The story that the fighter pilots of the 332nd Fighter Squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen, never lost an escorted bomber to enemy fighter action is a myth. It is a myth that has become so pervasive, it is repeated everywhere without being questioned.
The truth is that the “Red Tails” escorted the big bombers on 179 missions and lost 27 bombers to enemy aircraft.
Ron Brewington, an historian and a member of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., said the mistake apparently grew out of a headline in the Chicago Guardian in 1945, which claimed the Tuskegee Airmen “never lost a bomber” in more than 200 missions. That was accepted and repeated in many places until about 10 years ago a researcher named Bill Holton, who was going through records stored at Maxwell Air Force Base, found information that the unit had actually lost bombers. Brewington said he turned his information over to the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
Brewington said he and Holton are part of an informal group of about 12 historians who research topics as they become interested and then share their information.
Dr. Daniel Haulman then conducted extensive research in the Maxwell archives. He studied the reports filed by the 332nd Fighter Group, the bomber groups of the 15th Air Force and the reports by the survivors of the planes that were shot down. He also examined German records as well, to conclude that the Red Tails lost 27 bombers to attacks by enemy aircraft.
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