Profile - The CAF Red Tail Project

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South St. Paul, MN, United States
The mission of the Commemorative Air Force's (CAF) Red Tail Squadron is to preserve and share the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black military pilots. The Airmen served with distinction during WWII (and beyond). They overcame racism on the ground to fight fascism in the air, fighting for a country that turned a blind eye to policies and a large population that discriminated against these men and their families because of the color of their skin. The CAF Red Tail Squadron restored and flies a red-tailed P-51C Mustang such as the Airmen flew during WWII. The airplane appears at air shows in North America and at each stop her crew tells the story of the Airmen and how through persistence and courage they overcame huge obstacles in order to serve in the military. In 2011, the CAF Red Tail Squadron developed a traveling exhibit called "RISE ABOVE" to educate people - especially young people - about the Airmen and how they demonstrated the importance of setting goals and overcoming obstacles in order to succeed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Two B(26s) or not to B


     Those of you who have been reading this blog know that I came by my interest in aviation and airplanes by being my father’s daughter.  He was the airplane modeling teen of the late 1930s who grew up to fly a bomber over Europe in the 1940s.  To be specific, he flew a B-26 Martin Marauder in 1944/45 out of England and France over Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge.  Scary stuff, but his war experiences just cemented his love of airplanes, something he happily shared with me.
     I bring this up because I learned something surprising the other day.  While I was preparing to do a phone interview with Tuskegee Airman Robert “Bob” Ashby, I checked out his bio and it said he flew a B-26 during the Korean War.  During our conversation, thinking we’d have a little bit in common, I asked Bob about that.  Turns out he flew a Douglas B-26! He said that the Martin B-26 was strictly a WWII airplane.
The Douglas A-26 - later called the B-26
The Martin Marauder B-26
      Since I had no idea Douglas made a twin-engine light bomber called a B-26, I had to check it out.  Here’s what I learned:
-          It was unusual in that it was a single-pilot bomber.  However, the navigator also sat in the cockpit and often a jump seat was installed behind the navigator from which a gunner could operate some guns remotely.
-          It’s was originally called the A-26 Invader when its prototype flew in 1942. That designation remained until 1948 when it became known as the B-26.  (The B-26 Martin Marauder had been phased out in 1945.)
-          It had two configurations: the A-26B had a solid nose that could house firepower such as a cannon or multiple machine guns and the A-26C had a glass nose with a Norden bombsight in it.
-          It was the only combat aircraft to see military service in WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

     Now Dad liked the other five crewmembers of their B-26 Martin Marauder, “Jolly Roger,” just fine – and he loved the airplane - but I’ve got a sneaking hunch he would have enjoyed the experience of flying that size bomber as the only pilot.  

Cool Duluth
(And I do mean cool – the low on Saturday night is predicted to be 32 degrees!)
The Mustang and the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit are at the Duluth Air Show this weekend.  The Mustang is scheduled to do a mini Heritage Flight both Saturday and Sunday with the CAF Minnesota Wing’s beautiful B-25 Miss Mitchell.  Tuskegee Airman Joe Gomer is Honorary Board Member for the air show (we got his title wrong previously – apologies to all).


Countdown to the election: 47 days

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven 501c3 non-profit organization that operates under the auspices of the Commemorative Air Force. For more information, please visit redtail.org.

www.redtail.org


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