Photo of Stearman PT-13D in National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
A restored PT-13D is the centerpiece of the expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit. (NAHA photo by Timothy R. Gaffney)

USAF museum expands Tuskegee Airmen exhibit

In NAHA News, National Museum of the United States Air Force /

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force recognized the famed Tuskegee Airmen on Tuesday, Feb. 11, with the opening of an expanded exhibit in the museum’s World War II Gallery.

The exhibit honors the black military pilots, navigators, bombardiers, armorers, maintainers, trainers, administrators and support personnel who fought during the war.

The U.S. military was racially segregated during the war and restricted most African American soldiers and sailors to labor battalions or other support positions. But the Tuskegee Airmen demonstrated conclusively that African Americans, given equal opportunities and training, could fly in, command and support combat units as well as anyone, the museum said in an announcement about the exhibit.

“These men overcame tremendous challenges to prove their equality when it came to combat,” said Museum Historian Dr. Jeff Underwood, who curated the exhibit. “They served with distinction, and they contributed to the eventual integration of the U.S. armed services, with the U.S. Air Force leading the way. Their impact on American history continues to this day.”

The expansion greatly adds to what the museum has displayed since the 1970s. New features include a restored Stearman PT-13D airplane and additional photos and artifacts never seen by the public.

In addition to the exhibit opening, the Air Force Museum Theatre will show the film Red Tail Reborn at noon daily through Feb. 15 for a special price of $5 ($3 savings off the regular ticket price). This three-time Emmy Award-winning film, produced by Adam White, a graduate of  Wright State University’s film program, tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and those keeping that story alive.

The exhibit opening coincides with Black History Month, which is celebrated each year in February. Go here for details about the museum’s Black History Month activities and online resources to learn more about African Americans who served in the Air Force and its predecessor organizations.