LockedGeneral Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils

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2002/07/09 15:54:32 (permalink)
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General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils

With the death of General Benjamin Davis last week, a lot of press was on his black airmen fighter group, which some news guy said were called the Red Tailed Devils by the Germans. Any information on the group? Were they the Tuskegee Airmen? or a different group?
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Erich
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Re: [tkeating] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/07/09 17:22:25 (permalink)
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These fine airmen they are indeed the Tuskegee, noted for their stout defence of the US bomber formations. The P-51 group was basically ordered to sit tight during it's duration and was not given the open duties to take on aerial combat with German fighters like the 357th f.g. and others.
The newsman is full of crock in my opinion as I have never heard the term red-tailed devils by any Luftwaffe pilot or crewman.

Check your library or book distributor as there are several books on the fighter group in print. Also your search engines will come in handy.

Erich
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Scott Burris
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Re: [tkeating] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/07/09 17:24:09 (permalink)
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He was a former commander of the highly decorated 332nd Fighter Group

The outfit is but one of several dozen new forums that I added last weekend: [url "http://forum.armyairforces.coms/gforum.cgi?forum=312"]http://forum.armyairforces.coms/gforum.cgi?forum=312[/url]

You can read a brief summary of the group's history here:
[url "http://www.armyairforces.com/dbgroups.asp?Group=153"]http://www.armyairforces.com/dbgroups.asp?Group=153[/url]

The outfit was formed in Tuskegee, Alabama, which gave rise to the "Tuskegee Airmen" name. There was an excellent HBO film, The Tuskegee Airmen, made about the group in 1995. It is by far one of the better modern films on any AAF subject.
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Scott Burris
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Re: [Erich] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/07/09 17:26:56 (permalink)
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The "Red Tail" fighters are part of the 332nd FG history. I believe they even wear a distinctive red blazer at their reunions to celebrate that.
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Erich
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Re: [Scott Burris] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/07/09 18:56:55 (permalink)
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A small little volume on the Mustang aces of the 9th and the 15 A.F and the RAF # 7 by Jerry Scutts and through Osprey Publications......not a bad little volume if you would like a bit further history on the unit and some materials on the missions flown. March 24, 45 is interesting with the probable claim of a Me 163, but the Me 163 was not in the air in 1945.........this date the Red tails faced the Me 262 unit JG 7 in a short but hot air battle.

Erich
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Skyguy5
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Re: [Erich] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/07/14 16:43:33 (permalink)
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Erich,

Please understand I am NOT challenging your statement about the 163s not being in the air at all in 1945; but I do find it very interesting. Would you please elaborate as to why they were not used? [crazy]

Hugh
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Erich
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Re: [Skyguy5] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/07/14 17:32:52 (permalink)
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No problem :



Here is one of my sources and a very good one I might add.

Rudi Opitz, Guppenkommandeur of II./JG 400

From a lenghty letter dated March 4, 1999

"The following represents its structure of December 44 through 1945

JG 400 Kommandeur Wolfgang Späte

I./JG 400 consisted of 3 staffeln stationed at Brandis by Berlin

II./JG 400 based at Stargard an consisted of 3 staffeln organized and led by me (Rudi), Hauptmann.

Because of the Russian advance we forced to the west to three airprorts of 1 staffel each near the North sea. Despite full compliments of Pilots and a/c there was not a single mission flown out of Stargard becuase fuel for our Komets had not arrived before we had to leave. lack of fuel was our handicap for our gruppe.

lack of special fuels, landing space and the Russian threat sent many crewmen and a/c personell of the Geschwader to become land soldiers on the Russian front. I

I'll check a bit further for another resource.......and I have a couple more.

Erich
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Spec5 Mac
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Re: [Erich] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/09/12 09:58:04 (permalink)
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Erich,

I would like to understand what "ordered to sit tight" means in reference to the 332nd P51's. The action described by Gen. Davis in his autobiography does not sound like 'sitting tight.'

Also, Davis refers to the presence of Me-163 jet fighters on 24 March: "Within 50 miles of the Dailer-Benz target, 30 Me-262 and Me-163 jet fighters dived into our formation to attack the bombers."

Davis includes this description of the 332nd Hq at Cattolica: "Our stunning headquarters building looked like an expensive villa in a travel magazine. A sign extending across its facade announced, 'Home of the Red Tails, Hq 332d Fighter Group.' Red was clearly the dominant design motif: the ends of two whitewashed walkways were painted red and a green iron fence ...had red gates opening to the building's entrance."

I had the great privilege and thrill of meeting three of the Tuskegee Airmen when they opened a unit museum in Kuwait a three years ago. Among them was the only black "ace" of WWII, Buddy Archer. [Did the makers of the movie HART'S WAR know that Archer was the name of a real Red Tail when they gave a character in the movie the same name? In the movie, he is the man shot by the Germans when they find a weapon planted in his bunk.]

