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.

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A P-40 in Shanghai waters

P-40 being lifted from water No, sorry, not the long-sought "Kittyhawk" in Lake Danchi (aka Lake Kunming)! It seems that the Chinese are filming a television series about local people helping Americna pilots after an aborted bombing raid upon Japan. When I saw this sequence online, the modern crane and the workers' hardhats really baffled me, but apparently its a replay of the same notion that lay behind my own AVG novel, Remains, which opens in the present day and then switches to a backstory in the desperate months of the Pacific War. What we see here is a full-size P-40 replica being lifted out of the salt sea near Shanghai in southern China. The time is the present, and no doubt will soon switch back to the glory days of the American Volunteer Group, the 14th Air Force, or the Chinese-American Composite Wing. (A tip of the virtual hat to Gregg Otterson, Edward Rogers, Brad Smith, and Bob Bergin, who pieced it all together.)

Air Strike

Bruce Willis's star turn as a sort-of Claire Chennault smashed into the Great Firewall of China when the government canceled its in-country release because one of its pretty stars got into trouble with the tax authorities. So it goes in totalitarian societies (and increasingly in ours as well, though not yet for financial peccadillos). But the US distributor went right ahead with the October 26 opening, in a few theaters and online, and I spent $6.99 to view it on Amazon. I'm sorry to say it's pretty bad. China may beat the world at low-cost manufacturing iPhones and stealing American technology, but when it comes to wartime melodrama they're still back in the 1940s and those Republic B-movies that made up the Saturday afternoon double feature for local schoolboys. The aerial sequences are straight out of a videogame, with occasional green subtitles for the nasty Japanese and foul-mouthed English audio for Colonel Willis and the brave Chinese. See it on Amazon (also on Google Play at a higher price). Blue skies! — Dan Ford

A 'Special Air Unit' for China:

Flying Tigers
revised and updated

The Tigers forge a legend:

The P-40 files:

The Bill Pawley files:

Tales of the Flying Tigers

Books, movies, comics:

A good myth never dies: