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P-51D Mustang "Tuskegee Airmen Squadron"

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Code: AM225-GR
 
Length: 14 1/2"
Wingspan: 17 1/2"
Scale: 1/27
Includes desk stand.
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was a long-range single-seat World War II fighter aircraft. Designed, built and airborne in just 117 days, the Mustang first flew in RAF service as a fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft before conversion to a bomber escort, employed in raids over Germany, helping ensure Allied air superiority from early 1944. The P-51 was in service with Allied air forces in Europe and also saw limited service against the Japanese in the Pacific War. The Mustang began the Korean War as the United Nations' main fighter, but was relegated to a ground attack role when superseded by jet fighters early in the conflict. Nevertheless, it remained in service with some air forces until the early 1980s.
As well as being economical to produce, the Mustang was a fast, well-made, and highly durable aircraft. The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650, a two-stage two-speed supercharged version of the legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, and was armed with six .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns.
After World War II and the Korean War, many Mustangs were converted for civilian use, especially air racing. The Mustang's reputation was such that, in the mid-1960s, Ford Motor Company's Designer John Najjar proposed the name for a new youth-oriented coupe automobile after the fighter.
The 332d Air Expeditionary Wing’s lineage dates back to July 4, 1942, when it was first established as the 332d Fighter Group, at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Alabama, and became active on October 13, 1942.
Tuskegee was slated to train African-American pilots, mechanics and other support personnel who would eventually be assigned to the 332d. The first 5 cadets, out of a class of 13, graduated and earned their wings in 1942, (eventually, 992 pilots would follow in their footsteps) and were assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron. The squadron deployed to French Morocco, in April 1943, and flew P-40 Warhawk aircraft while serving under Twelfth Air Force.
By 1944, the 332d had three full squadrons of Tuskegee Airmen, and in May of that year, the 99th Fighter Squadron became the fourth squadron to join the group’s 100th, 301st and 302d Fighter Squadrons. The group’s commander was a former squadron commander and the most famous Tuskegee Airman, Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. {A 2nd Lt Instructor for the 99th F.S. pilots was Daniel James, Jr.}. The 332d Fighter Group’s Tuskegee Airmen became the only African-American pilots in combat in the Army Air Forces during World War II. Immediately after the arrival of the 99FS, the group received a new mission—escorting B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers against strategic targets in southern and central Europe.
By the end of May 1944, the group transitioned from P-40s to P-47 Thunderbolt fighters, and settled at Ramitelli Airfield, Italy as part of the Fifteenth Air Force 306th Fighter Wing. During the Summer of 1944, the group began flying P-51 Mustangs, which were much faster and more maneuverable—the Tuskegee Airmen proudly painted their aircraft tails crimson red to distinguish them from fighters of other groups.
With the P-51s, the group flew long-range bomber escort missions against targets such as oil refineries, airfields, and marshalling yards. As the war progressed, the 332 FG established an enviable combat record. Highlights of which occurred on July 11, 1944, when they shot down 18 enemy fighters in one day while flying a bomber escort mission; and on March 24, 1945, while escorting B-17s during a raid on a tank factory in Berlin, the 332 FG’s P-51s downed three German jet fighters. For their accomplishments, the group earned the Distinguished Unit Citation.
With the end of hostilities in Europe in May 1945, the 332d was reassigned to the 305th Bombardment Wing, to prepare for a move to the Pacific Theater and engage in combat against Japan. With the Atom Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of the war, this became unnecessary and the 332d eventually returned to the United States and was assigned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, where it inactivated on October 19, 1945. On July 28, 1947, the unit again activated, this time at the wing level, as the 332d Fighter Wing. Two years later, at Lockbourne Army Airfield, Ohio, on July 1, 1949, the wing inactivated and remained dormant for the next 49 years. The Tuskegee Airmen can proudly claim a prestigious and honorable record of flying 1,578 missions, 15,533 sorties, achieving 109 aerial kills and 152 aircraft destroyed on the ground. During its existence, 66 of the unit's Airmen were killed in action and 32 became prisoners of war.


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