Reel American HistoryHistory on trial Main Page

AboutFilmsFor StudentsFor TeachersBibliographyResources

Films >> Red Tails (2012) >>

0:00:43 Epigraph
1925 U.S. Army War College Study: "Blacks are mentally inferior, by nature subservient, and cowards in the face of danger. They are therefore unfit for combat."
0:01:09 Opening Scene
Air combat between Germans and Americans. The American fighters leave the bomb squadron unprotected, and the American planes are decimated by the Germans. The bomb squadron officer decides to return to base.
0:04:19 Italy 1944
Easy, Lighting, Joker, and Junior are flying old planes. Joker's indicator is not working. Junior checks Joker's plane and there are no signs of oil or water leakage. So Easy lets him stay with the squadron. They spot a German truck. Junior destroys it
0:07:28 Red Tails Train Fight
When they're about to return to the camp, they spot a military train which is camouflage. Lightning tells Captain to take the train head on before it gets to the tunnel. Easy ignores his suggestion and orders him to stay in formation. They are not successful in destroying the train so Lightning decides to go ahead with his idea. He fires at the train from the front and destroys it.
0:10:23 Love on the terrace
When they're returning to the camp, they flow over a village and Lightning spots a beautiful Italian. The Italian woman waves at him and he blows her a kiss.
0:10:45 Plane damage
Lighting's plane needs to be repaired. Major Emanuelle Stance is not happy when he sees the plane. The mechanics also complain since Lighting has wrecked other planes before.
0:11:17 Life at the camp
The loudspeakers announce that prostitutes are coming to the camp. Soldiers playing basketball and cards. Mail being distributed.
0:11:43 Lightning in trouble
Coffee scolds Lightning for destroying another plane. He changes the subject saying that he just saw the woman of his life. They remove the part of the train that was stuck on the plane.
0:12:32 The newbie
A new soldier comes to the camp, Smokie, Neon and Joker make fun of him and then they give him a ride in their jeep.
0:13:36 The chapel
Deacon and Junior talk about the mission. Junior tells him that he always prays for Lightning because he almost got killed again. Deacon leaves the chapel, takes out a Black Jesus prayer card and thanks him for bringing the squadron safe.
0:14:30 Red Tails Squadron Meeting/ Film watching
The squadron is watching the film that shows Lightning destroying the German train. Major Emanuelle Stance commends Lightning for his performance. Winky interrupts and asks him if it matters how well they perform if the Tuskegee project has failed. He passes around a newspaper article for Easy to read it out loud. The article states that their performance has been classified as unsatisfactory and that the government will shut them down. Major Emanuelle Stance tells them that they're "colored men in the white man's army." He then adds that those who want to stay can stay and fight, and that he can send home those who prefer to clean latrines in America.
0:17:54 The Pentagon
Lieutenant General Luntz and Colonel William Mortamus refer to the failure of the Tuskegee project. Colonel Bullard states that they have done everything that they had been ordered in hand-me down planes. He believes they have the right to fight for their country. He asks Colonel Mortamus to shut down the project or let them fly as bombers escorts. Colonel Tomlinson supports him.
0:19:34 Red Squadron Bunks/Lighting’s birthday
Easy scolds Lighting for not obeying his orders. Lightning apologizes and mentions that he's going to visit the most beautiful lady he's ever seen. When Easy jokingly says that Lightning cannot leave women alone, Lighting mentions that he needs them as Easy needs alcohol. Easy responds that those are their coping mechanisms to get out of war. Then, Easy gives Lightning a birthday present--an "Italian for beginners" book.
0:22:10 I’m Joe
Lightning takes Coffee's jeep and goes to see Sophia. Lightning knocks at her door. He sounds and acts out a plane flying. Sophia recognizes him and says something in Italian. They shake hands and Sophia invites him into the house to meet her mother. He invites her to go on a ride. Sophia agrees to go, but with her mother. Joe realizes it'll be harder than he thought.
0:25:16 Red Squadron Base
The pilots talk about war and about their future plans. Junior wants to be an engineer. Maurice wants to fight. Winky confesses he's scared of dying.
0:28:05 The Pentagon: Operation Shingle
Colonel Tomlinson gets Operation Shingle for Colonel Bullard. They'll air cover for a beach landing. It's their chance to go up against German fighters. If they fail, the army will have enough proof to shut the Tuskegee project down. Colonel Bullard accepts the mission and reassures Colonel Tomlinson that they'll win.
0:29:35 The news
Major Emanuelle Stance tells his squadron about Operation Shingle. The pilots cheer.
0:32:28 Air Fight
The sea landing takes place. The pilots congratulate Easy for being the first black to shoot a Jerry. They shoot down many German planes. Easy and Lightning decide to follow the last German plane and attack the Jerry airbase in spite of running out of fuel. The German Captain warns the airbase. The Red Tails destroy the whole airbase. Junior gets shot. The German Captain observes that the pilots are "African."
0:42:26 Going back to base
They return to the camp. They take Junior to hospital.
0:44:39 The Pentagon: After Operation Shingle
Commanding General Westlake congratulates Colonel Bullard for the victory. The Red Tails had 8 kills in the air, 63 aircraft destroyed on the ground, and no losses in their first wave. After the meeting finishes, Colonel Mortamus tells Colonel Bullard that his opinion hasn't changed. Colonel Bullard states that he does not care about it. Colonel Mortamus asks him to respect the uniform. Colonel Bullard reassures him that that's all he cares for.
0:45:34 Base Hospital
Junior tells Easy that his legs are good, and that his eyes are fine. He'll be able to see fine out of one eye, and mostly out of the other. Junior asks Easy to talk to Major Stance so that he can fly again.
0:46:42 Cutting Loss
Lieutenant General Luntz tells Colonel Bullard that he needs to cut losses by having pilots that fly close to the bombers instead of going after Jerries. Colonel Bullard responds that his men can cut his losses by seventy or eighty percent, if they are given new planes.
0:48:50 At the base
The pilots are playing cards. Deacon says that Black Jesus protected him in the last mission. They make fun of him. Then, they also make fun of Lightning who's in love.
0:50:07 Love
Lightning and Sophia go for a walk. They kiss.
0:51:45 Officer’s Club
Lightning enters an Officer's club. One of the officers tells him that it is a whites-only officer's club, and then another calls him nigger. Lighting's initial reaction is to leave the club, but then he goes in and strikes one of the white officers. Fight ensues and next section opens in jail. Easy visits Lightning in jail. Easy disagrees with Lightning as far as the Atlanta compromise is concerned.
0:54:06 Bringing gifts
Colonel Bullard arrives at the base and tells Major Emanuelle Stance that the boys will escort bombers. Stance congratulates him.
0:55:18 You’re a Punk
Colonel Bullard scolds Lieutenant Little for always looking for fights. He tells him he reminds him of a punk "one of those kids from the comic strip, walking around, pushing your sleeve up one arm, hand balled in a tight fist, walking looking at the world in a squint, always looking to knock something down just because it's standing." Then he points to Joe Little's head and tells him that if he wants to knock something down, he has to use his brains. He tells him he has high expectations for him since he's the best pilot they have. He asks him to report to his unit.
0:57:05 Apologies
Lighting goes to see Easy and apologizes to him.
0:58:39 Colonel Bullard to the Red Squadron
Colonel Bullard explains the new strategy. Pilots are to make sure to protect the bombers instead of chasing Germans. He then tells them that he has secured new planes and they all cheer.
1:00:15 Red tails
The new planes arrive. They paint the tails red. Easy convinces Major Stance to let Junior fly in the next mission. Junior jumps up and down.
1:02:18 Bomber Squad Escort
They're getting ready to leave. Easy drinks from his flask. They pray to God for protection. At first, the bombers don't recognize the markings on the planes. They see that the red tails are their escorts. They then notice that they are colored pilots. They don't trust the escorts' ability to protect them during the flight. They soon observe that the Red Tails are staying put instead of going after the Germans. The bombers accomplish their mission and start their return. Junior's plane is on fire. He jumps out of the plane.
1:10:25 Junior at a prison camp
Junior crashes and Nazi officers take him to a prison camp.
1:10:42 Happy Bombers
The bombers mention that they didn't lose a single plane in that mission. Lightning wants to take the short cut because he's running low in fuel. Smokey goes with him.
1:14:49 German ship
Lighting sees a German ship and destroys it.
1:16:32 Deacon in trouble
Deacon was shot. He's dizzy. He has gas all over. Easy is escorting him home. Easy reports it to the base. Deacon cannot open the canopy. He prays to Black Jesus. Deacon's plane explodes upon landing. Lightning and Smokey notice the smoke cloud when they are about to land. When Lighting approaches Easy, he notices that the Captain had been drinking. Easy tells Lightning not to put the blame on him.
1:21:16 Deacon in hospital
Lightning visits Deacon in hospital and leaves the Black Jesus prayer card that he had rescued from Deacon's plane on his bible. Major Stance tells Colonel Bullard that Deacon will make it with a 60% third-degree burn. He's going to be sent back home.
1:22:36 At the Nazi camp / A Delicate Operation
Captain Miller tells Junior that he has chosen him because he can't be a German spy since he is colored. He then tells him that they're in the middle of a delicate operation, and he'll be treated no differently to any of the men there.
