The Flying Tigers: An age of greatness that must return

In the picture above that is me in the fifth grade during 1979 right after the epic soapbox derby race that was a cliffhanger to the very end. My car stole the hearts of the spectators who witnessed that event on a hot summer day that year. But what many didn’t know or understand was how important to me that saw-toothed mouth was painted on the front of my car. As you can see dear reader my experience with the media goes back quite a few years and if you work at it you might be able to read the story of that spectacular day by enlarging the photograph of the article. The car itself was named The Beast because that was the year that Kings Island first opened their signature roller coaster which I instantly fell in love with. But the mouth on the front was from my favorite airplane in the Aerospace Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  Now before we continue on dear reader I ask for your attention and patience.  Take your time with this.  Read it all and watch the videos.  You will gain vast insight into what is happening around you to this very day.  What you will learn here will equal dozens of hours of college level history.  So Please make use of it!

My love of the P-40 Warhawk displayed so valiantly in Dayton goes back as far as I can remember, and I can vividly remember things from when I was 1 and 2 years old. The P-40 Warhawk was the signature plane flown by the famous Flying Tigers AVG group led by General Claire Chennault, a man I have always felt an affinity for. Chennault was a brilliant strategist, a natural leader, but was extremely abrasive to his superiors often participating in open conflict with them. These disputes with his military superiors led him to resign from the United States Army Corps with the rank of captain in the year 1937 after a rather brilliant career as organizer of the 1st Pursuit Group of the Army Air Corps acrobatic team the “Three Musketeers” where the group performed in the National Air Races. Later he became the pursuit aviation instructor at Maxwell Field of a team named “The Men on the Flying Trapeze.” Chennault had developed the rare ability to master strategy without compromising American horse sense a talent that infuriated his superiors, so he quit the Army.

But that wasn’t the end, Chennault would become far more famous and valuable as a special advisor to Generalissimo Chang Kai-shek of China as that country attempted to protect itself from the Japanese who were in the late 1930’s attempting to overrun China on a quest for natural resources. And to the north of China was the communists who were heavily funded by the Soviet Union and instigating a civil war within China. The situation was remarkably similar to what the United States would find itself in during the start of the next century where outside interests like George Soros is funding aggression against the United States indirectly while we are openly fighting enemies in Iran, Afghanistan and the invisible enemy of terrorism.  It’s a standard divide and conquer act by two enemies who work indirectly together for the mutual aim of destroying a rival.  In this case China was the target of both the communists and imperial Japan so they worked together to crush China from two fronts.  Sadly we all know that eventually China would be overrun by communism which it remains to this very day. In 1951 Chennault testified before the Senate Joint Committee on Armed Forces and Foreign Relations about the reason China was lost to Communist forces in 1951. Chennault after all his heroics in China during World War II had warned President Roosevelt and President Truman directly about the dangers of communism heading into China at the close of World War II, but both presidents were only focused on beating Japan, and it was their short-sighted commitments that caused the United States to pull out of China once the Japanese surrendered which led to the communists to surge in and overtake the government of China.

Sun Tzu to the Chinese is probably revered more highly than George Washington is to the United States. Chairman Mao used The Art of War to defeat Chiang Kai-shek. Chennault had worked closely with Kai-shek to hold off communism in China, but weak US policy after World War II lead to Mao taking over the country in 1949. Chennault warned of the possibility of future war with China in his WONDERFUL book Way of the Fighter published in 1949. In that book, which is now considered a rare book, Chennault predicted the trouble with Korea and Vietnam years before they occurred. The testimony did not sit well with the government, and they failed to act on Chennault’s warnings leaving China to wither under communist control which the United States would pay for dearly over the next 60 years.

To paint a picture of what that communist takeover was like for the people of China, which Chennault had fought so hard to prevent you can read vividly the description of events that occurred in the great book starting on page 505 of Joseph Campbell’s masterpiece called Oriental Mythology, published in 1962 and was part of four books he spent 12 years writing; he chronicles the beginning of communism in China quite startlingly. What follows are direct quotes from that book which is remarkably similar to the conditions America is finding itself in as President Obama signs the NDAA Bill in our modern age.
A man, aged twenty-two from Doi-Dura in th Amdo region was told by the Chinese that he required treatment to make him more intelligent. The Chinese at the time were telling Tibetans that they were a stupid inferior race and would have to be sup-planted by Russians and Chinese. They took blood tests of this man, his wife, and many others, and there are a number of corresponding reports from different parts of Tibet detailing the sort of operation to which this young man and his wife were the next day forced to submit. They were both taken to the hospital. “He was completely undressed, placed on a chair and his genital organs were examined. Then a digital rectal examination was carried out and the finger was agitated. He then ejaculated a whitish fluid and one or more drops fell on a glass slide which was taken away. After this a long pointed instrument with handles like those of scissors was inserted inside the urethra and he fainted with pain. When he came round the doctors gave him a white tablet which they said would give him strength. Then he received an injection at the base of the penis where it joins the scrotum. The needle itself hurt but the injection did not. He felt momentarily numb in the region until the needle was removed. He stayed ten days in the hospital and then a month in be at home….he had been married for only two years and prior to this treatment had very strong sexual feelings…Afterwards he had no sexual desire at all….”

Meanwhile, his wife “was undressed and tied down. Her legs were raised and outstretched. Something very odd which became painful was inserted inside the vagina. She saw a kind of rubber balloon with a rubber tube attached, the end of which was inserted inside the vagina. The balloon was squeezed and his wife felt something very cold inside her. This caused no pain and only the tube and not the balloon was inserted. She remained conscious throughout. Then she was taken to bed. The same procedure was carried on every day for about a week. Then she went home and stayed in bed for about three weeks,” and thereafter she had neither sexual feeling nor menstruation.

Such stories numbered in the thousands and were provoked by a belief that some groups of people should not breed, so measures were taken to ensure that blood lines would end.  There were many stories of political dissidents who just disappeared off the face of the earth completely once communism was dominate in China.  It wasn’t General Chennault’s fault however that communism prevailed. He arrived in China in 1937 to help train Chinese pilots to defend against Japanese aggression. By 1941 war with Japan was imminent with the United States and it was Chennault who lobbied President Roosevelt to provide airplanes and troops, neither of which the President would provide directly. Chennault was able to organize a volunteer group of 300 fighter pilots and ground crew to pose as tourists on their visas who were simply adventurers, mercenaries and unorthodox pilots who didn’t fit in well with the regimented control of military life. Roosevelt was finally able to send 100 P-40B Tomahawk aircraft because an order scheduled for Great Britain was cancelled. The Tomahawk was considered inferior in flight performance against German fighters. So China was getting from the United States 100 airplanes that nobody wanted, pilots and ground crew that were too undisciplined to serve in the armed forces, to fight a massive, highly organized enemy that ranged in the tens of thousands. The odds stacked against these soldiers of fortune were daunting.

The American Volunteer Group to my mind was no different from the privateers of the golden age of pirates. They were paid to kill and harass the enemy, the Japanese. The deal for the AVG pilots was a one-year contract with CAMCO to “manufacture, repair, and operate aircraft” at salaries ranging from $250 to $750 a month. Traveling expenses, thirty days leave with pay quarters, and $30 additional for rations were specified. The Chinese government paid $500 for each confirmed Japanese plane destroyed in the air or on the ground. An AGV pilot who strafed a Japanese airfield could become a very rich man since planes caught on a runway counted toward the bonus.

When Pearl Harbor was bombed it was the Flying Tigers who struck first, because they were the only group in position to act once war was declared. Under Claire Chennault the Flying Tigers maintained an extraordinarily high kill ratio of 40 to 1 against the enemy which was remarkable and they continued to have success being all that stood between Japan taking over China with ground occupation for over 6 months being desperately outnumbered. The AVG had virtually no backup supplies and had to repair their P-40’s with scrap material found in the local villages.

As usual, the government as a whole was way behind the curve regarding military action and once seeing how popular, and effective the AVG was sought to incorporate them into the military.  The AVG successes were not due to the brilliance of a single mind in Washington, and truthfully, if not for the work of The Flying Tigers the military may never have been able to win World War II.  Without capturing momentum in the Pacific the war in Europe would have been hopeless, and to a large extent it was General Patton who helped turn the tide there, another unconventional general who was brash, bold, and combative.  It could be argued that if General Chennault had been given command of the Pacific theater, there may have never been a need for an atomic bomb.  If Chennault had just a few more resources, he might have crushed Japan two years earlier.  It was the genius of a few who won the war.  It was the government looters who cost thousands upon thousands of lives.  Even when the AVG was brought into the official military operations under General Stilwell where General Chennault and Stilwell fought daily, Stilwell insisted on making life for Chennault a living hell because he was jealous of Chennault’s talents, so Stilwell purposely withheld supplies to Chennault’s group, which seriously compromised the strategic interests of China. But Chennault succeeded anyway in spite of the terrible working conditions and overwhelming odds.

The AVG proved to be superior pilots not just against the enemy but among other Americans. Tex Hill would become one of the most spectacular and amazing pilots of World War II. His war record which started on the dirt runways of the Flying Tigers would last through impossible odds till the end of the war.

The saw-toothed mouths put fear into the enemy in similar tactics that made the Pirates of the Caribbean so successful 300 years earlier as fortune hunters and warriors in search of their personal fortunes fought in the skies over China. And along the way the Flying Tigers saved China from Japanese occupation long enough to choke Japan of resources allowing the US Navy to gain a foothold in the Pacific and eventually overtake Japan. In many ways it was General Chennault and his heroic volunteer pilots who won the war against Japan.

I learned from the Flying Tigers that it’s not always the strongest, the fastest, the most technologically superior who wins. In the end it’s the one who thinks they can who wins because the Flying Tigers were not the greatest airplanes. The pilots were not the best trained in the highest education institutions. And it wasn’t money, because there wasn’t any money, except the bonuses paid by the Chinese government to the pilots. The United States wasn’t able to send supplies to the Flying Tigers during the entire war. The Flying Tigers were great because of the swagger they flew with and their ability to be self-reliant.

My wife and I had the fortune recently to watch a P-40 airplane being restored at the War Bird Museum in Clermont County. It was a privilege to crawl around the inside of one of the sacred P-40’s from the Flying Tiger era that I adore so much. Because to me, the P-40 is the superior plane from the World War II period not because of its performance, but because it flew like the pilots themselves, it was not uncommon for P-40’s to return home after running out of gas and sputtering miraculously on fumes for impossible distances, or being shot up with so many holes that staying in the air seemed impossible. The P-40’s seemed to behave like the pilots who flew them. It was a pleasure to touch the metal and feel the spirit of one of these majestic planes up close, and to associate with the people who were restoring every last bolt of a P-40 so that it can roam the skies again.

And that is the lesson for our age and what we can learn from our heroes of the past. The pretentious rulers of government were just as foolish then as they are now. General Stilwell purposely put an entire country at risk because he disliked General Chennault. President Roosevelt failed to pull the trigger early enough to officially assist China and push against communism before they had gathered enough strength to kill many more lives in the war that became World War II. And the United States Navy was lost until it managed to study the tactics of General Chennault and began to use some of the former Flying Tiger pilots to help train their other pilots on how to defeat the Japanese in the air. But the moment the war was over; President Truman left China to fend for itself and pulled out all United States support. This allowed communism to take over China and cause 60 years of terror from a former ally. It is because of this act that we had the Korean War and the war in Southeast Asia.

The construction of my soapbox derby car was my small homage to Claire Chennault and his Flying Tigers because to me they represent everything that makes America the greatest country on earth. Americans aren’t great because we have technologically superior firepower. We are not great because we have good universities. We are not great because we have infinite supplies of food, water, and other resources. Americans are great who still understand how to think outside-the-box and can fix a shot up fuel line with bubble gum and are willing to fly into the enemy with a damaged plan that is out of bullets, out of gas, and out of luck, and rip through the enemy plane because the steel in the P-40 is made of stronger stuff than the enemy. The enemy is crushed, and the American comes home miraculously, because in the science of probability, it flies by sheer willpower to return home to fly again. And when that American puts their boots in the dusty soil of a foreign runway, a $500 bonus is put into their pockets and once they wash off all the blood and the plane is repaired, they’ll go up again to shoot up the enemy and collect $500 more for as long as they can breathe air in their lungs.

Every day when I step into my garage I pay homage to my version of those Flying Tigers by saluting my soapbox derby car as it hangs from my ceiling. That saw-toothed mouth grins at me and cries out to “GO GET EM.’” That car still looks as good today as it did when it tore down the hill behind Fort Hamilton Hospital in the quest for victory in a race that attracted the attention of all of Hamilton on that hot summer day. And as the crowd cheered at the spectacle my mind was not on them, but on the heroes of the Flying Tigers and the honor I felt to pay homage to them in the heroics of sport. Like the P-40’s of another time, my soapbox still sits perched from high above my garage and gazes down waiting to be called into war once again, and if not physically in the war, it can teach a new generation how to taste the blood of an enemy and become hungry for its nutrients when the times dictate such action. Because these times are no different from those times, the only things that differ are the names of the characters and the dates for which they occur.

As an added bonus to all you have read here and wish to know more than the text, videos and pictures above have revealed, feel free to grab some pop corn and the beverage of your choice and watch the great John Wayne classic, The Flying Tigers released by Republic Pictures in 1942 with John Wayne playing loosely the part of Claire Chennault in a film that the nation needed to see at the time.  I have included it below to make it easy for you to see!  Because at that time there wasn’t any good news to be had after Pearl Harbor except what the Flying Tigers were doing. And this film will give you a wonderful perspective of what the America was like then that made greatness a commodity that was the envy of the world. Because of that jealousy, the communists have attempted a less direct attack on our culture which we are currently experiencing. Just click the movie and enjoy the entire thing, and soak up what America is supposed to be so you can learn how to make it so again.

To read more of my articles on American air supremacy you can visit this link:

http://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/tora-tora-tora-the-attack-that-started-then-and-continues-today-with-progressivism/

And please pass this along to a friend so that they can see and learn for themselves what you have just experienced.

SEE THE WORLD THROUGH HOFFMAN LENSES:

http://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/socialists-live-hoffman-lenses-on-urban-meyer/

Rich Hoffman
http://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

26 thoughts on “The Flying Tigers: An age of greatness that must return

  1. That was fantastic reading about young Rich Hoffman’s efforts and the “Beast!”.
    I grew up in a home where my Dad thought that the ultimate in entertainment was to take me to see “Tora, Tora, Tora when I was 8 or 9, and we constantly read about the various world wars.
    Some of the events you described are difficult to read but important to know.
    Excellent column!

    • Thanks! It is a little hard to read that old stuff, but kinda nice to see that some things never change. : ) Tora, Tora, Tora is one of those great classics! You are lucky to have a dad like that!

  2. Great post Rich! If I get time I’m definitely going to watch “Flying Tigers” again. It’s been years since I’ve seen that. I really enjoy the classic war movies…thanks to my father for turning me on to those as a kid.

    Your description of the P-40 reminds me of one of my and my sons favorite planes…the A-10 “Warthog”. What a great plane. They look especially menacing with a big toothy maw painted around that 30mm Avenger gatling gun. Built for one purpose: inflict maximum damage on the enemy and get the pilot home in one piece. Feared by the enemy, loved by those who fly her and hated by liberal politicians.

    Next time you’re going to the War Bird Museum let me know…I live just a few minutes from there!

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