I am trying to find out more about an incident in which it is alleged that one of the Tuskagee Airmen sank a destroyer. Can anyone shed some light on this story?
On 4 June 1944, Rome fell, and the 332nd was moved north to begin operations as bomber escorts. They were re-equipped with hand-me-down Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, better known as the "Jug". The P-47 was a big, heavy, powerful brute of an aircraft that could dish out and take a lot of punishment, but needed all the runway it could find to get off the ground. It had its fans and detractors, one of the latter saying it was like "flying a bathtub" around in the sky. The 332nd took their P-47s on escort and strafing missions into Northern Italy and the Balkans, where they engaged German Messerschmitts and tore up ground targets. One Airman, Gwynne Peirson, even sank a destroyer.
The 99th Fighter Squadron which had already distinguished itself over North Africa, Sicily, and Anzio, was joined with three more black squadrons; the 100th , the 301st,and the 302nd to be designated as the 332nd Fighter Group. Flying from Italian bases they also destroyed enemy rail traffic, coast watching surveillance stations and hundreds of vehicles on air to ground strafing missions. Sixty-six of these pilots were killed in aircraft accidents or in aerial combat while another thirty-two were shot down and captured as prisoners of war. They destroyed or damaged over 409 German aircraft, (111 in the air) over 950 units of ground transportation, and Gwynn Pierson leading a flight of four P-47's sank a destroyer with machine gun fire, which was a distinctive achievement.