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Red Tails Puzzle


300 Pieces

Bring history to life by building the Red Tails 300 piece puzzle!

About the image:

The 99th Pursuit Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Corps was activated on March 19, 1941. After training at Tuskegee Army Airfield, the first African-American military pilots left the United States for action in World War II (1939-1945) in 1943. As more African-American pilots completed training three other squadrons were formed and joined the 99th to create the 332nd Fighter Group. With their fighter planes’ tails painted red to aid in identification, the African-American airmen flew more than 1,500 missions escorting bombers over enemy territory.

Kay Smith, named Artist Laureate of Illinois in 1994, painted this watercolor in honor of the contributions of all the first African-American military pilots. Dedicated to creating an accurate depiction, she immersed herself in the history of the Tuskegee Airmen and the Red Tails. Smith conducted oral history interviews with Tuskegee Airmen Hon. John Rogers, Sr., Quentin Smith, and Julius Echols. She worked with the staff of the Pritzker Military Library to research the details of the P-51D Mustang planes portrayed in the piece.  


Red Tails Escorting the B17s was commissioned by Colette Holt for the Library’s Oral History Room which is dedicated to her late father, Tuskegee Airman Coleman T. Holt, through the generous support of Karen Pritzker and Michael Vlock. 


Red Tails Escorting the B17s

Smith, Kay (b.1923)




All proceeds support the Pritzker Military Museum & Library’s mission.