Flying Tigers
revised and updated


Fearless Fred and the Hell's Angel For more than seventy years, we've believed that the AVG 3rd Squadron had just a stick figure for the "Hell's Angel" who graced their Tomahawks. But here, thanks to headquarters clerk John Sommers and his daughter-in-law Cullette, is photographic proof that she started out in life as a much more graphic lady. The artwork is almost certainly by Bert Christman, but I wonder who censored it? Certainly not the pilots! Perhaps Claire Chennault?

Let's call her Ms Kyedaw Airdrome of 1941. The handsome man posing with her is identified in Mr Sommers's scrapbook as "Fearless Fred" Hodges, whom I had earlier seen only in a photo taken at the hotel swimming pool in Delhi, with Fred wearing a 1940s swimming costume that did not flatter him. Here he's much more imposing. Seventy-six years on, and we still keep learning new things about the AVG!

Did he who made the Civil War make thee?

Well, I finally managed to slog my way through the Vietnam War 3.0, the version by Ken Burns. I have to say that, if the conflict was unsatisfactory, well, his team managed brilliantly to convey that fact. This they did by giving us untold hours of confusing, often conflicting, usually one-sided, and -- incredibly! -- sometimes boring film clips. I doubt the end result satisfied anyone, including the sponsors.

I loved the clip of Jane Fonda clapping her hands like a schoolgirl as she climbed aboard one of the anti-aircraft guns that shot down so many of her countrymen. And to the series' credit, the audio (though not the video) did quote her to the effect that those American prisoners were war criminals who ought to be tried "and probably executed." There is no more bloodthirsty animal in creation than an upper-class woman who leans to the left.

Forgive me for a bit of vanity: here is my history of the Flying Tigers in its Chinese translation. It was published last month for 60 yuan, which comes out to $9.02 at today's exchange rate — for a hardcover book! With dust jacket! And a red ribbon for a bookmark! (We haven't seen that in the US since the 19th century.) And free Prime delivery in Beijing! The book has three reviews already, and one says that the translation reads very well, which is a huge relief. (Nobody ever asked me what a word or idiom meant, which is very unusual for translators. Indeed, several years ago another translation was in the works, and I got a question or two almost every week for a while. Then, alas, the translator gave up.)

Also reviewed this month: A Few Planes for China: The Birth of the Flying Tigers. Admirable research in the British archives, which lead the author to a hilariously wrongheaded conclusion. And Rice Paddy Recon: A Marine Officer's Second Tour in Vietnam. Talk about a few good men! A fascinating read. See the Warbird's Book Club for more about these books. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Welcome to the forum!

Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:

Annals of the Flying Tigers
Annals of the Brewster Buffalo
Annals of Poland: war and exile, 1939-1948
Japan at War, 1931-1945
Annals of the Chinese Air Force
Glen Edwards and the Flying Wing
Remembering Bluie West One
The Spadguys Speak (carrying a nuke to Sevastopol)
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more: