14 November 2012

PFC John T. Fields Checks Ammunition on P-51B Mustang of 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group

Image size: 1600 x 1086 pixel. 465 KB
Date: Friday, 1 September 1944
Place: Ramitelli, Campobosso, Italy
Photographer: Toni Frisell

Original caption: "An armorer of the 15th U.S. Air Force checks ammunition belts of the .50 caliber machine guns in the wings of a P-51 Mustang fighter plane before it leaves an Italian base for a mission against German military targets. The 15th Air Force was organized for long range assault missions and its fighters and bombers range over enemy targets in occupied and satellite nations, as well as Germany itself." This picture shows Private First Class John T. Fields, aircraft armorer of the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, 15th Air Force, checks the magazine feeds of the Browning .50 caliber machine guns on a North American P-51B Mustang. Note the angled guns for optimum armament entry! During the period this photo was taken, the 332nd was engaged in frequent ground strafing of Axis airfields in Hungary, Austria and Italy. Behind Fields is the P-51B Mustang "Stinky II." Before each flight, the plane's armorer would seal the machine guns with tape to prevent moisture from forming ice in the guns at high altitude, which would cause them to jam. Since most of the 332nd's fighters were hand-me-downs from other groups, they were often war-weary aircraft and had frequent malfunctions. The P-51B had four machine guns; the later D-model had six. The 332nd Fighter Group was composed of Afro-American pilots and ground support personnel trained at Tuskegee, Alabama (USA), and the members of the group became collectively known as the "Tuskegee Airmen".

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) 208-MO-18H-32984 

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