Files and images about the American Volunteer Group commanded by Claire Chennault. The AVG Flying Tigers defended Burma and China with their shark-faced P-40 Tomahawks in the opening months of the Pacific War, December 1941 - July 1942.

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Celebrating Sino-America via the AVG

The Peoples' Republic has made a good thing out of the American Volunteer Group, and in the process conflated the AVG not only with the US Army Air Forces but also Chiang Kai-shek's military and paramilitary aviation.

"Chinese people will never forget their old comrades-in-arms and old friends, visiting Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe said during a meeting with Flying Tigers veterans and their relatives in Washington [recently]," notes the Global Times.

Of course Chiang battled the Communists as fiercely as he did the Japanese, and of course there are no AVG pilots still with us. Nevertheless, the Chinese were able to enlist at least one USAAF cargo pilot who flew supplies over the "Hump" of the Himalayas, along with a granddaughter of Claire Chennault, to blur the history of the Flying Tigers.

P-43 Lancers en route to China

P-43 Lancers In 1941, as Chennault and the Roosevelt White House were scrambling to find aircraft for China, the US Army took the chance to get rid of 125 P-43 Lancers. The Army had ordered them primarily to keep the Seversky-Republic assembly line working while the fabled P-47 Thunderbolt was made ready for production. With the port of Rangoon closed in February 1942, the Lancers were diverted to Karachi, where they were assembled by US Army mechanics and flown to China by AVG, CAF, and USAAF pilots. This photo, from a Kodak Brownie camera, was auctioned recently on eBay. On the back, there's a note that it was taken at Karachi in June 1942. (A tip of the virtual hat to Edward Rogers.) For more, see the Annals of the Chinese Air Force. Blue skies! — Dan Ford

A 'Special Air Unit' for China:

Flying Tigers
revised and updated

The Tigers forge a legend:

The P-40 files:

The Bill Pawley files:

Tales of the Flying Tigers

Books, movies, comics:

A good myth never dies: