American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers Color Photographs Part 1

One of the most visually stunning aviation photographs to come out of the Second World War, this beautiful shot of American Volunteer Group Curtiss Hawk 81s on patrol over China.  Photograph by AVG pilot Robert T. Smith on 28MAY42.
Smith features prominently in the color photos of the AVG.  Here he is inspecting wreckage in the AVG scrapyard at Kyedaw, Burma before the group actually has begun operations against the Japanese, with #74 and #81 behind him.  Both aircraft had been bellied in, but were later repaired.  Note the side numbers repeated on the noses of the aircraft, this was an early practice.  The small nose numbers would be painted over about the time the group’s famous shark mouths were applied, but some aircraft displayed both markings.
Robert T. Smith standing next to P-40 Tomahawk #91 - Nov. 23, 19
Smith again, this time in front of #91, serial P-8150.  Note that the aircraft in the background still lacks a shark mouth. Kyedaw airfield, Burma, 23NOV41.
Robert T. Smith in the cockpit of P-40 Tomahawk #77 - Nov. 23, 1
Smith in the cockpit of his assigned aircraft, #77.  The Third Group “Hell’s Angels” design is still in outline form here, soon to receive a red fill.  Another larger angel is faintly visible in chalk behind the first.
A close-up of Smith showing details of the Flying Tiger design which was produced by the Walt Disney company.  The artwork came in decal form, arriving in March 1942.  It was sealed to the sides of the aircraft with clear varnish which has darkened the underlying paint color.  There are several details of interest to modelers here.  Note that the camouflage colors are continued under the cockpit side glazing.
AVG06_ErikShillingInFront of RobertLittle33
Pilot Erik Shilling poses for the camera in front of Robert Little’s #33.  All the AVG shark mouths were unique, it is interesting to compare the variations in the artwork on different aircraft.
Same picture composition but with another pilot using Little’s #33 as a backdrop.  It is tempting to claim that a photograph depicts certain pilots posing with their assigned aircraft, but these two photographs show the inherent problem of making such assumptions.  In many units it was common practice for pilots to be assigned to different aircraft as the missions required, with individual names and mission tallies applied only for publicity photographs.
A nice in-flight shot of John Petach in #47, serial P-8127.  Note the dark area above the eye where the small number 47 has been painted out.
AVG Third Pursuit Squadron in flight - May 28, 1942
A formation of Third Pursuit Tigers on the prowl, with Chuck Older’s #68 nearest to the camera.
Refuel P-40 Tomahawk #68 at Yunnan-yi, China - May 28, 1942
Chinese mechanics service the aircraft while a group of pilots talk in front of Older’s #68, P-8109.  Location is Yunnan-yi on 28MAY42.

AVG color photographs part II here:

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