Flying Tigers
revised and updated

THE WARBIRD'S FORUM

Captain Mark of the Flying Tigers

Capt. Mark of the Flying Tigers When I was working on the second edition of my history of the AVG in 2007, I hired a multilingual Chinese graduate student to translate some new Japanese-language material. She became interested in the Flying Tigers and on her own account searched Chinese websites and came up with an astonishing number of articles about Chennault, the AVG, the 14th Air Force, and of course the Chinese air squadrons associated with them. It was clear even then that the government was appropriating the Tigers to burnish the history of the Red Army in the Second World War, never mind the fact that the Americans were actually associated with the rival Nationalist government.

About the same time, Tom Shanahan of Brisbane, Australia, was hired to play American roles in films and videos, including five gigs as a Flying Tiger. Most recently he appears in "Blossom of the Battlefield," a television drama in which his job is to hang from a parachute caught in a tree, and to be rescued from Japanese soldiers by gallant Chinese. "I am Captain Mark of the Flying Tigers," he tells them in his Australian accent. "Thank you for saving my life."

Of course the point isn't the accent but his western features. Tom has also portrayed Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. (A tip of the virtual hat to ABC News / Australia, which doesn't specify what language is spoken by Mr Shanahan-Putin.)

The hazards of globalism

Mr Shanahan should pay attention to the case of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, just sentenced to death for the apparent crime of being a Canadian citizen at a time when the Canadians are holding a Huawei executive for possible extradition to the United States. Mr Schellenberg had earlier been sentenced to life imprisonment for drug trafficking; escalating that to death took only a day. China has also arrested two other Canadian citizens, one of them a diplomat, in what is clearly a game of chicken.

In Japan, meanwhile, Carlos Ghosn of Renault and Nissan has spent more than two months in jail in what appears to be another cross-border business dispute. Mr Ghosn rescued both companies from near-bankruptcy, but Nissan would now like to be rid of the foreigner, so it has charged him with over-paying himself, and the weird Japanese justice system seems ready to keep him in jail and virtually incommunicado for as long as it takes to persuade him to quit. Sentence first, trial later!

The famine before the famine

Sarah Cameron's The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan is a tough slog, though enlivened by flashes of good prose that are unusual in an academic work. She tells us about people so hungry that they abandon one child in order to feed another, or eating the dead and perhaps killing the nearly dead for food, and about starving children taken to orphanages only to be so hungry there that they fled these supposed refuges. With Marxist-Leninist zeal combined with ignorance of local conditions, Moscow demanded that the nomads be settled in collective farms, meanwhile supplying grain and meat for Russian cities. The Kazakhs had to sell their animals in order to meet the quotas, and then had nothing for themselves. Perhaps 90 percent of their animals were sold, butchered for meat, or themselves starved to death. The toll among the Kazakhs was 1.5 million people out of 6.5 million -- fewer deaths than the later and more famous famine in Ukraine, but far worse as a share of the affected population. I am left wondering how people can still tout the virtues of socialism, when starvation seems to be the usual result.

Also reviewed this month: Four Soldiers, a short novel by Hubert Mingarelli that has received ecstatic reviews, but not from me; and our fascination with the Inspector Morse stories by Colin Dexter, which inspired us to sign up for Britbox and the Endeavour television series, recreating Morse as a young detective constable. More about them on the Warbird's Book Club. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Welcome to the forum!

Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:

Annals of the Flying Tigers
Annals of the Brewster Buffalo
Annals of Poland: war and exile, 1939-1948
Japan at War, 1931-1945
Annals of the Chinese Air Force
Glen Edwards and the Flying Wing
Remembering Bluie West One
The Spadguys Speak (carrying a nuke to Sevastopol)
Annals of Vietnam
War in the Modern World

Plus these excellent places to look for more: