Now Comes Theodora

THE WARBIRD'S FORUM

Early J-3 stripped down
Mark Rhodes of Belle Chasse, Louisiana, found this early J-3 Piper Cub a couple years ago, resting in storage since 1971. Now he's engaged in putting her back together. She came from Piper Aircraft's first production run of 588 J-3s in the summer and fall of 1938. For more, see the Piper Cub Forum.

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P-43 Lancers In 1941, as Chennault and the Roosevelt White House were scrambling to find aircraft for China, the US Army seized 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 sent to what is now Pakistan, to be 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. For more, see the Annals of the Chinese Air Force.

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The Peoples' Republic has made a good thing out of the Flying Tigers, and in the process conflated the American Volunteer Group with the US Army Air Forces and even with Chiang Kai-shek's military and paramilitary aviation. Says the Bejing-based Global Times: "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...."

How Chiang would have hated that, and Claire Chennault as well! Chiang battled the Communists as fiercely as he did the Japanese, and Chennault stuck with Chiang's Nationalist government until it fled to Taiwan in 1949. And of course there are no AVG pilots still with us. Nevertheless, the Chinese recruited at least one USAAF cargo pilot, along with a Chennault granddaughter, to bolster its pretense that the Flying Tigers were part of Mao Zedong's long fight to make China great again.

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Since this is my website, it's only natural that December's pride of place goes to Now Comes Theodora: A Story of the 1960s. My latest book was was also my first, published by Doubleday in 1965 (with my name spelled wrong on the cover). The reviewers loved it: "A richly colorful novel," gushed the New York Times. And of my quirky heroine and rebellious heroes, The New Yorker wrote: "It is impossible not to keep on watching them, simply because they are so human and so young and selfish and opinionated and anxious." But do you know what? When I read it again recently, I found it awfully wordy. So I chopped out 11,000 words, added a postscript to bring it up to date, and here it is anew, in paperback and as an ebook. In 1965 it was a prophecy; now it's a period piece. Enjoy! (And note that if you buy the paperback on the US Amazon store, the Kindle edition is free.)

Also reviewed this month: The Battle of Arnhem: The Deadliest Airborne Operation of World War II, a brilliant, detailed, and unsparing history of a bungled operation (which apparently was never called "a bridge too far"!). And Lords of the Desert: The Battle Between the United States and Great Britain for Supremacy in the Modern Middle East. For more about these books, see the Warbird's Book Club.

Oh, and Poland celebrated 100 years of independence last month, though half of it was spent under a German or a Russian boot. 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: