Redtails and the Bomb Run to Berlin

Redtails and the Bomb Run to Berlin Famous Historical Events Tragedies and Triumphs American History Aviation & Space Exploration World War II

In March of 1945, pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group—some of the Tuskegee Airmen who'd received their flight training at Tuskegee Institute—escorted bombers to Berlin.  It was a 1600-mile journey.

During that month, Toni Frissell—a famous photographer—visited the Red Tails at their Ramitelli base.  She took many pictures—posed and natural—of the "Red Tails." 

In this scene, we see several pilots in front of "Skipper's Darlin' III"—the P-51 Mustang flown by Captain Andrew ("Jug") Turner.  The plane's name is a play on  Turner's job:  He was commander of the 100th Fighter Squadron (which was part of the 332nd Fighter Group).

The Library of Congress, which maintains the Toni Frissell Collection, gives this description to the photo:

Pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group, "Tuskegee Airmen," the elite, all-African American 332nd Fighter Group. 

From left to right, Lt. Dempsey W. Morgran, Lt. Carroll S. Woods, Lt. Robert H. Nelron, Jr., Capt. Andrew D. Turner, and Lt. Clarence P. [also known as "Lucky"] Lester.

Who was Toni Frissell, the photographer who took this picture? The Library of Congress provides a brief bio about her:

Remembered today principally for her high-fashion photography for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, Toni Frissell (1907-1988) volunteered her photographic services to the American Red Cross, Women’s Army Corps, and Eighth Army Air Force during WWII. On their behalf, she produced thousands of images of nurses, front-line soldiers, WACs, African-American airmen, and orphaned children.

Frissell’s leap from fashion photography into war reportage echoed the desires of earlier generations of newswomen to move from “soft news” of fashion and society pages into the “hard news” of the front page.

On volunteering for the American Red Cross in 1941, Frissell said: “I became so frustrated with fashions that I wanted to prove to myself that I could do a real reporting job.” Using her connections with high-profile society matrons, Frissell aggressively pursued wartime assignments at home and abroad, often over her family's objections.

Part of the purpose of her photography exploits was to give her subjects publicity. That was also true for the work she did with the African-American airmen of the 332nd Fighter Group. The Library of Congress tell us more:

Frissell’s work usually involved creating images to support the publicity objectives of her subjects. Her photographs of WACs in training and under review by President Franklin Roosevelt fit into a media campaign devised to counter negative public perception of women in uniform.

Likewise, Frissell’s images of the African American fighter pilots of the elite 332nd Fighter Group were intended to encourage positive public attitudes about the fitness of blacks to handle demanding military jobs.

Click on the image for a significantly better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5186stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 08, 2016

Updated Last Revision: Dec 08, 2016

Media Credits

Photo from the Toni Frissell Collection at the Library of Congres.  Image online, courtesy Library of Congress.


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"Redtails and the Bomb Run to Berlin" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 08, 2016. Apr 25, 2019.
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