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January 21, 2012

“Red Tails” — or How African-Americans singlehandedly won WWII

Filed under: Germany, movies, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:22 am

If you are planning to see the new George Lucas film Red Tails, you better hurry, because I don’t think this flick will be in theaters very long.  I predict that it will very quickly be shot down like the Me 262 jet airplane that is shot down by Joe “Lighting” Little, a Negro pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen, who is the hero of the movie.

Black pilot shooting down a jet airplane

Before you get all upset by my use of the word “Negro,” it was pointed out in the movie that African-Americans preferred the term Negro over the term “colored” which was used by whites.  This is news to me.  I was 11 years old when this story was happening in 1944 and it is my opinion that both blacks and whites used the term “colored” which was pronounced “cull-ed.”  The word Negro was only used in a sentence which also had the word Caucasian.

The reason that I think that Red Tails will not be a big hit is because it will appeal to a very limited audience.  This is not a “date movie.”  Women will stay away from it in droves.

The basic premiss of the movie is that black people are superior to whites, but white racists in America would not allow them to fight in World War II until 1944 when black pilots were needed to win the war against the German racists.  There were other black soldiers who fought in World War II, but unlike the Tuskegee Airmen, they were commanded by white officers.  The movie is set in 1944, but filmed though a 2012 lens which shows that the African-Americans back then were no different from white people.

The movie has an all-male cast, except for one Italian girl who is the love interest in the movie.  “Lighting” spots her on a rooftop as he is flying over the pristine Italian countryside which shows no war damage.  She waves at him and he comes back later and knocks on her door.  He speaks no Italian and she speaks no English, but they manage to fall in love and get married.  Her Italian dialogue is not translated.  Only the German words in the movie have sub-titles.  What’s up with that?

The movie begins with a quote from a study done in 1925 which claimed that “blacks are inferior to whites.”  This is quickly followed by a disclaimer:  “Inspired by a true story.”  In other words, what you are about to see is not totally true, but we’re not going to tell you which part is not true. The title of the movie comes from the fact that the Tuskegee Airmen painted the tails of their planes bright red. The Me 262 jet planes are decorated with yellow paint.

Red Tails is about the all-black 332nd Fighter Squadron which was assigned to protect U.S. bombers on a bombing mission to Berlin in 1944.  Nothing is mentioned about Berlin already being bombed into a pile of rubble before 1944.  However, in 1944 Germany had Me 262 jet fighter planes in the air, so this bombing mission was different.  The Tuskegee Airmen were flying P51 planes.

Me 262 jet airplane

This movie is not about history; it is about the African-American heroes of World War II.  If this were a history movie, it would have been pointed out that the Germans delayed getting their jet planes into the air because Hitler disagreed with his generals about the best use of the jet planes.  Hitler wanted the Me 262 to be a bomber plane, not a fighter plane.  If the Germans had used the Me 262 as a fighter plane sooner, all the American planes would have been shot out of the sky and Germany would have had a better chance of winning the war.

The movie does not mention Herman Goering, the head of the Luftwaffe, the German air force.  According to this website,  “In the early part of the war, he remarked, “If Allied planes ever bomb Berlin, you can call me Meyer.” Later on [when] they did, escorted by P-51 Mustangs, he observed, “When I saw Mustangs over Berlin, I knew the jig was up.”   It was the Tuskegee Airmen who were flying those Mustangs.  

On the day that I saw the movie, about 90% of the people in the audience were African-American.  I did not see any young people in the audience.  It was mostly older men.  However, this is not an old folks movie: it is more like watching a video game. I have recently started watching The Big Bang Theory TV series, which is about a group of nerds who hang out together.  Red Tails is a movie that will appeal to young men like the cast of The Big Bang Theory.

In my humble opinion, George Lucas should have given more thought to what his target audience would be.  Instead, he made a movie that has very limited appeal.  It is like Star Wars for black people.

