmons, played by Rafferty Law, son of Jude Law.

The proven formula of telling a story from within a combat unit and emphasizing the human dimension of its members reworks its magic in Masters of the Air (we inevitably suffer for those young people in life and death situations in their planes. It awakens our affinity for them and we identify with young airmen, at a time when it is extremely difficult to do so with the military who sow chaos and destruction and devastate cities, killing the civilian population with their bombs.

Imagen de la serie 'Los amos del aire'.Imagen de la serie ‘Los amos del aire’.

And if there is any weapon that is difficult to empathize with, it is bombers. The debate over the horrific destruction caused by American high-altitude strategic bombing in World War II appears in Miller’s book and in the series, in which some airmen question the slaughter of civilians. In any case, both the series and the book opt for the reassuring thesis that this suffering was necessary to put an end to the Nazis, and that somehow the Germans had asked for it.

Miller tries to distinguish between the American bombing, which would always have been targeted, he emphasizes, at attacking the German war effort (even considering that the bombs go off course) and that of the British, who did not hesitate to destroy cities deliberately. The series and book continually remember the enormous sacrifice made by the bomber crews, who lost 60 Flying Fortresses and almost 600 men in a single mission. Another complex issue that the book and series mention is that of racism: the democratic United States allowed some Black pilots to fly fighter planes (the Tuskegee men) but in no way in bombers.

Los amos del aire
Apple TV+

What stands out about the series is its technical and operational accuracy (the missions it recounts are authentic, including the one that ended with the landing in North Africa after bombing Regensburg) and a production design that takes meticulous care of everything, from the planes to the smallest period element, passing through the aviators’ clothing, with the iconic leather and sheepskin jackets.

There are also the many historically accurate details. Among them, the secrecy with the Norden sights, the decisive instrument that allowed American bombers to hit the targets with unprecedented precision, or the scene in which a radio operator eats the sheets with the frequencies and the secret identification of the device before it can fall into enemy hands. Likewise, the way in which the atmosphere in the bases (and the canteens) is shown, the crew members’ superstitions, the stress of combat, the fear (“the Focke-Wulf funk”), the mystique of the 25 missions after which you were going home (the true story of the B-17 Memphis Belle, which the 1990 film of the same name focused on), the positive relationship of American personnel with British children, and the romantic and sexual relationships during the war.

Through parallel plots, the series very accurately captures how the escape networks worked for downed pilots (through them Chuck Yeager was able to return to combat), and the lives of the captured airmen and interned in concentration camps (Stalag Luft, like the one in The Great Escape).

Among the drawbacks, the accentuated — and sometimes excessive — epic sense of the narrative, and a certain aestheticism (it is doubtful that the “bomber boys” were all so handsome and posed so well). These are two things that certainly contribute to making Masters of the Air a great spectacle, but that jar a little with the ultimate reality of how the bombers left the world below after they had delivered their payloads.

Culture

Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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Culture

European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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— By Darren Wilson, Team VoiceOfEU.com

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