World War II: Fourteenth Air Force -- Heir to the Flying Tigers

World War II: Fourteenth Air Force — Heir to the Flying Tigers

6/12/2006 • Aviation History

After almost six months of continuous combat duty in China with the Fourteenth Air Force, Sergeant Hobart Jones, the nose-gunner and engineer of a Consolidated B-24J named Tough Titti, was no stranger to surprises. One experience he later vividly recalled happened in midsummer 1944, while he and his unit, the 375th Bomb Squadron, 308th Bomb Group, were leaving the target area, 18,000 feet over Nanking.

‘We’d just assembled into a tight defensive formation with maybe 100 feet separating our planes, Jones said. And several thousand feet over our heads, our escorts — a mix of P-40s and P-51s — were in the middle of a dogfight with a bunch of Jap fighters. I happened to be looking over to my left when this Jap fighter — I believe it was an Oscar [Nakajima Ki.43] — just seemed to drop out of nowhere and form up right behind our left wing. Jones threw up his hands and mimicked the shock that had been on his face at the time. I thought I was hallucinating! he declared with a laugh. The Jap pilot and I were staring at each across a space of maybe 50 feet, maybe less. The guy had on a fur-trimmed helmet and sported a bushy mustache, and he was grinning — grinning at me! Nobody could take a shot at him because our planes were in each other’s line of fire. After what must have been only two or three seconds of looking at this guy, my headset erupted with the voice of my pilot screaming, `Step up! Step up!’ He was calling the plane next to us, telling them to move so we could get a clear shot. But the exact instant the other ship moved, the Jap flicked over on his back and split-essed right out of there — I mean, got clean away without one shot being fired!

In a one-year odyssey, Jones had left his family farm in Shady Grove, Ark., enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF), trained all over the United States and arrived in China in February 1944 as a buck sergeant. In the States, we’d all [B-24 crews] been trained strictly for high-altitude, daylight precision bombing, Jones said, but that turned out to have little bearing on what they did with us in China. After we got there, we were required to fly whatever kind of mission the military situation called for from day to day. It wasn’t unusual, he explained, for us to fly a long mission to Hong Kong — a 1,400-mile round trip from our base at Chengkung [near Kunming] — where we’d be dropping bombs on the docks from 20,000 feet; then, a day later, get ordered to make a low-level bomb run on a bridge or a railroad tunnel. To Jones, low meant as near to the ground as they could get and still clear obstacles, at times down to 50 feet above the ground. Sometimes we’d go right down on the deck and strafe, he said, to shoot up the Jap supply boats on the rivers or maybe a train if we caught one.

Jones recalled that the 375th’s most persistent problem wasn’t combat requirements but supplies: Our B-24 outfits normally had to fly three to five resupply trips to India and back just to get everything we needed — gas, bombs, ammunition and so on — to mount one combat sortie. Of course that meant flying `the Hump,’ a three-and-a-half-hour trip each way, and most of the time we did it in overloaded airplanes. [The Hump was the name American aircrews had attached to the Himalayan mountain range.] And the shortage of parts made it impossible to keep a lot of the B-24s in service. The biggest number of planes I ever saw the 308th put in the air at one time was 28, and that was only once.

During World War II, the China-based Fourteenth Air Force was not only the most short-lived of the numbered air forces, existing for a period of less than 34 months (March 5, 1943 to December 31, 1945), it was the smallest to operate in a combat theater, reaching a peak strength of just six air groups and four auxiliary squadrons (approximately 700 airplanes) by the end of 1944. It holds the singular distinction of being the only numbered air force to have been wholly created, organized and operated within a war zone. Despite its limitations, the Fourteenth went on to produce a truly astounding war record: 2,908 enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged against 193 combat-related losses of its own; 2.1 million tons of shipping sunk or damaged; 99 warships sunk or destroyed; an estimated 18,000 small rivercraft (carrying enemy troops and supplies) destroyed; and 1,225 locomotives, 817 bridges and 4,836 trucks destroyed. Added to that were approximately 59,500 Japanese troops killed in close air support engagements.

