Tag Archives: WWII Fighter Pilots

Chinese Tribute To The Flying Tigers

29 Mar

This article is entirely credited to the China Daily News

Tribute to the Tigers
by Wang Ying
China Daily 12/15/2008 (page eight)

Glen Beneda (circled) and his colleagues in China, 1943

US pilot Glen Beneda’s P-51 fighter was shot down by several enemy aircraft during an attack on a large Japanese base in Hubei province in 1944.

The 20-year-old lieutenant bailed out and landed in a rice paddy while his aircraft sank in a nearby lake. Local people saved him and helped him return to his squadron two months later.

Beneda, who became a firefighter in Los Angeles after the war, was recently stunned to learn that local people had started excavating his crashed aircraft and want to repair and display it in a memorial hall at the crash site in Hankou.

“I often dreamed about my former fighter being brought back – I still cannot believe that my dream will soon come true,” Beneda said in a letter to the China Cultural Links Project Organization, which is in charge of the excavation project.

“If my health allows, I will go back to China to see my former aircraft with my own eyes,” says Beneda who is now 84 and will soon undergo heart surgery. Continue reading


Chuck Older “Aced” In P-51s After The Flying Tigers

18 Feb

Charles H. Older: P-51 Ace

Joining the Marine Corps for flight training, Charles Herman (Chuck) Older received his wings and commission at Pensacola on 1 April 1940 and was assigned to VMF-I. In July 1941 he resigned his reserve commission to join Chennault’s American Volunteer Group (AVG), then forming in Burma.

Assigned to the 3rd Pursuit Squadron (“Hell’s Angels”), Older participated in the first massive air battles over Rangoon, Burma and became one of the first two AVG aces on Christmas Day, 1941 when he added three Japanese aircraft to two destroyed on 23 December.

Credited with five more victories by the time the “Flying Tigers” were disbanded on 4 July 1942, he returned to the States and joined the USAAF.

Returning to China as a major in 1944, Older became group operations officer and deputy commander of the 23rd Fighter Group flying P-51 s. Continue reading

WWII Flying Tiger News Reels

9 Feb

The Flying Tigers!

China Invades China in 1931

The Flying Tigers Bite Back!

Kunming Air Battle Relived – First Fight For The Tigers Almost 70 Years Ago

12 Dec

It was a crisp December morning almost 70 years ago. The war with Japan was just 13 days old. Claire Chennault, commander of the American Volunteer Group stationed in China, under secret orders of President Roosevelt, was standing “dawn patrol” at Kunming airfield.

 Their make-shift air raid alert relay system of Chinese volunteers strung out across the towns and villages throughout China began to report sounds of heavy aircraft making their way from Vietnam toward Kunming.

 By 9:30 am it was certain Japanese bombers were headed for another bombing raid against the helpless people of Kunming. The Japanese virtually owned air superiority in the face of an ill equipped and poorly trained Chinese Air Force and had begun to grow complacent in their air campaign that sought to cut the supply line from the port of Rangoon to Burma – dubbed the Burma Road. Just the day before Kunming had been pounded by 8 to 10 twin engined Kawasaki Ki-48 medium bombers, code named “Lily” by allied pilots. Continue reading

“Pappy” Boyington’s Colorful Life Before And After The AVG Flying Tigers

11 Oct

The following account is attributed to XPDR blogger at http://www.flyingtigersavg.blogspot.com

(Somerdale, NJ) – It’s not often that you get to ‘stand inspection’ for a Medal of Honor winner. The word was passed that Colonel Gregory (Pappy) Boyington, WW II Medal of Honor and Navy Cross recipient with VMF-214, would be visiting MCAS El Toro and the Marine Wing Service Group-37 tomorrow. This was a big deal. Medal of Honor winners do not pay visits every day.

Pappy Boyington was the highest ranking WW II Ace in the Marine Corps. Gregory (Pappy) Boyington was born in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho on December 4, 1912. He died in Fresno, California of cancer on January 11, 1988 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. After graduating from the University of Washington with a B.S. in aeronautical engineering in 1934, Boyington went to work for Boeing as an engineer. Now married he was ineligible to become a pilot in the Marine Corps. Ignoring the rules, Boyington, who was raised by his stepfather and used the name Hallenbeck, obtained a copy of his birth certificate and learned the name of his real father, Charles Boyington. His parents had divorced when he was only a infant.

‘Stretching the rules,’ Boyington applied as a cadet pilot under the name Gregory Boyington. There was no record of marriage for Gregory Boyington. His ruse worked. By all accounts, Boyington was an excellent pilot. There were no air-to-air missiles, radar, or electronic gear in those days. Fighter pilots depended on their eyes and reflexes. After completing flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, he was designated a naval aviator on March 11, 1937. Continue reading

Aces High – The Last Of The Flying Tiger Raiders

13 Aug

Charlie Bond, "Tex" Hill and Ed Rector

Charlie Bond, one of the last pilots of a covert World War Two fighter squadron, died recently, but the heroics of the US servicemen who took on the might of the Japanese air force in Burma will never be forgotten

Originally published: Bangkok Newspaper
October 25, 2009
Spectrum Section

Charlie Bond, one of the last surviving pilots of the legendary World War Two 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG), dubbed the “Flying Tigers”, died in Dallas, Texas, on Aug 18, at the age of 94. Major General Charles R Bond, Jr, served 30 years in the US Air Force, retiring in 1968.

His life was intertwined with Thailand for a period spanning more than 60 years.

In the early days of World War Two, when the Japanese were invading Burma from bases in Thailand, Bond was part of a force of 10 Flying Tigers that made a surprise dawn attack, on March 24, 1942, against the Japanese 64th Hayabusa Sentai (Falcon Group) based at Chiang Mai airfield. Continue reading

Exclusive Ken Jernstedt Interview – 2nd In The Series – Flying The P-40 In Combat

8 Oct

I had about a fifty minute chat again today with Ken Jernstedt, Flying Tigers Ace and one of the last remaining pilots from the original AVG who served in Burma & China the last half of 1941 to July 4, 1942.

Ken arrived in Rangoon China in September of 1941 after a “pretty fun really” hopscotch journey by ship, stopping off in Hawaii, the Philippines and Borneo. They were met at the harbor in Rangoon by AVG personnel and “travelled by train a couple hundred miles North to Toungoo.”

He first flew the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk at RAF controlled Kyedaw Airfield near Toungoo. There were no P-40 two seater trainers. They were briefed on the flight characteristics and expected to take the aircraft up and fly it without much else in the way of flight instruction. “It was the first liquid cooled aircraft I’d ever flown”, Ken told me. I asked him if he remembered his first flight and he told me: “Oh yeah! It was a real thrill”, he remarked with I’m sure a real twinkle in his eye.

I asked Ken about the P-40’s performance. He told me: “Its was a very powerful airplane and heavier so we could out dive any of the Japanese fighters.” He told me he was one of the few AVG Marine fighter pilots and that generally the Navy pilots had less difficulty with the P-40 compared to the Army pilots. He had already flown the F4F Wildcat and logged eleven carrier landings in flight training prior to coming to China. So he didn’t feel intimidated by the P-40.

We talked about flying his first missions for the AVG and his first aerial kill. “It wasn’t very long after I first started flying for them that I got my first one. It was the day before Christmas 1941 over Rangoon.” Their tactics were drilled into them by Chennault in daily pre-dawn briefings: Continue reading

Honoring Ken Jernstedt A Living Flying Tiger Legend

30 Sep

As Group CO of the Flying Tigers US, I was lucky enough to speak with Ken Jernstedt this last week through an introduction by another member of our group, Tripp Alyn, whose cousin, Maax Hammer Jr., was an original Tiger as well (see Tripp’s memorial about his cousin from his post on the 22nd of this month.

Ken Jernstedt, now 92, lives at Park Hurst House in Hood River Oregon and though the memory of his exploits as a lengendary ace and Flying Tiger have faded with the years, he vividly remembers why he volunteered to go to China with the Tigers in the first place: “I was a farm boy looking for adventure and I loved to fly!”, he told me. I asked him if he remembered being afraid being so young and flying combat missions in those early years. He said, “I probably was at times, but more than anything I remember feeling thrilled, elated really!”

We talked at length about flying the P-40, the feel of the controls, what it was like to shoot the guns, his first kill downing a Japanese bomber near Rangoon: “I knew I got him because I saw him catch fire”, he told me matter of factly. We also talked about some of the stories of the fellow pilots he served with, what they did between missions: “we played a lot of poker. I wasn’t so good but I held my own”, he laughed. We talked about how they blew off steam during their down time and what he missed the most about those early months he served in China as part of the original American Volunteer Group: “…really what I remember most is just the thrill of flying and getting back after a successful mission”. As I continue to transcribe the tape of our interview I’ll drop in more details as part of a running blog, so stay tuned for future posts. Continue reading

Military Channel Documentary Of The Flying Tigers In “Worlds Deadliest Aircraft” Series

17 Sep

The Military Channel pulled together some of the best documentary footage of the AVG Flying Tiger’s P-40 Warhawk history I’ve ever seen, in it’s recent series entitled: World’s Deadliest Aircraft. It’s a 2 part video, but I’ve only included the link to Part 2, which is roughly 11 minutes long and I think it’s clearly the better of the two. However, you can easily look up Part 1 on their website if you want to see that one as well. Continue reading

Cliff Notes Review & Summary: Daniel Ford, Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-42

4 Sep

Dan Ford’s book about the exploits of the legendary American Volunteer Group (AVG) nicknamed the Flying Tigers, is a dry documentary and not for the faint of heart, or non-serious war historian. However, the material in his book is without question the most comprehensive treatment of the brief, but amazing history of the most successful American combat fight group in our nation’s history. I have enclosed this cliff note version of Dan’s book for people who want to know about that history, but haven’t the time or dedication to wade through Dan’s book. I hope you will enjoy this summary of that history starting with a brief quote that lays some groundwork for the original motivation behind the secret inception of the Flying Tigers.

“The American Volunteer Group (AVG), popularly known as the Flying Tigers, was the creation of Claire Lee Chennault (1893–1958). Both enjoyed a legendary reputation in China for heroic deeds and contributions during its war of resistance against Japan. World War II began in Asia when Japan attacked China on 7 July 1937 in the Marco Polo Bridge or Lukouchiao Incident. For four years, China fought alone, with only the Soviet Union providing aid between 1937 and the end of 1939, in the form of loans of $250 million (with which China purchased equipment and supplies from the USSR), 1,000 planes, and 2,500 pilots and military advisors. Fearful of Japan’s ambitions to control the vast territories of Soviet Asia and its Axis partner Adolf Hitler’s imperial designs in Europe, Soviet leader Josef Stalin offered China a non-aggression pact (August 1937) that included an aid package. Stalin reasoned that Japan’s preoccupation with Chinese resistance would make it less likely to attack the Soviet Union. However, after the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939, he reduced and then ended aid to China…”

Read the whole article at: michiganwarstudiesreview.com/2009/downloads/20090201.pdf