I got a little piece of inspiration this week which has helped me inform the background of my Imperial Navy Aeronautica Imperialis wing.
I like to develop background material for all of my models, at the very least recording their origins, their commander and what they are up to in the Skolarii Sector. This background then feeds into my paint schemes, conversions army lists and even in-game tactics.
I'd been struggling to come up with an interesting hook for my fly-boys when I happened upon a documentary about the Tuskegee airmen. They were a group of African American pilots which were formed into a fighter group during the second world war and proved to be at least as able as the white pilots already fighting. What really hit home to me was one pilot who explained what happened when they returned from the war. They got off the plane and were then forced into a different line from the white pilots; segregation was still in place in the USA at the time.
This injustice was reminiscent to me of the harsh backdrop to 40k universe, and I wondered what the equivalent of that racism would be in Aeronautica Imperialis.
Then I remembered the Imperial Guard Afriel Strain doctrine from White Dwarf 303. These are genetically engineered albino soldiers who are given the best equipment and training to turn them into super-soldiers. All of the regiments so far have started out successfully and then succumbed to a variety of unfortunate accidents, leading to their entire destruction. Additionally, other troops despise them because of their unusual appearance and appalling bad luck.
I dug out the article and upon closer inspection I found no reason not to make my Navy wing an Afriel Strain experiment. It specifically mentions that the mysterious creators of the Strain continue to experiment, fielding their 'perfect soldiers' across the warzones of the Imperium.
The Tuskegee Airmen formed the 332nd Fighter Group and my own wing will also take that number.
Now I just need to pad out the background material and paint the models.