Albert Manning graduated from Tuskegee Army Airfield on May 28th, 1943 in Class 43-E-SE. He was now a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Air Forces and trained to be a fighter pilot.
He was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron and was with them when the squadron was redeployed from North Africa to Italy. There, they were quickly put into action flying over the Allied invasion of Anzio.
Manning was still with the 99th when, a few months later, they transitioned into the P-51 Mustang. These Mustangs were hand-me-downs from other squadrons and comprised the early P-51B and P-51C models. These differed from the later P-51D models in that they had an early “birdcage” style of canopies. These canopies had quite a few pieces to them that could block the view of the pilot. When the P-51D was introduced, it had a one piece “blown” canopy with a very unobstructed view for the pilot.
The P-51D also had six machine guns instead of the earlier model’s 4. These refinements, and a few others, made a very good airplane into a great airplane!
By the last six months of World war II in Europe, the 332nd as a whole had proven that they were superb fighter pilots and were now being given brand-new P-51D Mustangs. Using these, they made history!