When Spielberg and Tom Hanks came to Hatfield for filming

Sky Atlantic is currently showing Band of Brothers which was mostly filmed in Hatfield.

Sky Atlantic is currently showing Band of Brothers which was mostly filmed in Hatfield. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc. All

Anyone currently watching Band of Brothers on Sky will be amazed at the sheer scale of the award-winning World War Two miniseries.

Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers was shot on location in Hatfield. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

Released 20 years ago, it cost more than $120million to make, and used more pyrotechnics in its opening three episodes than Second World War movie Saving Private Ryan.

Damian Lewis as Richard D Winters and Ron Livingstone as Lewis Nixon in the first episode of Band of Brothers.

Damian Lewis as Richard D Winters and Ron Livingstone as Lewis Nixon in the first episode of Band of Brothers. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

As Sky Atlantic audiences enjoy another run of the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning HBO miniseries on Friday nights, did you know the Band of Brothers production was largely based in Hatfield?

While the epic war drama sees Easy Company, a crack US paratrooper battalion, journeying across Europe, most of the filming of the 10 hour-long episodes took place in one location – on the old Hatfield aerodrome.

A scene from the first episode of Band of Brothers, which was largely filmed on location in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

A scene from the first episode of Band of Brothers, which was largely filmed on location in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. The HBO series can be seen on Sky Atlantic. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc

After creating the fictional ruined French town of Ramelle on the former British Aerospace factory site for Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg and Oscar-winning Hollywood star Tom Hanks returned to Hatfield a few years later to make Band of Brothers on the same set.

David Schwimmer as Herbert M Sobel in episode 4 of Band of Brothers.

David Schwimmer as Herbert M Sobel in episode 4 of Band of Brothers. - Credit: HBO

But this show was even more ambitious than Saving Private Ryan.

Having Spielberg and Hanks on board as executive producers meant the massive production's budget was eye-watering, even by today's standards, with each episode costing more than $12million to make.

Damian Lewis as Richard D Winters in the first episode of miniseries Band of Brothers.

Damian Lewis as Richard D Winters in the first episode of miniseries Band of Brothers. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

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And, instead of just one continental village being built on the former HQ of the world famous de Havilland Aircraft Company, this time filmmakers created 11 different European locations for the series on the Hatfield backlot.

Over the lengthy shoot, a 12-acre village set was continually modified on the airfield site where the University of Hertfordshire's de Havilland Campus, Hertfordshire Sports Village, Ellenbrook Fields, David Lloyd Hatfield gym and Hatfield Business Park stand today.

Scenes of 10-part war drama Band of Brothers were filmed on sets built on the former Hatfield aerodrome.

Scenes of 10-part war drama Band of Brothers were filmed on sets built on the former Hatfield aerodrome. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

In The Making of Band of Brothers documentary, executive producer Tom Hanks says of the Hatfield set-up: "It's about five times bigger than what we had on Saving Private Ryan.

"We're in Auburn, and Upottery in England, we're in France, Normandy; we're in Holland, we're in Bastogne... we're all over the place here."

Hatfield was the production's headquarters. The former aircraft factory's hangars were used to store props, costumes, weapons and tanks, as well as some of the sets.

The costume department provided 2,000 German and American uniforms for the shoot, as well as 1,200 civilian costumes. More than 10,000 extras worked on the 10-part series.

Donnie Wahlberg as Carwood Lipton in episode 2 of Band of Brothers.

Donnie Wahlberg as Carwood Lipton in episode 2 of Band of Brothers. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

Battle scenes sometimes required 14,000 rounds of ammunition a day. Props from Saving Private Ryan were also recycled for Band of Brothers.

North American P-51 Mustangs were seen flying over the site.

The Hatfield hangars were used for filming some scenes, as the real-life exploits of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division, were brought to the screen.

Easy Co parachutes into France on D-Day. Thrown into disarray when the commander goes missing, it is up to Lt Richard D...

Easy Co parachutes into France on D-Day. Thrown into disarray when the commander goes missing, it is up to Lt Richard D Winters (Damian Lewis) to lead the company. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

Shooting also took place in the surrounding Hertfordshire countryside, with the telltale BOB signs popping up around the county two decades ago to indicate where filming was happening.

