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Brife History of “Flying Tigers”
 
     The American “Flying Tigers”, an ingenious air force which is courageous and skillful in battle. They joined in Anti-Japanese war with the fearless spirit, fighting together with Chinese army and people. The resounding name and their extraordinary performance are like a memorial, that would never fade away, existing on the mind of Sino-US people who treasure peace. The Flying Tigers Team, a resounding and honorable name. It is also a reputation that Chinese people gave to American Air Force who once helped and supported China in WWII. Strictly speaking, “Flying Tigers” infers American Volunteer Group which came to China from August 1941 to July 1942. Then, AVG was recomposed several times; however, the title “Flying Tigers” remains among civil society. People from China Air Task Force in 10th AAF, 14th AAF, Chinese-American Composite Wing, the Hump Ferry Command, and CNAC are called “Flying Tigers” by Chinese people.
     Japan launched a fully aggression war toward China on July 7, 1937. Many a industrial and commercial cities were occupied in succession, like Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing and Shanghai. Supply lines in northeast and southeast were cut off by Japanese. Since the Burma Road, which is the last transit line, had opened to traffic in August 1938, both the road and its terminal, Kunming were badly bombed by crazed Japanese. When this nation was forced to the very moment, a special combat began in Yunnan Theater.
     In order to defend Burma Road and guarantee transporting international supplies, President Franklin Roosevelt in April 1941 authorized the creation of a clandestine "Special Air Unit" consisting of three combat groups equipped with American aircraft and staffed by aviators and technicians to be recruited from the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps for service in China. The volunteers were discharged from the armed services, to be employed for "training and instruction" by a private military contractor, the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO). On July 10 1941, the group of people left America from San Francisco to Toungoo in Burma, and then started training there. On August 1, Chiang Kai-shek announced the establishment of American Volunteer Group.
     After training, Gen Chennault reorganized AVG into 3 squadrons: respectively named “Adam & Eves” “Panda Bears” and “Hell’s Angel”. The 1st Squadron and 2nd Squadron stationed in Kunming Wujiaba airfield on December 18. The 3rd Squadron moved to Rangoon on December 12, to join in the defense of Rangoon. For strategic sense, Chennault thought that protecting Rangoon and Kunming, which are two ends of Burma Road, could be the best way to make sure the smooth transportation. Kunming, at that time, because of the important location, suffered from bombing often. Besides of Chongqing, Kunming bore the greatest loss on houses and property.
     On December 20 1941, AVG launched their first combat to Japanese in Kunming. That was a sunny day, Gen. Chennault ordered Jack Newkirk, the commander of the 2nd squadron, heading 4 planes to volley while Jim Hord heading 4 planes to cruise over the sky to defend Kunming. Robert Sandell, the commander of the 1st squadron, headed planes to Yiliang, the south eastern Kunming, to intercept. The appearance of the Chinese planes confused them so they dropped bombs in a hurry and escaped. But unfortunately, they were pushed and attacked by squadron 1 and 2. Three bombers were shot down and 6 were reported crashing after they escaped. 9:0 the brilliant battle record of AVG inspired the whole Kunming. People went around spreading the news, and burnt fire crackers to celebrate the big victory.
     The first combat of AVG also inspired Chinese army. Both Chinese and American media continuously reported the courageous spirit and brilliant victory of the AVG. They adopted “Flying Tigers” to highly praise the group members. From then on, “Flying Tigers” became renowned in the world. The emblem designed by Walter Disney of Hollywood, a fierce tiger with wings flying toward victory, was drawn on AVG’s planes.
     After the Pearl Harbor attack, US and Britain declare the war towards Japan. As the war situation changed, American government decided to integrate AVG into the regular army. After AVG dissolved, some team members were enlisted in the 10th AAF and later joined China Air Task Force. As the war situation needed, American Air Force in China changed its establishment as follow:

     1, American Volunteer Group, established on August 1 1941, had three combat squadrons, respectively named “Adam & Eves” “Panda Bears” and “Hell’s Angel”. The emblem of AVG was a fierce tiger with wings flying toward victory.
     2, The Air Task Force, also known as “10th American Air Force China Air Task Force (CATF)”, was found on April 23, 1942. It included 4 fighter squadron, 1 bombers squadron, 1 reconnaissance squadron. The emblem of CATF was: under national flag of Republic of China, “blue sky and bright sun”, there is a mouth-open tiger with wings on the back and an “Uncle Sam” hat on the head, tears the Japanese flag up.
     3, 14th American Air Force. On 10 March, 1943, US President Roosevelt decided to strengthen American Air Force stationed in China by establishing 14th Army Air Force. It contains 2 composite wings, 1 fighter force, 1 fighter command center, 1 bombardment brigade, 1 camera brigade, 1 air crew command (9 crew squadrons ). Its emblem is a Bengal tiger with wings whaching for his chance under US Army Star.
     4, Chinese American Composite Wing (CACW) was set up on August 1 1943. It concluded 1 bombardment, which had 4 bomber squadrons; and 2 fighter brigades, with 8 fighter squadrons. The badge is a flying tiger and a Chinese dragon.
     No matter how the establishment changed, “Flying Tiger” left on the mind of Chinese people, and the fame belongs to US Air Force in China and CIB Theater. They inherited the spirit of Flying Tigers, defend Burma Road and The Hump Route; fought courageously in Kunming, Salween River area; helped ground force gaining air supremacy and winning the great counterattack in west Yunnan province. But for the strong spirit, and flexible strategies, did the Flying Tigers become last winner against well-equipped enemy.

 
 
 
 
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