1949 USAF Fighter Gunnery Meet

Submitted by:


In May of 1949, one year after racial integration of the Armed Forces, four pilots took to the skies in P-47 Thunderbolts to compete in a first of its kind Air Force competition, the first ever USAF Gunnery Meet at the then Las Vegas Air Force Base. Even though their aerial adversary, the much newer P-51 Mustang, was formidable, these four men had already grappled with a much more formidable adversary on the ground by the name of Jim Crow.

The team from the 332nd Fighter Group won first place in the conventional aircraft division, competing against four other teams. The winners were Capt Alva Temple, Lt James Harvey III. and Lt. Harry Stewart Jr. Stewart was one of only four Tuskegee Airmen to have three aerial victories in one day during the War.

First Lieutenant Halbert Alexander was an alternate pilot.

Pilots of the 332nd Fighter Wing who won first place for propeller-driven aircraft in a fighter gunnery meet held in Las Vegas, NV. Lt. Halbert Alexander, Lt. James Harvey, Capt. Alva Temple and Lt. Harry Stewart (U.S. Air Force photo)

The trophy is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.