Safe Passage Home
by John D. Shaw
|Flying his P-51C 'Kitten', Lt. Charles McGee and Mustangs of the 332nd. Fighter Group escort B-24 Liberators of the 459th. Bomb Group back to their base in Italy after a daylight bombing mission, Summer 1944.
Known as the 'Red Tails' these all black pilots gained a reputation for their unparalleled record of safety protecting their bombers, often being specifically requested for this duty by the bomber crews themselves.
|Museum presentation||Signed by Charles McGee & B-24 tail-gunner Corliss Norton|
|matted to include four additional Tuskegee signatures & original WWII USAAF pilots wings.|
|This print has been conservation matted with triple mats and shadow-box layer, to include four additional Tuskegee Mustang pilot signatures detailed below. Also included in the mount are original WWII Sterling silver USAAF pilot wings.
All materials used in the matting meet the highest conservation standards. - Overall mat size: 26¼" x 37⅛"
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|Sterling silver WWII USAAF pilot wings included in the mount|
|Col. Charles McGee
McGee graduated from flight school and shipped out to Italy in December 1943 as a Flight Lieutenant in the 302nd. Fighter Squadron, 332nd. Fighter Group. He flew missions in North Africa, Italy and Germany, and scored his first victory on the 24th. of August, flying escort on the Ploesti oil field raid. After the war this outstanding flyer commanded fighter squadrons throughout the United States, Italy, the Philippines and Germany, logging more than 6,100 hours in 409 combat missions spanning WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Serving in the armed forces for thirty years he holds the record of flying more combat missions than any other U.S. fighter-pilot in history.
|Sgt. Corliss Norton
Corliss Norton entered the Army Air Corp in June of 1942. He trained as the tail gunner on B-24’s prior to being assigned to the 15th Air Force, 459th Bomb Squadron based in Creganola, Italy. On his third mission, his plane was hit by flak leaving the Ploesti Oil Fields and crash landed into the Adriatic Sea. After being rescued by a PBY, he and the surviving crew members rehabilitated from their injuries and returned to combat missions later in the year. Corliss completed thirty-nine combat missions and participated in some of the most important air missions of the war. These included a return mission to Ploesti as well as multiple trips to Budapest, Vienna, and Blechhammer. After the completion of his European tour and a subsequent return to the states, he qualified as a B-29 gunnery trainer in preparation for the anticipated invasion of Japan. Corliss was honorably discharged in October, 1945. He was awarded the Purple Heart as well as the Air Medal with three Oak Clusters amongst other citations.
|2nd Lt. Lowell Steward (matted)
Enlisting in 1942 after receiving his B.A. in business, Steward was one of about 1,000 pilots trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. After receiving training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, Steward was sent to Italy in 1944 with the 100th Fighter Squadron. From Capodichino Air Base in Naples, Italy he flew a number of missions in Bell P-39 Airacobras and Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. He was subsequently based in Ramitelli Airfield where he flew many more missions in P-51 Mustangs. In total, he flew 143 missions.
|Lt Col. William Wheeler (matted)
After he was commissioned as a second lieutenant on March 12, 1944 with Tuskegee’s 44 cadet class Bill Wheeler was assigned to Walterboro Army Airfield, in South Carolina where he received additional aerial training from Tuskegee graduates who had already flown in
He was assigned to the 302nd Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group, in Ramitelli, Italy, and flew strafing and bomber escort missions over Europe. His combat career was cut short on his his sixth mission when a respiratory ailment caused him to black out at 36,000 feet. His P-51 dived more than five miles before he regained consciousness. Wheeler received an honorable discharge in 1945
|Lt. Col. Charles Lane (matted)
The youngest black aviator of WWII, Lane flew 26 combat missions with the 99th Fighter Squadron in his P-51 ‘Meatball Rap’.
|Lt. Col. Howard Baugh (matted)
Baugh enlisted in the U.S. Army as an aviation cadet of the U.S. Army Air Corps in March 1942. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in November, and flew 136 combat missions with the 332nd Fighter Group in Italy. After World War II, Baugh continued to serve in the military as a flight instructor, commander, and director of logistics. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1967.
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