Tales of the Flying Tigers

The planes that went to China

Curtiss-Wright gave a distinct factory model number to the China-bound Hawks: H81-A3. These planes were taken at random from a line assembling H81-A2 fighters for Britain and should have been indistinguishable from the RAF Tomahawk IIB. However, there is evidence that Curtiss-Wright may have fitted the China-bound fighters with parts intended for the Tomahawk IIA (equivalent to the U.S. Army P-40B). See Erik Shilling's comments on the Tomahawk manual posted on this website.

This material is adapted from 100 Hawks for China: The Story of the Shark-Nosed P-40 That Made the Flying Tigers Famous with contributions by Daniel Ford, Erik Shilling, and Tye Lett, copyright 2014 by Warbird Books.

January allotment

Taken from a block with RAF serials AK100/570. Other aircraft in this series went to No. 73, 112, and 250 squadrons in North Africa, and some went to Russia--including three since returned to the U.S. No machineguns fitted. Arrived Rangoon May 1941.

Tail # Mfg # RAF #fuselage # flown by remarks
P-8101 15337 AK46692 Hedman last plane assembled in Rangoon
P-8102 15338 AK467 13 Cross -
P-8103 15339 AK468 3 Rossi, Bartling abandoned Rangoon
P-8104 15423 AK471 5/9/24? Bond, Burgard?Bond recalls this as his aircraft
P-8105 15424 AK472 67 Hodges Wrecked 23 Oct 1941
P-8106 15425 AK47311? Sandell? first aircraft assembled in Rangoon
P-8107 15430 AK478 - Schiel crashed Toungoo
P-8108 15431 AK47937 Ricketts -
P-8109 15432 AK48068 Older damaged in forced landing near Lashio, March
P-8110 15433 AK48142 Fish -
P-8111 15438 AK486 - - first a/c with thrust bearing sump
P-8112 15439 AK487 - Armstrong crashed Toungoo
P-8113 15444 AK4922 - -
P-8114 15445 AK49311? Sandell? crashed Rangoon?
P-8115 15452 AK50069 Bishop, Martin, McGarry crashed Thailand 24 Mar 42; see below
P-8116 15453 AK50189? - crashed Rangoon 23 Jan 42
P-8117 15459 AK507 - Bright crashed Toungoo
P-8118 15460 AK50870 Olson -
P-8119 15466 AK514 71 Overend, C Smith, Shilling -
P-8120 15467 AK51543 Keeton -
P-8121 15473 AK52188 Jernstedt -
P-8122 15474 AK522 - - -
P-8123 15480 AK52836 Rector -
P-8124 15481 AK529 - - leaky thrust bearing
P-8125 15487 AK535 1 Atkinson crashed Toungoo
P-8126 15488 AK536 - Hammer crashed Toungoo
P-8127 15494 AK54247 Petach, RT Smith,
Layher?
crashed in China; see below
P-8128 15495 AK543 54 Christman crashed Rangoon?
P-8129 15501 AK549 - - -
P-8130 15502 AK550 - - -
P-8131 15508 AK556 35/27 Blackburn, Prescott? -
P-8132 15509 AK557 15 Martin -
P-8133 15514 AK562 49 Swartz, HaywoodCaricature of a panda orating from a soapbox
P-8134 15515 AK563 48 Hill -
P-8135 15521 AK569 79 Hedman, Reed -
P-8136 15522 AK570 40 Cole -

Note: Engine from #47 (P-8127?) said to be on display at Torrence airport in California. Wreckage of P-8115 is on display at Chiang Mai Air Force Base, Thailand.

February allotment

Taken from a block with RAF serials AM370/519 (other aircraft in this series went to No. 73 and 112 squadrons in North Africa). Arrived Rangoon June 1941.

Tail # Mfg # RAF #fuselage # flown by remarks
P-8137 15828 AM375 - - -
P-8138 15834 AM38157 Howard -
P-8139 15841 AM38899 Olson -
P-8140 15848 AM39596 - -
P-8141 15855 AM402 - - -
P-8142 15862 AM409 41 Paxton, Merritt, Bacon, Boyington -
P-8143 15869 AM41610 Farrell crashed Rangoon 23 Jan
P-8144 15876 AM423 25Mickelson -
P-8145 15882 AM429 - - -
P-8146 15884 AM431 7?Neale? -
P-8147 15886 AM433 52 Shilling, Martin, Hillphoto plane?
P-8148 15888 AM435 86/98? McMillan -
P-8149 15890 AM437 58 Shapard, Houle -
P-8150 15892 AM439 91McMillan -
P-8151 15894 AM441 33 Little -
P-8152 15896 AM443 56 Bright -
P-8153 15898 AM445 71?/78? Shilling photo plane?
P-8154 15900 AM447 97 Foshee, Moss -
P-8155 15902 AM449 8? - crashed Rangoon 23 Jan
P-8156 15904 AM451 46 Lawlor -
P-8157 15906 AM453 100 - assembled Loiwing, March; see below
P-8158 15908 AM455 5?Bond?-
P-8159 15910 AM457 - - -
P-8160 15911? AM458? - - see note
P-8161 15913? AM460? 59 Baconsee note
P-8162 15915 AM462 94 Haywood, Neale, Groh -
P-8163 15916 AM463 - - -
P-8164 15918 AM465 11? Sandell? crashed Rangoon?
P-8165 15920 AM467 45 Bartelt, Mossforced landing near Lashio, March
P-8166 15921 AM468 - - -
P-8167 15923 AM470 - - -
P-8168 15925 AM472 85 Brouk, Hurst, GreeneShot down 23 Dec 1941
P-8169 15926 AM473 43Keeton -

Notes: P-8157 was the "hundredth" Tomahawk. Its wing assembly went to complete P-8194, whose own wings had been ruined by immersion in salt water while being off-loaded in Rangoon. The fuselage of 8157 was eventually trucked north to Loiwing and made whole by canibalizing wings from another plane.

One of the AVG Tomahawks may have been wrongly identified. One RAF source shows AM598 as serving in North Africa; another says that AM460 did. The plane that went to China in its stead may have been AM498 (Curtiss serial 15951).

March allotment

Taken from the same block as February allotment. Arrived Rangoon July 1941.

Tail # Mfg # RAF #fuselage # flown by remarks
P-8170 15928 AM47553/13 Layher, Little, Hill -
P-8171 15930 AM477 50? Ricketts, Hill? -
P-8172 15931 AM478 50/7?Ricketts, Neale -
P-8173 15933 AM480 77 RT Smith, Rossi belly landing Magwe
P-8174 15935 AM482 - - -
P-8175 15937 AM484 - - -
P-8176 15939 AM486 - - -
P-8177 15940 AM487 38 Geselbracht -
P-8178 15942 AM489 76? 5?McMillan? Bond? -
P-8179 15944 AM491 - - -
P-8180 15945 AM492 - - -
P-8181 15947 AM494 51 Cole -
P-8182 15949 AM496 21 Boyington, Schiel -
P-8183 15950 AM497 83 Hodges -
P-8184 15952 AM499 44 Laughlin, PWright -
P-8185 15954 AM501 13?Cross? -
P-8186 15955 AM502 75 Reed RAF roundels?
P-8187 15957 AM504 6Deanbelly landing
P-8188 15959 AM506 23/45?McGarry, Jones, Bartelt? -
P-8189 15961 AM508 - - -
P-8190 15962 AM509 16/6? Dean -
P-8191 15963 AM510 90 Dupouy -
P-8192 15964 AM511 - - inherited by 23rd FS, flown by Pete Atkinson's brother Lt Ed Atkinson May 1943
P-8193 15965 AM512 74Conantbelly landing 31 Oct 1941
P-8194 15966 AM513 7? Sawyer, Neale? wings from P-8157; see note above
P-8195 15967 AM514 84 Greene crashed Rangoon?
P-8196 15968 AM515 34 Newkirk crashed Thailand
P-8197 15969 AM516 18 Kuykendall -
P-8198 15970 AM517 5? Bond?destroyed Loiwing?
P-8199 15971 AM518 - Neale -
P-8200 15972 AM519 39 Moss -

Notes: A photograph of Bob Neale with fuselage No. 7 seems to show a tail number of P-8194, though the 9 seems more roughly painted than the other numbers. Possibly a replacement for an earlier No. 7?

Tomahawks numbered 1-33 were assigned to 1st Squadron, 34-66 to 2nd Squadron, 67-99 to 3rd Squadron. Some sources say that P-8119 carried fuselage number 71. In addition to aircraft identified above, the following fuselage numbers are known: #17 Croft, #19 Hoffman, #30 Moss, and #67 Prescott, but these numbers cannot be tied to a specific aircraft. Note, however, that pilots often flew any plane available.

Erik Shilling said that his photo plane was #53, probably meaning the tail number P-8153.

Compiled from Pentecost, Bowers, Christy, Clements, Rawlings, Chennault Papers, Tullis, Baisden, Losonsky, and AVG Archives (see the AVG bibliography). Additional input by Jim Settle, Craig Busby, Paul McMillan, and James Atkinson.

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Flying Tigers
3rd edition 2016

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