"While the generals were about their business the Flying Tigers spent their time trying to arrange for the loan of the bomber. They pleaded for permission to make just one raid with it. They promised to send all their P-40's as escorts and bring it back without a scratch if only they could get in one good bombing mission. The answer was always "No."
Thus it was that Lieutenants Will Grube and Jack Krofoed engaged in a bitter argument with Dick Peret, AVG engineering officer, on the night of May 15. Grube and Krofoed were the pilot and co-pilot of an Air Transport Command Douglas DC-3 transport that carried a load of supplies over the hump from India. After supper they adjourned to Peret's room in the AVG hostel for a bull session over a $40 bottle of scotch.
Peret was elaborating on the Flying Tigers' favorite theme --- the need to plaster Japanese bases and "whatinell was the United States going to do about giving the AVG some help." The debate waxed hot, with Grube and Krofoed, as official representatives of the United States, bearing the brunt of Peret's criticism.
Finally Grube could stand it no longer.
"I've got an airplane here that's as good as any damn' bomber," he shouted at Peret. "If I had some bombs I'd show you enough bombing to make you happy!"
"I know where there are some bombs," grinned Peret. "If you aren't just bluffing, let's take your old crate and bomb Hanoi."
"Let's go, countered Grube.
Very much under the influence of their grandiose scheme, Peret, Grube, and Krofoed rounded up Sergeant Hoffman and stealthily made their way to the storage vaults where the Chinese stored their bombs. Peret shot the lock off the vault. His companions loaded the transport with a weird assortment of French, Russian, and Chinese bombs and promptly christened it the "Fuijiama Foo-Foo."
With only a vague warning to Pat Cavanaugh, operations officer on duty at the Kunming field, the quartet boarded the Foo-Foo and took off. It was after midnight.
The night was much too clear and bright for a mission of this type, but the happy warriors were almost oblivious of their moonlight surroundings until the cold, crisp air of altitude brought them closer to reality.
The pilots were able to pick out the check points along the Red River Valley and the old French railroad in the moonlight. Behind them in the cabin Peret and Hoffman sat on heaps of bombs.
"I had plenty of time to think about what was going to happen sitting back there," Peret relates. "I began to wonder if my idea was really as good as it had seemed back there in the hostel. I began to wonder if I really knew as much about the bombs as I pretended to Grube. Hoffman and I began to sort out the bombs. There were some clusters of incendiaries with a central charge to spread them in the air; a few old French 50 and 100 pounders with arming instructions in French; and some Russian 500 pounders had strange markings that we couldn't decipher. It was all a bit confusing. We decided to have a small drink to help us think."
As the Foo-Foo neared Hanoi, the battle plan was formed. Grube was to orient himself on the big bridge across the Red River in the center of the city and then fly over the railroad yards and airfield before starting a wide circle to the left. During the circling Peret and Hoffman were to sprinkle incendiaries.
Then the same circle was to be flown while the heavy bombs were dumped.
Hanoi was glittering like Times Square on New Year's Eve when the Foo-Foo made its approach. Grube was having trouble with his mixture controls and could'nt get any higher than 11,000 feet --- a good altitude for the flak gunners. As they came over the bridge Peret opened the cabin door, and Hoffman tossed out incendiaries. Beacuse they were unable to interpret the French arming instructions, Hoffman and Peret took the incendiary clusters apart and armed each bomb separately before tossing it overboard like a Fourth of July firecracker. Grube flew a perfect pattern over the still-lighted city. Not until the first circle was completed was there a sign of alarm. Suddenly the city vanished into blackness. A moment later the incendiaries began to twinkle as fires spread around the circle.
Grube swung the Foo-Foo around for its second run. Out tumbled the 100 and 250 pound bombs. Peret and Hoffman were sweating and straining as they pulled the arming wires and rolled the heavy bombs out the cabin door. Grube banked the Foo-Foo toward the inside of the circle to help them rool the big ones out. Everybody wondered why there was no anti-aircraft fire. As the last bombs were away, Krofoed rushed back into the cabin.
