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Old 03-30-2011, 09:51 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Was there any such WWII Flying Tiger air mission?

I have been watching a Military Channel series called "Missions That Changed the War". My disappointment with this series may end up being another thread, but in the meantime...

There is a four-part segment, not yet aired, about the Flying Tigers. I'm personally not aware that they flew any missions which changed the course of the war, unless you consider that improving the morale of the American public in the early months of the war changed it's course.

One blurb that comes from the show's producers says this:
Quote:
...One mission that seemed routine prevented the Japanese Army from linking up with their German allies in oil-rich North Africa, and kept both China and India in allied hands for the remainder of the war.
What could this be referring to? The Japanese had a long long way to go to get to North Africa. The Tigers were flying almost exclusively fighter interceptions against Japanese bomber formations. I'm aware that they performed a few fighter-bomber attack missions that many of the pilots complained loudly about (their pay was based largely on the number of Japanese aircraft shot down over Chinese territory). I can't think of anything they did which would have such a result.

Some of the Tigers were later integrated into the USAAF, which continued to operate in the China-Burma-India theater, but the Tigers themselves were only operational for about 6 months. I've read several books about the Flying Tigers or the CBI air war never read of such a mission.
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:35 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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My knowledge of the Flying Tigers is along the lines of what you have written (not that I have studied them in great depth). I have no idea of such a mission- if it exists at all.
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Old 03-31-2011, 08:31 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
I have been watching a Military Channel series called "Missions That Changed the War". My disappointment with this series may end up being another thread, but in the meantime...
Heh. How about the fantastically overproduced title sequences? Look for them in a future "Title Sequences that Changed Television!" It goes on for some time showing a montage of people they interviewed for the program, pictures of those people back in their war days, airplanes flying around and warming up, then finally breaks to show a logo-like series title in a circle surrounded by the name of particular series of episodes, then breaks to show the name of the particular series of episodes again in German (don't remember if they do Japanese for those episodes), then breaks to show name of particular series of episodes again in English, then breaks to show the episode number, then breaks to show the episode title, then just when you think they're ready to start, goes back to the montage sequence for a while...then to the commercial!

I'm also having trouble with time loops. They go through Gunther Rall's experiences to a944, then discuss 1942 and Stalingrad, then talk about Americans through 1943, then discuss Rall's experiences in Kursk in 1943, then talk about...Stalingrad again...then back to the Americans in...1941, getting ready for the war...it's like the Quantum Leap guy did their editing.

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Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
What could this be referring to? The Japanese had a long long way to go to get to North Africa.
Well, generally the intervention in Iraq is credited (IMHO overcredited) with "preventing" the hypothetical linkup. Did the FTs do anything that helped the Brits intervene in Iraq, maybe? Sure seems like a stretch.
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:15 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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It is amazing to me that there is this whole 12 part series about war-changing missions, and in the 7 episodes so far they have only identified one such mission, the Doolittle raid. They've now gone through 3 of the 4 Gunther Rall programs, and into 1944 (I think) without referring to any special mission that he was a part of. And by that late in the war, no single mission he or any other German flew was going to do much of anything to change the course of the war.

And maybe they just made up the impact of some Flying Tiger mission. I never heard that the Japnese and German armies ever planned to link up anywhere, let alone that a hand full of beat up American planes and pilots thwarted it.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:12 AM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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Reported for a forum change. Don't think the OP intended this for the Game Room....
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:19 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Reported for a forum change. Don't think the OP intended this for the Game Room....
Ooh, thanks! I intended to put this in GQ, not GR.
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Old 03-31-2011, 11:00 AM
Gukumatz Gukumatz is offline
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Yoink.

GR->GQ.

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Old 03-31-2011, 02:32 PM
mlees mlees is offline
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Poosibly this: Chenault trained his guys in how to combat a more maneuverable and, possibly, more numerous foe in the air.

This tactic later came to be called "boom and zoom", I think.

The Flying Tigers would, over the course of their service, perfect it, making it a "proven" tactic.