To me, one of the faults of the movie is the dialogue.  The actors appear to be trying to speak like black people in 1944, but they are not quite getting it right.  At one point, someone uses the expression “man-up.”  I never heard anyone say “man-up” until about a year ago.

I looked up the Tuskegee Airmen on Wikipedia and found this information:

In all, 996 pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941 to 1946, approximately 445 were deployed overseas, and 150 Airmen lost their lives in accidents or combat.[52] The casualty toll included 66 pilots killed in action or accidents, and 32 fallen into captivity as prisoners of war.[53]

The Tuskegee Airmen were credited by higher commands with the following accomplishments:

15,533 combat sorties, 1578 missions
112 German aircraft destroyed in the air, another 150 on the ground
950 railcars, trucks and other motor vehicles destroyed
One destroyer sunk
A good record of protecting U.S. bombers,[53] losing only 25 on hundreds of missions.[54]

Individual pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group also earned approximately 1000 awards and decorations. Their missions took them to Rome-Arno, Normandy, Rhineland, Romania, Northern and Southern France, and the American Theater Campaigns. The 332nd first saw combat in February 1944. Throughout various engagements over the course of the war, the 332nd was credited with destroying at least: 112 airborne enemy aircraft, 150 aircraft on the ground, over 600 train cars, over 40 barges/boats, and a German Navy destroyer. The destruction of the Navy destroyer was the first such accomplishment of its time.

So which part of the movie is not true?  My guess is that it is the part about a black pilot who was captured and sent to a POW camp where he is welcomed by the white POWs who are planning to escape by tunneling out of the camp.

In the scene where German soldiers are shown speaking to the POWs, the Germans are being very polite.  I think this portrayal is accurate.  I give George Lucas a few points for not showing a lot of German-hatred, although there is some hatred in his portrayal of the German pilots.

The pejorative term for a German pilot in the movie is “Jerry.”  I don’t think that was the term used in America.  The English called a German soldier a Jerry because the German helmets looked like a chamberpot.  The pejorative term for Germans in America was “kraut.”  Also, the term “Dutch” which was an incorrect pronounciation of the German word “Deutsch.”  There was a song that went:  “There’s the high land Dutch, and the low land Dutch, the Rotterdam Dutch and all the other damned Dutch…”

The black pilots call the German pilots “pretty boy.”  I think that this is a modern term.  However, this term is actually a compliment.  Those German guys were very handsome.  By using this term, it is implied that black men were jealous of white people because of their looks.  I detect that the script for the movie was written by a young person who was not familiar with the language used during World War II.  At one point, a white officer calls one of the black heroes “arrogant.”  The term that was used back then was “uppity.”
Update: Jan 22, 2012

A reader of this blog, who has his own blog here, provided a link to an article in the Jewish Journal  which tells about the Tuskegee Airmen and the refusal of the Allies to bomb Auschwitz during World War II.

This quote is from the article:

On the morning of Aug. 20, 1944, a group of 127 U.S. bombers called Flying Fortresses approached Auschwitz. They were escorted by 100 Mustang fighter planes. Most of the Mustangs were piloted by Tuskegee Airmen of the 332nd Fighter Group. The attacking force dropped more than one thousand 500-pound bombs on oil targets less than five miles from the gas chambers. Despite German anti-aircraft fire and a squadron of German fighter planes, none of the Mustangs were hit and only one of the U.S. planes was shot down. All of the units reported successfully hitting their targets. […]

Even though there were additional U.S. bombing raids on German industrial sites in that region in the weeks and months to follow, the gas chambers and crematoria were never targeted.

The Roosevelt administration knew about the mass murder going on in Auschwitz, and even possessed diagrams of the camp that were prepared by two escapees. But when Jewish organizations asked the Roosevelt administration to order the bombing of the camp and the railways leading to it, the requests were rejected. U.S. officials claimed such raids were “impracticable” because they would require “considerable diversion” of planes needed for the war effort.

