This extremely historically significant World War II A-2 flight jacket showcases two all African-American fighter squadron emblems, the 100th Fighter Squadron and 302nd Fighter Squadron. In all there were only four African-American fighter squadrons to enter combat in World War II, and they trace their origins to the original Tuskegee Airmen. The term Tuskegee Airmen references African-American U.S. Army Air Forces servicemen, not just pilots, who fought in World War II. All were trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field and Tuskegee Institute near Tuskegee, Alabama. There were only 922 pilots, and they were the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces. The 100th FS and 302nd FS were part of the famed 332nd Fighter Group, better known as “The Redtails.” The crimson painted vertical stabilizers of the aircraft earned the unit the nickname. As an all African-American unit, “The Redtails” not only fought Nazism but also American prejudice. These were courageous men who had to overcome their own military establishment's belief that African-Americans were unable to become pilots as they were inferior to white Americans. The Tuskegee Airmen flew over 15,000 individual sorties in the European and Mediterranean Theater of Operations and earned an impressive record that paved the way for integration of the U.S. Armed Forces in 1948. In fact, the 332nd FG was one of the USAAF’s most successful and most decorated units to come out of World War II. The legacy of the 302nd FS continues to this day as it was reactivated as part of the 477th Fighter Group at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, in 2007 to become the Air Force Reserve Command’s first unit equipped with the F-22 Raptor. Also in 2007, the 100th FS was re-designated and replaced the 160th FS of the Alabama Air National Guard. The return of the 100th as a fighter squadron honored the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen that began in the state. The size 34 jacket was made by Bronco Manufacturing Co. (contract no. W33-38AC-176) and has a Talon zipper. The left chest features a pilot wing embossed on leather above a wonderful embroidered 302nd FS patch depicting a flying devil. On the right chest is a multi-color leather 100th FS patch depicting a winged panther sitting on top of a world globe. Emblems on both shoulders have been removed. Provenance: The Putnam Green/Sycamore Collection
Good. The cuffs and waist band show wear and repairs. The leather shows age and wear. The 100th FS patch is well worn. The 302nd FS patch mostly retains tight stitching and is a fine example of an embroidery squadron emblem. A great opportunity to acquire a World War II A-2 flight jacket with not one but two famed Tuskegee Airmen squadron patches!