attack it was re-equipped with P-39 Airacobra with

which, starting on January 1, 1942, it participated in

the War Games. In May, now 52nd FG was ordered

to deploy to Great Britain and therefore on May 11

it transferred to the North-East and started the

preparations for the cross-Atlantic flight. However,

the same as the 31st FG, it ultimately sailed to Great Britain. In June, at the RAF base in Eglington in

Northern Ireland, the unit received Spitfires Mk.Vb

and started with training.

In September the 52nd FG was transferred under

XII FC and on November 1 its flying personnel sailed

to Gibraltar to accept the new tropicalized Spitfires

Mk.Vb and participate in the Operation Torch and

further combat in North Africa. After the fighting

in North Africa ceased the 52nd FG was transferred

under the Mediterranean Allied Coastal Air Force,

MACAF. The mission of this Allied command was

convoy protection in the Mediterranean Sea, anti-submarine patrols, port patrols and attacks on

the enemy shipping in the Mediterranean. Performing these duties, the 52nd FG squadrons moved

among the airport in the Mediterranean. On July 23,

the group was relocated to Sicily, Bocca di Falco

airport new Palermo where it flew night-fighting


In November 1943 the unit transferred to Corsica

where the 2nd and 5th FS flew out of Borgo airport and the 4th FS out of Calvi airport. Durting

this period the unit, among other duties, conducted the dive bombing attacks on ships and ports.

In the beginning of April 1944, the conversion to P-51B/C Mustang started and on May 1 the 52nd FG

was attached to the 15th AF formation. On May 10

it flew its first mission escorting B-17 on their raid

to Nice in France. The 52nd FG comprised the 2nd

FS (code letters QP), 4th FS (code letters WD) and

5th FS (code letters VF). The unit markings were

the yellow, black outlined band in front of the tail

surfaces or tail surfaces painted entirely yellow,

black outlined wingtips and red nose and propeller




The 325th FG was formed on June 24, 1942,

and activated on August 3, 1942. It was equipped

with P-40s. During January and February 1942,

it was transferred to North Africa and ordered under

the 12th AF command. On April 17, 1943, it flew its

first combat mission. In September 1943 the 325th

FG converted to P-47D Thunderbolt and in December it relocated to Italy where it became the part

of the newly-formed 15th AF. In May 1944 the unit

was re-equipped with the P-51B/C Mustang which

it flew until the second half of 1944 when it gradually converted to the new P-51D Mustang which

it flew until the end of war. 325th FG comprised

the 317th FS (tactical markings by black numerals

from 10 to 30), 318th FS (tactical markings by black

numerals from 40 to 69) and 319th FS (tactical

markings by black, yellow outlined numerals from

70 to 99). The tactical numbers from 1 to 9 were

used by the staff flight. The unit markings were

yellow-black checkered tail surfaces or the whole

aircraft tail and red nose and red propeller spinner.

The 319th FS had the red nose outlined with yellow

stripes. 325th FS commanders’ aircraft carried the

numeral 100 on the fuselage.


The African Americans who joined the air forces

are nowadays known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The

law which allowed them to undergo the military pilot training was passed in 1939, after twenty years’

effort of the human rights activists. Their path to

the cockpits of the military airplanes was long and

difficult. During WWII the racial segregation rules

were still in place in the USA and because of that

the Tuskegee airmen were discriminated both while

on duty and in private. Altogether 922 African American aviators went through the training at Griel

Field, Kennedy Field, Moton Field, Shorter Field and

Tuskegee. There was a total of 355 aviators from

Tuskegee deployed in Africa and later in Europe

within the 12th and 15th AF USAAF, 68 of them were

killed in action.

The first combat fighter unit with African American

personnel was 99th Fighter Squadron flying P-40F

in the Mediterranean from April 1944. Later it was

attached to the 332nd Fighter Group which originally comprised the 100th, 301st and 302nd Fighter

Squadrons and from the beginning of 1944 had its

base in Italy. The 322nd FG therefore operated the

non-standard four squadron formation. The 322nd

FG equipped with P-47D Thunderbolt was assigned

the escort missions already in June 1944. In July

Airport Pyriatyn, Ukraine, June

1, 1944. Lt. Col. Chester L. Slutter

(first on right) chatting with the

soviet air force officers after

landing at the Pyriatyn airport in

Ukraine having completed the first

“shuttle” mission. Pyriatyn is located approximately 140 km east of

Kiev. On this mission 42 members

of ground personnel flew on board

of the B-17s while one of the 325th

FG mechanics replaced one B-17

crew member. One of the bombers

was shot down over the target,

marshalling yards in Debrecen,

Hungary. 325th FG member, Sgt.

Austin J. Cronin was on board.

photo: Fold3

The 317th FG P-51B can be seen in

the background.

July 2022

INFO Eduard