But the Tuskegee veterans know that claim was false. They were right there in the skies above Auschwitz. No “diversion” was necessary to drop a few bombs on the mass-murder machinery or the railways leading into the camp. Sadly, those orders were never given.

The decision to refrain from bombing Auschwitz was part of a broader policy by the Roosevelt administration to refrain from taking action to rescue Jews from the Nazis or provide havens for them. The U.S. did not want to deal with the burden of caring for large numbers of refugees. And its ally, Great Britain, would not open the doors to Palestine to the Jews, for fear of angering Arab opinion. The result was that the Allies failed to confront one of history’s most compelling moral challenges.


  1. I’m a black woman and I loved this movie. Heroic, handsome men and romance it has it all. Great movie.!

    Comment by Delores Ross — September 24, 2014 @ 6:36 am

  2. Pretty Boy is not a compliment, it means your a sissy, why would they be jealous of their looks straight men don’t care about shit like that
    and women don’t want feminine looking men

    also they were only referring to the ace pilot as that in the movie

    Comment by David — July 11, 2014 @ 11:47 pm

  3. Red Tails did shoot down me262s IN REAL LIFE. LOL U MAD BRO??????

    Comment by OF — August 26, 2013 @ 9:41 am


    Comment by Mark Snow — August 10, 2013 @ 8:39 am

    • I am amazed you could be any less racist given your name. Then again, ignorance comes in many forms, you just decided to adopt all of them.

      Comment by Chris Williams — June 25, 2015 @ 11:45 am

  5. Not about history. It seems as if the Blogger may not believe the Tuskegee airmen ever existed in ‘real’ history? Or maybe its not about history because the film reinforces what we all know …. African Americans are Americans are Americans so they are brave, skilled, loyal and a great asset to a great Nation. Since that’s not said much in history, made it doesn’t qualify as history … according to the blogger. Maybe the 3 Distinguished Unit Citations the airmen won should be ignored … OUCH …. I certainly felt the blogger stab at the heart of military awards systems, and therefore the pride and honor of the US military.

    Even if the blogger wants to deny American history, and discredit the US military, the blog itself is the perfect place to honor history and the medals won by the Tuskegee airmen.

    Comment by Dan — January 29, 2013 @ 2:14 am

  6. May shoud be called “Red Tales”

    Comment by Tim — December 31, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

  7. May be it should be called “Red Tales”

    Comment by Steve — December 31, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

  8. For one thing I think that atleast 80% of your rant is racist, I mean this movie is not about how black people are better then white people but it is “portrail” of a great air wing and there accomplishments. I mean it seems like you are bashing the movie because it has an all black cast, I mean…ok look at platoon or a thin red line pretty sure that a lot of the things that went on that movie have been fabricated but damn those are some pretty good war movie about real things that went on in that time period. So what I am trying say is that you should just be honest and just come out and say that “I didn’t like this movie because it has an all black cast”. Because that is what you just told me in this racist article of yours. Oh and when they were talking about “pretty boy” they where talking about one German pilot that always had his painted on the nose of the plane with yellow and he also had a big scare on his cheek. Oh and one more thing some pilots did copy after the British and called the Germans ,Jerry’s my grandfather told me all about that before he past away. So just letting you know get your facts right before going on a racist rant. prick!

    Comment by Sherman — May 28, 2012 @ 2:52 am

    • How does crap like this get made is beyond me? The Tuskegee Airmen, those “legendary” Red Tails, didn’t scratch and kick in pursuit of a dream. They were carefully selected to ensure that they didn’t fail, put into aerial combat when most of the German Air Force was grounded, and had their story carefully massaged over the years to maximize both sympathy for Black people during World War II and yes that old white guilt.

      Comment by factfinder — December 8, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

  9. “The basic premiss of the movie is that black people are superior to whites.”


    OR ARE YOU SO INSECURE..anyone showing proficiency to a task that isnt white is THREATENING TO YOUR FRAGILE EGO?

    I think this is the case. The movie I saw was whit4es sacrificing their careers to see that all men are treated equal. And
    grateful Bomber pilots who had escorts who put their lives on the line for theirs.

    Their is a special place in HELL for RACE BAITING BIGOTS! Enjoy your seat next to HITLER!

    Comment by RJ — January 30, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

    • Thank you I totally agree man I applaud you!!!!

      Comment by Sherman — May 28, 2012 @ 2:56 am

  10. Red Tails is #2 at the box office because lots of people are going to see it. Your incompetence as a movie critic is only surpassed, furtherglory, by your dishonesty as someone who attempts to diminish the horror of the Holocaust. I am encouraged by the fact that all persons such as yourself live to see their efforts come to nothing.

    Comment by joaquin — January 28, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

  11. The movie was number two at the box office and black audiences seem to love it. Do you object to the many WWII movies that only glorified the heroics of white men?

    Comment by kenneth sullivan — January 28, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

  12. I am a proud, African American woman and I was very glad to see a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. They are true American heroes. Any attention that causes folks to research information about those pilots is a major success to me. However, I was not impressed with this film. It was lacking a little something in the dialog for me. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around some of Terrence Howard’s monologues with John Phillip Sousa playing in the background. A bit over the top, though very patriotic. And funny you should mention the “man-up” line. That bugged me and I couldn’t figure out why. It’s because they probably didn’t say that in 1944. Even the exchange between Lightning and Easy, in the beginning, was choppy, but it did get better as the movie progressed. I liked the action, but the dialog was killing it for me.

    Loved David Oyelowo who played Joe “Lightning” Little. I went to to look him up and the man’s name was so far down the list I almost didn’t see it. Which, I find really hard to believe since he made the best parts of that movie click. However, I had a hard time believing his character was able to find that girl after passing over the house once, but then again I am not a pilot. Perhaps they have special skills like that. Also, I am aware that love affairs were common when the guys went overseas, but that particular love story was so far fetched. I felt the movie jumped the shark on that one. From that point on I no longer trusted the instincts of the writer/director and I started picking the movie apart.

    But, I did love, love, love the actor that played the ground crewman who had to fix Lightning’s plane everytime it came back to the landing field shot up. He was very believable and helped to show how pilots can’t get the job done without a great ground crew. Hats off to those guys in real life who are rarely ever applauded. Loved that actor, but I couldn’t find his name on Help me somebody? I want to know his name.

    Also, I’m sure, in this movie, the characters nicknamed only the one German Ace pilot “Pretty Boy,” not all of the German pilots. And for the record, yes, in 1944 we did NOT like being called colored. We preferred the term Negro (read W.E. DuBois). Colored was the term used on signage in the south above water fountains and entrances designated for “Colored” only, so yes we grew to hate that word. At that time Negro was far more acceptable to us. Again, that was at that time, not so much today.

    Very thoughtful review you wrote. Besides the escorting, blowing up traffic and every effort by the State Department to discredit the Black pilots, I, too, wondered what other parts of the story were based on fact. But, I have to admit, me and my African American women friends in Los Angeles loved the long shots of Terrence Howard and that David Oyelowo on the big screen. Nine of my 10 women friends in Los Angeles thought it was the greatest movie ever made and they want to see it again and again. It had to be the long shots of Terrence Howard on the big screen. 🙂

    Comment by Alyssa S Moore (@Writeword61) — January 26, 2012 @ 10:00 am

  13. Do you really think that the word arrogant was not used by people except in modern times?! Moron! Stupid review!

    Comment by Tom — January 24, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

    • I didn’t write that the word “arrogant” was not used until modern times. I merely pointed out the common word that was used to describe black people who were perceived to the arrogant. The term “man-up” was not used except in modern times.

      Comment by furtherglory — January 25, 2012 @ 7:20 am

  14. The new group’s first Commanding Officer was Colonel Robert Selway . Like his ranking officer, Major General Frank O’Driscoll Hunter from Georgia, he was a racial segregationist. Hunter was blunt about it, saying such things as, “…racial friction will occur if colored and white pilots are trained together.” He backed Selway’s violations of Army Regulation 210-10, which forbade segregation of air base facilities. They segregated base facilities so thoroughly they even drew a line in the base theater and ordered separate seating by races. When the audience sat in random patterns as part of “Operation Checkerboard”, the movie was halted to make men return to segregated seating.

