Flying Tigers

6 - "Such a Bright Red!"

For this chapter, I read the individual combat reports in the Pistole collection, and also the Dec 31 briefing entitled "Activities of Third Pursuit Squadron" (hereafter "Activities"). Flight leader summaries are in the Chennault papers 42. Frank Olynyk broke out the AVG victories in "AVG & USAAF (China-Burma-India Theater) Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft in Air-to-Air Combat" (privately printed, 1968); I have used his figures throughout.

Churchill stores: Tsuji Masanobu, Singapore: The Japanese Version (Constable, 1962) 187. Colonel Tsuji was one of several field-grade officers whose influence on the Japanese army was out of all proportion to their rank. His memoir makes fascinating reading. Across the grain of the country: Archibald Wavell in Supp. London Gazette 5 Mar 1948. Again, fascinating reading. A sweet old gentleman: Greenlaw, The Lady and the Tigers 44.

Obviously it was: Wavell loc cit. Lost squadron: R.T. Smith, Tale of a Tiger 154. Problem with oxygen: "Activities." For JAAF moves on Burma, see Ikari, Shinshitei 120; JDA, Nanpo 335-337; Ishikawa Shin et al, "Southwest Area Air Operations Record" (JM 55, 1946); Kasuya, Yamamoto 63; Izawa & Hata, Nihon rikugun sentokitai 201-202. Olson refused mission: "Activities." Travelling south: 67 Sq log.

The December order of battle is shown elsewhere on this website.

For the Japanese formations, see Hayashi Iwao in Shichi jusan butai kaisoki (Tokyo: Reimeisha, 1980) 120; JDA, Nanpo 339-340; Izawa Yasuho, Nihon rikugun jubakutai (Gendaishi Shuppankai, 1962) 166. The morning of the twenty-third: Upfill, An American in Burma 183. Two large waves: 67 Sq log. I heard McMillan: "Activities." Hey Mac: R.T. Smith 3. Hell! Showers: H.R. Dean, The Royal New Zealand Air Force in South-East Asia 1941-42 (War History Branch, 1952) 26; Frances, Ketchil 53. There were hordes: Robert Hedman, author interview 1986.

Thirty Buffaloes: Hasegewa Naoyoshi, Rikunwashi nanpo sakusen (Nihon Gunyo Tosho Kabushi Kigaisha, 1943) 78. And now it was etc: R.T. Smith 3, 160. And all this time etc: R.T. Smith 3, 160. Fell off: Haywood combat report.

Indescribable horror: Hayashi 46. Very eager: Umemoto, Burma Kokusen Jyo. Why don't we: Charles Older Columbia interview. Huge conglomeration: Older author interview 1986. I aimed at: Older combat report; also Edmund Overend combat report. I saw him go down and parachute fall.: Paul Greene author interview 1989; Greene combat report; 3rd Sq log. One of the wings: JT&A 28 Dec 1941. In string etc: Parker Dupouy author interview 1985; also his combat report. Martin broke away (Curt Smith): "Activities." I don't know: Jernstedt author interview. Turned away and Usui's death: Hasegewa 80; also Izawa, Nihon rikugun jubakutai 166-168.

AVG claims: combat reports; 3rd Sq log; Olson to D.F. Stevenson 1942 in Pistole collection. Beneath its folds: Upfill, An American in Burma 184. Plenty of time etc: Emile Foucar, I Lived in Burma (Denis Dobson, 1956) 116-118. There comes the enemy and Oh, strike the rascal: M.I. Omar in Rangoon Guardian Dec 1960. The streets were thronged, Upfill 186.

After the scramble: Baisden, Flying Tiger to Air Commando 41. Suddenly bullets: Losonsky, Flying Tiger 71. Damage: 3rd Sq log; 67 Sq log; Robert M. Smith 48-49; R.T. Smith 162; O'Dowd Gallagher, Action in the East (Doubleday, 1942) 23. Awaiting further etc: Chennault papers 28. He was always: R.T. Smith author interview.

