Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-42
The Flying Tigers, the nickname of the fighter pilots of the American Volunteer Group serving in China and Burma against Japanese air power in World War II, resemble a Hollywood war story more than a real-life group of fliers. Recruited by US Army Air Corps officer Claire Chennault, the Flying Tigers were either daredevil American heroes determined to seek revenge for Pearl Harbor or dysfunctional individualists more interested in their lucrative paychecks than they were in national or international events. The AVG was recruited by a desperate China which was in critical need of trained fighter pilots to counter Japanese air power. The Flying Tigers more than fulfilled expectations, shooting down 229 planes for the loss of 14 American pilots. Through it all, Claire Chennault showed himself to be as creative and inspired an air combat officer as those produced by any World War II air force. His pilots, in turn, displayed all of the flamboyance and devil-may-care attitudes associated with World War II fighter pilots. Ford originally published this monograph in 1991, but this second edition is the result of extensive research in the years between.