American Volunteer Group

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Claire Lee Chennault (1893-1958) was instrumental in the implementation of the AVGs ClaireChennault.jpeg
Claire Lee Chennault (1893–1958) was instrumental in the implementation of the AVGs

The American Volunteer Groups were volunteer air units organized by the United States government to aid the Nationalist government of China against Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War. The only unit to actually see combat was the 1st AVG, popularly known as the Flying Tigers.

Military volunteer person who enlists in military service by free will, and is not a mercenary or a foreign legionnaire

A military volunteer is a person who enlists in military service by free will, and is not a mercenary or a foreign legionnaire. Volunteers often enlist to fight in the armed forces of a foreign country. Military volunteers are essential for the operation of volunteer militaries.

Kuomintang political party in the Republic of China

The Kuomintang of China is a major political party in the Republic of China on Taiwan, based in Taipei and is currently an opposition political party in the Legislative Yuan.

Empire of Japan Empire in the Asia-Pacific region between 1868–1947

The Empire of Japan was the historical nation-state and great power that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 to the enactment of the 1947 constitution of modern Japan.


To aid the Nationalist government of China and to put pressure on Japan, President Franklin Roosevelt in April 1941 authorized the creation of a clandestine "Special Air Unit" consisting of three combat groups equipped with American aircraft and staffed by aviators and technicians to be recruited from the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps for service in China. The program was fleshed out in the winter of 1940–1941 by Claire Lee Chennault, then an air advisor to the Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, and Lauchlin Currie, a young economist in the Roosevelt White House. They envisioned a small air corps of 500 combat aircraft, although in the end, the number was reduced to 200 fighters and 66 light bombers. [1]

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second largest and second most powerful air force in the world.

United States Marine Corps Amphibious warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines or U.S. Marines, is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for conducting expeditionary and amphibious operations with the United States Navy as well as the Army and Air Force. The U.S. Marine Corps is one of the four armed service branches in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.

1st AVG (Flying Tigers)

A-20G of the United States Army Air Forces Douglas A-20G Havoc.jpg
A-20G of the United States Army Air Forces

The 1st American Volunteer Group were recruited starting on 15 April 1941, when an unpublished executive order was signed by President Roosevelt. [2] A total of 100 P-40Bs were obtained from Curtiss-Wright, by convincing the British Government to take a later batch of more advanced P-40s in exchange. [2] The group assembled at RAF Mingaladon in Burma by November 1941 for training, where it was organized into three squadrons and established a headquarters. [3] The Flying Tigers did not go into combat until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. [2] Under Chennault's command, the Flying Tigers became famous in the defense of Burma and China. [2] It was disbanded and replaced by the United States Army Air Forces' 23rd Fighter Group in July 1942, with only five of its pilots choosing to continue with the AAF. [4]

Flying Tigers Group of American military pilots who flew for the Republic of China Air Force in 1941-42

The First American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, nicknamed the Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots from the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), Navy (USN), and Marine Corps (USMC), recruited under President Franklin Roosevelt's authority before Pearl Harbor and commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The aircraft were to fly with Chinese colors but be under American control. The mission was to bomb Japan and defend China but many delays meant they flew in combat after the US and Japan declared war.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk family of fighter aircraft

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is an American single-engined, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground-attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service. The Warhawk was used by most Allied powers during World War II, and remained in frontline service until the end of the war. It was the third most-produced American fighter of World War II, after the P-51 and P-47; by November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built, all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation's main production facilities at Buffalo, New York.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The Attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, led to the United States' formal entry into World War II. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

2nd AVG

The Lockheed Hudson was an American-built light bomber and coastal reconnaissance aircraft Lockheed Hudson V.jpg
The Lockheed Hudson was an American-built light bomber and coastal reconnaissance aircraft

In the fall of 1941, the 2nd American Volunteer Group was equipped with 33 Lockheed Hudson (A-28) and 33 Douglas DB-7 (A-20) bombers originally built for Britain but acquired by the U.S. Army as part of the Lend-Lease program passed earlier in the year. The Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company, fronting for the Chinese and American governments, recruited 82 pilots and 359 ground crew from the U.S. Army in the fall of 1941 and an undetermined number, including one pilot, sailed for Asia aboard Noordam and Bloemfontein of the Java-Pacific line. Other pilots reported to San Francisco and were scheduled to depart aboard the Lockheed Hudsons on 10 December. The Douglas DB-7s were to have gone by freighter to Africa, to be assembled and ferried to China but the attack on Pearl Harbor caused the program to be aborted. The vessels at sea were diverted to Australia, the aircraft were taken back into American service and most of the personnel rejoined the military, either in Australia or in the U.S.

Lockheed Hudson family of transport and patrol bomber aircraft

The Lockheed Hudson was an American-built light bomber and coastal reconnaissance aircraft built initially for the Royal Air Force shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War and primarily operated by the RAF thereafter. The Hudson was a military conversion of the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra airliner, and was the first significant aircraft construction contract for the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation—the initial RAF order for 200 Hudsons far surpassed any previous order the company had received. The Hudson served throughout the war, mainly with Coastal Command but also in transport and training roles as well as delivering agents into occupied France. They were also used extensively with the Royal Canadian Air Force's anti-submarine squadrons and by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Douglas A-20 Havoc multi-role combat aircraft family by Douglas

The Douglas A-20 Havoc is a United States attack, light bomber, intruder, and reconnaissance aircraft of World War II.

Lend-Lease United States foreign policy during World War II

The Lend-Lease policy, formally titled An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States, was an American program to defeat Germany, Japan and Italy by distributing food, oil, and materiel between 1941 and August 1945. The aid went to the United Kingdom, China, and later the Soviet Union, Free France, and other Allied nations. It included warships and warplanes, along with other weaponry. The policy was signed into law on March 11, 1941, and ended overnight without prior warning when the war against Japan ended. The aid was free for all countries, although goods in transit when the program ended were charged for. Some transport ships were returned to the US after the war, but practically all the items sent out were used up or worthless in peacetime. In Reverse Lend Lease, the U.S. was given no-cost leases on army and naval bases in Allied territory during the war, as well as local supplies.

3rd AVG

The 3rd AVG was to have been a fighter group like the 1st. Because the 2nd AVG had been recruited from the U.S. Army, recruiting for the 3rd was to have been limited to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, starting in the early months of 1942. These plans too were abandoned as a result of the U.S. entry into World War II.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

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  1. Ford 2007, Ch. 2.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Rossi, J.R. "History: The Flying Tigers - American Volunteer Group - Chinese Air Force." AVG: American Volunteer Group, The Flying Tigers, 1998. Retrieved: 4 July 2011.
  3. Rossi, J.R. "A Flying Tiger's Story by Dick Rossi." Planes and Pilots Of World War Two, 1995. Retrieved: 4 July 2011.
  4. Older, Chuck. "Hammerhead Stalls and Snap Rolls: Written in the mid-1980s." (Tales of the Tigers: The Flying Tigers Tell some of their stories) AVG: American Volunteer Group, The Flying Tigers, 1998. Retrieved: 4 July 2011.


  • Armstrong, Alan. Preemptive Strike: The Secret Plan That Would Have Prevented the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Guilford, Delaware: Lyons Press, 2006. ISBN   1-59228-913-4.
  • Ford, Daniel. Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941–1942. Washington, DC: HarperCollins|Smithsonian Books, 2007. ISBN   0-06-124655-7.
  • Leonard, Royal. I Flew for China: Chiang Kai-Shek's Personal Pilot New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1942.
  • Schaller, Michael. The U.S. Crusade in China, 1938–1945. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979. ISBN   0-231-04455-0.
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