In 1986, aviation enthusiast Frank Olynyk worked through the AVG records, tossing out claims against aircraft on the ground and restoring air-to-air credits to the pilots who actually scored the kills, as shown by their combat reports and other documents. His work it looks good to me, and I have used in my 2007 and 2016 revisions of Flying Tigers and in the table that appears below.
|Pilot||bonus account |
|J. Gilpin Bright||6.00||3.00|
|David Lee Hill||11.25||10.25|
|C. H. Laughlin||5.20||2.20|
|C. Joseph Rosbert||4.55||6.00|
|J. Richard Rossi||6.29||6.00|
|Robert H. Smith||5.50||5.00|
|Robert T. Smith||8.73||8.90|
Altogether, 67 Flying Tigers received bonus payments. Of this number, 60 were credited with destroying one or more Japanese aircraft in aerial combat, and 18 were aces in the traditional sense: i.e., credited with five or more air-to-air kills. This is not to say that the "kills" actually took place: fighter pilots in all air forces claimed many more planes than they actually shot down. The AVG verification system was occasionally excellent (especially in small combats over Chinese-occupied territory) and often sloppy (especially in furballs over Burma). The February 25-26 combats in Rangoon and the "Emperor's birthday" battle on April 28 resulted in especially generous claims.
In a few cases, I was able to confirm or refute a specific claim. More often, it was impossible to match Japanese losses with AVG claims. This doesn't mean the claim wasn't valid, only that several Flying Tigers (and possibly some British Commonwealth pilots or even ack-ack) were shooting at the same aircraft, or that those pilots may have been mistaken. For the reasons for over-claiming in the Second World War, see Christopher Shores's letter.
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Posted July 2016. Websites ©1997-2016 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.