FIGHTING RED TAILS
by Robert Taylor
Overall Print Size: 33¼" x 23½"
Edition Size: 800
"The P-38s always stayed out too far. Some Mustang groups stayed in too close, other groups we felt just wanted to go off and shoot down 109s… but the Red Tails were always out there where we wanted them to be... we had no idea their pilots were Black; it was the Army's best kept secret," recalled a grateful B-24 pilot paying tribute to the Tuskegee airmen of the 332nd Fighter Group, whose pilots were made up entirely of black Americans. Contending with prejudice from certain quarters within their own air force and much of the American press, the young black pilots of what was to become famously known as the Tuskegee Airmen, first went into action in Italy in May 1943. It was a revolution. At a time when racial prejudice was still rife the idea that black pilots could equal the endeavors of their white counterparts seemed out of the question - to some too ludicrously stupid to contemplate. These critics were soon to be proven wrong. After cutting their teeth as the 99th Squadron, first with the 324th then with the 79th Fighter Groups, flying fighter-bomber missions attacking railroads, bridges, and communication centers, in July 1944 they joined the 100th, 301st, and 302nd to form the 332nd Fighter Group - the USAAF's first all-black unit, its pilots all trained at Tuskegee. Equipped with P-51 Mustangs, their spinners and tails decorated in bright red paint, they became lastingly known as the "Red Tails". Their dedicated task was to protect the bomber forces, and that is precisely what they did: Flying till the end of hostilities, and at considerable sacrifice, uniquely they never lost a single bomber to enemy aircraft. The Red Tails recorded more than 15,000 combat sorties destroying or damaging over 250 enemy planes, covering themselves in glory - their pilots between them being awarded over 1000 medals for gallantry. When the war was over they had earned the undying respect of bomber crews, fellow fighter pilots, and a grateful group of nations.
"FIGHTING RED TAILS" depicts the red-tailed P-51 Mustangs of the 332nd Fighter Group – the famed Tuskegee Airmen - climbing to operational height as B17 Fortresses from the 483rd Bomb Group maneuver into formation at the start of another long and dangerous mission over Germany, October 1944. A welcome sight for the Fortress crews, the renowned all-black Tuskegee pilots were credited for never losing an escorted bomber to enemy aircraft. For the first time ever Robert Taylor pays tribute to the Tuskegee Fighter Pilots in this stunning portrait of one of the most famous fighter units of WWII.
In addition to the artist this print has been personally signed in pencil by three of the famed Tuskegee airmen and two flyers from the 483rd Bomb Group who were regularly escorted by the 332nd and who are featured in Robert Taylor's painting, for a total of FIVE signatures:
- Second Lieutenant ELBERT HUDSON
- Colonel CHARLES McGEE
- First Lieutenant ARTHUR SHERMAN
- Second Lieutenant LOWELL STEWARD
- Staff Sergeant LEON WALDEN
Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.