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Map, Italy, United States Army Air Forces, Louis Purnell


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

During World War II Pilot Louis Purnell of the 99th Fighter Squadron flew many missions over Italy with this silk map. Such portable and durable maps were a key survival aid if a pilot was downed over enemy territory.

The core of the 99th Fighter Squadron (the Army Air Corps' first all-black air unit) was made up of pilots from the U.S. Army Air Corps' segregated training program for blacks at Tuskegee, Alabama. The Squadron hence became known as the "Tuskegee Air Men." Benjamin O. Davis Jr. emerged as the commander of the 99th Fighter Squadron. They arrived in North Africa in 1943 and flew combat missions over North Africa and Italy. Charles B. Hall scored the first air victory for the 99th Fighter Squadron on July 21, 1943, downing a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 over Italy. As a reward, he received a bottle of Coca Cola, then a rare item in the war zone.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Donated by Louis R. Purnell




2-D - Unframed (H x W): 51.4 x 63.5cm (20 1/4 in. x 25 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America

Physical Description

White silk; used by Lt. Louis R. Purnell of the all black 99th. squadron, USAAF.



Inventory Number