Flying Tigers

American Volunteer Group Colors and Markings (Terrill Clements)

Terrill began his study of the AVG Tomahawks with a self-published book some years ago. More recently, his research has been picked up by the British publisher Osprey, in one of those pricey but fabulous little paperbacks in the "Aircraft of the Aces" series.

When I saw the Osprey edition, I was mightily annoyed to find that Terrill had used my research without credit. For example, the cover painting (above) shows the famous collision between Parker Dupouy in No. 72 and Lt. Hiroshi Okuyuma of the JAAF 64th Sentai, 25 Dec 1941. Translating the Japanese account of this incident was one of the great "gotcha!" moments of my life, and I didn't appreciate seeing it passed off as common knowledge.

The book is written as a magazine-style short history of the AVG, well larded with black-white photographs and short biographies of some but not all AVG aces. Many of the photos are from the collection of the late R.T. Smith of the AVG 3rd squadron, and these are epecially fine. But the heart of the book is the 16-page center section. All Osprey aircraft books feature side views of individual aircraft, and of course these are of particular interest when it comes to the AVG. In this case, they range from Dick Rossi's No. 3 Tomahawk--without the famous shark-mouth!--to No. 106 Kittyhawk, one of 40-odd P-40Es ferried to the AVG in the spring of 1942. There are also a bunch of color phographs, including one I'd never seen before: R.T. Smith snapped it from the cockpit in flight, showing a Tommi flying ahead of him, with his own gun sights clearly showing in the foreground.

Altogether, this is the best survey of the AVG Tomahawks you're likely to find. I've also looked at a competing book, Tigers Over China by Thomas Tullis. (Click on the title to order from Amazon.) This too has a great collection of R.T.'s photos, many of them duplicating Terrill's book. Overall, Tom's book is less detailed, so I would suggest you buy Terrill's instead.

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

The Lady and the Tigers

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