For most of its life the Fourteenth Air Force was commanded by one of the most controversial USAAF leaders of the wartime period, Maj. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault. The ultimate success of the Fourteenth did little or nothing to relieve the longstanding estrangement between Chennault and his superiors at the Pentagon. When the Japanese threat in China had been neutralized, he was relieved of command. On September 2, 1945, during the surrender ceremony aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, five-star Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur was reported to have asked, Where’s Chennault? He had not been invited.

Unlike the other air forces created during World War II, the Fourteenth was not the typical, planned-from-the-top military organization; in fact, the U.S. military leadership, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff on down, was unanimously opposed to the idea of establishing a separate numbered air force in China. All of them believed that such a venture would be a tactical and logistical rat hole down which money, materiel and manpower needed elsewhere would be wasted. Yet, even before the United States entered the war, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was anxious to make some gesture to assist the beleaguered Chinese. Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalist government had been embroiled in a war with Japan since 1937 and had repeatedly begged the United States for help. So in April 1941, against the advice of his military staff, Roosevelt authorized the Chinese to recruit pilots and ground crewmen from the U.S. military services for a civilian fighter unit to be called the American Volunteer Group (AVG). He also allowed the Chinese government, through a civilian cover organization, to purchase 100 Curtiss Hawk 81A-3 fighters (export models of the P-40C) that had been earmarked for Britain’s Royal Air Force.

The man selected by Chiang to organize, train and lead this force was ex-U.S. Army Air Corps captain Claire Lee Chennault, who since 1937 had functioned as Chiang’s chief adviser on military aviation matters. Though classified as an eccentric by his former Air Corps peers, Chennault had nonetheless spent his time well in China, not only learning to effectively deal with his Chinese hosts but also becoming an expert on Japanese tactics and capabilities.

The earliest mission of the AVG, which became famous as the Flying Tigers, was to protect the vital rail-, road- and sea-based supply routes between China and Burma. Despite noteworthy tactical successes (the AVG was ultimately credited with the destruction of 286 Japanese aircraft against a loss of 14 of its own pilots), Chennault’s small fighter band was unable to reverse the overwhelming tide of invading Japanese forces, and the Burma supply routes were completely sealed off in early March 1942. China was effectively severed from surface contact with the rest of the world, and the only means of resupply was by air via India — over the Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world.

When the civilian AVG was disbanded on July 4, 1942, it was incorporated into the China Air Task Force (CATF), a subcommand of the AAF’s India-based Tenth Air Force. Claire Chennault was recalled to active duty in the AAF at the rank of brigadier general and placed in overall command of the CATF. Starting with one fighter group consisting of 51 P-40s inherited from the AVG, the CATF was soon augmented by North American B-25s of the 11th Bomb Squadron and tasked with the broad responsibilities of interdicting enemy movements, protecting the southern and eastern approaches across the Himalayan Mountains, and defending the China terminals and bases.

The CATF’s combat tactics were characterized by mobility and surprise, attacking enemy supply lines, dock facilities, military installations and airfields across a 1,000-mile battle front while simultaneously being prepared to take off and intercept incoming Japanese aircraft that had been sighted by the Jing-Bao warning net. Originated by the AVG, the term Jing-Bao meant to be alert, and became the name for a system of observers scattered throughout the China front who reported enemy aircraft movements using a combination of radio and semaphore signals. By way of this system, CATF fighters were regularly able to intercept Japanese aircraft long before they reached their targets. And as the CATF planes were moved from one forward base to the next, their spinners and markings were often repainted to mislead Japanese observers. The tactics and the warning net were effective enough to cause Japanese intelligence analysts to grossly overestimate American air strength in China through the balance of 1942; they believed the CATF was operating a force of at least 200 planes when, in fact, there were no more than 30 operational at any one time.

As new combat units arrived in late 1942 and early 1943 to boost CATF numbers, the stress on the supply system intensified. The recently constituted India-China Division of Air Transport Command (ATC) was unable to keep up with the combined demands of the Chinese army, U.S. forces in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater and the CATF, a problem made worse because nearly all the CATF bases were at the ends of the supply lines. Priorities on materials were set by Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, the U.S. theater commander in China, and Maj. Gen. Clayton L. Bissell, Tenth Air Force commander, to which the CATF was technically subordinate. The situation was further aggravated by Chennault’s habit of consulting directly with Chiang Kai-shek or the White House and ignoring the normal chain of command, a practice greatly resented by Stilwell and Bissell.

Out of this fractious command relationship the CATF was reconstituted as the Fourteenth Air Force on March 5, 1943, with its headquarters in Kunming. Although Roosevelt was generally not in the habit of interfering with the prerogatives of military leadership, in this instance he created a wholly new numbered air force by presidential order. As part of the same order, Chennault was promoted to the rank of major general and given command of the new organization. In contrast to the military chain of command (Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall termed Chennault disloyal, Chief of the AAF Henry H. Arnold rated him a crackpot, and Stilwell referred to him as a jackass), Roosevelt admired the feisty Chennault, whom he had met in 1941. But perhaps more important, he knew that Chiang Kai-shek would have been angered by the appointment of anyone else.

Although the Fourteenth had been elevated to the status of a theater-level air force, its mission remained essentially guerrilla in nature: to disrupt, harass and confuse the movements of a numerically superior enemy. According to several references, Fourteenth Air Force headquarters perceived itself as responsible for the following military objectives: (1) defend the Allied supply lines over the Himalayas; (2) seek and destroy enemy aircraft and troop concentrations; (3) destroy enemy military and naval installations; (4) interdict and destroy enemy shipping along China’s coastline and inland waterways; (5) interdict and destroy enemy supply lines within China, Indochina, Thailand, Burma and Formosa; (6) provide close air support to Chinese ground forces; and (7) encourage the Chinese resistance to assist AAF airmen in enemy-occupied territories. In short, they were to stall Japanese forces as long as possible, not defeat them. It would ultimately be the job of Chiang Kai-shek’s armies to repel the Japanese, but in early 1943 Chiang’s poorly trained and ill-equipped forces could scarcely defend the territory they already held.

Chennault recommenced combat operations as the Fourteenth Air Force with an arsenal of about 170 aircraft, mostly obsolete P-40s, one reconnaissance squadron of Lockheed F-5s (photoreconnaissance version of the P-38) and one squadron of B-25s; however, lack of logistical support caused the B-25s to be grounded for much of early 1943. Opposing the American airmen at that time was a force of approximately 450 aircraft belonging to Japanese army and navy units. The Fourteenth’s numbers were bolstered in May by the arrival of B-24s of the 308th Bomb Group (Heavy), which had the effect of greatly extending the command’s radius of attack, especially to the faraway centers of Japanese shipping and supply, and, as described by Hobart Jones, the B-24s possessed the added advantage of being logistically self-supporting.

Throughout the spring and summer of 1943, the Fourteenth’s two P-40-equipped fighter groups, the 23rd and 51st, were called on to perform a variety of tasks: protection of AAF and Chinese bases from enemy air attacks; fighter sweeps near Japanese bases that were designed to lure enemy fighters into action; fighter-bomber interdiction of Japanese supply routes, particularly along the Burma Road in the southeast; and escorting the B-24s and B-25s on bombing raids against major enemy military and supply installations. When scrambled via the Jing-Bao warning net, there were sometimes only two or three P-40s available to oppose formations of 30 to 40 Japanese bomber and fighter aircraft, but such measures were often sufficiently disruptive to cause the bombs to miss their intended targets.

The Chinese-American Composite Wing (CACW) became a part of the Fourteenth Air Force in July 1943. The CACW consisted of Chinese aircraft and crews trained under Lend-Lease with a combination of Chinese and USAAF officers serving as the wing’s group, squadron and flight leaders. Organized as two fighter groups of P-40s and one bomber group of B-25s, CACW units began their first combat operations in October 1943. The coming in of the CACW effectively gave Chennault command and control over all tactical aviation operations occurring within the China theater.

As increasing numbers of aircraft and aircrews enabled the Fourteenth to expand its reach, the command was split into two composite wings in December 1943, roughly dividing operations between east and west China along the 108th meridian. The 69th Wing, commanded by Colonel John Kennedy, was headquartered in Kunming and assumed responsibility for an area that extended west to Burma and included the Hump supply lines; the 68th Wing, commanded by Colonel Casey Vincent, which operated as more of a frontal unit, was given the responsibility for an area that extended from Shanghai to Indochina and also included the shipping lanes in the South China Sea and the Formosa Strait (today known as the Taiwan Strait). Sustaining the 68th’s widespread combat operations would ultimately prove problematic because of the great distances from normal supply lines, with the result that its aircraft were sometimes grounded for lack of fuel.

Starting the new year with 285 aircraft on hand, Fourteenth Air Force operations in the early months of 1944 were characterized by a lull in activity by Japanese ground forces in China and poor weather conditions. The fighters, whose ranks were now augmented by P-38s of the 449th Fighter Squadron and a handful of North American P-51s to replace the aging P-40s, continued to fly sweeps and fighter-bomber strikes, while the B-25s simultaneously concentrated on river and sea sweeps along the Yangtze River and South China Sea. Heavy bombardment operations were delayed in the first four months of the year due to fuel shortages. During the same period, however, Japanese forces in China had been building up to mount an offensive aimed at opening a north-south corridor from Hankow all the way to Indochina. Such a move would not only create overland rail routes between their territories, but would also eliminate many of the forward bases from which the Fourteenth was flying antishipping strikes. The Japanese offensive, a three-pronged attack involving a force of 250,000 men, began on April 17, 1944, and continued off and on through the remainder of the year, eventually pushing the Chinese lines another 200 miles inland from Chengchow to Indochina and causing the Fourteenth to lose 13 of its bases in eastern China.

Even with the loss of valuable bases, the Fourteenth was not deterred by the Japanese onslaught. With two new groups of Republic P-47s and two more squadrons of B-25s joining it in the spring and early summer of 1944, the Fourteenth began a series of intensive interdiction strikes along the newly established north-south Japanese corridor. Chief among the targets were the railways — bridges, tunnels, locomotives and marshaling yards. At the same time, the B-24s of the 308th Bomb Group stepped up their attacks on Japanese shipping in the sea lanes and the rivers, which included laying mines, and fighter units flew hundreds of sorties in support of the Chinese army all over the huge frontal area.

During the time the Japanese offensive in China was in full swing, Boeing B-29s of the XX Bomber Command began arriving in the CBI for eventual deployment from bases located in the Chengdu area of central China (see Operation Matterhorn, Aviation History, July 2003). Taking their orders directly from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, however, the B-29s were officially attached to the Twentieth Air Force and in no way connected to tactical operations within China itself but intended for strategic attacks on the Japanese Home Islands. Chennault’s repeated demands to use the Superforts against the Japanese armies in China only served to widen the chasm between himself and the Joint Chiefs. The B-29s were ultimately withdrawn from the CBI in early 1945 and moved to the Mariana Islands.

In spite of Japan’s 1944 offensive, the India-China Division of the ATC continued to increase the tonnage of supplies being delivered across the Hump, which in turn permitted the Fourteenth to further expand its operations. All through the fall and winter of 1944, new Merlin-equipped P-51s began to arrive in China to form the new 311th Fighter Group and also replace many of the war-weary P-40s operating in other groups. During this period, other new aircraft and crews were added to the Fourteenth’s roster, such as two squadrons of troop-carrying Douglas C-47s and the 426th Night Fighter Squadron, equipped with Northrop P-61 Black Widows. Before year’s end, the command’s inventory had risen to a force of 700 aircraft versus an estimated Japanese force of 1,200 planes — still outnumbered but in far better shape than the year before.

The new year — 1945 — turned out to be a time of major transformation for the Fourteenth Air Force. Its determined interdiction efforts during the enemy offensive had borne fruit: The Japanese advance was permanently stalled, and counterattacking Chinese forces, supported by the Fourteenth and the CACW, were starting to regain territory. Equally as important, the Allies, after a yearlong push, had regained enough of Burma by February 1945 to reopen the overland supply routes from India. The Fourteenth was now positioned to become the conventional striking force envisioned by Chennault — one that would eventually thrust at the Japanese mainland.But the reopening of the supply lines brought about sweeping changes in the CBI. The CACW was abolished, and the Fourteenth and Tenth air forces were placed under a unified command, the China Theater Air Forces (CTAF). While Chennault might have seemed the most logical choice to lead the new command, it was given instead to Lt. Gen. George Stratemeyer.

