This months museum spotlight is about a recent event at the museum where WWII Historian and Reenactor Joel E. Brown talked about the Tuskeegee Airmen. Below is an article he wrote about the presentation and some pictures from the event.
99th Fighter Squadron Over Anzio
(Tuskegee Airmen with 12th Tactical Air Force WWII)
by WWII Historian Joel E. Brown
Toward the end of April 1943, the 99th F.S. was the first contingent of African American fighter pilots to reach the war zone in WWII. Eight days before the invasion of Sicily on July 2nd, 1943 while escorting B-25 medium bombers of the 12th Tactical Air Force flying out of Tunisia, a F.S. pilot shot down an attacking German FW-190. His name was Charles B. Hall of Indiana, the first African American to confirm an air to air victory in WWII.
(However preceding Charles B. Hall with the distinction of being first in shooting down an enemy aircraft was Dorie Miller on the battleship Arizona at Pearl Harbor on the first day of North America's entrance into WWII, December 7th, 1941. Using a .50 cal. heavy machine gun mounted on an upper deck of the battleship, Dorie Miller shot down as many as five (5) attacking Japanese aircraft. Eleven months later during the Allied invasion of North Africa, early November 1942 Black gunners of the 450th Anti-Aircraft Battalion from on board a naval vessel destroyed a German fighter-bomber). It would be over six months from July of 1943 before the 99th pilots confirmed their next air victory.
On January 22nd, 1944 Allied forces landed at Anzio on the SW coast of Italy. During this period the 99th was fourth squadron of the 79th Fighter Group. The 12th Tactical Air Force was made responsible for isolating the battle area to prevent enemy forces from bringing up reinforcements and supplies necessary for a successful counterattack. On the morning of January 27th A Flight of the 99th led by Captain Clarence Jamison spotted a group of enemy fighters over the Anzio beachhead. In less than four minutes the American pilots had downed five enemy aircraft. That afternoon three more enemy aircraft were destroyed by the 99th pilots. On January 28th the 99th was credited with four more, Captain Charles B. Hall confirming two. Between February 5th and 10th the 99th got another four, bringing their total to date 17 confirmed, 4 probables, and 6 damaged. The success of the 99th now brought official commendation from U.S. military sources previously negative on its future.
On 19 March 1944 the 99th was tasked with knocking out the 280 mm RR Gun called; Anzio Annie, Anzio Express, or Leopold by the Germans. Eight P-40's were sent out to find tunnel openings in which the railroad gun might be hiding. When the tunnel was located four bombs were dropped. One American P-40 was damaged by flak, but Annie was permanently silenced.
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