For these reasons, I eagerly awaited the opening of Red Tails. I even bought my tickets online, in advance. Got to the theater an hour early. Stood in line and paid an exorbitant fee for popcorn an unsweetened iced tea from a mix. And I was happy to do so. Finally, the movie started.
The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is truly epic, their deeds heroic, their story one that should be passed down for generations. They deserve a movie whose cinematic excellence rises to those levels. Unfortunately, this one wasn't it. I'll leave critiques of things like acting, cinematography and plot lines to the professionals. Among the OTHER things that left me cold were the technical and historical shortcomings. I'll only go through a couple, but I think you'll get the gist.
|Not a P-51 - this is a P-47 Thunderbolt|
In another scene, the 332nd takes on German pilots equipped with Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighters. True enough - on a March 24, 1945 mission to Berlin, the 332nd downed three of these wonder weapons with their piston engined Mustangs. The technical problem arises during the combat scenes, where Mustangs are shown absorbing multiple hits from the Me-262s, and one American pilot is shown continuing to fly after being shot by Me-262 guns. This simply isn't accurate.
Why doesn't it work? Because the Me-262 was armed with four MK-108 30mm cannons. These cannons fired up to 660 rounds per minute, each round greater than an inch in diameter and packing about a third more explosive than the 30mm cannon shells currently used by the US Air Force's A-10 Warthog. In practice, just four of these shells would take down a four engined B-17 bomber, and a single shell would wreck a single engined fighter. A one second burst from an Me-262 contained 44 of these shells. A pilot being hit with these shells would have been, well, shredded. Instant lights out.
The movie contains other aerial improbabilities, such as the piston engined Mustangs keeping up with the jets that were 100 mph faster. The combination of these errors and omissions is enough to leave even a casual history buff cold.
Two concluding thoughts - it didn't HAVE to be this way. This sort of error prevention is what I - and people like me - do for the literary and entertainment industry. More importantly, the true exploits of this band of heroes are impressive enough that simply telling it "like it was" would have been an effective, inspiring and appropriate tribute.