Being the very first of anything is never ever simple, especially when you are representing an entire race. Understanding this, it was tough for the Tuskegee Airmen, a.k.a. Red Tails for the red mark on the tail of their airplane, to participate in The second world war as the first African-American pilots in history. They served from 1943-1945, collecting magnificent records and making great respect for their performance. But most importantly, the Red Tails helped attain equivalent rights for African-Americans.
The Tuskegee Airmen revealed persistence in the battle to get involved in the war, which set a precedent for colored-people, they showed that African Americans can do anything any other people can do, and their impressive performance gave the army a factor to involve African-Americans in the war.
Despite the arduous barriers they had to face, the Tuskegee Airmen showed a terrific amount of decision and perseverance to play a part in World War II. First of all, the Tuskegee Airmen encountered numerous political problems to even be allowed to train in air travel.
Prior to 1940, African-Americans were considered incapable of utilizing aircraft equipment. In January 15 1941, the NAACP demanded that there should be a test done to evaluate the capabilities of African-Americans in regards to aviation. Jessie Smith says so in among his referrals, saying” Due to the fact that the armed force expected– and hoped– that these men would stop working, the training program was called the ‘Tuskegee Experiment’… In military air travel, however, they would be highly noticeable and would show that they might master intricate equipment.
”(Carney 191). With the assistance of the NAACP, African Americans were permitted to start aviation training in Tuskegee University.
Still, the African-Americans faced difficulties along the way in training. McLaurin Melton supports this by writing, “At home, segregation continued to affect the efficiency of Tuskegee’s training programs. Trainees who washed out at Tuskegee but who could have served as navigators or bombardiers, for example, had no such opportunities until, under intense pressure from civilian civil rights advocates, the AAF finally established the 477th Medium Bombardment Group in 1944. The continuing inefficiencies caused by segregation so hampered the training efforts of the 477th that it never obtained full strength before the war’s end and was thus never assigned to combat.”(McLaurin Melton 1032). Segregation was a major limiting factor of Black aviation, however, through pressure from several directions, the American Air Force yielded and created one of the five fighter groups, which was a great advancement.
When the African-American fighter groups finally graduated from Tuskegee University, with great pride and courage, they proved that African-Americans are capable of doing anything other can do. The Tuskegee Airmen graduated from Tuskegee University and formed 4 all-black squadrons which would merge to become the 332nd squadron in Spring of 1943. When they were given their first mission to strafe the island of Pantelleria, they did not fail. In jaded, old P-39 and P-40 aircrafts, documented by the national museum of the United States Air Force, it is recorded at that same day, that the Allies, “secured the Italian island of Pantelleria.”(“Davis leads the 99th into Combat”). It continues, stating,” The unit scored its first aerial victory against the Luftwaffe on July 2 when Lt. Charles B. Hall shot down a Focke Wulf Fw 190 on his eighth mission.”
The Airmen were off to a good start, and their success would continue. Furthermore, the Tuskegee Airmen, now known as the Red-Tails were a force to be reckoned with. According to Lynn Homan, the author of Black Knights, they tallied one of the best flying records of all-time. “Of their 926 that graduated to become Tuskegee Airmen, 66 were killed. They shot 111 enemy airplanes down, destroying 150 others on ground and sank a German destroyer…participating in Italy, France, Sicily, Germany, and the Balkans(Lynn Homan 14). Through their statistics, the famed Red Tails proved that not only could African-Americans compare with the status-quo, but they were capable of setting new standards for excellent piloting.
In addition, the Tuskegee Airmen’s success opened opportunities for them in combat. By the time the Tuskegee Airmen were known as the Red-Tails, they became feared by any enemy aircraft in the sky or ground. They were offered more combat missions as well as bombing escorts in response to those acts of bravery For instance Lynn Homan once more states that the Tuskegee airmen “succeeded in 200 bomber missions, not losing one single bomber to the enemy.“(33).
This did not slow the success of the Tuskegee Airmen. Encyclopedia Britannica records the Red Tails “flew 1,578 missions and 15,533 sorties, destroyed 261 enemy aircraft, and won more than 850 medals.”(“The Tuskegee Airmen”). Regardless of the type they were assigned, with more missions, came more opportunities for triumph. The Red Tails were a force to be reckoned with. But the most important part was that other people acknowledged them, and implicated them as elites.
In conclusion, the famed Red Tails helped attain rights for African Americans through their effort to begin African-American piloting, their remarkable performance that brought proof that African-American are capable of doing anything other races could do,, and the their performance opened opportunities up for them which gave more chances to prove themselves. The Tuskegee Airmen compelled many African-Americans to go above and beyond. They proved themselves to the world and did so in great means. Because threw their outstanding aviation skills they truly showed that the sky is the limit.
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