"There's a fighter on our tail!" he shouted. "What can we do?" Grube shook the Foo-Foo from side to side. Behind them Peret could see a white light apparently clinging doggedly to their tail. Another anxious look, and Peret roared with laughter. The light was a small beacon on a hilltop that had not been turned off in the blackout.
Dawn found the Foo-Foo still flying northward looking for Kunming. Not a landmark below looked familiar. The gas gauges were sagging, and the port engine got so rough and hot that Grube was forced to cut it out and feather the prop. Limping along on one engine, the Foo-Foo finally passed over a road --- a rare sight in China. Peret called the Kunming radio. No answer. Silence for 30 long minutes. Finally, about 6 A.M., the sleepy voice of Ernie (Boogie) Baughman drifted over the radio giving them a fix on their position. They finally landed at Kunming about 8:30 A.M., with hardly enough gas to take a spot out of their trousers. Only Pat Cavanaugh, who sweated out a miserable night, and Baughman, knew of the episode.
Two nights later the Foo-Foo crew crept out on another mission. They missed Hanoi, which was completely blacked out, and went on to hit Haiphong.
The day after the Haiphong raid General Chennault received a report from Chinese Intelligence that "American night bombers" had destroyed an ammunition dump, wrecked a portion of the docks, and started numerous fires in Hanoi. A hotel where high-ranking Japanese officers were having a party took a direct hit, killing most of the officers. In Haiphong fires were started and the docks were hit.
Chennault was dumbfounded. A few inquiries shed some light on the "American night bombers." Peret received an urgent call to report to the General's office. He hardly entered the door before the storm broke.
"Dick, bless your soul, I've told you repeatedly to stay out of these airplanes. When I want you to fly, I'll issue the necessary orders. That's all."
It should be noted that Olga Greenlaw, the wife of the second in command of the A.V.G., the official diarist for the Flying Tigers and tasked with that job personally from the very beginning by Chennault after having been with the Tigers from day one, makes no mention anywhere in her papers or anywhere else of the Fujiyama Foo Foo or the Hanoi bombing run. And, even though her book was written and published at the exact same time as Hotz (1943), there is no mention chronicled by her in her rather extensive book on the Flying Tigers titled Lady and the Tigers as seen by those of Hotz, above.
As far as the Flying Tigers and bombing runs involving any use of their shark-faced P-40s against Hanoi goes, there are at least a couple of recorded incidents, both different in scope, execution, and results.
On January 22, 1942 several A.V.G. P-40 pilots including Greg Boyington and Jim Cross escorted a group of Russian made SB-2s flown by Chinese pilots on a bombing raid against Hanoi, any results thereof being unclear. About the bombing, which is typical as to any results, Charles Bond and Terry Anderson on page 77 write the following in their book Flying Tiger's Diary (1984):
"Jim (Cross) came in and told me about escorting seventeen Chinese bombers over Hanoi from Mengtzu. It was a completely screwed up mission. They were way off course as they approached the general area of Hanoi and encountered anti-aircraft fire. They jettisoned their bombs and turned back."
On May 12, 1942, in lieu of actual real life bombers in that none were in their inventory, nor were any ever available anyway, the Flying Tigers sent a group of six P-40s consisting of three late-model P-40Es equipped with bomb racks along with three early model P-40Bs, on a 700 mile round trip run from their main headquarters in Kunming, China, to attack the Gia Lam airfield in Hanoi. Five of the P-40s reached the main target area with one returning to Kunming because of engine trouble.
Immediately following the bombing runs by the P-40Es the older P-40Bs swept in right on their tails strafing everything of any substance relative to the airfield they could find. Said to have been flying one of the P-40Es that day was John Donovan. After his bombing run he joined in strafing and shooting up the control tower, grounded planes, and anything else he could hit of value relative to the airfield. As Donovan began to pull up after one of his sweeps Japanese anti-aircraft rounds began ripping through his P-40 tearing it to shreds causing it to crash through the end of the runway ending Donovan's life in a ball of flames.