Following FDR’s death, Generals Marshall and Arnold made plans to limit Chennault’s role by giving him a job in one of CTAF subcommands. It probably surprised no one when Chennault refused. On July 8, 1945, Maj. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault retired for the second time. Plans to use the CTAF in support of the invasion of Japan never materialized, and what had once been the Fourteenth Air Force disappeared from China by the end of 1945.

This article was written by E.R. Johnson and originally published in the November 2005 issue of Aviation History magazine. For more great articles subscribe to Aviation History magazine today!

44 Responses to World War II: Fourteenth Air Force — Heir to the Flying Tigers

  1. Kenneth P. Delcambre says:

    Did the 14th Air Force ever receive any Presidential Unit Citations.

    Please reply ASAP.

    Kenneth P. Delcambre
    Historian of the Breaux Bridge, LA
    Military Hall of Fame

    • Robert Wagoner says:

      Yes. The 14th AF, through the various units, segments and reformations of them, received a Presidential Citation for the ENTIRE THEATRE of the CBI. It was for meritorious and exemplary action, in the face of constant danger, and for providing an increasing tonnage of supplies, fuel, repair parts, troop support, etc throughout SE Asia, in the face of overwhelming Japanese superiority in planes and personnel, and for flying in chronic adverse conditions, due to weather, inhospitable terrain, technical difficulty, and other situations. I believe General Tunney was in charge of the CHINA Groups, when the nomination was made to FDR, for the 14th AF, as a whole.
      The citation itself is Blue bar (solid) with silver or gold piping ( designating pilots or others, I believe).

      My Father : Capt John A Wagoner Sr. -Grand Island, Nebraska –stationed : Chunking; Kunming China; April 1943-Sept 1945; Relocated to Shanghai, China. ( 1945-49) ; He was a Senior Warrant Officer and pilot–Kunming; Flew the “Hump” 26 times; Participated in Stillwell exchange / negotiation missions; other prisoner exchanges with Imperial forces of Japan, etc; I am uncertain if he was entirely at the East airport ( River) or the original Kunming airport (West)
      My Neighbor : Herbert F Glover Jr – Grand Island, Ne.; Was a decorated pilot and was personal pilot to MacArthur and others; In & Out of China 1943-45; Based in Australia primarily, I believe; was Active USAF reserve ( Colonel) until 1985 ( ?); Herb got into many “scrapes” during WWII. ( Not willfully–he was a very good soldier); My Father called him the Luckiest man in the world. Herb just giggled; He received several Heroism citations and medals, for bravery, protecting the Brass, Soldiers, etc.

      Both gentlemen were active with OSS, although they were pilots first & foremost; My Mother worked for OSS ( in China) for Averill Harriman and other high ranking officials. She was admin support–not an operative; ( 1943-45) John & Florence met in Kunming, and married in Shanghai on April 30, 1946.

      I grew up in the back seat of a series of Mooneys, Piper Commanches, and other private planes–1963-75 that these gentlemen owned together; It was wonderful to hear these men talk, when they went on “flight check rides” in their planes; John was a good, safe pilot; Herb was a Superb Pilot. Uncanny skills with an airplane–but usually very safe.

      John died at 82; Herb died at 85. Heroes. Fun guys; Humble; Courageous; Hard working; Fair; Smart;

    • Robert Wagoner says:

      Here are exemplars of uniforms , medals, and Unit citations for USAAF–WWII.

  2. Don Colombo says:

    In reading the above article the bomber tough titti was mentioned. My dad Sgt 1st class Jerome Colombo served on the Burma Queen and received two distingquished flying medals and is in possession of many photos of B 24s that were stationed in Chenkung China and Tough Titti is one of the photos. His crew flew 72 missions without R&R and the replacement crew were lost on their first mission over the hump.

