This weekend at the Atlanta Warbird Weekend hosted by CAF Dixie Wing in Peachtree, GA the 75th Anniversary of the American Volunteer Group is being honored. It’s not the actual date when President Roosevelt signed the unpublished executive order to help the Nationalist government of China fight Japan during WWII but this weekend we will have 9 P-40’s and two surviving AVG members to honor. The American Volunteer Group was made famous by General Claire Lee Chennault and the 1st Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers.
The Flying Tigers did not go into combat before the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. Afterward, in their 100 P-40B’s they were instrumental in the defense of Burma and China. The unit was only active from April 1941 until July 1942 when it was replaced with the USAAF 23rd Fighter Group. Only five of the original members joined the new unit. The original plan called for three groups, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd AVG. Both the Second and Third AVG were recalled after the United States declared war on Japan and before they reached China. The 1st AVG held the fort down before more men and supplies arrived with the 23rd Fighter Group. The Flying Tigers created many hero’s and those men went on to inspire many more to join the cause and fly fighter planes. With an intelligent and charismatic leader like Chennault and the style of the infamous Shark Jawed P-40’s, the legends of the Flying Tigers will never cease.