1:24:30 More newbies
New pilots arrive. They see the film of Lightning's attack to the German ship.
1:25:47 I’m Glad I Found You
Lightning tells Sophia about Easy's problem with alcohol, which almost cost the life of one of the pilots. He doesn't know what to do about it. He then tells her he's glad he found her.
1:27:12 Deal
Lightning tells Easy that he wants him to stop drinking on duty. Lightning proposes a deal. He'll follow Easy's orders if he stops drinking.
1:28:36 Red Tails invited into Officers’ Club
Chester Barnes recognizes the Red Tails pilots when they walk by the Officers' Club. He congratulates them on their performance when they covered the bombers over Ploesti . He introduces them to his squadron, and the two groups drink together.
1:32:00 Marriage
Lightning and Sophia go for a walk and then they enter a church. Lightning kneels down and proposes to Sophia in Italian. She asks him for time to think.
1:33:35 Pig in a Poultry Shop
Junior brings the batteries and flashlights the white officers need to escape. Captain Miller thanks him for all his help and tells him that he wants him to travel with them. He says that he would "stick out like a pig in a poultry shop" and he doesn't want to draw attention to them. He decides to go alone, but he gives his dog tags so that they can take them back to his unit.
1:35:38 Lightning’s new goal
Lightning tells Coffee he'll be the first one to blow up a jet fighter. Coffee tells him, he'd better run away if he sees one of them. Otherwise, he'd get killed.
1:36:58 New Mission
The Red Tails are to escort the bombers on the first leg of their flight to Berlin. Colonel Bullard and Major Stance question why they can't go all the way to Berlin if they can put external gas tanks on the planes. The General explains that there will be a lot of attention drawn to Berlin and that he has orders that the Red Tails are not part of the final leg. Colonel Bullard and Major Stance understand the whites don't want negro pilots to be part of that story.
1:38:48 Yes
Sophia tells Lighting that she wants him to stay in Italia and that she wants to marry him.
1:40:13 The Best Soldier
Captain Miller gives Easy Junior's tags. He explains to Easy that they were in prison together and that four of them managed to escape. He adds that Junior was the best soldier he ever met.
1:41:16 Self-pity
Easy gives Colonel Bullard Junior's tags. He also confesses that he is to blame because he allowed him to go on a mission in spite of his not being able to see from both eyes. He doesn't feel he's fit to lead the squadron anymore. He also mentions that he's made many mistakes. Major Stance tells Easy that his biggest mistake is self-pity and that he has to keep leading the squad.
1:42:40 New Mission
Major Stance tells the squad that the bombers are going all the way to Berlin, but that they're going to escort them on the first leg of the mission only so they may not see much action. When the pilots leave, Major Stance tells Easy that it's his call if they don't see the relief squadron.
1:43:57 We’re going the distance
Easy drinks again before flying. They don't see the relief squadron so Easy announces they're going the distance. All of them celebrate. Easy reminds them that they're there to protect the bombers. The bombers are happy that they have the Red Tails for the duration of the trip. They're deep into Germany and they haven't seen any planes. Lightning has Sophia's picture on the control panel of his plane.
1:45:54 Telegram
Major Stance gives Colonel Bullard the telegram that Mission Control sent. The relief escort didn't make the rendez-vous and the Red Tails went all the way to Berlin because Major Stance gave Easy that option. Headquarters wants to know if they're going to call the Red Tails back. Colonel Bullard tears up the telegram.
1:46:28 Show no mercy
The air fight begins. One of the bombers returns. Lightning does another crazy move, gets shot, and dies. Easy tells the pilots that Lightning is dead. They return to base.
1:55:37 No more alcohol
Easy reaches for his flask and pours the alcohol on the floor.
1:56:13 Breaking the news
Easy tells Sophia about Lightning's death. No words are needed. She understands Easy's look and collapses into his arms.
1:57:00 Honors
Colonel Bullard tells the pilots that they all should feel encouraged by Lightning's acts of bravery. His death should make them fight harder.
1:57:35 Junior reappears
Junior tells the pilots that from now on he wants to be called the Fabulous Ray since he's been to hell and back. Easy runs to him. All the pilots cheer.
1:58:27 Salute the 332nd
The U.S. General confers the distinguished unit citation upon the all-Negro 332nd fighter group for outstanding performance of duty in conflict with the enemy. They salute them.
1:59:28 The Final Facts
The highly decorated Red Tails compiled one of the best records of any air fighter group in World War II, including 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses.
66 Tuskegee Airmen were killed in action.
1:59:40 End Titles