Files and images about the American Volunteer Group commanded by Claire Chennault. The AVG Flying Tigers defended Burma and China with their shark-faced P-40 Tomahawks in the opening months of the Pacific War, December 1941 - July 1942.

Flying Tigers
revised and updated


I hugely enjoyed the following yarn, which was posted by "jonwilly" on the Thai Visa website. (I've edited it a bit.) Tex Hill and Roy Hudson were survivors of the tragedy of February 21, 1942, when the AVG and the RAF attacked 17th Indian Division, retreating toward the Sittang River, thinking it was an advancing Japanese column. A tip of the virtual hat to Greg Otterson in Bangkok, who sent me the link.

Some years ago, the surviving members of the Flying Tigers came out to Chiang Mai, and there was a presentation at the Foreign Cemetery to commemorate the raid when they lost William McGarry. Afterward there were drinks in the Gymkhana Club. One of the Tigers, Tex [Hill] by name, asked if Major Roy Hudson was present.

"Yes," he was told, "that's Roy over there."

"He's not a violent man, is he?"

"No, come on, I'll introduce you."

The two elderly gentlemen were introduced and Roy says, "Delighted to meet you."

"Oh, we've met before," says Tex.

"No, surely not."

"Yes, I was one of the pilots who straffed you on your retreat to the Sittang."

The two old warriors were last seen with arms around each other's shoulder and a rapidly diminishing bottle of Scotch on the bar between them.

Roy Hudson was a 21-year-old subaltern during the retreat to the Sittang. He served out the war in Burma and India, settled in Thailand in 1960, and lived in Chiang Mai for more than fifty years. Indeed, he may still be there, at the age of ninety-seven.

Update: Oops! Bob Bergin tells me that, wonderful as this yarn might be, it's only a yarn. Tex Hill wasn't on that particular trip, and it was Dick Rossi who had the reunion with Major Hudson. -- DF.

Maxwell Air Force Base library
Behold a shelf at the Maxwell Air Force Base library! Those are the HarperCollins paperbacks of Flying Tigers, which sold 2,000 copies in the week after the Air Force chief of staff put it on his Christmas list: Maxwell, evidently, is where at least five of them wound up. It sold so many copies, indeed, that Amazon too often features that edition on its website. So if you go looking for a copy, please start with the updated third edition from Warbird Books. Thank you! — Dan Ford

A 'Special Air Unit' for China:

The Tigers forge a legend:

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The P-40 files:

The Bill Pawley files:

Books, movies, comics:

A good myth never dies: