The "Red Tale" Heroes

African American Pilots Take to the Skies Breaking Barriers

Summary of Event

It was World War 2 and our nation was in a time of segregation. African Americans were not thought of as equal which makes this story even more amazing. The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African American pilots during the war. They were almost completely cut off from their white comrades. They were thought of as somewhat of an experiment to see if a African American man could handle a plane like other pilots, and they could. They blew all expectations to dust when they proved to be some of the best pilots of World War 2. They were an effective inclusion aiding allied air dominance in the European Campaign!
Red Tails (2012) HD Movie Trailer - Lucasfilm Official Trailer


At the time a World War ll, because of segregation, African Americans were thought to have smaller brains which couldn't handle much and no one thought that they could ever fly a plane. The Tuskegee airmen started out as an experiment to test that belief. These pilots were the poster child for underdogs. They were allowed in only one college, Tuskegee University, and they could train at only one base, Motton Field. Tuskegee University was awarded the U.S. Army Air Corp contract to train the first black pilots in America.

The Tuskegee Airmen were active from 1940 to 1952. The first black fighter squadron to see actual combat was the 99th Fighter Squadron. However the first black fighter group was the 332nd. As their name became known to the public, people began to write about them in newspapers. One stated that not a single bomber that was escorted by a Tuskegee Airman was lost to the enemy. This of course was not true however, it started widespread beliefs that they were unbreakable and that they could not be defeated. They quickly became a force to be reckoned with.3

You may still be asking yourself, "Why are they important?" Well, the answer is not found overseas in the midst of war, but rather at home in the fight for race equality. A African American pilot symbolized everything that America thought theycouldn't be. A pilot had to be smart, vigilant, resourceful, strategic, and courageous. And that's what they were. They showed the entire nation that they were people to and that they could serve their country with the same passion, courage, and dedication that any and every white soldier did.


Lieutenant Colonel Hiram Mann was a Tuskegee Airman in the 332nd fighter group and piloted a P-51D Mustang.

"The first time I applied for a commission I was sent a rejection letter with a very distinct answer
of why I would not be able to serve as a pilot," said Mann. "The letter stated there were no facilities to train Negros, so I went back to being a bell hop - fat, dumb and happy."

Before being accepted Mann applied to more times. I learned a lot from the rejection letters,"
said Mann. "I learned that I was going to have to fight tooth and nail for the ability to defend my country as a fighter pilot."

Their instructors at basic training were all white. "Our instructors were white," said Mann. "They (instructors) would hassle us just for being black and would use the excuse that they were preparing us for the stress of war. Fortunately my instructor went easier on our group." However through struggles, ups, and downs Mann got through it all and was able to serve his country as a pilot.


  • 992 pilots graduated from Tuskegee, with the last class finishing on June 29,1946.
  • 992 pilots graduated from Tuskegee University, the last of which graduated on June 29, 1946
  • They were split between four flight squadrons; the 99th, 100th, 301st & 302nd. The combined forces of the four squadrons formed the 332nd Fighter Group.
  • The Tuskegee Airmen shot either down or damaged 409 German aircraft.
  • The Tuskegee Airmen destroyed 950 ground units such as trucks, railroad cars, etc
  • The "Red Tail" heroes sunk one German Navy destroyer using only machine gun fire.
  • George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, made a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen and there is a movie that was made in recent years called "Red Tails" that is also about the Tuskegee Airmen.
  • One of the Tuskegee Airmen almost started another war when they came close to shooting down one of the leaders of Libya in a dog fight over Tripoli.


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