The centerpiece of Detroit RedTail, Inc is a multi-award winning 2011 "RedTail" Ford Mustang which is custom wrapped with a wrap designed by Founder and President of Detroit RedTail, Inc, Eric L. Palmer.
The vehicle pays tribute to the “Red Tail” P-51 Mustang fighter planes flown by the brave and valiant fighter pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group, which consisted of the 99th, 100th, 301st & 302nd Fighter Squadrons.
"RedTail", as the car is affectionately called, honors and recognizes two (2) living legends of the Detroit Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc; LtCol (Ret) Harry T. Stewart, Jr, whose Red Tail P-51 Mustang fighter plane is modeled on the driver’s side of the vehicle and LtCol (Ret) Alexander Jefferson, whose Red Tail P-51 Mustang fighter plane is modeled on the passenger side.
Purpose of the
Detroit is known as the "Motor City" and the "Car Capital of the World." In and around the city and almost year round, there are numerous car shows, cruises and parades. These are venues that educational outreach of the military aviation history of the Tuskegee Airmen have not traditionally reached because they are not venues reachable by an actual airplane, which military aviation history typically centers around.
But now, Detroit RedTail has that reach and has started to use it. "RedTail's" main purpose is to participate in the American Car Culture and venture to those venues and events only reachable by motor vehicle and minister about the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.
WHY a Ford Mustang
Oct 31, 2013 - FORD MEDIA CENTER - It’s a Plane! It’s a Horse! No, It’s the Ford Mustang and One of the World’s Favorite Cars.
An enduring question about Ford Mustang, even after nearly 50 years on the road, is the origin of its name. Does it honor the famed P-51 fighter plane of World War II? Or the wild horse of the American West? Depends who you ask. The real question for Mustang fans: Does it even matter? Is the world’s love affair with Mustang about the name? Or about a car that always has offered an appealing blend of style, performance and practicality? If you ask most people today what they think of when they hear Mustang, chances are they’ll mention the car before the horse or the plane. There long have been conflicting stories from the people who were there at the time, as well as many who weren’t, about how the name came about. As the car we know today as Mustang was developed in 1962 and 1963, a wide range of names were considered and used on the various design proposals, including Cougar, Torino, Allegro, Avventura and even Thunderbird II. If some of those names sound familiar, it’s because they were used on other cars in the years after Mustang debuted. Others receded into the annals of history. The decision to go with Mustang came in late 1963, although various design models and prototypes carried other names until early 1964 as part of the security effort around the project.
Why so much confusion over the source of the name? No conclusive documentation exists, and human memories are imperfect at best. Count the number of people who claim to have witnessed Jimi Hendrix playing the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in the summer of 1969, for example, and the population at Max Yasgur’s farm would have been many times the roughly 400,000 people in attendance. Different people also invariably have unique interpretations of the same events.
In his book “Mustang Genesis: The Creation of the Pony Car,”author Bob Fria quotes designer John Najjar: “R.H. Bob Maguire, my boss, and I were looking through a list of names for the car. I had been reading about the P-51 Mustang airplane and suggested the name Mustang in remembrance of the P-51, but Bob thought the name as associated with the airplane was too ‘airplaney’ and rejected that idea. I again suggested the same name Mustang, but this time with a horse association because it seemed more romantic. He agreed and we together selected that name right on the spot, and that’s how it got its name.”
Another interesting although less-plausible story surrounds the Southern Methodist University Mustangs football team. Following the team’s one and only game against the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in September, 1963, then-Ford Motor Company Vice President Lee Iacocca reportedly visited the SMU locker room. According to SMU lore, Iacocca told the losing team, “After watching the SMU Mustangs play with such flair, we reached a decision. We will call our new car the Mustang. Because it will be light, like your team. It will be quick, like your team. And it will be sporty, like your team.”