    • Karen says:

      Do you have among your pictures of B-24’s any named Shooting Star, St. Michael, The Joker, Nip Nipper, Sitting Pretty, or Ding How Dottie,? These were among my father’s B-24’s

      • Michael Hernandez says:

        You can find photos of some of these planes on my website:

        specifically on the “Nose Art” page.


      • Michael says:

        I have photos of some of these planes and more on my website
        Specifically on the nose art page.

      • Roger Gossler says:

        I have Ding How Dottie. My father-in-law was the arial photographer aboard. I may also have Nip Nipper and Sitting Pretty. I have hundreds of photos of nose art. I actually have the original belly mounted camera from Dottie.

      • Roger Gossler says:

        I have …
        Ding How Dottie
        Mama Foo Foo
        Forever Amber
        Miss Beryl
        Sittin Pretty
        Tennessee Belle
        Heavenly Body
        Dragon Lady
        Lil Butch
        Innocent Infant
        Miss Lace
        Cocky Bobby
        Stripped for Action
        Poco Moco
        Night Mission
        Impatient Lady
        Miss Mandy
        Sack Time
        Brief for Action
        Manhattan Maiden
        Miss Behavin’
        Surprise Attack
        Yellow Fever
        Hot Rock Herky
        Armored Angel
        LiLi Marlene
        Hump Time
        Our Private Stock
        Rice Paddy Hattie
        Lady Luck
        … I have others in a box.

      • Michael says:

        Roger, have you copies to share via email?

      • Joann says:

        I have a couple pictures or the Ding How Dottie. My dad was with the 373rd Bomb Squad.

      • Jen K says:

        I just sent through a ton of negatives and found a pic of someone standing in front of the Nip Nipper!

    • Michael Hernandez says:

      Karen, if you are willing, I’d still like to see the photos that you’ve in your possession. And with your permission, I’d post them to my website.


      • Roger Gossler says:

        Nice. I noticed on one of your photos the placement of the grim reaper patch on his flight jacket (Left breast). I have both original leather patches and the flight jacket but the patches were removed … now I know where they should be reattached. Thx

      • Michael Hernandez says:

        Roger, please contact me: coolmex5″at”gmail”dot”com.

        I’ve some questions that I’d like to ask.

        Thanks. I hope to hear from you soon.


    • Matthew (Glenn) Cullen says:

      Ref #2 Don Colombo: I met Jerome Colombo the week before Thanksgiving 21Nov14, and we discussed his service experiences on the Burma Queen. I was so impressed with how organized he keeps his documents, articles and pictures. It was an honor to meet him and I am for ever grateful for these brave men and women.

  3. Gary D. Robinson says:

    I am looking for information with regards to Charles Mark Maynard. He was a pilot with the Air Force but was supposed to have been active in the Flying Tigers. Do you have any information. I have tried to make the connection but have been unable to.bythe

    • Pat Tolle says:

      I also was told that my dad was a Flying Tiger but his info is not listed on their site. If you have any informatio on how to find out the truth, please email me at I would appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks.
      Patrica Greer Tolle

  4. REX dickens says:

    Today i have sad news as the bomber in that story is and was my grandfather. He died yesterday while driving he had a wreck and was killed. I am the oldest of all the grand children and enjoyed and have heard all the great war storys he had to tell. He also built 8 of his own aircraft over the years and i had a great time getting to fly in them. There are not very many of these fine men left so if you know any of them shake there hand and lend a ear you will be suprised. See you later papa !!! LOVE REX

    • Michael Hernandez says:

      Rex, can you tell me what your Grandfather’s name is? My Grandfather also flew with 14th AF as a bombardier and probably knew yours.
      I have a website in honor of those who fought in the CBI during WW2.

      I hope you get this message and await your reply.



  5. George Radovich,USAF Ret, Msgt says:

    Hello…Being a Transport Loadmaster on Troop Carrier aircraft my whole career…I have a friend who was flying P-38K’s in Burma 1945..68th Ftr Sq ?…33Ftr Grp….Any data on his Sqdn….Orville Dahl, Deming, Wash.

    Also Ret Washington State Trooper, Grays Harbor Area after WWII…

    George No relation to Gen Wingate’s B-25 pilot in Burma….

