RED TAIL ESCORT
by Richard Taylor
Overall Print Size: 30¼" x 23½"
Edition Size: 500
“Your sole mission is to protect the bombers — not chase enemy aircraft for personal glory.” (Colonel Benjamin 0. Davis, Jr., Group Commander 332nd Fighter Group)
With the words of his Group commanding officer ringing in his ears, a pilot of the 332nd Fighter Group returns to protect a crippled American B-17 bomber after downing two Me109s in quick succession. Agonizingly, two more enemy fighters were left to escape but the pilot knew that under the strict leadership of Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, his mission, and that of the other all-black pilots of the 332nd, was solely to protect the bombers. That iron discipline was to earn this famous unit the respect and admiration of hundreds of bomber crews, and to create a legend.
Despite lingering racial prejudice and some opposition within the Air Force, President Roosevelt had ordered the USAAF to form an all-black fighter pilot unit, its crews to be trained at Tuskegee in Alabama. To the surprise of their critics, the Tuskegee Airmen were to prove their detractors spectacularly wrong from the first day they went into action in Italy in May 1943. Flying first with the Twelfth Air Force, then the Fifteenth, the four squadrons of the 332nd completed over 15,000 combat sorties, destroyed over 250 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and on the ground, 950 railway trucks and locomotives, and even sunk a destroyer by machine gun fire! The Group was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, their pilots decorated with over 1000 medals for gallantry. But above all, with the spinners and tails of their P-51 Mustangs brightly painted red, the "The Red Tails" as they were affectionately known, became the only US Fighter Group that never lost a bomber in their care.
"RED TAIL ESCORT" is a striking depiction of the legendary Colonel Charles McGee's P-51 "Kitten", a more than welcome sight as the Tuskegee "Red Tail" of the 332nd Fighter Group close in to escort home a damaged B-17 Fortress of the 483rd Bomb Group. Seen high over the Italian Alps during the summer of 1944 this poignant scene conveys precisely the story of the legendary "Red Tails".
In addition to the artist this print was individually signed in pencil by SIX surviving pilots from this remarkable group of airmen:
- Colonel CHARLES McGEE
- Lieutenant Colonel GEORGE E. HARDY
- Lieutenant Colonel LEO R. GRAY
- Colonel WILLIAM H. HOLLOMAN III
- Lieutenant Colonel ALEXANDER JEFFERSON
- Second Lieutenant LOWELL STEWARD
Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.