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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Michael T. Russo World War II Collection

Identifier: 2008-08-25
The Michael T. Russo World War II Collection contains photographs, textual materials, and ephemera related to the World War II experience of American fighter ace Captain Michael T. Russo.

The collection contains identification cards, including pilot certifications and a physical record card, as well as eleven (11) photographs. Most of the photographs were taken in the United States in 1943, while Russo was completing his Army Air Forces training. There are several portraits of Russo in uniform, as well as two (2) images of Russo with Charles Dubinski. There is also one (1) panoramic group portrait of Squadron P Flight A in Class 43-B at Randolph Field (Texas), with an inscription "X Russo" on the reverse, likely denoting where Russo is in the portrait (middle row, third from the left).

Additional materials include a graduation announcement for Class 43-B from the Moore Field (Texas) Advanced Flying School, a History of the 27th Bombardment Group in MTO and ETO booklet, and a post-war letter from Mikiel Brower thanking Russo for appearing on his radio program "Jobs for G.I.s." There is also a cartoon drawing of Russo, signed by Sgt. Vincent Costello, that highlights Russo's military experiences.

At the end of the collection is a plaque display mounted on mat board. There are eight (8) small panels providing information, including Russo's name, his squadron, the USAAF wings, and each of his five (5) kills to earn Ace status. Five panels list the type of aircraft and date:

  • FW 190, Sept. 27 1943
  • Fiesler [sic] Storch 157 [sic], Oct. 24 1943
  • Ju 52/3M, Dec. 3 1943
  • BF-109, Dec. 30 1943
  • BF-109, Dec. 30 1943
  • Dates

    • 1943-1945


    Language of Materials

    All materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


    0.43 Cubic Feet (1 half-width letter size document box and 1 oversize folder)


    Michael T. Russo (1920-2006) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and joined the U. S. Army Air Corps in 1941 as a fighter pilot. Russo attained Ace status while fighting in the European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operation. The collection contains photographs, textual materials and ephemera related to the World War II experience of American Fighter Ace Michael T. Russo.

    Biographical Note: Michael T. Russo

    Michael T. Russo was born September 4, 1920 in Cleveland, Ohio. Russo was an engineering student at Ohio State University in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he left school to join the U.S. Army Air Corps. He completed basic training at Pine Bluff, Arkansas and had advanced training at Randolph Field (Texas). He received his wings at Moore Field (Texas) and was sent to Meridian, Mississippi to train with the new North American A-36 Apache (the predecessor to the North American P-51 Mustang).

    Russo was assigned to the 16th Bomb Squadron, which later became the 522nd Fighter Bomber Squadron (27th Bomb Group [Light], Twelfth Air Force). Russo and his fellow flyers were sent to North Africa, where they fought in the Mediterranean Theatre and helped the Allies push into Italy. By the end of 1943, Russo had 5 kills and was recognized as the first P-51 Mustang Ace and was the only pilot to achieve Ace status while flying a North American A-36 Apache during World War II.

    Russo was sent home after his tour to participate in several War Bond drives, and he was promoted to Captain in 1944. He left the service just before the end of the war with a remarkable 169 points. His decorations included the Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Air Medal with fourteen Oak Leaf Clusters.

    Russo moved to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1958 and also had a home in Port St. Lucie, Florida. In 1960 Russo founded MR Products, Inc. The company continues to operate and is best known for its "Mr. Chain" line of plastics chains, poles, and stanchions. Russo married Mary DiVincenzo in 1947 and they had two daughters, Michele and Maree. Russo died in Port St. Lucie on May 12, 2006.


    Biography derived from collection materials and donor information.

    Immediate Source of Acquistion

    The collection was donated by the family of Michael T. Russo.


    No further accruals are expected.

    Existence and Location of Copies

    Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.

    Related Archival Materials at The Museum of Flight

    There is a biographical file for Captain Russo in the American Fighter Aces Association collection. It contains newspaper clippings, several photographs taken while Russo was stationed in Europe (the photographs are copies but they are of good quality), and copies of the combat reports filed by Captain Russo on the days he got each of his five (5) kills.

    Other collections related to Fighter Aces include:

    Separated Materials

    The following items have been separated from the archival component and are kept in objects storage:
    • Brown leather flight jacket
    • Two (2) Silver Star
    • Two (2) Distinguished Flying Cross
    • European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal
    • Air Medal
    Guide to the Michael T. Russo World War II Collection
    Completed - Level 4
    L. Zaborowski, J. Parent
    Description rules
    Language of description
    Edition statement
    2nd Edition

    Revision Statements

    • 2018: This finding aid has been revised to reflect updated DACS and Museum of Flight standards.
    • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.

    Repository Details

    Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

    9404 East Marginal Way South
    Seattle Washington 98108-4097

    The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
    Contact us with a research request