The United States Air Force has announced it is going to name its new trainer jet, the T-7A “Red Hawk”, in honour of the Tuskegee Airmen.
According to Military.com, the announcement was made on Monday at the annual Air, Space and Cyber conference by the acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan and retired Col. Charles McGee, who was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. The trainer jet was previously known as the T-X.
Serving at a time when the American Army was segregated, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American Aviators in America.
The 332nd Fighter Group and the 99th Pursuit Squadron were the only black groups that fought in World War II and were considered highly successful despite facing discrimination in and out of the army.
“The name, Red Hawk, honours the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, and pays homage to their signature red-tailed aircraft from World War II,” Donovan said.
“The name is also a tribute to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an American fighter aircraft that first flew in 1938 and was flown by the 99th Fighter Squadron — the U.S. Army Air Forces’ first African-American fighter squadron,” Donovan added.
In March last year, Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, who is the first out of the 27 Tuskegee Airmen listed as missing in action to be identified, was laid to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, 75 years after his plane crashed in Austria.
Just last month, 99-year-old Thomas Franklin Vaughns, who was a former mechanic for the Tuskegee Airmen and was later drafted into the Korean War also finally received his long overdue WWII medals.
After his service in the Korean War, Vaughns, out of desperation to come home, didn’t stay to collect his Korean medal – the National Defense Service Medal.
He received the Korean War medal alongside four replacement awards for his service in the second world war.
Retired Col. McGee, who, according to Military.com, was an outstanding P-51 Mustang fighter pilot, flew 409 fighter combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
His remarkable feat and 30-year career earned him several Air Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit.
“In fact, as a lieutenant during World War II, Colonel McGee was stationed with the 302nd Fighter Squadron as one of the original Tuskegee Airmen,” Donovan said.
“Flying his P-51 Mustang — named ‘Kitten,’ after his wife — Col. McGee kept American bombers safe and engaged enemy fighters in the skies over Germany as part of the greatest generation.”
The T-7 will have red vertical canted tails, taking inspiration from the Red Tail Squadron’s P-51C aircraft, Military.com further reports.