What Was The Story Of Austin Butler’s Buck Cleven In The Fourth Episode Of Masters Of The Air?

Even though Austin Butler’s Gale “Buck” Cleven has been the centre of attention on Masters of the Air, the pilot vanishes during an off-screen mission in episode 4, leading the 100th to believe he was killed in battle and leaving viewers with numerous unanswered concerns regarding the character’s true fate.

Despite being a war drama, Masters of the Air narrates the actual stories of the soldiers who served in the 100th Bomb Group of the United States Army Air Forces. In the spring and summer of 1943, Buck Cleven fought alongside innumerable other airmen against the German army.

When the 100th returns from their mission to Bremen in episode 4, it is evident that they suffered significant casualties. Specifically, some eighty troops from the 100th, among them Majors Harry Crosby and Gale “Buck” Cleven, did not return from the operation.

It’s presumed that Buck and the other missing soldiers did not make it out of the mission because the men who did return say they saw no chutes come out of Buck’s plane. However, Masters of the Air doesn’t reveal Buck’s destiny without giving away any details about the operation itself.

What Was The Story Of Austin Butler’s Buck Cleven In The Fourth Episode Of Masters Of The Air?

Viewers can rest easy knowing that Austin Butler’s character in Masters of the Air episode 4 did not perish during the Bremen mission, according to documents about Buck Cleven’s true life. It was probably done on purpose for the series to not reveal Buck’s fate or the mission.

Masters of the Air Season 1
Masters of the Air Season 1 (Credit: Apple TV)

Masters of the Air likely aimed to maintain suspense for viewers while also emulating the actual atmosphere at Thorpe Abbotts at the time of Buck’s disappearance. Considering that none of the survivors were on Buck’s jet, the worst-case scenario seems reasonable.

It would be even more difficult to keep their hopes high. When German fighter fighters attacked Buck’s aircraft during the off-screen mission to Bremen, the aircraft sustained severe damage, forcing Buck to evacuate.

The 100th Bomb Group Foundation states that although the mission started normally, things took a bad turn when the 100th planes broke apart from their formation because of intense flak. When Buck’s plane was finally left defenceless and alone, the Germans severely destroyed it.

Buck and his crew were forced to evacuate the jet and landed directly in German territory, despite Buck’s wish to land the aircraft in Holland. The sole perspective provided to viewers is that of the soldiers at Thorpe Abbotts, as episode 4 of Masters of the Air did not depict the Bremen operation.

The mission is portrayed fairly properly in this sense. The guys at Thorpe Abbotts were shocked to learn how many men were missing when the 100th returned from the mission.

Colonel Harding states in episode 4 that eight planes were lost, while the actual count was only seven, according to a report from The 100th Bomb Group Foundation. In the end, the feeling is the same. More often than not, the 100th team lost.

Masters of the Air Season 1
Masters of the Air Season 1 (Credit: Apple TV)

The idea that Buck was killed is the part of the Bremen mission depicted in episode 4 that is most accurate. Buck and the other fallen men were classified as MIAs, or missing in action, by the 100th because no one witnessed his death or his survival.

At Thorpe Abbotts, however, the consensus was that the men were dead. This is a depressing perspective, yet, naturally, the 100th would think this way. The guys could not hope that their missing colleagues would be found after suffering such continuous losses, especially since most of them were dead.

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