Flying Tigers
3rd edition


R.T. Smith with Flying Tiger decal
Even when he wasn't behind the camera, R.T. Smith of the AVG 3rd Squadron took great photos. Here he is, in a remarkably clean set of U.S. Army khakis, posing with the Flying Tigers decal on a P-40 Tomahawk, probably fuselage number 40. (The Disney Studio designed the decal in two pieces, so that the cute little Bengal cat seemed to be leaping from a V-for-Victory emblem. R.T., like many pilots, didn't bother with the V.) His son Brad has preserved (and in many cases cleaned up) the 35 mm images that R.T. took during his year with the AVG, both color and monochrome. In December, the city of Kunming mounted an exhibition to honor the Tigers, 75 years after their first combat, when they turned back a formation of Kawasaki medium bombers. They were credited with destroying four of the ten-plane formation, and the Japanese army air force never again returned to Kunming -- a story told in First Blood for the Flying Tigers.

At 880 pages, KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps is a monumental achievement. The KL (short for Konzentrationslager or Concentration Place) dated back to the early days of the Nazi regime, when enemies of the Reich were sent to Dachau for "preventive custody" under the brutal supervision of Himmler's SS (short for Schutzstaffel or Protection Squad). New camps and new enemies were added over time: Communists, Socialists, homosexuals, Gypsies, habitual criminals, the mentally and physically handicapped, clergymen, Jews. The camps became murderous with the onset of war, with the establishment of the most notorious of all KL, near Warsaw. The first victims of mass murder in Auschwitz were Red Army prisoners -- the first to be tattoed with numbers, the first to be gassed -- but European Jews soon surpassed them. And all along, the KL were supposed to contribute to the German economy, and especially to war production, but the SS never managed to square that particular circle: how could starving, brutalized prisoners become productive workers?

Also reviewed this month on the Warbird's Book Club are Double Ace: The Life of Robert Lee Scott Jr., Pilot, Hero, and Teller of Tall Tales, a great title but somewhat belied by the contents; and Night School, the latest (22nd, by my count) Jack Reacher novel by the inventive Englishman who goes by the name of Lee Child.... Oh well, never mind! What I liked most about it was the coda at the end, where Mr Child writes: Dedicated with great appreciation to the men and women around the world who do this stuff for real. 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: