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Air Force report disputes Tuskegee Airmen legend

MONTGOMERY (AP) — At least 25 bombers being escorted by the Tuskegee Airmen over Europe during World War II were shot down by enemy aircraft, according to a new report from the Air Force.

The report by Daniel Haulman, historian at the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, is contrary to the legend that the famed black aviators never lost a plane to fire from enemy aircraft.

Haulman said he based his paper on after-mission reports filed by both the bomber units and Tuskegee fighter groups, as well as missing air crew records and witness testimony.

Haulman said Saturday he only counted cases where planes were shot down by enemy aircraft. No one has ever disputed that the airmen lost some planes to anti-aircraft guns and other fire from the ground.

Haulman used records to substantiate what he and William Holton, national historian for Tuskegee Airmen Inc., the group formed by the surviving Tuskegee Airmen, had theorized in a report released last year.

Both historians studied the same records.

The losses, Holton said, were considered well within acceptable limits to knock out their often heavily defended targets.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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