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The 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, nicknamed the Flying Tigers, comprised pilots from the United States Army Air Corps(USAAC), Navy (USN), and Marine Corps(USMC), recruited under presidentialauthority and commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The shark-faced nose art of the Flying Tigers remains among the most recognizable image of any individual combat aircraft or combat unit of World War II.

The group comprise three fighter squadrons of around thirty aircraft each. It trained in Burma before the American entry into World War II with the mission of defending China against Japanese forces. The group of volunteers were officially members of the Chinese Air Force. The members of the group had contracts with salaries ranging from $250 a month for a mechanic to $750 for a squadron commander, roughly three times what they had been making in the U.S. forces. While it accepted some civilian volunteers for its headquarters and ground crew, the AVG recruited most of its staff from the U.S. military.

The American Volunteer Group was largely the creation of Claire L. Chennault, a retired U.S. Army Air Corps officer who had worked in China since August 1937, first as military aviation advisor in the early months of the Sino-Japanese War, then as director of a Chinese Air Force flight school centered in Kunming. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union supplied fighter and bomber squadrons to China, but these units were mostly withdrawn by the summer of 1940. Chiang then asked for American combat aircraft and pilots, sending Chennault to Washington as adviser

Source: http://www.flyingtigersvideo.com


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