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Did Japan know about the Flying Tigers?

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by MarcoCole, Jan 9, 2020.

  1. MarcoCole

    MarcoCole New Member

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    The american volunteer group, that was discharged from the u.s. military and travelled on forged civilian documents to help defend China from Japan consisted of HUNDREDS of people.

    They did this in secret to avoid violating the neutrality pact preventing the U.S. from taking sides.

    I find it difficult to believes word of some several hundred american pilots abandoning the military and travelling in swarms to china was kept a secret. These were entire American fighter bomber squadrons flying U.S. planes into battle..... Japan didnt notice? Or they believed they were just volunteer civilians...

    *Edited by Otto to remove spammy links.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2020
  2. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    "Several hundred"? "Swarms"?

    There were but around maybe 106 AVG pilots divvied up between three squadrons and support activities. About 54% came from either the USN or the USMC. And all of them, be they former USN, USMC, or USAAF, resigned their commissions, or if enlisted pilots, were given expedited discharges, and left their respective services, i.e., became civilians, in order to join the AVG. As members of the AVG they were each under individual employment contracts with CAMCO (Central Air Manufacturing Company), a contractor itself to the Nationalist Chinese. There were another 212 or so ground support and non-flying staff personnel, not a few of whom were recruited on location in Burma or China or who were supplied by the Chinese Air Force, including westerners already working for the Chinese. And although I can think of one gent who served in the HQ who had to resign his USN commission on the scene in Burma, the key points are (1) no one was a currently serving US officer or enlisted man (2) all were under contract to CAMCO, not even the Chinese Air Force (3) and probably a balloon burster, the AVG did not enter combat until 20 December 1941 . . . just short of two weeks after the US and Japan went to war.

    So now, there were no great gaggles of pilots and personnel wandering off to the AVG to China via Burma. Personnel from the US went by ship, civilian liners, two I can think of for sure, perhaps a third, and fetched up eventually in Rangoon before moving up-country. Of course, there's always the exception, one guy, by several hops, rode Pan Am most of the way and was the first to arrive. Planes were shipped by freighters, in crates, one plane, three crates, fuselage; wings, stabilizers & propeller; and engine. They were reassembled at an RAF field in Burma (long name, begins with an M, that escapes me now) and the dauntless gents of the AVG began familiarization and training . . . remember all those naval aviators and the one NAP? How much P-40 time do you think they had? Some of those guys were P-Boat drivers, probably hadn't seriously pushed a single seater since Pensacola days. And there were, vagaries of assembly problems, by far, more pilots than aircraft.

    And those planes? The US was at that point running lend-lease as a cash and carry business. The P-40's the Chinese bought, I believe the plan was for 100, through CAMCO (a legal transaction) were originally to be sold the the British, but they deferred, to the planes were sold to the Chinese. All legal, albeit some of the shenanigans by outright profiteers were a little slimy.

    Did the Japanese know? Maybe, maybe not. If they did know, did they care? Based on historic attitudes, probably not.

    There are plenty of good books on the subject; suggest you find one that steers clear of the "oh, the breathless excitement of it all" such as Dan Ford's Flying Tigers and get the straight scoop.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
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  3. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The Neutrality Acts of 1935, 1937, and 1939 did not bar the U.S. from "taking sides" in a war. The first barred the export of “arms, ammunition, and implements of war” from the United States to foreign nations at war and required arms manufacturers in the United States to apply for an export license and barred U.S. entities from extending credit to belligerents. The 1937 law restricted American citiznes from travel in belligerent ships and prevented American merchant ships from transporting arms to belligerents and granted the President the power to bar belligerent ships from U.S. waters. The 1939 act amended the law to allow belligerents to purchase arms and other munitions from the U.S. on a cash-and-carry basis, but the ban loans and American ships transporting goods to belligerent ports remained in effect. The Lend-Lease Act modified things again.

    So there was no ban on American citizens serving in foreign armies or air forces and by the time CAMCO was organized the ban on foreign arms sales was effectively over.

    The terms of the AVG contract were to allow the U.S. government plausible deniability in the event of a Japanese protest, but as Rich noted, the events of 7 December 1941 made that moot.
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Wasn't the Lincoln Brigade in the SCW officially prohibited by the US?
     
  5. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Not that I'm aware of? Due to the provisions of the Neutrality Acts they could not travel directly from the U.S. to Spain, but that simply meant traveling to another nation first. After they returned to the U.S. they were pretty closely monitored by the FBI and suffered various social and work discrimination because they were supposedly "Reds" or "Socialists", but that is about it.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Thanks, I suspect I was seeing memoirs that were high on butt hurt.
     
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  7. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I think that Stud Turkel referred to the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and the George Washington Brigade (or battalion) as "pre-mature anti-fascists". Either he did or the FBI did while they were being vetted before trying to enlist in the US Armed Forces after Pearl Harbor. It's been a looooooooong time since I read that book, back in the '80s while a history student at LSU. Geaux Tigers!!!!

    Regarding the P-40s that the AVG used, I had read that they were rejected by the RAF and the Swedish Air Force as well. Not terribly sure about the Swedish angle. Maybe they were slated to go to the Swedes, and political wrangling in Washington got those planes shuffled off to the AVG. Someone will clear this up for us soon I hope.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020
  8. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Mingaladon? Myitkyina?
     
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The Hawk 81-A2(or -A3 depending on source were from or diverted from the British RAF, some having RAF roundels on the tops of the wings. Later P-40Es were from the US Army and clearly marked as such.

    The Swedish angle comes from Seversky P-35As that were diverted to the Philippines, complete with Swedish markings and Swedish manuals.
     
  11. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Yay!

    Never heard of that either, but makes sense to me.
     
  12. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Thank you! Mingaladon, I believe.
     
  13. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Isn’t that the name of a great big pre-historic shark too?
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Megalodon was the ancient shark
     
  15. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Maybe not so ancient. Saw a TV show about one supposedly still around currently. Eats whales and great whites and submarines and such. Not much of a threat to those swimming in the shallows though. It would get itself beached, making itself a massive feast for all the seagulls for miles around. Talk about stink too.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
  16. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Was that on the "History" Channel? Or maybe CourtTV? ;)
     
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  17. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Discovery Channel...
    [​IMG]

    I know...Hard to believe that the DC uses faked images.
     
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  18. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Not really sure. Sci-Fi channel maybe. Or that channel that has the UFO freaks on it, and that strange looking dude with the hair that sticks up raving about ancient aliens and anal probes. Definitely not the Comedy Network though.
     
  19. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    There it is, attacking U-Boats!
     
  20. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    HyFy Channel.
     
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