The Japanese have always been great at cartoon art, long before the manga craze of recent years. Here's a swarm of Japanese Army Air Force Ki-27 fighters going up against a passle of Russian Polikarpovs in the 1939 border war in Mongolia. The Nakajima fighters seem to be vaguely based on the 1930s warpaint of the 64th Sentai, which later faced the AVG Flying Tigers in Burma. It's all very approximate, as indeed is the shape of the fighters on both sides. The Ki-27 in the foreground, as seen in related images, has fifteen red stars on its flank, which suggests to me that it's supposed to be flown by Captain Kato Tateo, the commander of the 64th Sentai until shot down over the Bay of Bengal in May 1942. Thanks to John Mayberry for sending this on.
Meet Carl Brown, the only survivor of the 110 pilots who volunteered to fly for China in the summer and fall of 1941. (One was denied a passport; ten were hired as flight instructors. though most of them later joined the combat squadrons.) I dedicated Tales of the Flying Tigers to Carl, and Brad Smith kindly delivered a copy to him last month (and took the photograph). Carl joined the US Navy in 1939 and was flying a torpedo plane aboard Saratoga when recruited for the AVG. After the group was disbanded, he flew for CNAC, the Chinese airline; postwar, he became a doctor in California.
Go here for a neat photo of a Ford-Ferguson tractor hitched up to a Marine Corps Brewster fighter at the Ewa base on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Buffalo later fought at Midway -- and survived, what's more.
After pushing hard for three months to get the new edition of Flying Tigers onto Amazon's and other stores, I took something of a vacation in July. My recent Hemingway excursions inspired me to read Green Hills of Africa, his first nonfiction book. Of course I'd read "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," but I'd given the safari book a miss: I wasn't interested in big game hunting, and I wasn't particularly interested in Africa. What a mistake! It reads like fiction, and indeed Hemingway introduces it as what a later writer would claim to have invented, the "nonfiction novel." My fires of novelist ambition now banked, I find I enjoy fact over fiction, and this book is second only to A Moveable Feast for its brilliance in capturing a time and a place. It's a wonderful book.
And I suppose I must say something about Bill Yenne's "definitive" history of the Flying Tigers. Okay, here's the review I wrote for the Wall Street Journal, which shortened and softened it for publication. Blue skies! — Dan Ford
Here are a thousand or so files on airplanes, pilots, and the wars of the past hundred years, grouped under these headings:
Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford
Posted August 2016. Websites © 1997-2016 Daniel Ford; all rights reserved.