Flying Tigers
Flying Tigers

Flying Tigers was the nickname of the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) that operated within the Chinese Air Force in 1941 and 1942. In essence, the group was a private military contractor, although they have also been called mercenaries. Its members were former United States Army (USAAF), Navy (USN), and Marine Corps (USMC) pilots and ground crew, recruited under Presidential approval and commanded by Claire Chennault. The group consisted of three fighter squadrons that trained in Burma before the American entry into World War II with the intention of defending China against Japanese forces.

The Tigers' shark-faced fighters remain among the most recognizable of any individual combat aircraft of World War II, and they demonstrated innovative tactical victories when the news in the U.S. was filled with little more than stories of defeat at the hands of the Japanese forces. The group first saw combat on 20 December 1941, 12 days after Pearl Harbor (local time). It achieved notable success during the lowest period of the war for U.S. and Allied Forces, giving hope to Americans that they would eventually succeed against the Japanese. The Tigers were credited with destroying almost 300 aircraft while losing only 14 pilots on combat missions. In July 1942, the AVG replaced by the U.S. Army 23rd Fighter Group, which was later absorbed into the U.S. 14th Air Force with General Chennault as commander. The 23rd Group went on to achieve similar combat success, while retaining the nose art and nickname of the volunteer unit.

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Flying Tigers

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