For the record, or off the record as the case may be, there was a full-bird U.S. Army Air Force Colonel, Robert L. Scott, Jr., that flew C-47 transports over the hump who had befriended Chennault by flying him in cartons of Camel cigarettes on his flights. Scott had convinced Chennault to loan him a P-40 so he could, after arrival in his C-47, turn around and use the P-40 to provide cover escort for other incoming C-47s. According to the legend surrounding Scott, after taking possession of his loaned P-40, pictured above and of which he named "Old Exterminatior," he embellished it with the exact same colors and markings as his Flying Tiger cousins, with the following results:
"When he wasn't escorting the transports, the P-40 was his to do with as he pleased. On his own, Scott began a one-man war against the Japanese on the Burma Road. He even had the propeller spinner on his Tomahawk, which he named "Old Exterminator," painted a different color each day so the Japanese would think that a whole squadron of planes was strafing them. On some days he flew as many as five missions. When he could, Bob Scott also flew combat missions as a wingman with the Flying Tigers."
CLAIRE CHENNAULT AND HIS FLYING TIGERS
Scott also claims that in May of 1942 he used his P-40 to escort a bombing run into Hanoi. Now, if it was the official one using the bomb laden A.V.G. P-40s or the Fujiyama Foo Foo run with the C-47 isn't clear because nowhere is Scott's participation in a bombing run with the Flying Tigers clear except for the citing of the May 1942 time frame. Since information is fuzzy it could be if it was the official A.V.G. run and he was a wing man and he himself would have been unofficial, so no record of it would show up. If on the other hand, it was the Fujiyama Foo Foo run, and I think what is written about Scott seems to put the Fujiyama Foo Foo right into his camp, then for sure it wouldn't be recorded.
Scott ended up being a double ace flying P-40s, receiving for his combat record against the enemy, two Silver Stars, three Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Air Medals. Besides all of the kudos and successes granted and earned in the military and his documented and proven skill as a fighter pilot, Scott was also a prolific and well received author of close to a dozen books. His first book, God Is My Co-Pilot, a biography, was written in 1943 while still in the heat of war. It was not only a best seller, but also made into a highly successful motion picture of the same name. His second book, Damned to Glory is filled with chapter after chapter circulating around various experiences and stories of others, almost all of them having to do with P-40s in some fashion. The most controversial chapter in the book is on the alleged or so-called P-40 Ghost Ship where a phantom pilot and plane, a P-40, shows up from nowhere bombing and strafing enemy targets.
PEARL HARBOR P-40 GHOST SHIP
TOUCH THE WALL
Touch the Wall is an internet site dedicated to maintaining the accuracy and information regarding military veterans who served in Vietnam and/or the Southeast Asia conflict in some fashion related to the war or the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. Be it a name on the wall or records of service time, they do what they can to ensure all information is accurate and concisely presented. Interestingly enough John T. Donovan, who was killed by anti aircraft fire in his P-40 in his run against the Gia Lam airfield in Hanoi in 1942, in their section First veteran classified as killed in country lists Donovan as the first saying:
"Flying Tiger John T. Donovan was killed on May 12, 1942, but our involvement in Vietnam was not considered official and his name is not on the Memorial."(see)
THE TANGO SQUADRON AIR MUSEUM, CHIANG MAI
CLAIRE CHENNAULT AND HIS FLYING TIGERS
1942: THE GREAT LOS ANGELES AIR RAID
TAKING DOWN THE FIRST MEATBALL
KENNETH M. TAYLOR, PEARL HARBOR, AND THE P-40
GENERAL CLAIRE L. CHENNAULT
GHOST AND HAUNTED B-29
P-40 GOOSE SHOOT
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR
ON THE RAZOR'S
SO, DID THE WANDERLING FLY?
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.