After reading this most interesting post about the Flying Tigers and Airfix P-40 B, I was just one click away to order it online…
“In fact,” Shilling told me in February 2002, a month before he passed on, “we were an official undercover operation of the American government. We were not mercenaries, though that cover story was so good everyone has believed it for the past sixty years.” Shilling buttressed his statement by pointing out that when the American Volunteer Group traveled to China aboard the Dutch passenger ship S.S. Jagersfontein, “we were escorted by two U.S. Navy heavy cruisers the USS Salt Lake City and the USS Northampton because there was a real fear that the Japanese had heard about the operation and would attempt to intercept us.” The cruisers stayed with them all the way across the Pacific, until the Jagersfontein entered the Java Sea and headed for Singapore.
In later years, many would believe that the American Volunteer Group (they received their popular name of “Flying Tigers” in news reports of their combat over Rangoon on Christmas Day, 1941) had fought in China against the Japanese for years before the attack on Pearl Harbor. In truth, the AVG did not arrive in Burma until late July 1941, and did not reach their first base at Tongou, in central Burma, until early August. Their first operational mission was not flown until December 10, 1941, after Pearl Harbor; the 3rd Squadron’s first combat mission intercepting the first raid by the Japanese Army Air Force against Rangoon came on December 23, 1941, four days after the 1st Squadron saw combat when they intercepted a Japanese bomber mission against Chungking in which they shot down all ten of the bombers, a great surprise to the Japanese.