Photo credits: Bettmann Archives
The Tuskegee Airmen made historic progress as the first African-American pilots to fight in World War II and maintain aircraft in the 1940s.
The 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Corps were constantly subjected to segregation and racial prejudice during their service in the army. However, they remained brave in combat as the rest of the military. Nevertheless, Jim Crow laws kept racism alive and well in America back then.
On February 19, 1942, Black America’s heralded Tuskegee Airmen were inducted into the armed forces.
Each African American pilot (and five Haitians) in the units had their training at Tuskegee Institute and the group was dubbed the “Red Tail Angels.” The reason for this is that the bombers they escorted perceived them as angels. The tails and propellers of their warplanes were painted red.
Tuskegee had produced 992 soldiers by the conclusion of WWII. They flew almost 200 bombing support flights, damaging 409 German planes, halted 950 fighting operations on the ground, and downed a battleship.