The image below was taken at EAA Air Venture with actors re-enacting WWII going over a briefing of a mission after their return to home base. In the background are P51 Mustangs.
Like all Army Air Corps pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen trained in planes that would become aviation legends over the years. Many of them are still flying in air shows today. First among these was the Boeing PT13 Stearman. In the Stearman the cadet would learn aviation fundamentals and aerobatics.
The Stearman was a rugged biplane that was very demanding, but rewarding to fly. It was powered by a radial engine and had an open cockpit with tandem seating. The instructor sat in the rear, the student in the front. Its open cockpit let the student feel at one with the air hearing all the sounds of flight. Since the Air Corps flew in all types of weather, the open cockpit meant freezing your tail off was a rite of passage for every Tuskegee Airmen Cadet.
The North American T6 Texanwas the trainer used around the world by allied air forces during WWII. In the T6 the cadet would learn aerobatics used in combat, aerial gunnery, sophisticated navigation and ordnance delivery (bomb dropping).
It is an all metal monoplane powered by a Pratt & Whitney radial engine. The T6 also had tandem seating, but an enclosed cockpit. The monoplane design, enclosed cockpit and retractable landing gear made it much faster than the Stearman and much closer to the fighters the cadet would fly in combat, if he made it through flight training. The T6 was very demanding to fly. Many veteran pilots stated that “if you could fly the T6, the more advanced fighters would be a piece of cake”.
The P-51 Mustang was developed by North American Aviation under contract for the British Royal Air Force. The original model, the P-51A, was an effective ground support aircraft, but it wasn’t until it was fitted with the Merlin engine, first appearing on the B and C models, that the aircraft became an effective interceptor.
The Mustang first flew in October 1940 and went into service in July 1942 with the RAF and later in 1942 with the U.S. Army Air Force. The Mustang served with distinction well into the 1960’s with the Dominican Republic flying them in active service until 1984!
P-51C Mustang N61429
This aircraft, donated to the CAF in 1988, was assigned to the Minnesota Wing for restoration. After several years and over a half million-dollar investment, the aircraft, “Tuskegee Airmen” flew for the first time in 2001 to honor and tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. The name “By Request” was the name of Col. B.O. Davis’ plane. He named his plane this because white pilots would request the Tuskegee Airmen to escort them due to their excellence.
The colors represent the four fighter squadrons in the 332nd Group.
The red and yellow cowling represents the 302nd Fighter Squadron.
The A on the side represents the 99th Fighter Squadron.
The yellow banding on the wings represents the 301st Fighter Squadron.
The red fins on the wings represents the 100th Fighter Squadron.
In honor of black history month we salute the Tuskeegee Airman!
Submitted by Member Larry Grace