  6. Karen says:

    I have looked for years for my father’s bomb group. After reading this article, I think I’ve found my answers. All the places and names add up, and tracing the timing of when I know he was in China, remembering his stories and admiration for Gen. Chenault, I think I have an answer. I believe his first plane was the St. Michael. I remember stories of flying the hump but it made no sense since he was the pilot of a B-24. Now it does. He also had planes named Flying High, Sitting Pretty, Nip Nipper, Ding How Dottie, The Joker and Shooting Star, plus one more. I know he brought back 6 or 7 planes that were deemed unflyable, but never lost a crew member except his best friend his co pilot, who was shot sitting on the runway in China. The crew otherwise remained intact. He died in 1982 and I do not have his information outside of what medals he was awarded, but not why he got them. I do have some pictures of all of the planes, the crew and pictures of China in 1943 and 44. He returned in 45 to the US and left the USAAF in 46 but remained on active reserves. I dearly would like to find out if any of the crew are alive but since I do not know their full names- pictures are named Webber and others, I cannot run a search. I know he was awarded, among others, 2 distinguished flying crosses but I do not know why. He was often reprimanded for endangering his crew, for failing to order them to parachute out but they figured if he was not jumping, neither were they. He was afraid of heights, of landing in the China Sea and of landing where there were Japanese, so he always, somehow made it back to base, hence the number of planes he had as a pilot. IF anyone recognizes those names, I’d greatly appreciate a reply since all records were lost in the St. Louis fire, and his copies were lost to my step mother’s idiocy. (sorry) after his death.

  7. Karen says:

    Thank you for your reply. I am still reading. The Nip Nipper and the Shooting Star have same name but slightly different art work. Still looking. I can send you photos if you’d like to add them to the collection of B-24’s

    • Michael Hernandez says:

      Yes, Karen, I would be very glad to post your photos, info, etc.

      thanks. I hope you enjoy the site and will sign the guestbook.



      • Michael Hernandez says:

        You can find email info on the site.

        thank you.


      • Roger Gossler says:

        I was reviewing some of my photos and I believe I have 2 photos of your grandfather.

    • Karen says:

      I’m sorry it is the same plane! I had to lighten up the photo to see the rest of it!

      • Karen says:

        will have to send them from a different address. I have found other pictures with Dad as the pilot of The Joker and I believe the Nip Nipper. I’m awaiting confirmation on the last. I’m betting he’s also the the pilot of Sitting Pretty as well as Shooting Star and I know the St. Micheal. I will send you the photos from a gmail account because I can send them all at once, or in a batch or two.

        My father was Carl Weitz of Providence RI. He was a Capt in the Army Air Corp 14th AF, 308 BG 373 BS from 1943 until his return in 1945, flying the hump with a B-24 and bombing China and Indo China, as well as Japan. At some point he had to have been in the Phillipines but I have yet to figure out how or when. He was awarded
        the Distinguished Flying Cross, Pacific Theater Ribbon with 6 battle stars, Air Medal with oak leaf cluster; Phillipine Liberation Ribbon with 2 service bars, American Theater Ribbon with WWII Victory Ribbon. and RI pay bonus.I will see if I can find names of his crew- I have partial names. I know he was at Mitchell Field, somewhere in Indiana, Langley and Bennettsville SC.
        But Mike, I cannot find Email on this site. Send me an email with an addy and I’ll send you the pictures and info as soon as possible. I leave town for a week next Tues, God willing.

      • Michael Hernandez says:

        Karen, you can find the email address at the bottom of the home page.

        click on my name after “Created by……….”

  8. Tom Burnett says:

    For the past10 years It has been my great pleasure to be a close friend of Doug Rodenbaugh, a flight engineer in 1943 -44 on a B-24 in the 308th Bomb Group.

    His A/C was downed by Flak on his first mission and he and his entire crew bailed, survived 13 days in the jungle, and were (with assistance by friendly Chinese,) returned to American Forces.

    Upon return, Doug flew 60 more missions, before returning to the U.S. soil.

    Doug is now 93 years old, and in a Rest Home…It is my hope that, by writing this, I may be lucky enough to reach someone who might remember him.

