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The Flying Tigers, American fighter regiment in China during WWII  

2015-09-06 18:06:37|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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The Flying Tigers, American fighter regiment in China during WWII

Members of the 1st American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers, gather for a group photo at Zhijiang airport in Hunan province during World War II. 

Between August 1941 and July 1942, the Flying Tigers, the American Volunteer Group (AVG) led by General Claire Chennault, harassed the Japanese forces from the air.

The pilots were all former members of the US Army Air, Navy or Marine Corps, who, under the provisions of an executive order signed by President Roosevelt on April 15, 1941, resigned their US military commissions in order to serve in China.

Claire Lee Chennault (September 6, 1893 – July 27, 1958) was a retired US Army Air Corps officer who had worked in China since August 1937, first as military aviation advisor, then as director of a Chinese Air Force flight school centered in Kunming.

The original Flying Tigers were the 100 American pilots and 250 American ground crews. The group consisted of three fighter squadrons, named "Adam and Eves", "Panda Bears" and "Hell's Angels", of around 30 aircraft each.

The members of the group were officially members of the Chinese Air Force and had contracts with salaries ranging from $250 a month for a mechanic to $750 for a squadron commander, roughly three times what they had been making in the US forces.

About one dozen of the fliers and more than 30 of the ground crew are still living.

The Flying Tigers, American fighter regiment in China during WWII

The shark-faced nose of the Flying Tigers is the most recognizable image of any individual combat aircraft or combat unit of World War II. 

The shark-faced nose art of the Flying Tigers remains among the most recognizable image of any individual combat aircraft or combat unit of World War II.

On 4 July 1942 the AVG was disbanded. It was replaced by the 23rd Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Forces, which was the main fighting unit of China Air Task Force.

It was later absorbed into the US Fourteenth Air Force on March 5, 1943 with General Chennault as commander. Its dramatic insignia featured a tiger with wings and lightning bolts.

Members of the China Air Task Force and the Fourteenth Air Force are often also referred to as "Flying Tigers" in English.

The main equipment of the Flying Tigers was the Hawk-81A2 (P-40c) fighter aircraft from a Curtiss assembly line.

The Chinese air force was severely depleted and the Soviet Union had withdrawn its aircrews, so the AVG represented China's only real aerial resistance to the Japanese.

The Flying Tigers, American fighter regiment in China during WWII

Lieutenant-General Claire Chennault, left, commander of the US 14th Air Force, explains flying techniques to pilots at Kunming airport in Yunnan province in 1944. 

On Dec 20, 1941, the AVG saw action for the first time, shooting down three Japanese bombers and destroying a further six on the ground, according to the Flying Tigers Museum in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, where much of the aerial combat took place.

Starting in 1943, the Flying Tigers also assisted flying over the Himalayas, helping to ship strategic materials from India to China to break through the Japanese line of defense. The Flying Tigers left China in 1944.

The Flying Tigers participated in more than 100 battles, shooting down 272 Japanese aircraft and destroying another 225 on the ground, according to the museum.

The Flying Tigers, American fighter regiment in China during WWII

Brigadier general Robert Lee Scott, right, helps Chinese flight engineers load ammunition. 

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