USAF Gunnery

USAF Gunnery
USAF Gunnery

Top Gun Trophy

The first continental United State Air Force (USAF) fighter gunnery competition began May 2, 1949, and was hosted by Las Vegas AFB (now Nellis AFB). At the time, the Air Force chief of staff planned to make the fighter gunnery meet an annual competition. As it turned out, it was to become equivalent to the United States Navy’s “Top Gun” competition.

The 1949 competition included both conventional (propeller) and jet fighter aircraft units with winners for each category. The 4th Fighter Group team won the first place award in the jet class.

The 332nd Fighter Group, a segregated African American unit with its roots in Tuskegee, Alabama, but now stationed at Lockbourne Air Base in,Ohio, won first place in the conventional class. Two months later, the 332nd Fighter Group was officially inactivated by the Department of Defense as a result of the Presidential Order to integrate the Armed Forces of the United States, and the personnel of the 332nd were reassigned to other units, thus integrating the United States Air Force.

332nd Fighter WingThe history of this fighter gunnery competition is told in “The Last Hurrah” by Harry T. Stewart, Jr. who was one of the pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group participating in the competition. After winning the competition the record and trophy were mysteriously lost until Mr. Stewart began to research why the Air Force Almanac list the winner of the 1949 fighter gunnery competition as unknown. The record was corrected in 1995, however the trophy remained missing until 2004, when it was discovered at the United States Air Force Museum.

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