    Doug’s most vivid memories are of the 308th bg, and the time he spent with the ‘Flying Tigers’.

    If you know of, or heard of, or even think you may have heard of, Doug Rodenbaugh…….Please send me a note, …..Just knowing that someone is still out there w/ these memories, will bring a huge smile to my dear friends’ face.

    Thanks So Much,

    Tom Burnett

  9. […] 1941 – World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the “Flying Tigers” in Kunming, China. […]

  10. […] 1941 – World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the “Flying Tigers” in Kunming, China. […]

  11. dolphus e mclendon says:

    I was a aircraft electrical specialist assigned to the 301 adg, 69th drs and stationed in Kunming, China from May 1945 til late in 1945. Most of outfit were transferred to shanghai in late Sept 1945.. I do not recall being in Shanghai over a month, if that long. and did not leave for the States until mid March 1946.I recall a mission after the Sept 1945, where a pilot flew two or three of us to an abandon air field to salvage an unflyible
    iP61.. We removed the secret instruments, dropped the landing gear and ran a cletrack over the wings to insure that it could not be repaired. I do not remember the base, the pilot, or who else was on the mission. This
    I do know Kunming airfield was not unoccoupied in Sept 1945 as some have claimed. Have memories but no proof

  12. Tara says:

    My great uncle Chet, my grandmother’s brother, was on the nip nipper. His name was Chet Demers. Any information about him would be welcome.

  13. Herb Babcock says:

    I have a picture of the Impatient Lady my father was the navigator. Any additional pics or info would be great

    • Pat Tolle says:

      My dad was also on the Impatient Lady. Do you have a website with pictures of the plane and crew? I would appreciate anything you could tell me. Thanks.
      Patricia Greer Tolle

  14. […] 1941 – World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the “Flying Tigers” in Kunming, China. […]

  15. Cathy Nutt Hughes says:

    My Dad, Madison (Leroy) Nutt, , of Bernice, Louisiana, age 94 now, was a member of the 11th bomber squadron, 14th Air Association of the Flying Tigers, CBI, 1942 – 1945. He started as crew chief, his plane – the ‘Husflin Hazel, which I do have pics of. I also have some other pictures, one a “Pistol Packin” Mama’ plane, and others. I am so enjoying finding these groups and sharing memories with him, as he can tell the stories as if they happened yesterday. He has many friends, and memorabilia, which I am finding there is so much info hidden in these sites. I wish I could find someone with pictures and info on this 11th bombler squadron. I know he trained a man named Leroy Sloan on the plane :”Hustlin Hazel” when he was promoted, and I have seen pics on here of Mr. Sloan with the plane. Any info will be appreciated!

  16. Tripp Alyn says:

    NOTE to all:

    The AVG were the one-and-only Flying Tigers.

    For more info and facts concerning this controversy, please refer to our Official AVG website and our AVG Forum.

    Historic evidence and testimony from the Tigers themselves should help you to understand the history of this matter.

    Historical & Museums Committee
    Flying Tigers Association

  17. Jeff Baird says:

    I am researching Sgt. Stuart Benedict, who was also on the Impatient Lady. I was wondering if you had any information and/or pictures of him? If so, I would sure appreciate it. Thank you.

    • Jon MacLean says:

      My father Jack MacLean was a gunner on the Impatient Lady. I recall he mentioned Sgt. Benedict. I have a photo of the crew in front of the plane. The writing on the back is faded. Looks like it mentions Benedict radio operator in the front row.

      • Pat Tolle says:

        Do you have a website with that picture? I would really like to see it. My dad was on that plane when it went down. Thanks.
        Patricia Greer Tolle.

  18. red wolfe says:

    My father was Lt. Colonel James B. Reed. He was a Navigator in the 308th Bomb Group. I believe he was in the 373rd Squadron. I wish he would have spoken more about his war experiences, but usually would only discuss them with other veterans over the years. This article is very factual and coincides with what I overheard as a young man growing up in the 1960’s. I am forever grateful to those men who risked and gave all to ensure America would go forward as the leader of the free world!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

, , , ,

Sponsored Content: