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Location: /Squadron Patches/AVG / Flying Tigers units

WWII Patch, AVG Flying Tigers - 3rd Pursuit SQdrn Hells Angels - waving #2

WWII Patch, AVG Flying Tigers - 3rd Pursuit SQdrn Hells Angels - waving #2

Product Information
WWII China AF Squadron Patch
US American Volunteer Group ( AVG ) Flying Tigers
Third Pursuit Squadron - 3rd Pursuit SQ
Hells Angels - (Waving Angel) #2
China Air Task Force ( CATF )
Flying Tigers
Chinese Air Force ( CAF )
Chinese Nationalist Air Force ( CNAF ) 1937–1945
Republic of China Air Force ( RCAF )
A.V.G. / C.A.T.F. / C.A.F. / C.N.A.F. / R.C.A.F.
5 1/8 x 2 1/2 inches



American Volunteer Group (AVG) Curtiss P-40, painted with the shark-face emblem of the Flying Tigers and the 12-point sun roundel of the Chinese Air Force.
1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) Flying Tigers
Flying Tigers was the popular name of the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force in 1941-1942
. They were mostly former United States Army (USAAF), Navy (USN), and Marine Corps (USMC) pilots and ground crew, recruited under Presidential sanction and commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The group consisted of three fighter squadrons with about 20 aircraft each. It trained in Burma before the American entry into World War II with the mission of defending China against Japanese forces. Arguably, the group was a private military contractor, and for that reason the volunteers have sometimes been called mercenaries. The members of the group had lucrative contracts with salaries ranging from $250 a month for a mechanic to $750 for a squadron commander, roughly three times what they had been making in the U.S. forces. The Tigers' shark-faced Curtiss P-40 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. While cross-referencing records after the war revealed their actual kill numbers were substantially less, the Tigers were paid combat bonuses for destroying nearly 300 enemy aircraft, while losing only 14 pilots on combat missions. In July 1942, the AVG was 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 FG went on to achieve similar combat success, while retaining the nose art and fighting name of the volunteer unit.
AVG fighter aircraft came from a Curtiss assembly line producing Tomahawk IIB models for the Royal Air Force in North Africa. The Tomahawk IIB was similar to the U.S. Army's earlier P-40B model, and there is some evidence that Curtiss actually used leftover components from that model in building the fighters intended for China. The fighters were purchased without "government-furnished equipment" such as reflector gunsights, radios and wing guns; the lack of these items caused continual difficulties for the AVG in Burma and China. The 100 P-40 aircraft were crated and sent to Burma on third country freighters during spring 1941. At Rangoon, they were unloaded, assembled and test flown by personnel of Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO) before being delivered to the AVG training unit at Toungoo. Since the U.S. was not at war, the "Special Air Unit" could not be organized overtly, but the request was approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself. The resulting clandestine operation was organized in large part by Lauchlin Currie, a young economist in the White House, and by Roosevelt intimate Thomas G. Corcoran. Although sometimes considered a mercenary  unit, the AVG was closely associated with the U.S. military. Most histories of the Flying Tigers say that on 15 April 1941, President Roosevelt signed a "secret executive order" authorizing servicemen on active duty to resign in order to join the AVG. However, Flying Tigers historian Daniel Ford could find no evidence that such an order ever existed, and he argued that "a wink and a nod" was more the president's style. The AVG was created by an executive order of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. He did not speak English, however, and Chennault never learned to speak Chinese. As a result, all communications between the two men were routed through May-ling Soong, or "Madame Chiang" as she was known to Americans, and she was designated the group's "honorary commander."
AVG fighter aircraft were painted with a large shark face on the front of the aircraft. This was done after pilots saw a photograph of a P-40 of No. 112 Squadron RAF in North Africa, which in turn had adopted the shark face from German pilots of the Luftwaffe's ZG 76 heavy fighter wing, flying Messerschmitt Bf 110  fighters in Crete. (The AVG nose-art is variously credited to Charles Bond and Erik Shilling.) About the same time, the AVG was dubbed "The Flying Tigers" by its Washington support group, called China Defense Supplies. The P-40's good qualities included pilot armor, self-sealing fuel tanks, sturdy construction, heavy armament (two 50-cal. and four 30-cal. machine guns), and a higher diving speed than most Japanese aircraft – qualities that could be used to advantage in accordance with Chennault's combat tactics. Chennault created an early warning network of spotters that would give his fighters time to take off and climb to a superior altitude where this tactic could be executed.

Combat History
The port of Rangoon in Burma and the Burma Road leading from there to China were of crucial importance for the Republic of China, as the eastern regions of China were under Japanese occupation so virtually all of the foreign material destined for the armed forces of the Republic arrived via that port. By November 1941, when the pilots were trained and most of the P-40s had arrived in Asia, the Flying Tigers were divided into three squadrons: 1st Squadron (“Adam & Eves”); 2nd Squadron (“Panda Bears”) and 3rd Squadron (“Hell’s Angels”). They were assigned to opposite ends of the Burma Road to protect this vital line of communications. Two squadrons were based at Kunming in China and a third at Mingaladon Airport near Rangoon. When the United States officially entered the war, the AVG had 82 pilots and 79 aircraft, although not all were combat-ready.

The AVG had its first combat on 20 December 1941, when aircraft of the 1st and 2nd squadrons intercepted 10 unescorted Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily" bombers of the 21st Hikotai raiding Kunming. Three of the Japanese bombers were shot down near Kunming and a fourth was damaged so severely that it crashed before returning to its airfield at Hanoi. No P-40s were lost through enemy action, and the bombers jettisoned their loads before reaching their target. Furthermore, the Japanese discontinued their raids on Kunming while the AVG was based there.

The AVG was officially credited with 297 enemy aircraft destroyed, including 229 in the air. As often happens, however, a researcher who surveyed Japanese accounts concluded that the number was much lower: 115.  Fourteen AVG pilots were killed in action, captured, or disappeared on combat missions. Two died of wounds sustained in bombing raids, and six were killed in accidents during the Flying Tigers' existence as a combat force. Even using the lower figure of Japanese aircraft downed, the AVG's kill ratio was superior to that of contemporary Allied air groups in Malaya, the Philippines, and elsewhere. The AVG's success is all the more remarkable since they were outnumbered by Japanese fighters in almost all their engagements. The AVG's P-40s were arguably superior to the JAAF's Ki-27s, but the group's kill ratio against modern Ki-43s was still in its favor. In Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941–1942, Daniel Ford attributes the AVG's success to morale and group esprit. He notes that its pilots were "triple volunteers" who had volunteered for service with the U.S. military, the AVG, and brutal fighting in Burma. The result was a corps of experienced and skilled volunteer pilots who wanted to fight.
During their service with the Nationalist Chinese air force, 33 AVG pilots and three ground crew received the Order of the Cloud and Banner, and many AVG pilots received the Chinese Air Force Medal. Each AVG ace and double ace was awarded the Five Star or Ten Star Wing Medal.


Notable AVG members
    * Gregory “Pappy” Boyington was discharged from the AVG in April 1942 and returned to active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps. He went on to command the “Black Sheep” Squadron and was one of two AVG veterans (the other being James H. Howard of the USAAF) to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
    * David Lee "Tex" Hill, later commander of the USAAF 23rd Fighter Group.
    * Charles Older postwar earned a law degree, became a California Superior Court judge, and presided at the murder trial of Charles Manson.
    * Kenneth Jernstedt was a long-time Oregon legislator and mayor of his home town of Hood River.
    * Robert Prescott founded Flying Tiger Line as a cargo carrier, along with other AVG pilots.
    * Allen "Bert" Christman, killed at Rangoon in January 1942, had earlier scripted and drawn the Scorchy Smith and Sandman comic strips.
    * Journalist Joseph Alsop served as Chennault's "staff secretary" while the AVG trained at Rangoon; he was interned at Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941.
    * Witold Urbanowicz Polish Air Force ace and former commander of Polish 303th RAF Squadron, served as a volunteer - the only Polish officer who fought against Japan.


AVG Aces
Nineteen pilots were credited by the AVG with five or more air-to-air victories:
    * Robert Neale: 13 victories
    * David Lee "Tex" Hill: 10.25 victories
    * George Burgard: 10 victories
    * Robert Little: 10 victories
    * Charles Older: 10 victories
    * Robert T. Smith: 8.9 victories
    * William McGarry: 8 victories
    * Charles Bond: 7 victories
    * Frank Lawlor: 7 victories
    * John Newkirk: 7 victories
    * Robert Hedman: 6 victories
    * C. Joseph Rosbert: 6 victories
    * J. Richard Rossi: 6 victories
    * Robert Prescott: 5.5 victories
    * Percy Bartelt: 5 victories
    * William Bartling: 5 victories
    * Edmund Overend: 5 victories
    * Robert Sandell: 5 victories
    * Robert H. Smith: 5 victories



The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) History
The Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) was formed by the Kuomingtang after the establishment of the Aviation Ministry in 1920. As tensions mounted between the China and Imperial Japan  in the 1930s, the I-16 was the main fighter plane used by the Chinese Air Force and Soviet volunteers. During the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), the ROCAF participated in attacks on Japanese warships on the eastern front and along the Yangtze river including interdiction and close-air support for the Battle of Shanghai in 1937. Initially, the Chinese frontline fighter aircraft were mainly Curtiss Hawk II and III's and Boeing P-26C model 281. Chinese Boeing P-26/281 fighters engaged Japanese Mitsubishi A5M fighters in what was the world's first instances of aerial dog-fighting and kills between all-metal monoplane fighter aircraft. A unique mission in April 1938 saw two Chinese Martin B-10 bombers fly a mission over Japan, but dropping only anti-war leaflets over the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Saga. It was a war of attrition for the Chinese pilots, as many of their most experienced ace fighter pilots were lost. In October 1938, most air force units were withdrawn for reorganization and training. They were reconstituted into seven Groups, one separate Squadron and four Volunteer Groups. In 1940 the Russian Volunteer Group was stood down. By the end of 1941 the air force had 364 operational aircraft of which 100 P-40s were operated by the American Volunteer Group. Through attrition and loss of their most experienced fighter pilots in the first half of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Republic of China Air Force ultimately suffered irreversible losses in combat against the Japanese, and by the beginning of 1942 the ROCAF was practically annihilated by Japanese aircraft, particularly with the introduction of what was then the most advanced fighter-aircraft in the world; the Mitsubishi Zero. The ROCAF was eventually supplemented with the establishment of the Flying Tigers and very heavily armed and armored Curtiss P-40 Warhawks, and subsequently rebuilt each year following Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor with new aid and vigor from the United States.  US replacement aircraft began to arrive in March 1942. They included A-29, P-40, P-43, and P-66 types, and in 1945 B-25s, B-17s and P-51s. In 1944, the USAAF 15th Airforce commenced joint operations in the China theater. By this time the Chinese Airforce was mostly equipped with current operational aircraft types and was superior in all respects to the opposing Japanese air forces which remained. Throughout the war the ROCAF was involved in attacks on Japanese air and ground forces in the Chinese theatre. from wikipedia

Price: $145.00


Product Code: PatchAVG.3rdPursuitSq.v8.Waving
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