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The airfield at Nanshan / Suili

revetments as seen on Google Earth

In recent months I've been posting stuff about the airfield at Loiwing, on the China-Burma border, where Bill Pawley assembled warplanes and Claire Chennault based his Flying Tigers after they were run out of Burma. Here's the most recent treasure, spotted by Lieuwe Montsma, a Netherlander who lives in Yunnan province. He zeroed in on the Google Earth images we've been discussing lately, and he found the revetments from 70 years ago, still visible in the farmers' fields. I'd love to hear from anyone who has a theory of why they're still extant. Were they made of concrete? Did the farmers find them useful to protect a field from the wind? (The inset shows the same revetments in 1944, from a USAAF reconnaissance photo of what was then a Japanese field.)

Meanwhile, Min Wang in Canada sends along this translation of an item in the Yunnan Museum archives:

"In July 1939, Loiwing Central Aviation Manufactur[ing] Company started production. Test fly [runwawy] of Loiwing CAMCO completed at the same time. In May 1939,the Government Aviation Committee also ordered to build another airport near Loiwing, called Nanshan Airport. Loiwing and Nanshan straight-line distance was only few kilometers. (Nanshan Airport was also called Field of Ruili Flying.) Nanshan Airport was completed in October 1941. The main runway was 1900 meters long, 300 meters wide; [the secondary] runway was 1200 meters long and 100 meters wide. Had 38 aircraft shelters ... open on three sides. Good drainage, underground oil [tanks], warehouse, etc... In the war against Japanese aggression, it was the second largest airport in Yunnan."

A nice bit of multi-national research by Min Wang, Lieuwe Montsma, Hak Hakanson (Thailand), Matt Poole (Maryland, I think it is), and others. You can follow the developments on the Warbirds message board.

Tomahawks taking off from Loiwing

Here's a contemporary photo of P-40s taking off from what is identified as "Leiyun" airfield, almost certainly representing AVG Tomahawks in the spring of 1942, operating out of Nanshan.

For more about the CAMCO and AVG airfields, go here and and here .

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942
Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers: "The exciting story of this legendary fighting force that wore American uniforms but Chinese insignia." (WWII magazine) Get the paperback or the Kindle edition.

100 Hawks for China - the story of the shark-nosed P-40 that made the Flying Tigers famous. An e-book for the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook.

Remains: a story of the Flying Tigers
Remains: a story of the Flying Tigers: "A cracking good yarn" (Air&Space magazine) Get the paperback or the Kindle edition.

Lady & the Tigers
The Lady and the Tigers: Olga Greenlaw's 1942 account of her year with the Flying Tigers in Burma and China. Get the paperback or the Kindle edition.

Rising Sun Over
Rising Sun Over Burma - Wild Eagles and Flying Tigers - How Japan Remembers the Battle. Kindle edition.

AVG Confidential: A Flying Tiger Reports to the U.S. Navy Noel Bacon on Japan's planes and pilots and and how to combat them. For the Amazon Kindle and other e-book readers.

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Posted March 2015. Websites ©1997-2015 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.