Tuskegee Airmen model plane at Allen's Meadow

Bruce Griffiths sent The Bulletin this photo of his model of a  332nd Fighter Group, Tuskegee Airmen, P-51D Mustang in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A pilot and model airplane enthusiast, Griffiths, who lives in Danbury and works in Wilton, sometimes flies his models at Allen’s Meadow. That’s where this photo was taken last year.

The plane, which has a six-foot wingspan, is electric, so it is very quiet when flying.

The P-51D “was the sports car airplane of that era,” Griffiths said when asked why he enjoyed flying it. “It’s the symbolism of the men involved in that unit. They had to prove they could fly that airplane as well as anyone else.”

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military pilots who flew as the U.S. Army Air Corps’ 332nd Fighter Group. Nearly 1,000 men completed the flight training program according to redtail.org, and 355 were sent to North Africa and Europe as fighter pilots. They also developed a reputation for their role as bomber escorts on missions deep into Germany. The airmen are probably best known for flying the P-51D.

The P-51 Mustang is a long-range, single seat fighter used primarily during World War II and in the Korean War. It was outfitted with six .50-caliber M2 Browning machine guns.

Griffiths’ plane is painted in the colors of the 332nd, known for the red tails on their fighters that gave rise to the nickname Red Tail Angels.