10104 U.S.A.A.F. Tuskegee Airman, 1943-45

W. Britains

The 99th Pursuit Squadron was the U.S. Army Air Forces’ first African American fighter squadron. The Army Air Corps established a training program for black aviators at the Tuskegee Institute thus earning them the nickname the “Tuskegee Airmen.” Their other nickname, “Red Tails,” came after they painted the tail assembly of their fighters a conspicuous crimson. On their 179 bomber escort missions they lost a total of only 27 bombers – a good record of protection. On one mission to destroy a tank factory in Berlin, they shot down three German Me 262s (history’s first jet fighter) in a single day. For this and the rest of their exemplary service, the squadron was awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations.

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