The Air Force Academy will debut their new uniforms honoring the “Red Tails” of the famous Tuskegee Airmen during the team’s season-opener game against the Naval Academy on October 3 at Falcon Stadium.
A video released by the Air Force Academy showcased the new all-gray uniforms, an homage to the U.S. Army Air Corps’ African-American airmen who fought during World War II.
The helmets are white and red, reflecting the distinct tail section of the P-51 Mustang fighters flown by the 332nd Fighter Group. Unit patches from the four squadrons that made up the Fighter Group are also featured on the helmets, specifically the 99th, 100th, 301st and 302nd squadrons.
The Airmen’s unofficial “Spit Fire” patch and yellow stripes from the P-51 are on the shoulder of the uniforms. The “Spit Fire” patch is also on featured on the uniform’s gloves and hand-lettered names written on the Tuskegee Airmen’s planes are adorned on the players’ backplates. The pants have stencil lettering on one leg and 20 “aerial victory markings” for the AFA’s 20 victories against Army and Navy since 1972.
The uniform is the 2020 edition of the Air Power Legacy Series. Other series have honored the C-17 Globemaster III, the Flying Tigers, and the AC-130 “Spooky” Gunship.
Commissioned by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in September 1940, the Tuskegee Airmen began their training at Morton Field in Tuskegee, Ala. Over 900 pilots graduated from the program and more than 350 served as active-duty fighter pilots.
Throughout the war, Tuskegee fighter pilots flew over 15,000 combat maneuvers, downed 112 enemy planes, and demolished more than 1,000 railcars, vehicles and grounded aircraft.
The Tuskeegee Airmen earned the nickname the “red tail angels” from other bomber crews after losing just 25 bombers to enemy pilots, nearly half the average losses of the rest of the 15th Air Force.
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., the first African-American officer to solo an Army Air Corps aircraft, became commander of the first all-African American air unit. The Air Force Academy re-named its airfield to “The Davis Airfield” in his honor in November 2019.
Last year, Navy earned the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy with a 35-24 win over Air Force. The Air Force Academy hasn’t won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy since 2016.
“Unfortunately, the Navy and Army games will be the only fall competitions between the three academies. After multiple conversations with the athletic directors at both Army and Navy, we are not going to be able to pull together inter-service competitions this fall,” a statement from AF Athletic Director Nathan Pine stated. “We have shifted our focus and efforts toward Mountain West and Western Athletic Conference competitions in the spring semester. We will continue to pursue one-off competitions in the spring semester prior to the start of Army and Navy’s Patriot League competitions.”