A Brief History
On December 20, 1941, the American Volunteer Group, better known by its nickname, the Flying Tigers, engaged in its first air-to-air combat when its fighters encountered 10 Japanese “Sally” bombers.
Flying the rugged Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, this dashing and daring band of American military pilots and support personnel had resigned from the American military to volunteer to fight for China against the Japanese aggressor. By the time of their first combat, the US was already in the war, and the AVG was disbanded by July of 1942, most of its personnel reabsorbed by the American military.
In that first combat, the Tigers scored 4 Japanese bombers destroyed out of 10, and they went on to record an enviable record of 296 enemy planes destroyed for the combat loss of only 14 Flying Tigers’ pilots.
Notable members include the commander, Claire Lee Chennault, Marine ace Pappy Boyington, Air Force General Tex Hill, and author Robert Scott.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you read God is my Co-Pilot or seen the movie, Flying Tigers (1942)? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Kleiner, Sam. The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged a Secret War Against Japan. Penguin Books, 2018.
Scott, Robert. God Is My Copilot. Ballantine Books, 1964.
The featured image in this article, a painting of Curtiss P-40 Warhawk in the Republic of China Air Force, autographed by R.T. Smith, is a photograph from San Diego Air & Space Museum at Flickr Commons. According to the museum, there are no known restrictions on the publication of these photos.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.