    Comment by mercadeo internet — January 24, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

  15. The movie was an attempt to bring a very important set of African American Airmen history back to the forefront. Let people do their own research. This movie was another great beginning. I loved the movie. It made me want to know more facts about it.

    Comment by mocca — January 22, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  16. Movie was awesome. I know it pains you to see a movie with black hero’s lol.

    Comment by Larry — January 22, 2012 @ 9:23 am

    • Keep livng in fantasy land Larry. Makes dealing with real life failures in every endeavor they set upon easier, save crime, of course

      Comment by schlageter — January 22, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

      • Keep being a racist, schlageter. Having identifying skin shades, features, etc makes it easy for you to defame black people, who have no defects and “real life failures” which are not common among all groups of people, however they are defined. It is hard to see how you think all black people fail in EVERY endeavor except crime. You cannot possibly be so emphatic about such a notion which you really know is untrue. What you probably meant by the above statement, so far as you meant anything at all, is that you just dislike black people and, knowing that your real reasons for doing so are nonsense, were not able to discuss Red Tails with any intelligence.

        Comment by joaquin — January 28, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

    • Agreed Larry. The predictions on this blog are laughably WRONG. As most of the so called facts.

      For those visiting this the comments and Laugh you Ass off at the ignorance.

      Comment by RJ — January 30, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

      • …”laugh YOU ass off” mean “Laugh YOURRRR ass off” ..two hundred or more years later may be ignorant people will learn how to speak a language accordingly and then may be later study civilization and finally invent a camera and the film to go with it to possibly make a third rate sad little MOVIE that in all liklihood was put together by an entirely white people……go figure. Need one say more about who is rulling this world. ta tafor now

        Comment by predict — December 8, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

  17. “But the (negro) Tuskegee veterans know that claim was false. They were right there in the skies above Auschwitz. No “diversion” was necessary
    to drop a few bombs on the mass-murder machinery or the railways leading into the camp. Sadly, those orders were never given.”

    Unfortunately, evil white men stopped US negro pilots who knew the skies over Auschwitz, from bombing the:

    A. “special chambers where the hammer fell from the ceiling and by means of a special installation victims found death under air pressure.”
    B. “electric conveyor belt, on which hundreds of people were simultaneously electrocuted”
    C. “Trenches were dug and covered with canvas, to be used as temporary gas chambers.”
    D. “gas ovens”
    E. “gas chambers”

    “The view of the board is that we should not ask the Allies to bomb places where there are Jews.”
    – David Ben Gurion, June 11, 1944 (six weeks after the Vrba-Wetzler report was finished and distributed)

    A few photos from my recent trip to Auschwitz:

    I’ve proved the ‘Nothing lives – no birds, no animals. The silence is total’ claim, is untrue with the following:

    And I’ve nice shot of the “fire brigade reservoir” from the top of the steps to its diving board:

    The manhole in the gas chamber:

    New memorial at Bunker 1

    I’ve put the Auschwitz I photos on a new blog, but I’ve still most of Auschwitz II & III to add

    Comment by Black Rabbit — January 22, 2012 @ 5:46 am

    • Thanks for the link. I did an update on my post and added the information about the bombing of the factories at Monowitz. It would have been very hard to bomb the gas chambers without killing a lot of Jews, since the gas chambers were very close to the barracks. The railroad tracks were bombed in Germany, but they were replaced immediately, so it didn’t do much good to bomb the tracks. Bombing the tracks into Birkenau would have been a waste of time.

      Your Auschwitz photos are awesome! The photo in the first link is fantastic!