Even teenagers in attendance were much impressed by these men.
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Erich
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Re: [spec5mac] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/09/12 11:04:21 (permalink)
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Janet :

I can only imagine that the General believes what he saw. The unit I./JG 400 was only putting up 2/3 rocket a/c up on sorties in a months time and the unit never flew with JG 7's Me 262's. The Me 163 rocket unit only flew in ones and two's during their missions. On this date, Stab, I. and III./JG 7 flew in action and the 15th AF fighters mixed it up with them. The 15th AF fighters claimed 8 jets destroyed and 6 damaged. JG 7 lost a total of 3 Me 262's destroyed and 1 damaged.

Sitting tight means just that. Until 1945 the 332nd was given some pretty strict orders to stand by the bombers at all costs and defend them. They did not as far as I am aware/ were given the opportunities such as the 357th or 355th to go free lance after German fighters or to be able to freely dive onto German airfields for strafing......

Erich
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wdykes
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Re: [spec5mac] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/09/14 17:26:05 (permalink)
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I was there, and Gen. Davis order to stick with the bombers was followed to the letter. Only time one may have left us was if a fighter or two got on one's tail and chased him out for a while causing him to take evasive action. I flew tail in the 348th Sqdn, 99th BG, and have seen them next to our formation doing slow rolls with the sky full of Me-109's

[url "mailto:wdykes@sbcglobal.net"]wdykes@sbcglobal.net[/url]
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gburbo
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Re: [wdykes] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/12/09 23:23:20 (permalink)
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The intent of General Davis' order to stick with the formations was simple. Their job was to protect the bombers, not to rack up victories for themselves. The were also instructed to always escort damaged bombers. This philosophy contributed to there lower kill numbers (along with some serious racism in the awarding process). I also saved the lives of many bomber crewmen.

I would like to here from bomber crews that were protected by the Redtails. I have an educational project under construction and I have found very little published material from the bomber crews.
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wdykes
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Re: [gburbo] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/12/10 20:49:07 (permalink)
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Greg:

Glad you are doing the study-will help to keep the important history of the times alive. No one has any more respect and admiration for the Red Tail Devils or any other fighter group than I do. Was the very last man off the target on a raid in France one day when one of the Red Tail Devils slipped over my head and knocked down two Me-109's coming up below and behind before I had time to fire. All of them deserve much more praise than they will ever get, and I still tell them so everytime I meet one of them.

Another thing that needs to be done before we're all gone is to give the hard working ground crews all the praise and glory for a job very well done in much less than desirable conditions. God bless America!

Bud
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gburbo
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Re: [wdykes] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/12/11 11:35:30 (permalink)
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Bud,

What I want to do is to model actual incidents to tell the story of how the Redtails and the bombers worked together to accomplish the mission. Can you tell me about the air craft the you were in and its markings? This is just the sort of image that I want to portray. The individual identities of the fighters is probably not something you would have noticed, but do you recall the model of the Mustang or the general colors of the Me 109's?

I am currently building a B-17, a P-51B and a Me 262 to depict the first jet fight kill of the 332 FG over Berlin. I have several B-24s in mind for my next project, but none that I can connect with the 322 even though most of their escort flights were with B-24 groups. I knew a B-24 pilot when I was a kid, but I haven't been able to confirm that he flew out of Italy.
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wdykes
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Re: [gburbo] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/12/11 19:18:30 (permalink)
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Greg:

I flew as a replacement gunner-didn't have a regular crew, so I flew with lots of crews and different planes. I was there in '43&'44 and flew in B-17 "F&G's. All I remember about the German aircraft colors is the big cross. We had escort by the Red Tails when it was just the 99th fighter group in '43, and later when they formed up with the other squadrons also.

Best regards

Bud
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gburbo
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Re: [wdykes] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/12/25 23:24:31 (permalink)
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Bud,

I am building a B-17F and a P-51 C. I plan to use the 99FG markings for the Mustang--either Buddy Archer's plane or COL Davis'. I will look up the markings for the 99BG. What were the names of the planes you were flying in? I would be happy to make one of your planes part of my exhibit.

I am assuming that you probably saw Bf 109's and a few Fw-190s at that time of the war. Perhaps Erich can give me some guidance on which likely Bf 109s tangled with the 99th FG and 99 BG.
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wdykes
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Re: [gburbo] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2002/12/26 18:37:48 (permalink)
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Hi Greg:

Several of the B-17's I flew in didn't have names. The one I made most missions in was "Glittering Gal". After we got through with it, Gen. Lawrence- 5th Wing Commander took it over as his own transportation. We were attacked mostly by Me-109's and FW 190's to best of my memory.

