The fighter planes depicted in the proposed design for the 2021
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site quarter dollar were selected
intentionally, despite concerns from some that the wrong aircraft are illustrated.
The proposed design, featuring an airman adjusting his headgear
while two planes fly overhead, is favored by the Commission of Fine
Arts, Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and officials from the Tuskegee
Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee, Alabama.
The North American Mustang P-51 fighter planes that the pilots
initially flew in aerial missions during World War II were of the B
model, having a framed canopy over the cockpit. However, the two
planes featured on the proposed coin design are identified as the
modified later model P-51D, showing that model’s superior bubble
canopy, which offered the pilots a more unobstructed view of the skies
during aerial combat, along with other improvements.
Thomas V. Johnson, director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Corporation
Communications, told Coin World by email July 11 that the Mint’s
design management team spoke with the historic site’s liaison for the
quarter dollar to address the coin design concerns.
“The Airmen began receiving P-51 Mustangs in the Fall of 1944 after
a nearly two-year stint with the P-47 Thunderbolt,” Johnson said in
the statement. “During 1945 the P-51 was gradually upgraded and the
Airmen, therefore, flew several versions of the aircraft, progressing
to the P-51C and eventually the P-51D.
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“At the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site the P-51 Mustang D
model is on display because it was the final version of this iconic
aircraft provided to the 332nd fighter group in 1945 before returning
home from the war. Since the P-51D is on site at the museum it is the
version of the aircraft they preferred to have depicted in the designs.”
Tuskegee Airmen is the popular term for the African-American
military fighter and bomber pilots who fought in World War II. They
eventually formed the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment
Group of the United States Army Air Forces.
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All black military pilots who trained in the United States during
World War II trained at Moton Field, the Tuskegee Army Air Field,
located near Tuskegee, Alabama.
The 2021 Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site quarter dollar will
be the 56th and final coin to be issued under the America the
Beautiful Quarters Program introduced in 2010.