The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II


World War II brought many countries together to fight the military powers of German, Japan and the Axis countries. The war had many stories of heroic achievements of American men and women. Among the heroes of the war were the United States Air Force 332nd Fighter Group, which were a group of pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. These men and women were trained at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and were the first black pilots of World War II.

Background

In 1941, Congress forced the military to form an all-black unit. The War Department reluctantly agreed, and while trying to make it difficult to be successful, set high standards of previous flying experience. To their surprise, the United States Air Force did not have any problems filling the unit. Many of the airmen had previous flying experience from the Civilian Training Program for pilots, which was held at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. This program was started in 1939 and had produced a number of licensed pilots.

·       Background Information: information about the airmen from the Atlanta Chapter

·       Civilian Pilot Training Program: backgroundinformation about the 1938 federal program 

·       Background on the Formation: resource on the creation of the Tuskegee Airmen

·       Timeline: background information and timeline of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II

332nd Fighter Group

The 332nd Fighter Group was assembled in June 1941 at Tuskegee Institute. The group, originally known as the 99th Fighter Squadron, went through basic training and after which began working as an air unit. The unit was under West Point graduate, Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., who was also black.

·       Tuskegee Airmen Facts: facts on the all-black aviators

·       Airmen Information: information from the Library of Congress display on the group

·       Airmen Facts: facts and figures from Tuskegee Institute about the Airmen

·       Benjamin O. Davis Jr: biography of Captain Davis who went on to become the first African-American General

Wartime Service

The 332nd Fighter Group was made of four separate all black squadrons and were sent to active duty in 1943. The Tuskegee Airmen consisted of 994 pilots and 15,000 support personnel. The airmen were pressed into service in the Mediterranean Theater, and saw a large amount of action in the attack of Italy. The group also participated as escorts in bombing runs into Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Germany. During their distinguished wartime action in Europe, the Tuskegee Airmen were recognized for its outstanding work by earning several awards such as Silver Stars, Distinguished Flying Crosses, Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars and Air Medals.

·       Tuskegee Airmen Service: resource on the history of wartime service

·       War Missions: recollections of war missions from members of the air group

·       Airmen Facts: fact sheet on the Tuskegee Airmen from the U.S. Air Force Museum

Resources

The Tuskegee Airmen played a key role in the war, and showed that an all black air unit could be successful. The airmen displayed outstanding skills in the skies over Europe and always were professional in their approach. The exploits of the airmen have been documented in the form of several articles, books and news reports. The Tuskegee Airmen were also the subject of a 1996 HBO film of the same name, starring Laurence Fishburne.

·       Photo Gallery: photos from the airmen

·       Group Photo: of several airmen in front of a plane

·       Airmen Combat Record: information on the combat records of the airmen

·       Tuskegee Airmen: information on the airmen from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library

·       National Site: Tuskegee Airmen National Site

·      People Search: research airmen from the 332nd Fighter Group

·       Tuskegee Experiment: information on the airmen, which was termed an experiment

·       Tuskegee Experiment Timeline: timeline and resources of the airmen

·       Tuskegee Redtails: information on the airplanes that were flown

·       Tuskegee Airmen: information on the 1996 movie

·       Tuskegee Airwomen: resource on the role of women in Tuskegee