Producers used sections of the Ayot Greenway, running between Ayot St Peter and Wheathampstead, as one location.

Band of Brothers was largely filmed in Hatfield.

Band of Brothers was largely filmed in Hatfield. You can watch the award-winning miniseries on Sky Atlantic. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

Set designers recreated a railway track on the disused line, and tanks rolled through the nearby countryside. Hunter's Bridge on the footpath also features in the war serial.

The production crew also filmed scenes in woodland on the Hatfield House estate.

A scene from the first episode of Band of Brothers.

A scene from the first episode of Band of Brothers. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

Based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose's best-selling non-fiction book, Band of Brothers follows a single company of elite American troops as they navigate their way through World War Two in Europe.

Tom Hanks explains: "It follows one group of guys from literally them signing up for training to the end of the European war.

An uncomfortable truth resonates for the Easy Company in episode 3 of Band of Brothers as they battle on against the...

An uncomfortable truth resonates for Easy Company in episode 3 of Band of Brothers as they battle on against the Germans, their injuries and their fears. Sets for the series were built on the former Hatfield aerodrome. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

"They jumped into Normandy on D-Day, and fought in Holland at Market Garden, and then the Battle of the Bulge. It's very well chronicled all the way through."

Among those playing the paratroopers are Damian Lewis, who stars as Richard 'Dick' Winters, and Donnie Wahlberg as Carwood Lipton.

Lewis says: "The men in Easy Company were unquestionably heroes because of their strength in adversity."

Damien Lewis as Richard D Winters in Band of Brothers.

Damian Lewis as Richard D Winters in Band of Brothers - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

Friends star David Schwimmer also appears in the series as Captain Herbert Sobel, the strict drill instructor who whips Easy Company into shape at boot camp in the opening episode, entitled Currahee.

David Schwimmer as disciplinarian Captain Herbert Sobel in episode 1 of Band of Brothers.

David Schwimmer as disciplinarian Captain Herbert Sobel in episode 1 of Band of Brothers. - Credit: HBO

The huge ensemble cast also includes the likes of James McAvoy, Tom Hardy, Simon Pegg, Michael Fassbender, Dominic Cooper, Jimmy Fallon, Dexter Fletcher, and Andrew Scott - now all well known stars.

Dexter Fletcher as John W Martin in the opening episode of Band of Brothers.

Dexter Fletcher as John W Martin in the opening episode of Band of Brothers. - Credit: HBO

As well as executive producing the series, Hanks directed episode five, Crossroads.

"Now we're dealing with a lot of combat veterans for whom all they want to do is survive and get home," he says on the midpoint of the series in the behind-the-scenes documentary.

After leading a tricky mission, Lt Winters (Damian Lewis) is promoted. As Easy Co struggle in the cold, Winters is haunted...

After leading a tricky mission, Lt Winters (Damian Lewis) is promoted. As Easy Co struggle in the cold, Winters is haunted by the innocents he has killed. - Credit: HBO

Crossroads leads to Easy Company being called to the Belgian town of Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge.

The snowy pine forest was actually constructed inside one of the aircraft hangars, with real trees and artificial ones created by the special effects department.

The snow, however, was artificial and made from paper.

Episodes of Band of Brothers can be seen on Sky Atlantic on Friday nights from 9pm.

Having held off German attempts to overrun Bastogne, Easy Company faces the task of taking the nearby town of Foy from the...

Having held off German attempts to overrun Bastogne, Easy Company faces the task of taking the nearby town of Foy from the enemy in episode 7 of Band of Brothers. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

A scene from Band of Brothers episode eight, The Patrol.

A scene from Band of Brothers episode eight, The Patrol. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc.

With the war winding down, Easy Co movies into an Alsatian town near the German border where they sleep just across the...

With the war winding down, Easy Co movies into an Alsatian town near the German border where they sleep just across the river from the Nazis in episode 8 of Band of Brothers. - Credit: ©2001 Home Box Office, Inc




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