The Red Tail Project is pleased to announce that Sam Lyons, noted aviation artist and enthusiast, has created and will donate an original painting of the red-tailed P-51C Mustang “Tuskegee Airmen” as it might have appeared during WWII. The picture, titled “Red Tail By Request” shows the fighter being piloted by a Tuskegee Airman protecting five B-24s over Italy.
Lyons is noted for his attention to detail and historical accuracy, and this effort is no exception. A painting of this size – 2 feet by 4 feet – typically takes him about five weeks to complete and a full two weeks of that time is spent researching the picture's elements for accuracy. "For this picture, along with recreating the Red Tail Project’s Mustang correctly, I wanted to be sure I had the markings on the B-24s right. I did quite a bit of research about B-24s that would have flown missions that were protected by the Tuskegee Airmen over Italy," he said.
This is Lyons’ second painting featuring a Tuskegee Airmen-related aircraft. In 2007, he created a picture of Tuskegee ace Lee Archer's P-51 "Ina - Macon Belle," but this is the first picture he’s painted that will help serve as a fundraiser for the Red Tail Project. He said, "I think it's important to maintain awareness of what the Tuskegee Airmen did during the war. Those black pilots fought for a country that denied them basic rights; they protected white pilots during a time when racist attitudes were the norm. That’s why the 'By Request' aspect of this picture is so important. The bomber pilots quickly realized that the black fighter pilots were outstanding and began requesting them as escorts on bombing runs."
The Red Tail Project (www.redtail.org), part of the Commemorative Air Force, is raising money to restore a rare P-51C Mustang named “Tuskegee Airmen” such as the Airmen flew, build a traveling museum, and develop educational resources. The project’s overall goal is to raise $2.7 million; to date they have raised more than $600,000. Lyons and his wife, Mindy, fully support the Red Tail Project’s efforts. She said, “The Red Tail Project is all about educating people about the life-lessons the Tuskegee Airmen can teach about overcoming obstacles, reaching goals and exceeding expectations. Their use of the airplane as a tool to get people interested is unique." The plane is expected to be flying again in spring of 2009.
The painting will be unveiled at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, July 28, 2008 during a press conference at the AirVenture Media Center in Oshkosh, WI. Following its formal debut, it will be on display in the Lyons Studio AirVenture booth 2025 in Building B through August 3.
Limited edition signed and numbered prints of “Red Tail By Request” will be available from the Red Tail Project and Lyons Studio (www.LyonsStudio.com). In addition to providing fundraising support for the Project by donating the original painting, Sam and Mindy Lyons have generously agreed to make a donation to the Red Tail Project with every print sold by Lyons Studio.