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Tuskegee Airmen Essay Outline

In April 1942, the Tuskegee-trained 99th Pursuit Squadron deployed to North Africa, which the Allies had occupied.

In North Africa and then Sicily, they flew missions in second-hand P-40 planes, which were slower and more difficult to maneuver than their German counterparts. After the commander of the 99th’s assigned fighter group complained about the squadron’s performance, Davis had to defend his men before a War Department committee.

Rather than being shipped home, the 99th was moved to Italy, where they served alongside the white pilots of the 79th Fighter Group. In early 1944, pilots from the 99th shot down 12 German fighters in two days, going some distance toward proving themselves in combat.

In February 1944, the 100th, 301st and 302nd fighter squadrons arrived in Italy; together with the 99th, these squadrons of black pilots and other personnel made up the new 332nd Fighter Group.

After this transfer, the pilots of the 332nd began flying P-51 Mustangs to escort the heavy bombers of the 15th Air Force during raids deep into enemy territory. The tails of their planes were painted red for identification purposes, earning them the enduring nickname “Red Tails.”

Though these were the best-known of the Tuskegee Airmen, black aviators also served on bomber crews in the 477th Bombardment Group, formed in 1944.

A popular myth arose during the war—and persisted afterwards—that in more than 200 escort missions, the Tuskegee Airmen had never lost a bomber. The truth wasn’t uncovered until years later, when a detailed analysis found that enemy aircraft shot down at least 25 bombers they escorted.

Nonetheless, that was a much better success rate than other escort groups of the 15th Air Force, which lost an average of 46 bombers.

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