Bud
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Frank Booth
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Re: [wdykes] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2003/04/17 17:56:38 (permalink)
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Mr. Dykes,

How was the 332nd. FG able to never lose an escorted bomber to enemy action, in your opinion? Were they that good? Were there any other FG's that had that kind of record? Do you have any idea where I could get more specfic info. on the unit? Especially missions flown, etc? I thought the movie was entertaining, but sort of made the Germans look like flying morons. Every time the Germans came by, they were chased away by Lawrence Fishburne. I can't believe that with the types of pilots the Germans sent up (at least for a long time) they couldn't have knocked down ONE bomber. What's the real deal?

Thanks
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wdykes
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Re: [Frank Booth] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2003/04/17 19:59:41 (permalink)
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[size 2]Hi Frank:

In my opinion, the black fighter group pilots on average were no better or worse than any other groups, but I think they worked better as a team than several other groups I saw. They would stick tight with the bombers even though there might be many enemy fighters just out of our firing range. I've seen them play around our group, never moving until an enemy fighter made a pass, then the fight was on. Most of the time, the other groups would go after the enemy soon as they spotted him leaving the bombers open to another attack.

Another very important fact is the German pilots were very well trained and good at their job for the most part. I saw some that were not too good, but very few. Most were good and very brave. I've seen them close enough a few times, I would recognize them if we had met before.

God bless America and the people over there now making another payment on our freedom.

Bud
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Frank Booth
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Re: [wdykes] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2003/04/17 20:41:09 (permalink)
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I've seen them close enough a few times, I would recognize them if we had met before.



Wow, that's pretty darn close....

Given the ability of the Germans, what factors besides the ability and teamwork of the 332nd. pilots, and their practice of sticking close to the bombers, do you think enabled them to amass such an excellent record of never losing a bomber? I guess what I'm trying to get at, without sounding too cynical, or coming off as doubting their courage, which I certainly don't, is: Were they in the fight late in the war after many of the best German pilots and A/C were out of action? Did they get fewer "hot" missions than other fighter groups for whatever reason? Scheduling, racism, etc?

For what it's worth, I know a guy who flew many, many missions out of Foggia, and he never saw anyone from the 332nd. I know that doesn't mean much in the big picture, as he was there fairly early, but in the movie, I believe some of the bomber crews who were "saved" by Lawrence Fishburne were based near Foggia with the 97th. BG.

I appreciate the opportunity to get the straight story from guys like you, since even the best-intentioned Hollywood production is never really anything more than a "Hollywood production", although some are admittedly more historically accurate than others. For example "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers". Both great productions which raised the bar for Hollywood, but nonetheless productions which took a lot of unecessary liberties with the truth.
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jpeters140
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Re: [Frank Booth] General Benjamin Davis and the Red Tailed Devils 2003/04/17 22:10:43 (permalink)
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Frank....I too ,flew with the 99th Bomb Group, 348thBS. I flew at the end of the war Dec 44-May 45.

I would like to make a comment....there were 6 B-17 Bomb Groups,and 15 B-24 Bomb Groups in the 15th AAF, so it is possible with 21 Bomb Groups total, it would be easy for the Tuskogee Airmen to have flown with only a few of the total of the 21. However,having said that, I do not know if they EVER flew escort for the B-24s. I do know they flew for the 99th on at least one occasion, as I recall the converstion between the Group Lead and the P-51s. The Group Lead called to them and one answered "Yassah,Boss, ...be right there." I also heard one of them call to the others...."Hey guys,come on down and give me a hand....I've got six(?) ME-109s cornered down here". The answer was, "You puts your pants on the same as we does...you handle them."...they helped though.

I posted elsewhere, that, we also had P-38s for escort, ans the pass above us, afer approaching for our rear, was a beautiful thing to see; as they weaved, they formed a "Daisy Chain" with the contrails....on the first pass above, there were three in formation with a fourth rocking his wings, so we could identfy them as P-38s.

I am sure that Walter Dykes will verify that if ANY fighter turned its nose at a formation, it was likely to get fired on. There were several instances of a P-38 firing at a bomber , and it was not beleived at first....the 301st had one instance that is recorded a/c 42-30307..419 Sq...assigned 1-7-43, MIA 11-8-43. shot down by enemy P-38 on its 14th mission. It seems that a P-38 landed intact at an Italian airfield that was on the side of the Germans and the Italian pilot volunteered to try to down the 15th AAF bombers...there actualy were several reports the no one believed,until they were finally verified.

I think that the Tuskogee airmen would not leave a lone bomber, where several of the other fighters would,and this is where they attained their reputation.

There were not many e/a encountered in the last months of the war, as they were bereft of fuel and traned pilots....we hit the Oil Refineries, ane Rail road Marshalling Yards....they could not produce enough fuel and they had no way to get the fuel to the a/c, for the fuel that was available, with the railroads out of the picture.

Jim :-)
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