Flying Tigers in Air Combat - American Volunteer Aviation Group
Posted on March 15 2021
In 1937, the National Government invited retired USAAF pilot, Captain Claire Lee Chennault, to develop and train air forces in China to resist Japanese military threats. At the time, the number of Chinese pilots were insufficient. Chennault lobbied the U.S. government to allow U.S. active and retired airmen to join the battle in Asia. He also managed to find a batch of P-40B fighters that were originally purchased by the United Kingdom but were not accepted by the United Kingdom due to inadequate performance. The AVG (American Volunteer Group) was formed under these circumstances.
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was manufactured in the United States. The P-36 body was replaced with an Allison V-1710 V-12 liquid-cooled supercharger engine to become a better P-40. When the American Volunteer Group AVG received the P-40B, two more machine guns were added to the wing, which became a hybrid version of the P-40B and the C type. The received P-40 did not have a radio, and its flight performance was average. They resembled a defective product that had been returned.
But compared to the Japanese aircraft on the Asian battlefield at that time, the P-40 had better defense, more firepower, better dive capability and faster roll speed. With the better performance of the P-40, Chennault was able to lead the AVG in defeating the Japanese Air Force swiftly. According to the records from the allied forces, the AVG shot down more than 290 enemy aircraft within six months.
AVG pilots painted a Shark Head on the P-40's nose to induce fear in enemy pilots and boost morale. In the air battle of Kunming in December 1941, after the AVG victory, the locals and newspapers in Kunming used "Flying Tiger" to describe the P-40 fighter planes. The members of the AVG adopted the name "Flying Tiger" as their unit’s nickname.
Later, the National Government invited the founder of Disney, Walt Disney, to design the "Flying Tiger" logo for the AVG. “Flying Tiger” went on to become one of the most famous air combat units in the history of World War II.
The "Flying Tigers" have three squadrons: the No. 1 Squadron "Adam & Eves"; the No. 2 Squadron "Panda Bears"; the No. 3 Squadron "Hell's Angel". The No. 1 and No. 2 Squadron were stationed in Kunming, Yunnan, and the No. 3 Squadron was stationed in Yangon, Myanmar.
To commemorate the P-40 fighter, our Canadian partner, Red Canoe, launched a series of Curtiss P-40 Warhawk products, including baseball caps.
The P-40 Cap is embroidered with the famous shark head painting of the “Flying Tigers” signature aircraft nose art, and the fuselage number of the No. 67 representing the No. 3 squadron "Hell's Angel". “Curtiss P-40 Warhawk” is embroidered on the back of the cap. The Air Force star-shaped roundel’s emblem on the center of the cap is a modified version for the Asian battlefront, with the original red circle center removed to prevent friendly forces from mistaking it for the Japanese army's red circle emblem.
In addition to the P-40 Cap, there is also the U.S. Air Force Roundel Cap, which represents the U.S. Army Air Force and later the U.S. Air Force. The roundel is made with multiple layers of embroidery. This Roundel has been in use since 1947, and the red, white and blue represent the U.S. national flag.
Fans who love aviation history, these two high-quality P-40 and U.S. Air Force caps should not be missed!
【空戰飛虎 - 美籍志願航空大隊】
1937年，國民政府邀請美國陸軍航空隊退役上尉 Claire Lee Chennault 於中國發展及訓練空軍部隊以抵抗日本軍事威脅。當時中國飛行員人數不足，陳納德於美國游說政府容許美國現役和退役軍人到中國加入中國志願軍，亦成功找來一批本來由英國購入，但性能欠佳英國沒有接收的 P-40B 戰機，成立了美國志願航空隊 AVG ( American Volunteer Group )。
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk 由美國生產，以 P-36 機體更換上 Allison V-1710 V-12 水冷式 Supercharge 引擎成為 性能更佳的 P-40。當時美國志願航空隊 AVG 接收的是 P-40B，加多了兩門機槍於翼上，變成了 P-40B 同 C 型的混合版。接收回來的P-40沒有無線電，飛行性能一般，比較似被退回的次貨。
但相比當時亞洲戰場的日軍飛機，P-40有更高保護性、更多火力、更佳的俯衝能力和更快的滾轉速度。按P-40的特性，陳納德帶領 AVG 以速度取勝日軍。根據盟軍的資料，AVG 於六個月內擊落了 290多架敵機。
AVG的飛行員於P-40 機頭上塗上了 鯊魚頭 的彩繪以震懾敵軍，提升士氣。
在 1941年 12月 的昆明空戰，AVG取得勝利後，昆明有民眾及報章以「飛天老虎」形容美國志願航空隊的P-40戰機，美國志願航空隊成員便以 “Flying Tiger” 作為部隊的別稱。
而後來國民政府請了 迪士尼 創辦人 華特·迪士尼 出手為 AVG畫了「 飛天老虎」的圖案給AVG作為部隊徽號。「飛虎隊」成為了二戰史中著名的空戰部隊之一。
「飛虎隊」旗下有 三個中隊：第一中隊 “Adam & Eves" ；第二中隊 "Panda Bears"；第三中隊 "Hell's Angel" 。一二中隊駐守雲南昆明，第三中隊駐守緬甸仰光。
為紀念P-40戰機，加拿加品牌 Red Canoe 推出了一系列的 Curtiss P-40 Warhawk產品，包括Cap 帽。
P-40 Cap 上面刺繡了當年飛虎飛著名的鯊魚頭彩繪，和代表第三中隊 "Hell's Angel" 的67號機的機身編號。背面刺繡了Curtiss P-40 Warhawk。帽上正中的 空軍星形Roundle 圓徽 是為亞洲戰場改良的版本，去除了本來的紅色圓心，為免友軍誤認為日軍的紅圈圓徽。
除了P-40 Cap帽，亦有代表美國陸軍航空團和後來美國空軍的空軍 Roundel 圓徽 Cap 帽。徽章立體製作，比普通刺繡更有層次。此款Roundel 由 1947年沿用至今，紅白藍代表了國旗。
喜愛航空歷史的朋友，這兩款優質製作的 P-40 及 美國空軍 Cap帽絕對不容錯過！
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