Flying Tigers
3rd edition

THE WARBIRD'S FORUM

Chuck Baisden Shantih (peace) to Chuck Baisden, who died in his sleep on February 21. He was 96 years old. Chuck was an armorer in the 3rd Squadron of the American Volunteer Group, the "Flying Tigers" of Burma and China, who from December 1941 to July 1942 were the only effective American fighting force on the mainland of Asia. After the AVG was disbanded, he returned to the U.S. and volunteered as a Tech Sergeant in the USAAF, where he was trained as a ball-turret gunner, then assigned to the 1st Air Commando where he flew 58 combat missions in Burma in Barbie II, piloted by R.T. Smith, also an AVG veteran. Postwar, he served in the new US Air Force, retiring in 1964. He wrote one of the better memoirs of his wartime service, which Schiffer published in 2004 as From Flying Tiger to Air Commando. His death leaves only two known survivors of the roughly 300 men and women recruited for the AVG in 1941.

Henry Olson, flight cadet Speaking of AVG veterans, I've always been entranced by the career of Henry Olson, also of the 3rd Squadron, who was called "Little Olson" to distinguish him from the squadron leader. Like so many men back from the war, he wildly exaggerated his feats, only to get so caught up in the pretense that he was persuaded to run for Congress. Fortunately he didn't make it, whereupon he joined the air force, became the pilot he had pretended to be, and by golly became a certified hero in the European theater, flying a P-47 Thunderbolt. Here he is as a flight cadet in 1943, again boasting of his Flying Tiger heroics. (At least he no longer claimed to have flown in combat!) A tip of the virtual hat to Chris Davis, who found this article online at Army Air Forces Collection. Read more about the talented Mr Olson here.

A rifle for the 21st century Most of my friends are on the left of the political spectrum, and they'll never forgive me for saying this, but -- I love military rifles! And here is the weapon to end all military weapons, the XM25. According to a company press release, the rifle "has been in development for about seven years and the first prototypes have been doled out to combat units in Afghanistan.... The 12-pound, 29-inch system, which costs up to $35,000 per unit, is so sophisticated that soldiers are proficient users literally within minutes.... At $45/round it is a real bargain!" Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is certainly a game changer -- if it works. For more about this remarkable gadget, to go War in the Modern World.

Edward Jay Epstein is something of a debunker of conspiracy theories, beginning with the Warren Commission that investigated the murder of JFK -- over half a century of investigative reporting, and he doesn't seem the least bit tired. How America Lost Its Secrets thoroughly debunks the notion that Edward Snowdon was a whistleblower, let alone the patriot that the loony left has tried to make of him. Snowden stole millions of military and intelligence secrets, most having nothing whatever to do with NSA's supposed "surveilliance state," many endangering the lives of men and women who worked for the U.S. and altogether setting back America's security by years or decades. He handed all this stuff to Russia, and probably to China, and you can imagine what uses Vladimir Putin will find for it.

For more about my reading last month, both dutiful and entertaining, see the Warbird's Book Club. Blue skies! — Dan 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: