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Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Flying Tigers And The Secret War Against Japan

As luck would have it, yesterday while I was writing up my article on former U.S. president George (HERE), I received an e-mail about a book featuring The Flying Tigers, a squadron of American pilots who secretly fought against Japan before American entered WW2 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

While I have always been a fan of the British Supermarine Spitfire, and the Hawker Hurricane aircraft of WWII, I was first a fan of the American built Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an airplane that was and is easily recognizable by the awesome shark-faced nose art.


The aircraft was built by Curtiss... a name that may be unfamiliar to most nowadays, by back around the turn of the 20th century, founder Glenn Curtiss was perhaps one of the most brilliant manufacturers of the earliest aircraft (I call them aeroplanes) ever.

Glenn Hammond Curtiss of Hammondsport New York, Thomas Etholen Selfridge of San Francisco California, Frederick W Casey Baldwin of Toronto Ontario Canada, John Alexander Douglas McCurdy of Baddeck Nova Scotia, and fellow Canadian and inventor of the telephone (amongst other things), Dr. Alexander Graham Bell of Edinburgh Scotland - together formed a partnership backed by money from Bell’s wife Mabel aka Ma Bell - to create the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA) with the goal to build and fly their own designed aeroplanes.

Together, they built the Silver Dart, recognized as Canada’s first aeroplane. You can read about that HERE in my other blog, Pioneers of Aviation. In fact, if you searched Curtiss’ name in that blog, he’d appear in nearly every single one of the article I have written about aviation in the 1919 and earlier days.

Anyhow, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is a cool aircraft of WWII, though not for the Japanese who had started fighting a global war long before their attack on the American naval base on the Kingdom of Hawaii, an American protectorate. They were in a war against China, and were already performing their Imperialist expansion against the rest of Asia.

Note that the Axis (German, Italy and Japan, was to divide up Europe, Africa and Asia respectively.

The Japanese ONLY attacked the U.S. naval forces in an effort to prevent possible American involvement in breaking up Japan's fuel and supply chains from Asia to the land of the rising sun.

Oh... and as you know, in 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii. Hawaii was administered as a U.S. territory until 1959, when it became the 50th state. By saying "As you know" I am assuming your knowledge of American history is at least as good as mine, a Canadian. Then again, I follow the rules of Machiavelli in lulling the enemy asleep before they even know they've been taken over. Everyone read The Prince, and then read The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

In the man time, maybe you should get your hands on the book written by Samuel Kleiner, entitled The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged a Secret War Against Japan.

The book, published by The Viking Press and due out on May 15, 2018, tells the story of 300 young American men and women who were secretly recruited from across the armed services by the prospect of seeing the world and earning a good salary.

They traveled to Burma in the fall of 1941 under false identities and trained with legendary general Claire Chennault with the idea that they would be supporting Chiang Kai-shek’s China in its battle with Japan.

The Flying Tigers were effectively mercenaries secretly recruited by a mysterious shell company that the United States government had created to circumvent its official stance of non-intervention in the war.

They were sent to help keep China in the war, and were consequently in place when Pearl Harbor was bombed. The Flying Tigers began their first flights 12 days later, helping to keep the Japanese occupied as U.S. troops were built up.

Writer Kleiner takes readers into the cockpits of the Tigers’ iconic shark-nosed planes as they perform nail-biting missions against the Japanese, destroying some 297-enemy aircraft in Burma, Thailand, and China.

A dramatic story of covert operations whose very existence would have scandalized an isolationist United States, The Flying Tigers is the unforgettable account of a group of Americans whose actions changed the world, and who today are viewed as heroes not only in our own country but are revered in China as well.

As for author Kleiner, here’s what we know:
Sam Kleiner - photo by Nina Subin
Sam Kleiner is a historian and lawyer in New York City. He holds a BA from Northwestern University, a doctorate in International Relations from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a JD from Yale Law School. He has always had an interest in WWII and spent several years researching the Flying Tigers. He was the only historian to attend recent meetings of the Flying Tigers Association and, working with the families of the Tigers, he uncovered troves of previously unpublished diaries, letters, and photographs that allow for a new, in-depth look at the Flying Tigers. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, and The Atlantic.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

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