Tuskegee Airman, Hiram Mann

Hiram Mann

Fighter Pilot, 100th and 332nd Fighter Squadron

Artwork and Research By;

Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette

Aviation Artist/Historian

There are 350 limited edition prints in this series. Print Size; 12×18″

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Limited Edition Prints are signed and numbered by the Artist and by the Aviator. $75.00

All signatures by both the Aviator and the Artist is done in soft graphic pencil.

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The original painting is 2×4 feet. Painting is available for $2,500.00. Shipping; $50.00

Contact us below if you are interested in this or any of our original paintings.

Hiram Mann

This is another true story of a young American man who wanted to fly. Hiram wanted to fly so bad that he openly wrote a letter to the United States Army Air Corp for instructions as to how he could join the service and train as a pilot. Hiram had just finished one year of collage and was a newlywed. His new bride threatened to shoot off one of his toes if he joined the military, much less the Air Corp. Yet his persuasions must have worked. Hiram received back a rejection letter though it was brief it was factual in that the letter stated that there were no training facilities or openings for anyone who was not Caucasian.

This did not bother Hiram. The war in Europe was boiling over from country to country slowly dragging the world into the conflict. The desire for Hiram to serve his country was strong. After many months of trying to adapt to married life and trying to work at a new job Hiram wrote a second letter to the Army Air Corp receiving another rejection. A few months later Hiram mailed a third letter. This shows his determination and that it finally paid off because he was accepted.

Hiram entered the Army Air Corp training as a Pre-Aviation student in 1942. He became an Aviation Cadet and finished all training as a single-engine combat pilot. The training facilities were located in Tuskegee Alabama. He graduated with his “Wings” on June 27, 1944.

There were four groups for the Tuskegee fighter pilots, the 99th, 100th, 301st and the 302nd Fighter Squadrons serving under the 332nd Fighter Group. The units were active in North Africa and later Italy. Hiram served in the Italian Campaign. Hiram flew the sleek shinny silver P-51D Mustang. Each fighter in the group was accented with the now famous Red-Tails. His first Mustang was lost while he was on a rest period. The pilot who flew Hiram’s Mustang personally came to him and asked his permission to fly his fighter. Mind you now, no one pilot really “owned” any particular fighter because the aircraft were rotated in and out of the flight line based on mechanical servicing. Yet an aircraft usually was assigned to a pilot with his name stenciled under the cockpit. They were also allowed to decorate their fighter with the names of girl friends or wives, artwork or both. Hiram told me that he was touched by the act of the other pilot asking his permission. Hiram told him he could fly his Mustang but to be careful with it. After all it was Hiram’s Hot Rod.

Unfortunately the new pilot flew the same position as Hiram would have flown if he had been on flight status that day. The slot was called “Purple Heart Charlie.” This is also called “Tail end Charlie” which was the most unprotected position in the fighter formation. Sadly during the combat mission the pilot was shot down and killed in Hiram’s Mustang.

Hiram was assigned another Mustang in which his flight crew painted the name, “Boss Lady” on the cowling for him. Hiram flew “Boss Lady” on 48 missions. The way that each fighter squadron could identify each other in the air was that each squadron had the trim tab on the rudder painted different colors. Hiram’s Mustang had a “black” trim tab representing the 100th. When Hiram first arrived in Italy he was assigned to the 302nd Fighter Squadron which was decommissioned. He was then assigned to the 100th.

Hiram told me that during his first air-to-ground attack he was strafing enemy positions on the ground. Hiram could see the tracers from his guns reaching out to the enemy below. He then noticed that fireballs were also coming up towards him flying past his fighter on both sides. “They were firing at me”! Hiram said that no matter how well they train you for your job, the fact that the enemy would try to kill you never became real until he saw the stream to fire directed at him. “Nothing can prepare you for that” he said.

Almost all of the sorties that Hiram flew were escort missions for American bombers. The mission for the fighter was to protect the bombers at all cost. Hiram told me that when the German fighters attacked, they seamed not to worry about the Mustangs, but went straight at the bombers firing on them. Hiram chased off many a Focke Wulf and Messerschmitt. Hiram was told not to chase after the fighters, but to interrupt their attacks fending them away from the group even if it was just for a few minutes. Inside each bomber were ten men who could all die if they were left alone to defend for them self’s.

Hiram told me that at a speaking engagement several years ago he was attending a very tall man came up and hugged Hiram and wept on his shoulder telling Hiram that Red Tail Mustang’s saved his life coming to the aid of his bomber that was under attack. The gentleman had been a waist gunner in a B-24.

Hiram hugged the man saying that he could not remember if it was in fact him that day that came to the rescue of his B-24. Yet Hiram did in fact preformed the same type deed many times.

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Hiram Mann and Sir Hamilton at the Fantasy of Flight Museum.

At the show I had over two thousand dollars of my artwork stolen so my interest in this museum waned after that. The lady at the museum also tried to double charge me for my booth. They were a total bunch of assholes!