      Comment by furtherglory — January 22, 2012 @ 10:46 am

      • Thanks furtherglory, I really appreciate that. 🙂

        Zionists just use the non-bombing of Auschwitz as propaganda to further their own ends. The simple 3 step plan:

        1. “NEVER AGAIN” must the world allow the Jews to be Holocausted
        2. Iran now intends to Holocaust all the Jews
        3. The world must bomb Iran before it Holocausts the Jews, just like it didn’t do, but could have, with Auschwitz

        Comment by Black Rabbit — January 22, 2012 @ 11:34 am

        • The last paragraph of the quote from the link you gave is this:

          “The decision to refrain from bombing Auschwitz was part of a broader policy by the Roosevelt administration to refrain from taking action to rescue Jews from the Nazis or provide havens for them. The U.S. did not want to deal with the burden of caring for large numbers of refugees. And its ally, Great Britain, would not open the doors to Palestine to the Jews, for fear of angering Arab opinion. The result was that the Allies failed to confront one of history’s most compelling moral challenges.”

          I think the “broader policy of the Roosevelt administration” was make sure that the Jews went to Palestine and set up their own country. That was why the laws were not changed to allow Jews to come to America in 1938. The Roosevelt administration’s policy was not “taking action to rescue the Jews from the Nazis and provide havens for them” because if all the Jews had come to the United States in those years, there would be no Israel today. America had plenty of room for refugees because the total population of America in 1933 was 125 million. Our laws were changed and Jews were finally allowed to come here in 1948 after Israel became a country. It is true that Great Britain “would not open the doors to Palestine for the Jews” and it was because the British wanted to avoid the problems that have been with us ever since. The problems in the Middle East are now on the verge of World War III which might start any day now.

          Comment by furtherglory — January 22, 2012 @ 11:59 am

          • >>> “I think the “broader policy of the Roosevelt administration” was make sure that the Jews went to Palestine and set up their own country.”

            I think you’re 100% right, it was.
            – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            Jewish Holocaust historian & “passionate Zionist” Lucy Dawidowicz wrote in the New York Times Magazine, April 18, 1982:

            “Roosevelt himself brought into his immediate circle more Jews than any other President before or after him. Felix Franfurter, Bernard M. Baruch
            and Henry Morgenthau were his close advisers. Benjamin V. Cohen, Samuel Rosenman and David K. Niles were his friends and trusted aides.”

            (strange… the NYT has now pooh-poohed their own article:)
            – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            Jewish Chronicle
            February 5, 1982

            “FDR had a Jewish great-grandmother”

            If her mother was also a Jew (which seems probable), FDR would’ve qualified as Jewish under Israel’s “Law of Return”

            “According to Israeli law a person is considered ‘Jewish’ if either their mother, grandmother, GREAT-GRANDMOTHER AND GREAT-GREAT GRANDMOTHER were Jewesses by religion.”
            – Professor Israel Shahak
            – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            Following the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, the British verbally guaranteed Poland’s independence, and then six weeks later parliament passed the White Paper on Palestine, which was a disaster for Zionists. The Palestinian Arabs had been causing the British hell since 1936, all down to Jewish mass-immigration into Palestine. The British parliament would have realised war with Germany was likely, so the British anti-Zionist policy, was merely a British pro-British policy, simply not wanting to further aggravate their Arab allies, when a large war was likely. Of course, the Zionist banker’s poodle-on-a-string Winston Churchill, was the most vocal opponent of the White Paper.
            – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

            I’m sorry to say I agree with your assessment regarding an imminent global conflict. It’s almost-like being back in the 1930s, the economy is shot-to-hell, and Jews are again banging the war-drums.

            Comment by Black Rabbit — January 22, 2012 @ 2:44 pm


      Comment by Mark Snow — August 10, 2013 @ 8:40 am

  18. The dogfights are fun but everything else is filled with corniness, lame acting, predictable story arc, and moments where the film feels like a video-game rather than based on a true story. A great story to be told, but told in a very poor way. Good review.

    Comment by CMrok93 — January 21, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

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