"In the summer of 2008, I received a call out of the blue from a film director for George Lucas. I was told that Mr. Lucas wanted to begin filming a movie dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen. Out of those conversations for possible involvement in the film, this painting began.
The Tuskegee Airmen began as a WW II experiment in integrating African-American soldiers into the cockpits of combat aircraft. Many in the white command structure of the armed forces thought this was a foolhardy idea because they thought that these men had neither the mental capability to learn to fly or the courage needed in combat. Were it not for orders from President Roosevelt himself, one of the greatest stories of WW II would have never been written.
The Tuskegee Airmen went on to achieve such notable success in the skies over Italy and Europe that bomber squadrons commanded by white officers would request that the unit specifically be used to escort them through the dangerous skies above Germany.
In this painting, one of the Tuskegee Airmen flying his red-tailed Mustang, gives chase fast and low to a German Focke-Wulf 190. The Red Tails, as they were called, destroyed close to 300 enemy aircraft and had the lowest bomber escort loss rate of any American air unit during the war.
I have used some artist's license in the creation of this piece. Historically the Red Tails had several low level chases that led to aerial kills and those kills inspired my painting. But those victories were in the summer and fall of 1944 flying the earlier "B" model Mustangs. The unit transitioned into the "D" model in late 1944. Though my painting does not portray an actual specific event, I chose to paint the "D" for itï¿½s more striking lines, giving chase over a full foliage landscape which probably would not have been found during the late war operation of the airplane in the hands of the Red Tails. I think it makes for a more dramatic and colorful work of art and I hope you enjoy it." ~ Rick Herter ~