Segregated Skies: All-Black Combat Squadrons of WW II

Segregated Skies: All-Black Combat Squadrons of WW II

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Sandler chronicles the pioneering efforts of the all-black 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Medium Bomber Group during WW II, emphasizing how painfuly aware the pilots and ground crew were of having to “prove” themselves as no white squadron had to. For example, Air Corps chief Gen. Henry Arnold resented their presence in his service: “The Negro tires easily,” he wrote in a notorious memo. In a postwar evaluation, the Air Force concluded that the 332nd was a mediocre outfit, “not worth the time and effort”; but Sandler ( The Emergence of the Modern Capital Ship ) argues that the record demonstrates that it was a “good to average” group whose efficiency was warped by the demands of racial segregation. The unit’s war record was unique in one respect: in its hundreds of escort missions, the 332nd did not lose a single bomber to enemy aircraft. The 477th never saw action. Drawn from interviews and offical documents, this important history reveals how the wartime experience of a relative handful of black pilots and crewmen opened the way for racial integration of the armed forces within five years after the end of the war.

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