Flying Tigers
revised and updated


Hayabusa flies again

Hayabusa 2

There's an impish spirit in modern Japan that likes to recycle names from the Second World War. Most recently, the Japanese space agency announced that Hayabusa 2 successfully touched down on the asteroid Ryugu, fired a projectile, and collected soil samples in hopes that this may lead to mining of useful minerals. The original Hayabusa was the Imperial Army's most modern fighter plane in 1941, first encountered by the Dutch in the Indies and the Flying Tigers in Burma, and usually mis-identified as the Mitsubishi Zero. Above is a snapshot of Ryugu, showing the spacecraft's H-shaped shadow, as well as the scorched surface from its rockets. For more, see Japan at War.

The story of Bazooka Charlie, aka The Mad Major

As a high school history teacher, Charles Carpenter joined the US Army in 1942, learned to fly, and served as an artillery spotter and the general's personal pilot in France. As other pilots had done before him, he equipped his L-4 Piper Cub with six bazookas, each firing a 2.36-inch armor-piercing rocket. (Presumably the general wasn't aboard on these flights.) He was officially credited with six German tanks destroyed. Medically discharged as a lieutenant colonel in 1946, Carpenter returned to teaching history, at Urbana High School in Illinois, where I hope his students knew about his own contribution to military history. For more, and a YouTube link, see the Piper Cub Forum.

Jozef Czapski for the prosecution

"But has anything ever changed for the better in the very fabric of those ruling Russia," wrote Jozef Czapski in 1942, "have they become better, more sympathetic, more human?" What an amazing man! It is as if he could look forward seventy-odd years and take the measure of Vladimir Putin and his cronies.

Born into a sort-of Polish family in what is now the Czech Republic but then was part of the Russian Empire, Czapski served briefly in the Russian Army in the First World War, then in the Polish Army against the Bolsheviks in 1920, before settling in Paris as a student of art and French literature. As a reserve officer, he served again in the Second World War, when he found himself in a Soviet prison camp. "Amnestied" in 1941 with a few hundred other officers and tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians, he was assigned the task of finding those who'd been captured with him, and who had vanished into the Gulag. Inhuman Land is the story of that search, newly translated and published in a compact paperback by New York Review Books. It is a masterpiece and should be read by any student of Polish, Russian, or indeed world history.

The editors at NYRB have done us two more favors. While a prisoner, Czapski reached back to his Paris days and prepared a lecture series on Marcel Proust's Á la recherche du temps perdu. These have now been published in a slim volume, appropriately titled Lost Time. (What time is more lost than time in prison?) More a tour de force than a contribution to the Proust canon, it is a tribute to Czapski's incredible memory, to the determination of the half-starved men who attended his lectures, and to the devotion of the two who transcribed those lectures for us to enjoy.

Also reviewed this month: Hitler's Wehrmacht, 1935-1945, a pricey but worthwhile history from Rolf-Dieter Mueller. More about that on the Warbird's Book Club. 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: