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World War II archive photos document Tuskegee Airmen in EuropeWorld War II archive photos document Tuskegee Airmen in Europe

Library of Congress collection follows 332nd Fighter Group pilots, crew

A collection of historical images from the U.S. Library of Congress documents the daily lives of Tuskegee Airmen preparing for European theater missions during World War II.

  • Tuskegee Airman Edward Gleed, of Lawrence, Kansas, is framed by a North American P-51 Mustang known as "Creamer’s Dream" during training for bomber escort missions in World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airman Edward Gleed, of Kansas, and two unidentified airmen attach a 75-gallon external drop tank to the wing of a North American P-51D Mustang known as "Creamer’s Dream" in Ramitelli, Italy, during World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen crew chief Marcellus Smith, of Kentucky, works on a North American P-51 Mustang engine cowl in Ramitelli, Italy, in March 1945. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • A Tuskegee Airman observes pilots during World War II in Ramitelli, Italy, an airfield known as the home base for the Fifteenth Air Force’s 332nd Fighter Group. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen attend a briefing in Ramitelli, Italy, during World War II in March 1945. The airfield was known as the home base for the Fifteenth Air Force’s 332nd Fighter Group. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airman Edward Thomas is shown in Ramitelli, Italy, during World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen based overseas attend a briefing in Ramitelli, Italy, in March 1945 during World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen crew chief Marcellus Smith and Roscoe Brown perform repairs on fighter aircraft in Ramitelli, Italy, during World War II in March 1945. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen based in Europe attend a March 1945 briefing in Ramitelli, Italy. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • A group of Tuskegee Airmen prepare for a flight in Ramitelli Italy, during World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. looks skyward next to a North American P-51 Mustang based in Ramitelli, Italy, during World War II. Davis would later become the first Black officer in the U.S. Air Force to hold the rank of general. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen exit the parachute room during a World War II mission in Ramitelli, Italy. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airman Roscoe Brown, crew chief Marcellus Smith, and Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. prepare aircraft armament in Ramitelli, Italy, the home base for the Fifteenth Air Force’s 332nd Fighter Group during World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen ground crewmembers look skyward at the Ramitelli, Italy, airfield during World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen deployed to Europe play cards in the officer’s club during World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen deployed to Europe enjoy an evening card game in the officer’s club during World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • Tuskegee Airmen Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. and Edward Gleed are suited up and standing next to a North American P-51 Mustang at the Ramitelli, Italy, airfield known as the base for the Fifteenth Air Force's 332nd Fighter Group during World War II. Photo by Toni Frissell, courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Pilots, crewmembers, and other 332nd Fighter Group personnel deployed to a Ramitelli, Italy, airfield are shown in black-and-white photos as they attach armament to North American P–51 Mustang fighters, attend mission briefings, suit up in parachutes, and relax over games of cards.

The group of Black pilots became known for their skill during bomber escort missions, and the squadron picked up the nickname “Red Tails” because of the red-painted tail feathers of their fighter aircraft.

The photos are credited to American fashion photographer Toni Frissell, who volunteered during the war to document the Eighth Army Air Force, the Women’s Army Corps, and the American Red Cross. Frissell’s professional photography career led her to cover subjects as varied as vaqueros riding horses through wheat fields in Chile and nuns clamming in Long Island, New York. Her high-fashion work was featured in the magazines Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-winning AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft and photography.
Topics: People, Warbird

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