Demon flight: Group War Diary 23-24 Dec; 3rd Sq log; Eriksen Shilling, undated audio tape via Martha Byrd. I am all right and disciplinary action: Chennault papers 28.

7 - "He Just Went Spinning Away"

Japanese attack plan and Next time: JDA, Nanpo 341. Also see Izawa & Hata, Nihon rikugun sentokitai 176. Ki-44: Hata Ikuhiko letter to author 1988. Flying to Rangoon: Hinoki Yohei, Hayabusa sentotai cho Kato (Kojinsha, 1987) 103-106; Hayashi 47; Izawa, Nihon rikugun jubakutai 136, 163, 168-169; Kasuya, Yamamoto 68-69. Crossing Chao Phrya River: in the 2007 edition, I wrote "Menan," based on a Japanese account. Thanks to Steve Drusak, I now know that menan simply means "large," and have corrected the name.

Wavell landing at Mingaladon: Gallagher, Action in the East 162. I came up from: Hedman combat report, Pistole collection. I had thirteen: "Activities." The enemy pilots used: Kasuya 69-73. Sharing bonus: Hedman author interview. Tried to pull away, one tries to draw you: Older and Reed combat reports, Pistole collection.

Anxiety grew: Kato diary. Kato's activities: Hinoki, Hayabusa 109. I opened fire: Reed combat report. Pilots lost: ibid 110-111; Hinoki Yohei, Tsubasa no kessen (Kojinsha, 1984) 307. Like a butterfly: Izawa in Aero Album. He just went spinning etc: Dupouy author interview. RAF activity: 67 Sq log; Shores et al, Bloody Shambles I:247-250.

Japanese losses: Izawa, Nihon rikugun jubakutai 169-170; Izawa & Hata, Nihon rikugun sentokitai 176, 202; Kasuya, Yamamoto 74. Some Japanese accounts identify the Korean prisoner as Ri Kontetu, some as Aioki Akira, the name he used in Japanese service. He spent the rest of the war in a British prison camp in India. Postwar, he reverted to his Korean name, by this time Englished as Rhee Geun-seok, and in 1949 he became the first commander of the Republic of Korea's air force academy. In 1950, following North Korea's invasion, Colonel Rhee took command of a shipment of North American F-51 Mustang fighters, only to be killed a few days later while strafing a tank column south of Seoul. Thanks to Joe Brennan for this information.

Very, very sweet: Hayashi 47. I felt terribly: Kato diary. No more heroics: Hinoki Yohei letter to author 1989. Bomb damage: 3rd Sq log; "Activities"; Shores et al 251. On Xmas night: Frances, Ketchil 57. Also Upfill 193. Pawley quit Rangoon: Chennault papers 18. Crewmen rebuked Olson: Rodewald and Schaper Columbia interviews. Field hit badly: Chennault papers 7. Like shooting ducks: Group War Diary 26 Dec.

Leaflets etc: 3rd Sq log. A jumpier lot: Gallagher 193; also 111-112.

A quite useless: Joseph Alsop in Saturday Evening Post 9 Jan 1943. Also Alsop and Reynolds author interviews. Seized guns: radiogram in Secretary's File 37, FDR Library. Out at Rangoon: Chennault papers 44. The American Volunteer Group: Chennault papers 18. A study of these: Chennault papers 36. We were glad: 3rd Sq log. Japanese debate: JDA, Nanpo 344. In large formations: JT&A 27 Dec.

Intense admiration: Secretary's File 38, FDR Library. P-40Es and Vanguards: Currie to Magruder, Secretary's File 38, FDR Library; Chennault papers 52, 18. Army would like: Secretary's File 38. Thereby showing: AMISSCA. Despite Chennault's: AMISSCA. I give Burma: Gallagher 125.

8 - "I Commenced To Lean Forward"

Newkirk: N.Y. Times 25 Mar 1942; Time 12 Jan 1942; AVG records. A tall, erect and Let's take the war: Howard, Roar of the Tiger 106-107. I therefore commenced: Donald Stevenson in Supp. London Gazette 11 Mar 1948. Killer Stevenson: Frances, Ketchil 70.

The Japanese airfields at Mae Sot, Tak/Raheng, Chiang Mai, and elsewhere in northern Thailand were built in the 1930s by the Aerial Transport Company, which hoped to link Bangkok and Rangoon. The system never got that far, but numerous flights were made in the year ending March 1940. Thanks to Hak Hakanson and Aerial Nationalism: A History of Aviation in Thailand (Smithsonian 1994), by Edward Young. Here is the layout, from that book:

Thai airfields

Losses at Moulmein: Shores et al, Bloody Shambles I:253. I got so preoccupied etc: Cornelius & Short 140. I saw two enemy etc: Jack Newkirk, "Report on Activities of this Squadron" 13 Jan, Chennault papers 38. Automatic pilot: Boyington, Black Sheep 71. Our intended mission: Howard 3. Also Group War Diary 3 Jan; JDA, Nanpo 574.

In the most quick: Newkirk combat report, Pistole collection. I began learning: Hill Columbia interview. I roared down: Howard 4. Japanese movements from Tanaka Masa, "Burma Air Operations Record" (JM 64, 1946); Izawa, Nihon rikugun jubakutai 182; Izawa & Hata, Nihon rikugun sentokitai 202; JDA, Nanpo 574-575; Hayashi 231.

Dispersal system: Newkirk "Report." The next second etc: Hotz, With General Chennault 130-131. No more combat: Howard 111. Burst into flames andThe wings, fuselage: Newkirk "Report." Six or eight: Group War Diary 4 Jan; also Bright in Atlantic. Get on the train: Frillmann, China 103.

I jumped into a pit: Noel Bacon's diary in N.Y. Sunday News 2 Aug 1942. Bacon was the first AVG combat veteran to return to the U.S. Blenheims: RAF 113 Sq log, PRO AIR 878; British General Staff, ABDACOM. I let down etc: Peter Wright in Flying May 1944; Group War Diary 7 and 17 Jan.

Went down to do the business: Mott author interview. I made three passes: Newkirk "Report." My first run: "Informal Report on A.V.G. Activities" 1942, AFHRC 863.549. Also N.Y. Times 11 Jan. The first section, Fired on, Picked out: Newkirk "Report." Felt like hell: Bacon diary. Across the airdrome: Chicago Daily News 12 Jan. You're a lousy: N.Y. Times 11 Jan. Japanese losses: JDA, Nanpo 576. Tokio radio claims: Chennault papers 45. Status of casualties: Charles Mott letter to author (1986); Chennault papers 6, 18, 43. The more hardships: Chennault papers 38.

The maps were Chinese: Neale Columbia interview. Missing Lashio: J. Richard Rossi author interview 1989. Prior to that: Frances, Ketchil 68. If you have to fight: Rector author interview. A houseboy would: Neale Columbia interview. Oh, we used to have etc: Dorothea Dunsmore author interview 1989.

The valley: Robert M. Smith 56. I could go down: Jernstedt author interview. Also, nicest thing etc: Donovan letters 28 Dec 1941, 11 Jan 1942, Pistole collection. Susan Clotfelter Jimison has since collected Donovan's letters in Through the Eyes of a Tiger: The John Donovan Story (Deeds Publishing, 2015). Worked all day: Rodewald diary. An abrasive, taciturn: C.H. Laughlin in Foundation Spring 1983.

5th Hikoshidan: Tanaka monograph; Sato Soichi interview 1949, National Archives, Military Record Branch 319. Alarm at Mengzi: Group War Diary 13 Jan; 3rd Sq log. Fairly light colored etc: Shilling's combat report in Chennault papers 38. Manifold pressure: Whitney, Vee's for Victory 124; internet posting by Frank Losonsky, AVG veterans' internet forum 2006. Greenish tan: Chennault papers 38. JAAF account: Kubo Yoshiaki, Kyunana jubakutai kusanki (Kojinsha, 1984) 52-54; Izawa & Hata, Nihon rikugun sentokitai 73, 132; JDA, Chugoku homen rikugun koku sakusen (Asagumo Shimbunsha, 1974) 273.

Remains - A Story of the Flying Tigers

9 - "They All Fell in a Straight Line"

Satellite fields: Stevenson in Supp. London Gazette; Frances, Ketchil 70. Reinforcements: British General Staff, ABDACOM; John Rawlings, Fighter Squadrons of the RAF (Macdonald & Jane, 1976) 42-47; Wavell in Supp. London Gazette; Kenneth Hemingway, Wings Over Burma (Quality, 1944) 11-12. Hemingway was a Hurricane pilot, and his memoir is a useful supplement to those written by AVG veterans.

Wild elephants: Terakura Shore et al, "Burma Operations Record" (JM 57, 1946). In an endeavour: RAF 113 Sq log; also Group War Diary 19 Jan, Love in S.D. Union. As the war had progressed: Hattori Takushiro et al, "History of Imperial General Headquarters" (JM 45, 1959). Self & Moss: Chennault papers 38. I was quite incensed: Neale Columbia interview. Also Group War Diary 20 Jan; N.Y. Times 23-24 Jan. Well, I sure am: Gallagher, Action in the East 142.

Raid on Mingaladon: JDA, Nanpo 587; Izawa & Hata, Nihon rikugun sentokitai, 132, 202; Izawa, Nihon rikugun jubakutai 182; Tanaka, "Burma Air Operations Record". Like a bunch: Neale Columbia interview. Quelle betise ("What a silly thing!") etc: RAF 17 Sq log, PRO AIR 27/235. Also Rawlings 169; Shores et al, Bloody Shambles I:258-261; M.C. Cotton, Hurricanes Over Burma (Titania, 1988). The squadron is doing: Roger Cooke & Anne Gresham Cooke, Your Uncles (privately printed, 1950?) 94-96. I would spot: Group War Diary 13 Jan. Also Hill & Schaupp 124. Rodgers photo: Life 30 Mar 1942; Bright in Atlantic. We singled out: Group War Diary.

Down they came: Bacon diary. I caught him: Group War Diary. Christman's death: Rector author interview; Hill Columbia interview. The enemy had: JDA, Nanpo 587. View of Allied military: Tsuji Masanobu, Singapore: The Japanese Version (Constable, 1962) appendix. RAF claim: Shores et al I:261. Two terrific battles: N.Y. Times 24 Jan; Huang report: Group War Diary. Jap casualties: AMISSCA 26 Jan. On first attack: Group War Diary. Closed on one: Robert Neale diary, Pistole collection. Petrol streamed: 17 Sq log. They all fell: Hotz, With General Chennault 146. Japanese losses: Izawa, Nihon rikugun jubakutai 182; Izawa & Hata, Nihon rikugun sentokitai 133.

Sneaked in: Group War Diary; also 17 Sq log. It was the fourth: Dunsmore author interview. I alternated between: Chennault, Fighter 137. Training CAF cadets: Chennault papers 18, 19, 28; 3rd Sq log. Until British etc: Chennault papers 18. Combat effectiveness, cannot be inducted: Chennault papers 18. Induction AVG: Secretary's File 38, FDR Library. Chennault is an extraordinary: AMISSCA 28 Jan. Stricken from the rolls: Group War Diary 31 Dec. Personnel very upset: 3rd Sq log. A few members who: Chennault papers 19. Resignations from AVG personnel records.

Good riddance: Greenlaw 100; also R.T. Smith, Tale of a Tiger 186. Goose hunt and dinner: Greenlaw 91. The bombers headed: Group War Diary 22 Jan. Also 3rd Sq log; Group War Diary 24 Jan. French fighters: Group War Diary 27 Jan; Izawa & Hata, Nihon rikugun sentokitai 73. Bombers of the Chinese: N.Y. Times 23 Jan. Can begin attacks: Chennault papers 19. Hudsons will: Secretary's File 38, FDR Library.

10 - "Hoffman Shot Down and Dead"

Gentle, sweet: Greenlaw 153. But see Bond & Anderson, Rodewald diary. We stood there: Hemingway, Wings Over Burma 121. Also Boyington, Black Sheep 55; George Burgard diary, Pistole collection. The takeoff procedure: Bond & Anderson 82. Also Chennault papers 26. Time was more: Hemingway 69.

