Flying Tigers
available again for Kindle


Three Flying Tigers were shot down by ground fire, became prisoners of war, and escaped in the general confusion as the war came to a close in the spring and summer of 1945. One of them was William "Mac" McGarry, the only AVG ace to fall into the hands of the Japanese. Luckily for him, the Thai authorities claimed jurisdiction over him, so he was spared the River Kwai Death Railroad (where Charlie Mott labored) or the horrors of a Japanese prison camp (where Lew Bishop spent most of the war). Instead he had a lonely but tolerable existence as the only westerner in a purpose-built compound at Thammasat University in Bangkok. The "warden" happened to be the head of the Thai resistance movement, which in April 1945 managed to smuggle McGarry out of the country and deliver him to the American OSS. The invaluable Bob Bergin tells the story here.

It's been nine years since HarperCollins published the "revised and updated" second edition of Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers. It's now out of print, which happily has given me the opportunity to revise and update it once again. The e-book is now available on Amazon stores worldwide and should be along at other e-tailers very shortly. (If the cover looks familiar, it's a detail from "Boyington's P-40," with the kind permission of the artist, Stan Stokes.) The print edition ought to be ready in July. In the meantime, I'll send you a signed copy of the HarperCollins paperback for $12.95 by Media Mail, or $15.95 for Priority Mail, shipping included.

In Kunming, the AVG flew out of Wujiaba airport, which was still in operation when I visited the city in December 1986. No longer! In the breathtaking fashion of modern China, it has not only been replaced (by Changshui International, opened in 2012) but will be transformed into Wujiaba City, complete with a Tiger River water park and Tiger Avenue underground shopping center. It's a long way from the huge, human-powered stone roller that first hardened the crushed-stone runway for the American Volunteer Group Tigers in 1941.

The Spanish Civil War is one of my earliest memories. I followed it in secondhand copies of Life magazine, and they were probably months or even years out of date. Some of those images are still imprinted upon my brain, so I was excited about Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, supposedly the story of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade that was the U.S. contribution to that overture to the Second World War. But the book is so wearily one-sided! (If you didn't guess, the left-wingers are noble, while the right-wingers are rapists, murderers, and torturers, and mostly Moors to boot.) But I'll probably keep going, because the story is a great one. Here's a factoid for you: half those American volunteers were tough young Jews from the Garment District, River Rouge, and other gritty workplaces. Blue skies! — Dan Ford

Poland's Daughter

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: