American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers Color Photographs Part 2

P-40 Tomahawk #49 flown by Tom Hayward of the AVG Third Pursuit
Curtiss Hawk P-8133 #49 flown by Tommy Haywood.  This aircraft was originally assigned to Frank Swartz.
R.T. Smith next to Chuck Older’s P-40 Tomahawk #68 - May 23, 1
Robert Smith posing in front of Charles Older’s #68, P-8109 at Kunming, 23MAY42.  Older’s aircraft displays ten victory flags.  In addition to pay and expenses, the Chinese government paid a $500 bounty for each Japanese aircraft destroyed.  Modelers note the refueling stains on the fuselage and the paint worn off the back sides of the propeller blades.
AVG Third Squadron P-40 Tomahawks parked at Kunming - May 1942.
Several Hell’s Angels Hawk 81s at Kunming, May 1942, displaying the Third Group’s red stripe.
R.T. Smith in the cockpit of P-40 Tomahawk #40 in Kunming, China
Smith again, this time in the cockpit of #40 at Kunming, 23MAY42.
A group of AVG pilots pose for the camera.  Erik Shilling is on the nose, William Bartling is next, with Frank Adkins is in the cockpit.  Charles Bond and Robert Little are standing on the ground, Joe Rosbert and George Paxton are on the wing.  The photograph was taken at Kunming on 11APR42 by LIFE photographer Clare B. Luce.  Luce was elected to Congress later that year.
Refueling stop at Yunnan-yi, China - May 28, 1942
A group of “Hell’s Angels” pose for the camera in front of Charles Older’s #68 at Yunnan-yi on 28MAY42.  They are (sitting) Robert Smith, Ken Jernstedt, Bob Prescot, Link Laughlin, and Bill Reed.  Standing are Erik Shilling and Arvid Olsen.
R.T. Smith and Chuck Older at the Chinese Air Force Academy at Y
Older and Smith after an awards ceremony on 06JUN42 at Yunnan-yi .  They are wearing their new Chinese Fifth Order of the Cloud and Banner and Star-Wing Medals.  Note the Flying Tiger pin on their left breasts and Chinese Officer’s caps.
A “blood chit” which identified the AVG pilots as friends to the Chinese in the event that the pilot was shot down.  These were sewn onto the backs of flight suits and jackets.  The inscription reads, “This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue and protect him.”
James Howard went on from the AVG to command the 354th Fighter Group in Europe.  On 11JAN44 he single-handedly defended a group of B-17s from attacks by more than thirty Luftwaffe fighters for more than a half hour, breaking up their attacks and destroying four in the process.  For his actions that day he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, telling the press, “I seen my duty and I done it.”  Here he is posing with his P-51B serial 43-6315 “Ding Hao!” (American slang for the Chinese phrase for “very good”), displaying his six Japanese kills from his AVG days above six fresh Luftwaffe victories.
The American Volunteer Group flew operationally from 20DEC41 through 04JUL42.  During that time they claimed 297 Japanese aircraft destroyed, losing 14 pilots in combat.  21 AVG pilots made ace, claiming 5 or more victories.  Top scorer was Robert Neale, credited with 15.55 victories.

4 thoughts on “American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers Color Photographs Part 2

  1. meant to comment on your previous post as well. Some great photos here, Smith was covered extensively in an ‘Avions’ magazine aces feature where some of these appeared, others are new to me. Didn’t Boyington fly with this outfit as well …?

    Liked by 1 person

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