You don't see anything etc: Robert Prescott Columbia interview. The enemy jumped us: Group War Diary 26 Jan. This interview is probably the funniest comat recollection ever recorded. Out of the whirling: Gallagher, Action in the East 147. I had pulled myself: Boyington 59.

My wing man and I: Bright in Atlantic. I was on a Jap's tail: N.Y. Times 30 Jan 1942. Picked up about 20: Neale diary. A short burst and a little straffing: 17 Sq log. Japanese version: JDA, Nanpo 589. Combat with twenty: Group War Diary 26 Jan. Bunny Stone: Hemingway 21. Scale and sequence of raids: AMISSCA 28 Jan 1942. Now we stood: Chicago Daily News 29 Jan 1942. Crushing the enemy: JT&A 16 May 1942.

Funeral: Bond & Anderson 85. I, leading red-yellow: Group War Diary 28 Jan. Yamamoto: Tagata Takeo, Hien tai Guramen (Konnichi no Wadaisha, 1973) 118-121. The largest part: Boyington 62. It was taken for granted: Kuwahara Yasuo & Gordon Allred, Kamikaze (Ballentine, 1957) 99. Also Hata & Izawa, Japanese Naval Aces xii. The English general: Izawa & Hata, Nihon rikugun sentokitai 203 (compare Hata et al, Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, where the sentence has been omitted).

The planes that we have: Chennault papers 29. When the Japs dived: Bacon diary in N.Y. Sunday News. I missed him etc: Bond & Anderson 86-88. I held my fire: Group War Diary 29 Jan 1942. Undoubtedly badly damaged: Group War Diary 29 Jan 1942. Nagashima: Shores et al, Bloody Shambles I:271; other Japanese losses from JDA, Nanpo 590. Sandell seemed: J Richard Rossi in Foundation Spring 1995. Paced by three: N.Y. Times 30 Jan 1942.

We were low: Group War Diary 30 Jan. Spark plug, Roar of the Tiger 122. Group wanted: Bacon in N.Y. Sunday News. In strength and Commonwealth withdrawal: T.J. Hutton in Supp. London Gazette 5 Mar 1948. Japanese offensive: JDA, Nanpo 593-595; Izawa, Nihon rikugun jubakutai 183; Hayashi in Shichi jusan butai kaisoki 231.

I, being in the back: Keeton diary; Keeton author interview 1989. RAF at Kyedaw: Shores et al I:273; also vol. II: The Defence of Sumatra to the Fall of Burma (Grub Street, 1993) 258-259. I never fired: Frances, Ketchil 76. To tide them over: British General Staff, ABDACOM. Newkirk checked out: 17 Sq log. Eighteen Hurricanes lost: Group War Diary 3 Feb. Doom-ba-boom: Wilfred Burchette, Trek Back from Burma (Kitabistan, 1943) 300. I was in a good: Neale diary. In my sights etc: Bond & Anderson 94.

Japanese losses and claims: JDA, Nanpo 595. RAF claims: Shores et al II:260-262; Obviously, 263.

Flying Tigers

11 - "Get the Heck Out of Here"

Sandell's death: Group War Diary 7 Feb; George Burgard diary; Bond & Anderson 95. The boys had to dig: Wolf & Ingells in Air Trails Pictorial. Out-fly or out-fight: Neale Columbia interview. A well-built fellow: Hemingway, Wings Over Burma 18. No one will ever: Neale diary. Petach married: Emma Jane Hanks author interview. Japanese movements: Hayashi in Shichi jusan butai kaisoki 48; Kubo, Kyunana jubakutai kusanki 61. Sixteen planes: Group War Diary 9 Feb.

And acted like rich kids: Burgard diary. Also Bond & Anderson 98-102; Hemingway 54. Reynolds jailed: Neale diary. Looters shot: Burchette, Trek Back from Burma 156. I spent every day: Frillmann, China 114. So much stuff: Burgard diary. Also Bond & Anderson 102; Howard ch. 10. With 'AVG': Burchette 156. Harry Fox: Rodewald diary. We don't mind: Burchette 275. Also Bond & Anderson 99.

