The first class of African-American pilots at Tuskegee Army Air Field completed advanced pilot training and received their wings on this day.
oughly 450 men joined the 99th Pursuit Squadron, initially led by whites but later ably commanded by then Capt. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. who also took charge of the all-black 477th Bombardment Group in 1945. The 99th and the 332nd Fighter Group saw action in North Africa and Italy where they distinguished themselves winning hundreds of decorations for skill and gallantry in combat. Flying P-39 Airacobras, Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, P-47 Thunderbolts and, lastly, P-51 Mustangs, among the feats of the fighter pilots who flew more than 15,000 sorties was the downing of more than 100 enemy aircraft in aerial combat including three of Germanys fearsome ME-262, the world’s first operational fighter jet; demolishing nearly 150 enemy planes on the ground; and ruining an Italian destroyer that had been converted to a German torpedo boat.