Tuskegee Airmen, circa 1942-43
The Tuskegee Airmen were African American pilots, crew, and personnel associated with the Army flight training school in Tuskegee, Alabama, during World War II. The best known of these units were the 99th Pursuit (Fighter) Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, and 477th Bombardment (Composite) Group.
Prior to the Tuskegee Airmen, no African Americans had been allowed to serve as pilots in the U.S. military. Although various groups had advocated for African Americans to serve as military aviators, it was not until World War II that these efforts came to fruition. The 99th Pursuit Squadron was formed as the first black fighter squadron in 1941.
Units & Experiences
The 99th Pursuit Squadron was sent overseas to North Africa and then Italy beginning in 1943. In 1944, when the 332nd Fighter Group was sent overseas, the 99th became part of it. The 477th was activated as an African American bomber group in 1944 but never saw overseas service.
Because their flight training was conducted at Tuskegee Army Air Field, the African American aviators became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. They served not only as pilots, but also as bombardiers, navigators, instructors, mechanics, medical personnel, and more. Some of the best known of the Tuskegee Airmen include figures such as Charles B. Hall, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Daniel James Jr., and Charles Alfred Anderson.
The airmen faced racial discrimination and served in segregated units. In April 1945, African American officers of the 477th tried to integrate an all-white officer’s club at Indiana’s Freeman Army Airfield in what became known as the Freeman Field “mutiny.”
The Tuskegee Airmen served with distinction, and by the end of the war they had received 3 Distinguished Unit Citations as well as many individual honors and medals. In 2007, they were collectively awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.
Articles and Clippings about the Tuskegee Airmen
U.S. to enlist African Americans for Air Corps service with flight training at Tuskegee Thu, Mar 27, 1941 – 1 · The Evergreen Courant (Evergreen, Alabama) · Newspapers.comBuilding of military air field at Tuskegee is underway; Explanation of pilot training at Tuskegee Sat, Jul 12, 1941 – Page 2 · The New York Age (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comFirst class of aviation cadets begin training at Tuskegee Institute for 99th Pursuit Squadron Sat, Jul 19, 1941 – 11 · Southeast Air Corps Training Center News (Montgomery, Alabama) · Newspapers.comPhotos of the training of the 99th Pursuit Squadron at Tuskegee Fri, Sep 5, 1941 – 1 · The Weekly Review (Birmingham, Alabama) · Newspapers.comPhotos of the 99th Pursuit Squadron at Tuskegee published in 1942 Sat, Jan 24, 1942 – Page 1 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com99th Pursuit Squadron is reported as doing well in flight training Sat, Feb 7, 1942 – Page 13 · The Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware) · Newspapers.comArticle and photos about training for the Tuskegee Airmen Sat, Jul 4, 1942 – Page 24 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comSpotlight on Willa Brown, who helped pave the way for the Tuskegee Airmen Sun, Oct 11, 1942 – 9 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.comWar Secretary Stimson praises work of African American engineer, quartermaster & antiaircraft units Sat, Aug 14, 1943 – Page 1 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comArticle excerpt about 99th Pursuit Squadron's need for better planes than their P-40 Warhawks Sat, Sep 18, 1943 – Page 4 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comBenjamin O. Davis Jr. takes command of the 332nd Fighter Group Wed, Oct 6, 1943 – 305 · Daily News (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comPilots of the 99th Pursuit Squadron give firsthand accounts of their wartime experiences Sat, Oct 16, 1943 – Page 2 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comAccounts of some of the experiences of Tuskegee Airmen pilots during World War II Sat, Oct 30, 1943 – Page 2 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comImage of bomber pilots from the 477th Bombardment Group Sat, Mar 25, 1944 – Page 3 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comPhotos of Tuskegee Airmen published in a newspaper in 1944 Sun, Apr 2, 1944 – Page 67 · Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) · Newspapers.com477th Bombardment Group moves to new base at Godman Field Tue, May 9, 1944 – Page 9 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from interview with George Spencer Roberts about his experiences commanding the 99th Sat, Jun 10, 1944 – Page 5 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comArticle discussing Colonel Selway and discrimination toward African American pilots Sat, Sep 9, 1944 – Page 11 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comNewspaper report about the "Freeman Field Mutiny" in Indiana Fri, Apr 20, 1945 – 3 · Vidette-Messenger of Porter County (Valparaiso, Indiana) · Newspapers.comAfrican American "Fliers Seen Victims of General's Planned Segregation" Sat, Jun 2, 1945 – Page 5 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comBenjamin O. Davis Jr. replaces Robert R. Selway Jr. as commander of the 477th Composite Group Fri, Jun 22, 1945 – Page 9 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.comArmy begins reducing Tuskegee Airmen units after end of World War II Sat, Oct 20, 1945 – Page 3 · The New York Age (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com