We sipped at another: Hemingway 85; snapper 50. Fighting with proper: S.W. Kirby, India's Most Dangerous Hour (His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1958) 81. They were on our tails: Cross in Mechanix Illustrated. We were below: Burgard diary. Also Group War Diary 21 Feb; JDA, Nanpo 600. For the first time: Stevenson in Supp. London Gazette. I was eager and I headed north: Bond & Anderson 104-106. Straffed a Jap: Neale diary. Falling into single: Group War Diary 21 Feb. 160 dead: Rodewald diary; numerous: Kirby 67.

Ambushed: Hutton in Supp. London Gazette. Here there was chaos: Kirby 68. Ready to defend: Hutton. Abandoning Rangoon: British General Staff, ABDACOM; Stevenson; Hemingway 59-61; Group War Diary 23 Feb; Burgard diary; Thomas Hughes, The Burma Campaign (privately printed, 1943) 6-7. Remembering previous British etc: AMISSCA 27 Feb, 6 Mar, 19 May.

Chaos in Rangoon: Burchette 156; Neale author interview; Frillmann 114-115. Ground crews to India: 17 Sq log. An awful aeroplane: Frances, Ketchil 81. Are in an almost unflyable: Group War Diary 24 Feb. It's hot in Rangoon: N.Y. Times 26 Feb. All day long: Chicago Daily News 13 Mar. Crossing the Sittang: Toho Motion Picture Company, Biruma (undated) thanks to John Fredrikesen.

Thick as ants: N.Y. Times 25 Feb. There were horses: Hemingway 40-41. Japanese attack plan: JDA, Nanpo 600; Shokis at Moulmein 602. Accompanied by a pair: Shores et al, Bloody Shambles II:274-275. Sally destroyed: Kubo, Kyunana jubakutai kusanki 66. A hazy day: Boyington 61. This was the most dangerous: Kuroe Yasuhiko, Aa Hayabusa sentotai (Tokyo: Kojinsha, 1969) 126-128. I attacked: Shores et al II:276.

Japanese formations: JDA, Nanpo 602; Group War Diary 25 Feb. Damn well protected: Neale diary. About sixty enemy: JT&A 1 Apr ("crushing" in the original). Leibolt missing: Group War Diary 25-26 Feb. Look at that formation etc: Rodewald diary. Since we are already: Richard Rossi letter to author 1990. We left the two planes: Rosbert, Flying Tiger Joe 81.

RAF attack: Shores et al II:279-280. Japs can't hit etc: Perry author interview. Makino injured: Hata et al, Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units 34, 143. Noon combat: Bond & Anderson 114; Group War Diary; Neale diary; Chennault papers 38. Allied and Japanese claims: N.Y. Times 27-28 Feb.

Christopher Shores addressed the contentious subject of the Moulmein strafes in the second volume of Bloody Shambles 279-282. My interview with Vic Bargh is posted at the Annals of the Flying Tigers. Hedley Everard's implausible claims appear in A Mouse in My Pocket: Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot (Picton, Ontario: privately printed, no date), pages 170, 183. A dark blue: Shores et al 354. Stories of the AVG's acquiring victories from the RAF have repeated from time to time, by Michel Peissel, Tiger for Breakfast: The Story of Boris of Kathmandu (Dutton, 1966), and by John Fischer, "War as Theater of the Absurd," Harper's Magazine (I have been unable to determine the date of this essay). See the Annals of the Flying Tigers.

RAF withdrawal: British General Staff, ABDACOM; Stevenson in Supp. London Gazette. I say, Neale: Hotz, With General Chennault 174. Let's get the heck: Neale Columbia interview. Magwe: Bond & Anderson 120; Burgard diary. Waiting for Leibolt: Neale author interview. Abandonment and capture of Rangoon: Hughes, The Burma Campaign 7; Terakura, "Burma Operations Record"; Young, China and the Helping Hand 242. Although air fighting: Stevenson in Suppl. London Gazette.


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