Heroes of the Skies

TV Series – Episode 4 – Red Tails
(Channel 5, October 11 2012, 8pm)          

They were young, gifted, and black but the US Army refused them key positions. Until intense pressure from African-American activist groups pushed President Roosevelt to initiate a blacks-only fighter pilot training programme in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Top secret and fiercely opposed by military brass, the African-American pilots, dubbed the Red Tails, were forced to fly second-rate aircraft far from the action. However, in June 1944, they leapt to the frontlines of the Second World War.

Suddenly they were given Mustang P-51 fighter aircraft and charged to protect Allied bombers on a mission to destroy Nazi Germany.

Now fighting two wars – one in the skies against the Nazis and the other against racism back at home in the US – the Red Tails were determined to prove to the world that they had the right stuff.

Ordered to adopt life-threatening tactics to knock out German radar stations, and go head-to-head with the enemies’ technologically-advanced fighter jets, the Red Tails never caved.

Their success helped secure the Nazi’s defeat and changed the course of American history.