When the 332 Fighter Group, usually known as the Tuskegee Airmen, started flying bomber escort missions in May of 1944, much of the Luftwaffe's front line combat strength had already been decimated, largely as a result of Operation Pointblank, which reached its peak during Operation Argument, Big Week, February 20-26. This was a focused attempt, largely the brainchild of Jimmy Doolittle, to savage Germany's aircraft industry and decimate its fighter squadrons. It went into full scale during January of 1944, and ended in April, as bomber missions then started a concentrated campaign to cut Germany's supply of oil and to cripple its transportation infrastructure prior to D-Day. The Tuskegee fliers took no part in it. During that period, the Eighth Air Force's top pilots ( based in England , and under Doolittle's command ), Francis Gabreski, Robert Johnson and Don Gentile scored 10, 15 and 19 kills on Luftwaffe fighters, respectively. John Godfrey, Gentile's wingman, shot down 6 ( incidentally, the Gentile/Godfrey team was the most famous fighter pairing of World War 2 ). To make this as clear as possible, between January and April of 1944, these four pilots downed half as many planes as the entire 332nd did IN ITS FULL YEAR OF FLYING ESCORT MISSIONS ! Contrary to the film's adolescent dramatics, fighters were directed to seek out and pursue German fighters BEFORE THEY COULD REACH THE BOMBERS ! Dead Germans could not hurt the bombers, and bomber losses to fighters plummeted throughout 1944 ( however, German flak got much worse, as 88mm guns were pulled from the Russian Front to protect German cities). Likewise, accompanying bombers over target areas made no sense for our fighters, as German fighters usually struck before and after the B17s and B24s hit their industrial targets SO AS NOT TO BE SHOT DOWN BY THEIR OWN FLAK ! Flying over target thus put fighters at unnecessary risk from flak, which they had no power over during escort missions. Regarding the Curtis P 40 ( which is loudly complained about in the movie by 332nd pilots ), British, Australian and South African pilots were very successful against Axis fighters with them in North Africa ( Clive Caldwell , top Aussie Ace, notched 20 kills with the P 40 before being transferred to the Pacific ). At the same time the 332nd was receiving P 51s, The Flying Tigers (14th Air Force ) were still overwhelmingly dependent on P 40s, using them to great effect the spring of 1944 to thwart the Japanese Ichi-Go Offensive in China, not completely converting to P 51 Mustangs until June of 1945. CONCLUSION : The only way to enjoy this movie is by knowing little about WW2, nothing about the air war, less than nothing about the war in the Mediterranean, and much less than nothing about the air war in the MTO. Spielberg has colluded to insult every other American fighter group, especially the other six ( 1st, 14th, 82nd---all flying P38s---31st, 52nd, and 325th ---all flying P51s the last year of the war ) that served the Fifteenth Air Force along with the 332nd. Those six groups downed over 1,400 Axis planes, on average each credited with twice as many kills as The Tuskegee guys. GOT THE PICTURE ? Read The Forgotten Fifteenth by Barrett Tillman for more insights !