Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942

Warbird Books
Free sample

During World War II, in the skies over Rangoon, Burma, a handful of American pilots met and bloodied the "Imperial Wild Eagles" of Japan and won immortality as the Flying Tigers. One of America's most famous combat forces, the Tigers were recruited to defend beleaguered China for $600 a month and a bounty of $500 for each Japanese plane they shot down--fantastic money in an era when a Manhattan hotel room cost three dollars a night.

To bring his prize-winning history of the American Volunteer Group up to date, Daniel Ford has twice rewritten his original text, drawing on the most recent U.S., British, and Japanese scholarship, along with new information about AVG pilots and crewmen, their Royal Air Force colleagues, and their Japanese opponents.

"Admirable," wrote Chennault biographer Martha Byrd of Ford's original text. "A readable book based on sound sources. Expect some surprises." Flying Tigers won the Aviation/Space Writers Association Award of Excellence in the year of its first publication. 

Keywords: Flying Tigers, Claire Chennault, Tex Hill, Pappy Boyington, Curtiss P-40
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About the author

Daniel Ford has spent a lifetime studying and writing about the wars of the past hundred years, from Ireland's war of liberation to America's invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. He received a Stern Fund award for his dispatches from South Vietnam in 1964, a Verville Fellowship at the National Air & Space Museum in 1988, and the Aviation/Space Writers Award of Excellence in 1991 for the first edition of Flying Tigers.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Warbird Books
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Published on
Jul 1, 2016
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Pages
346
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ISBN
9780692734735
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Aviation
History / Military / World War II
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Content protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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It is a recognized fact that, had the war gone badly for the Allies on the India/Burma front, and had the Japanese succeeded in invading the Indian Continent, the outcome of the war would have been entirely different. Yet despite this, the campaign on the Burma front is offered surprisingly scant coverage in the majority of photo-history books. This new book, from respected military historian and author Norman Franks, attempts to redress the balance, noting the importance of this particular aerial conflict within the wider context of the Second World War.Franks takes as his focus the pilots, aircraft and landscapes that characterized the campaign. Photographs acquired during the course of an intensive research period are consolidated into a volume that is sure to make for a popular addition to the established Images of War series. Many unpublished photographs feature, each one offering a new insight into the conflict as it unfolded over Burmese skies. The archive offers a wealth of dynamic images of RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires in flight, with shots of both the aircraft and the pilots employed during this challenging conflict. To fly and fight in Burma, pilots really had to be at the top of their game. The Japanese enemy certainly weren't the only problem to contend with; weather, poor food, incredible heat and all its attendant maladies, jungle diseases, tigers, elephants, fevers... The Japanese were the real enemy but the British pilots had so much more to deal with. And they did it for years. In Britain, a pilot could look forward to a break from operations every six months or so on average. In Burma, pilots first employed in 1941 were still flying operations in 1944. The collection represents a determination on the author's part to record the part played by these resilient and skilled RAF fighter pilots, the contribution that they paid in supporting General Slim's 14th Army and the part they ultimately played in defeating the Japanese attempts to break through into India. These efforts, all paramount and imperative to success, are celebrated here in words and images in a volume sure to appeal to Spitfire and Hurricane enthusiasts, as well as the more general reader.
The Flying Tigers and the U.S. Fourteenth will be the subject of a huge upcoming film from IMAX and director John Woo. The film is scheduled to start shooting in spring 2011 with no firm release date stated yet. The role of Chenault in the film is likely to be the role of a lifetime for a huge star. When a sickly, half-deaf, forty-seven-year-old retired U.S. Army Air Corps Captain went to China in 1937 to survey Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Air Force, little did the world know this would be the man to stem the Japanese tide in the Far East. Almost every military expert predicted his handful of pilots of the American Volunteer Group would not last three weeks. Yet in seven months in 1942, the AVG, fighting a rear-guard action over Burma, China, Thailand, and French Indonesia, destroyed a confirmed 199 planes, with another 153 “probables” as well. They did this losing only four pilots and twelve P-40s in air combat and sixty-one on the ground.

In this definitive biography of General Claire Chennault, veteran reporter Jack Samson offers a rare and fascinating inside look at this legendary man behind the Flying Tigers.

Unlike Eisenhower and MacArthur, Chennault was no saintly military leader. He was a chain-smoking, bourbon-drinking, womanizing man. He was the kind of leader his men knew could and did fly better than they--in any kind of plane. But first and last, he was a fighter--a tough, single-minded warrior who was never confused by who the enemy was in Asia, regardless of what the State Department thought.

Following Chennault from this command of the Fourteenth U.S. Army Air Force during World War II to the part of his life that is not well known--the intriguing postwar years in China and Formosa, where his Civilian Air Transport (CAT) became the scourge of the Red Chinese--The Flying Tiger is an extraordinary portrait of one of America’s great military commanders.
"What God abandoned, these defended / And saved the sum of things for pay." 

In the bleak winter of 1941-1942, no American or British force could stem the tide in Southeast Asia, as the Philippines, Thailand, Malaya, and Singapore fell to the victorious Japanese. Only in Burma was there a ray of hope. There, over beleaguered Rangoon, a few dozen Americans clawed Japanese warplanes from the sky for a cash bounty from the Chinese government. Wearing mismatched uniforms, with Chinese insignia, and flying cast-off fighter planes, they did what no other air force seemed able to do, and won immortality as the Flying Tigers. 

Daniel Ford wrote "the definitive history" of the American Volunteer Group, as it was formally known. Here, he has collected five e-books about the Flying Tigers into an omnibus that details the AVG's planes, pilots, and history as remembered in the United States and in Japan. An essential collection for every admirer of the Flying Tigers. 

"The AVG's first encounter with the Japanese Air Force over Kunming, China,  on 20 December 1941 is often written about. The version Dan Ford presents  here is probably the most complete picture extant." (First Blood for the  Flying Tigers) 

"I can wholeheartedly recommend his work to anyone desiring insight into  the early years of the JAAF" (Rising Sun Over Burma) 

"Very well written and full of new information about a fascinating time in
our history" (100 Hawks for China) 

"A unique insight into how the Japanese appeared to the pilots meeting  them, and how the AVG learned to deal with them" (AVG Confidential)  
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