Captain George Taylor and the 100th Fighter Squadron Visit the Bell Aircraft Plant in 1943

 

In December 1943, members of the Tuskegee Airmen’s 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, were awaiting deployment to Naples Italy from New York City.  Prior to their deployment however, this group from Selfridge Field, MI was treated to a tour of the Bell Aircraft Corp. plant in Buffalo, NY. (group photo below)

Of particular interest to these military aviators was additional information on the capabilities of the AiraCobra aircraft which they would soon fly in combat overseas. 1 (Interview, 2006)

The Bell P-39 Airacobra was one of the principal American fighter aircraft in service at the start of World War II. It was the first fighter in history with a tricycle undercarriage and the first to have the engine installed in the center fuselage, behind the pilot. 2 (Bell P-39 Airacobra, 2011)

Now a helicopter manufacturer, but at the time of their visit, the Bell Aircraft Corp. specialized in the design and production of fighter aircraft. Beginning with the XFM-1 Airacudaa, a twin-engine fighter built to oppose attacking bombers, and then the famous P-39 Airacobra. The company also designed and built the first P-59 Airacomet, the first American jet fighter, and the P-63 Kingcobra, the successor to the P-39. 3 (Bell Aircraft Corp, 2011)

A graduate of Tuskegee Class SE-43H, Captain Taylor flew the P-39 Airacobra, as well as the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang fighter planes in combat. Arriving in Italy in early February 1944, his base locations there included Montecorvino Airfield, Italy, Capodichino Airdrome, Italy and Ramitelli Airfield, Italy.

Captain Taylor flew more than 50 missions with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group over Italy and was awarded two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal, and four Battle Stars. He had twelve years of active and reserve military duty. 4 (Original Tuskegee Airmen, member bios – from Taylor Obituary, 2008)

ccccccccccccccc Front Row – Kneeling

  1. Laurence D. Wilkens
  2. Brown… ?
  3. William W. Green
  4. George A. Taylor
  5. William J. Faulkner
  6. Luther H. Smith
  7. Roy M. Spencer

Back Row – Standing

  1. Spurgeon N. Ellington
  2. Vernon V. Haywood
3.  Harry A. Sheppard
4.  Samuel L. Curtis
5.  Carol S. Woods
6.  Virgil J. Richardson
7.  Freddie E. Hutchins
8.  Lowell C. Steward
9.  Wendell D. Pruit
10.  Lawrence B. Jefferson
11.  Willard L. Woods
12.  Robert B. Tresville, Jr.
13.  Armour G. McDaniel
14.  Melvin T. Jackson
15.  Starling B. Penn
  1. Interview/Conversation with George Taylor; 2006 (v. saunders)
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_P-39_Airacobra
  3. http://www.bellhelicopter.com/en_US/Company/AboutBell/History/History.html
  4. http://www.taichicago.org/archives/461

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