I understand the above doctrine would not really be a specific stand-alone mission that turned the war (like the Enterprise/Yorktown dive bombers over Midway), but considering the History Channel's... err... history... I wouldn't be surprised if it was something like that.
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:56 PM
paperbackwriter paperbackwriter is offline
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I'm not aware of any good evidence that the Japanese high command planned on going any further west than appropriately Kunming and Eastern India. Any suggestion of an Atlantic-to-Pacific-spanning Axis Empire is pretty dubious. The Japanese undertook the Ha-Go and U-Go offensives in Burma with the goal of cutting into Assam and cutting off the southern terminus of the Ledo Road and destroying the airbases supplying China over the "Hump." Some more fantastical elements hoped on inspiring a colonial uprising, but that was more a "deprive Britain of a manpower pool" aim than a "link up with Germany to the west" aim. By that time (1944), the IJN was already in retreat in the Pacific.
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:24 AM
colonial colonial is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
I have been watching a Military Channel series called "Missions That Changed the War". My disappointment with this series may end up being another thread, but in the meantime...

There is a four-part segment, not yet aired, about the Flying Tigers. I'm personally not aware that they flew any missions which changed the course of the war, unless you consider that improving the morale of the American public in the early months of the war changed it's course.

One blurb that comes from the show's producers says this:

What could this be referring to? The Japanese had a long long way to go to get to North Africa. The Tigers were flying almost exclusively fighter interceptions against Japanese bomber formations. I'm aware that they performed a few fighter-bomber attack missions that many of the pilots complained loudly about (their pay was based largely on the number of Japanese aircraft shot down over Chinese territory). I can't think of anything they did which would have such a result.

Some of the Tigers were later integrated into the USAAF, which continued to operate in the China-Burma-India theater, but the Tigers themselves were only operational for about 6 months. I've read several books about the Flying Tigers or the CBI air war never read of such a mission.
You have it exacly right.

The Flying tigers rendered good service but nothing they did was decisive.
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Old 04-01-2011, 06:05 AM
MarcusF MarcusF is offline
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Originally Posted by paperbackwriter View Post
I'm not aware of any good evidence that the Japanese high command planned on going any further west than appropriately Kunming and Eastern India. Any suggestion of an Atlantic-to-Pacific-spanning Axis Empire is pretty dubious. The Japanese undertook the Ha-Go and U-Go offensives in Burma with the goal of cutting into Assam and cutting off the southern terminus of the Ledo Road and destroying the airbases supplying China over the "Hump." Some more fantastical elements hoped on inspiring a colonial uprising, but that was more a "deprive Britain of a manpower pool" aim than a "link up with Germany to the west" aim. By that time (1944), the IJN was already in retreat in the Pacific.
The Flying Tigers only operated from late '41 to mid '42 so Ha-Go and U-Go are well after their time - and as you say had nothing to do with linking up with the Germans who were in full retreat by then.

During the first part of their existance they were mostly providing air defense while falling back during the headlong retreat from Burma so I don't see how any of those mission could meet the bill. They then redeployed to China and provided air defense and ground support to the Chinese during various Japanese operations but this was for a limited period prior being absorbed into the USAAF.

At about this time the Germans and Italians were advancing in North Africa - only being stopped at El Alamein 90 miles from Alexandria in July '42 - and the German summer offensive in Russia was driving towards the Caucasus so I guess summer 42 was the high point for the Axis with both the Germans and Japanese advancing. Having said that I am not aware of any Japanese plan in early/mid 1942 to advance into India and link up with the Germans. And whether or not they thought of it they just did not have the resources to do it so I have no idea what this "decisive mission" was meant to be!
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Old 04-01-2011, 10:08 AM
paperbackwriter paperbackwriter is offline
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Originally Posted by MarcusF View Post
The Flying Tigers only operated from late '41 to mid '42 so Ha-Go and U-Go are well after their time - and as you say had nothing to do with linking up with the Germans who were in full retreat by then.
Correct, if you consider the term "Flying Tigers" to only apply to the 1st American Volunteer Group. The 23rd Fighter Group also has a (debated) claim to that title, however. They were formed on the same day the 1st AVG disbanded and absorbed many of the men and planes of the 1st AVG. Even today, the 23rd FG is authorized to carry the 1st AVG's tail code and shark mouth.

They were only peripherally involved Ha-Go and U-Go as they were defending the northern terminus of the Hump, not directly opposing the Japanese 28th Army. Still, I mentioned those offensives not to imply that they might be the missions that the Military Channel meant but that even at the furthest westward advance, the idea of a German-Japanese land hookup was very far-fetched.
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And whether or not they thought of it they just did not have the resources to do it so I have no idea what this "decisive mission" was meant to be!
I definitely agree, for the reasons both you and I mentioned.
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Old 04-01-2011, 12:29 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
It is amazing to me that there is this whole 12 part series about war-changing missions, and in the 7 episodes so far they have only identified one such mission, the Doolittle raid. They've now gone through 3 of the 4 Gunther Rall programs, and into 1944 (I think) without referring to any special mission that he was a part of. And by that late in the war, no single mission he or any other German flew was going to do much of anything to change the course of the war.
I have the impression that where they're going with this is that the American Thunderbolt commander, Hub Zemke, is the one who ordered the "war-changing" mission, presumably by overriding the Army Air Corps' preference for "close escort" and introducing his stacked-up loose escort formation. (Which presumably changed the war by allowing the fighters to get at and destroy the Luftwaffe when it came up to fight the bombers.) But it's a hell of a lot of build-up so far for just that.
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Old 04-01-2011, 12:37 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Call me a bit skeptical, but there seems to be little hard info on the Flying Tigers.
I have a few questions:
the Flying Tigers had good success against the IJA Airforce, in spite of flying obsolete P40 aircraft. The accounts I read say that this was becase Clair Chennault trained his pilots to use the aircraft's strengths (robust construction, capability of pulling out of high speed dives), and avoid dogfights with the japanese pilots (where the P40's inadequacies would be exposed). Is this correct?
-the ex-Flying Tigers went on to distinguished flying acreers (like "Pappy" Boyington). Many of these men were noted for indifference to military procedure-was there (alleged) insubordination really true?
-the Japanese AF (army) was considerably less well-trained than the IJN airforce- how would the FT's have fared against IJN pilots?
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:25 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
I have the impression that where they're going with this is that the American Thunderbolt commander, Hub Zemke, is the one who ordered the "war-changing" mission, presumably by overriding the Army Air Corps' preference for "close escort" and introducing his stacked-up loose escort formation. (Which presumably changed the war by allowing the fighters to get at and destroy the Luftwaffe when it came up to fight the bombers.) But it's a hell of a lot of build-up so far for just that.
Zemke was a squadron (or maybe Group?) commander. He may or may not have developed the theory and tactics, but he didn't have the authority to implement it across the theater. In fact, in an earlier episode, Doolittle gets the credit for "freeing" the fighters from close escort.
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Old 04-03-2011, 08:55 AM
Lust4Life Lust4Life is offline
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I recall seeing a "documentary " that showed how the British Army only won the battle of El Alamein because the americans were simalteoiously attacking the Afrika Korp from the rear.

No doubt a secret mission that we ordinary mortals are not meant to know about.
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Old 04-03-2011, 04:08 PM
paperbackwriter paperbackwriter is offline
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Just in case anyone is confused, American troops didn't land in North Africa until Operation Torch, D-Day of which was November 8, 1942. The Battle of El Alamein took place October 23-November 4, 1942. Although they were close in time, the Afrika Korps didn't know that while they were fighting Monty on their front, Eisenhower was getting ready to attack the Vichy French possessions to their rear (as L4L alluded to).

Last edited by paperbackwriter; 04-03-2011 at 04:08 PM.. Reason: clarification
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  #18  
Old 04-03-2011, 05:44 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Call me a bit skeptical, but there seems to be little hard info on the Flying Tigers.
I have a few questions:
the Flying Tigers had good success against the IJA Airforce, in spite of flying obsolete P40 aircraft. The accounts I read say that this was becase Clair Chennault trained his pilots to use the aircraft's strengths (robust construction, capability of pulling out of high speed dives), and avoid dogfights with the japanese pilots (where the P40's inadequacies would be exposed). Is this correct?
-the ex-Flying Tigers went on to distinguished flying acreers (like "Pappy" Boyington). Many of these men were noted for indifference to military procedure-was there (alleged) insubordination really true?
-the Japanese AF (army) was considerably less well-trained than the IJN airforce- how would the FT's have fared against IJN pilots?
As to Chennault's training, from what I've read you are correct. The main thins were not to try to outturn a zero with a P40, or outclimb one. In level flight they were roughly equal in speed, so if both planes were at any substantial altitude the P40 could run away by diving.

The AVG was not the military, so I'm not sure that insubordination was the right term. They could quit at any time, and I understand a few did quit. As I mentioned above, several AVG pilots complained about flying bombing missions, because they had substantial risk without any of the pay bonuses for shooting down Japanese planes. But they did fly them when Chennault insisted -- I don't think anyone quit over that, but my memory could be faulty.
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:50 PM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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The only North Africa connection the AVG had AFAICT was that the shark's-mouth design painted on their P-40's noses was copied from magazine photos of Kittyhawks in a British squadron operating there.
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Old 04-03-2011, 07:38 PM
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Maybe the "mission" refers to the existence of the Flying Tigers - who showed that the Japanese were not invincible after all. As far as for their insubordination, the Chinese were basically forced into disbanding them. They flew as mercenaries and without rank - the had flight leaders and squadron leaders, and I think that was about it. $500 per plance shot down, and I think their regular pay was two to three times as much as US military. They were all experienced pilots who for one reason or another left the US military. They had none of the drudgery and routine rules and regulations of the regular US military - no formal inspections, no saluting, no "yes sir" and standing in formation, they didn't even have an official uniform. A lot of them wanted to return to their original service - be it the Army, Navy or Marines. . The US Army wanted them all, and tried to force them into staying - threatening to draft them as infantry privates if they tried to return to the US. The officer sent to command them was the worst possible choice, a hard nose, by the book, spit and polish guy who wanted to whip into shape the one group that had proven successful against the Japanese. He didn't seem to understand that as civilians they were not particularly impressed by the Army's "we own you" attitude. Only a handful would sign on, but some others stayed on for a brief time to help break in the new pilots.
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Old 12-08-2013, 01:16 PM
bc122051 bc122051 is offline
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The Salween Gorge

The mission that possibly changed the course of the war was the action at the Salween Gorge in late spring of '42. The Japanese Red Dragon Division was moving on the Burma Road towards the capital of Kunming. They were in the process of building a pontoon bridge, as theh Chinese had blown the original bridge. The Chinese army had only been able to slow them down. Had the Japanese crossed the Salween, it is very likely that the capital would have been captured and China could have been knocked out of the war, leaving untold numbers of Japanese free to fight elsewhere against the allies, causing tens or hundreds of thousands of allied casualties. Four of the new P-40E models, fitted with bomb racks and six .50 caliber wing guns attacked the column, while four others flew top cover. Tex Hill and Ed Rector were among the four ex-Navy pilots with dive bombing experience. They blew down the mountainsides at the head and rear of the column, leaving the Japanese trapped. For next several days, small sorties were flown against the column, bombing and strafing, decimating it as an effective fighting force. It turned it's remnants around and headed back up the Burma Road. This can be considered their most important single mission during they're 6+ months of combat.
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Old 12-08-2013, 01:40 PM
Claverhouse Claverhouse is offline
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Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
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...One mission that seemed routine prevented the Japanese Army from linking up with their German allies in oil-rich North Africa, and kept both China and India in allied hands for the remainder of the war.


*bleakly* I was unaware that anyone knew of oil-reserves in Libya and Algeria before the 1950s.


I think Rommel would have been intrigued.
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