This all reportedly came a year after the Mustang name first appeared in public on a 1962 concept car and just a week before a second concept debuted with the first real preview of the coming production car. By this time, advertising agency J. Walter Thompson also had done market research on a variety of animal names, including Mustang and Cougar. Dean Weber, Ford Motor Company archives manager found several design studio photos of a design mockup bearing Mustang badges dated the day before the game. The designer of the conceptual drawing, of what became the production Mustang, Gale Halderman, explains in this video that the name of the concept car, Mustang 1, was directly taken from the P-51 Mustang airplane. View the Video
Specifications of the Detroit "RedTail" Ford Mustang
|Model Year: 2011
||Body Style: Convertible
|| Engine: 3.7L V6
||Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
Click Here to Check Out the RedTail Picture Album
Description of the Detroit "RedTail" Ford Mustang
As mentioned above, the 2011 Detroit RedTail Ford Mustang is wrapped with a wrap, custom designed by Founder and President of Detroit RedTail, Inc, Eric L. Palmer. The vehicle pays tribute to the “Red Tail” P-51 Mustang fighter planes flown by the brave and valiant fighter pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group, which consisted of the 99th, 100th, 301st & 302nd Fighter Squadrons.
Detroit RedTail honors and pays tribute to two (2) living legends of the Detroit Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc; LtCol (Ret) Harry T. Stewart, Jr, whose Red Tail P-51 Mustang fighter plane is modeled on the driver’s side of the vehicle and LtCol (Ret) Alexander Jefferson, whose Red Tail P-51 Mustang fighter plane is modeled on the passenger side.
Harry’s plane number was 41. He called his plane Little Coquette after a song written by Guy Lombardo in 1925 and remade by The Ink Spots in 1939 and Louis Armstrong in 1942; two very popular African-American acts. Harry smiled when asked if he used to sing the song to some young lady at that time. The assumption is he did. One will also notice three (3) swastikas on Harry’s side. These are the markings fighter pilots earned when they shot down German planes during World War 2. Harry actually shot down three (3) on one day; 1 April 1945.
Alex’s plane number was 44. It was recently realized that his plane number is the number of the nation’s first African-American President, Barack Hussein Obama. Alex called his plane Margo after a girlfriend he had while training at Tuskegee. After being sent overseas, Alex lost contact with Margo. Alex’s plane Margo was shot out from under him on his 19th mission and he spent the balance of the war in a couple of Luft Waffe Stalag camps. After the last camp was liberated by Patton's 3rd Army and as they awaited transportation, Alex heard rumors of bodies being burned down the road. He and a couple others borrowed a jeep and set off to find what turned out to be Dachau, one of Germany's infamous Nazi concentration camps.
Expansion of Detroit RedTail's outreach will find it blessed with a second (2) RedTail Ford Mustang modeled after the P-51's of two (2) more legends of the Detroit Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc; LtCol (Ret) Washington D. Ross, who passed in 2017 and Capt. Richard Macon, who passed in 2007. The second RedTail Mustang will provide the "wingman" coverage our current RedTail Mustang needs during parades. Expansion will also find Detroit RedTail blessed with a van dedicated to the 477th Bombardment Group. Another part of the "Tuskegee Airmen" legacy. The 477th van will serve as the actual mobile museum and typically be escorted by the two (2) RedTails.
Profile of LtCol (Ret) Harry T. Stewart, Jr
Harry T. Stewart Jr. is one of America's most decorated Tuskegee Airmen. He was born on 24 July 1924, in Newport News, Virginia, near Langley AFB. At the age of two, Stewart's family moved to Queens, New York, just a few minutes from North Beach Airport. His fascination for aviation began at a very young age as he watched in awe as the planes soared overhead. At the age of 17, and aware of his imminent conscription into World War II, he passed a military exam designated to identify potential pilots. As a result, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet.
After completing his flight training at Tuskegee Air Field, Alabama, and while still a teenager, he was awarded his pilot wings and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Stewart then accomplished combat fighter training in both the P-40 Warhawk and the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter aircraft, and in 1944 was sent to Italy for combat operations. As a member of the all-black 332d Fighter Group, Stewart flew 43 combat missions in the P-51 Mustang. On 1 April 1945, then First Lieutenant Harry T. Stewart Jr. was one of eight red-tailed P-51 pilots escorting B-24 Liberators tasked to bomb the St. Polten marshaling yard. The P-51s preceded the bombers and flew a fighter sweep of the Linz area in Austria. Flying at an altitude of 5,000 feet, the Mustang pilots spotted four German FW-190s near Wels flying in the same direction, but about 2,000 feet below. They dived to attack, but suddenly a flight of a dozen ME-109s appeared above them. A series of individual dogfights ensued, ranging from altitudes of 5,000 feet to the deck. Although the enemy pilots attempted to out-turn the more powerful P-51s and draw them over antiaircraft artillery, the Red Tails proved victorious and shot down 12 enemy aircraft, losing only three of their own. Stewart shot down three FW-190s that day, a feat that earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
In May 1949, Stewart competed in the inaugural ten-day "William Tell" National Gunnery meet at Las Vegas AFB (now Nellis AFB) in Nevada. This meet would later become the equivalent of the US Navy's "Top Gun" competition. Stewart was part of a three-man team representing the 332d Composite Group. Each pilot was required to compete in five different events. The events included air-to-air gunnery at altitudes of 10,000 and 20,000 feet, rocket firing, strafing, dive-bombing, and skip-bombing. Three perfect scores were registered in the skip-bombing event and one perfect score in rocket firing. As a result, the 332d won first place in the conventional fighter class. But, unfortunately, the trophy was stored away and not found again until 1995. The 1950 trophy and Air Force historical records showed winners “Unknown” for the first year. (www.tuskegeetopgun.com)
Stewart received an honorable discharge in 1950 and stayed in the Reserves, eventually retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Stewart returned to New York where he attended evening classes at New York University's College of Engineering, earning a Bachelor's Degree in 1963. He eventually became Vice President of ANR Pipeline Company, a major interstate natural gas consortium, and is now retired.
Profile of LtCol (Ret) Alexander Jefferson
Alexander Jefferson was born on 15 November 1921 in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia in June 1942 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology. While working toward a master's degree in chemistry from Howard University in Washington, D.C., Alexander applied for and was accepted by the Aviation Cadet Program of the Ar-my Air Corps at Tuskegee Army Airfield in Tuskegee, Alabama in April 1943. He earned his wings in January 1944 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Soon after, Jefferson began flying P-51 Mustang missions in the famous Tuskegee Airmen as part of 332nd Fighter Group, the "Red Tails," in Ramitelli Air Base, Italy under Colonel Benjamin O. Davis. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first American all-black military pilots and crewmen. They served during World War II fighting enemies overseas and discrimination at home. After having previously flown only P-39s and P-47s, Jefferson flew his first combat mission in the P-51 after just three hours of transition training. He flew 18 long-range escort missions for B-17s and B-24s.
On his 18th mission, three days before the invasion of Southern France, he was shot down by anti-aircraft artillery while flying a low-level strafing mission against a radar station over Toulon, France on 12 August 1944. After bailing out, he was immediately captured by the same German anti-aircraft artillery crew that shot him down. Having not seen him bail out, his wingmen assumed he died. His parents received a letter informing them that their son had been killed in action. It was not until a month later when they received a letter from the Red Cross listing him as a prisoner of war (POW) that they learned he was still alive.
For the next nine months, Lieutenant Jefferson was held as a POW in Germany. He was first a prisoner in Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Germany--the same camp made famous in the movie "The Great Escape." Due to the Allies' rapid approach, Jefferson and the other prisoners were forced to march fifty miles in sub-zero temperatures and pressed into a railcar, taking them to Stalag VIIA near Mooseburg, Germany. On 29 April 1945, Patton's Third Army liberated Stalag VIIA.
Jefferson is one of only 32 Tuskegee Airman to be held as a POW during WWII. Of his captivity he says, "I was treated as an officer and a gentleman. I didn't have any interaction with the Germans because that was the role of the highest ranking POW in the camp." He and the rest of the prisoners kept up with the war's progress by listening to the BBC on a small contraband radio. One of his most vivid memories as a POW was made when a B-17 crew came into the camp. Upon hearing that Jefferson was a Tuskegee Airman, one of the crew told him, "Had you Red Tails been with us, we wouldn't have been shot down."
Following the war, Jefferson served as an instrument instructor in advanced flight training at Tuskegee Army Air Field and as a Staff Operations and Training Officer in the 9504th Air Recovery Squadron. He was discharged from active duty in 1947 and retired from the reserves in 1969 as a Lieutenant Colonel. He was awarded the Purple Heart in 2004 for his efforts during WWII.
Jefferson returned to civilian life in 1947, received his teaching certificate from Wayne State University, and began teaching elementary school science for the Detroit Public School System. Jefferson received his M.A. degree in education in 1954. He was appointed assistant principal in 1969 and served the Michigan School System for over 30 years. In 1995, Jefferson was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2001, he was awarded the Purple Heart, and in 2007, he received the Congressional Gold Medal. Jefferson is one of the founders of the Detroit and National chapters of the Tuskegee Airmen.