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:
National Air and Space Museum
Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
Donated by Louis R. Purnell
2-D - Unframed (H x W): 51.4 x 63.5cm (20 1/4 in. x 25 in.)
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Country of Origin
United States of America
White silk; used by Lt. Louis R. Purnell of the all black 99th. squadron, USAAF.
MEMORABILIA-World War II