Just before America entered World War II Ed Hill, as the story is written and shown below, was a squadron leader with the American Volunteer Group, the A.V.G., more commonly known as the Flying Tigers, fighting alongside Chiang Kai-shek's troops for a free China. On the second scramble of a given day, right after pulling a Zero out of the sky as shown above, his P-40 was attacked from behind. No bullets struck him directly, but several others passed through the cockpit shattering the instrument panel and damaging his controls. He was forced to make a rough belly-landing in the jungle, in the process wrecking his craft and being rendered unconscious. When he awakened he found himself in the compound of a powerful masked local warlord called Wu Fang. As well, all of his wounds were bandaged and injuries treated.
The warlord had Hill's plane repaired to full and complete combat ready flight status. Then, he found himself more or less indentured, forced to become the pilot in the only plane in the warlord's air force, Hill's P-40. On a combat mission for the warlord he ran out of fuel and had to make a forced-stick landing, realizing the warlord restricted his fuel supply to reduce any chance of escape. In the middle of the night a group of guerrillas opposed to the warlord breaks Hill out of his cell, escaping in his plane to the guerrilla stronghold. Not long afterwards, the Japanese, in their forward march, sweep up large tracts of territory surrounding the guerrillas who remain virtually unknown. About the same time he arrives at the stronghold he hears on the radio that the Flying Tigers were disbanded and all the pilots and crew sent home. From a secret airstrip hewed out of the mountains by the guerrillas and the rest of the Flying Tigers gone, Hill continues to wage a fight against the Japanese, becoming the Lone Tiger. Below is the Lone Tiger's origin story as found in Warfront #37, September 1966 with art by Wally Wood:
DESTRUCTION OF THE HUITONG BRIDGE
In keeping with the destruction of the road by the Lone Tiger as depicted in the last panels above, after Burma (Myanmar) was occupied by the enemy, and with the Flying Tigers still in play, in order to prevent the invasion of the Japanese army to the east of the Salween River, the Huitong Bridge was bombed to cut off the Yunnan-Myanmar Highway, known as the Burma Road. Please see Footnote .
In the above main comic-text, our hero Ed Hill, the Lone Tiger, is saved and returned to health via the assist of a masked warlord calling himself Wu Fang. Wu Fang, although vying for maintaining the control and expansion of his own territory against the Japanese invaders, is not doing so for the betterment of China and it isn't long before the Lone Tiger escapes the warlord's clutches and jumps ship to the Free China side. As for myself, on more than one occasion during my lifetime I have found myself in situations where I have had run-ins with Asian warlords. Please see:
MEETING WARLORDS, ET AL
KHUN SA: THE SECOND WARLORD
Then there was Col. Robert L. Scott, Jr.. Scott was a fully accredited commissioned officer in the United States Army Air Force with the rank of Colonel. Never under any circumstance did he resign his commission to work for or be hired by CAMCO, hence he NEVER was nor could he have ever been, a member of the A.V.G. However, the commanding officer of the Flying Tigers, Claire L. Chennault, out of his good graces and the fact that the Japanese were becoming more aggressive meeting unarmed C-47 transports coming in over the "hump," and because Flying Tiger resources were tight, "gave" Scott a P-40 to assist in C-47 protection as they neared Tiger bases in China. In turn, Scott painted his own Flying Tiger shark teeth on the P-40 Chennault loaned him, making it in effect, at least in looks, a Flying Tiger. Also, on his own, that is without assist by the A.V.G., he began a one-man war against the Japanese on the Burma Road as well, re the following:
"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"
On the page titled GHOST P-40: The Legends and Her Whereabouts there are several accounts related to the sighting of a Ghost P-40, a so-called Ghost Ship or Phantom P-40. One of the accounts, which follows, although no way saying the P-40 was a Flying Tiger, lone or otherwise, does put forth some similar attributes to the previously presented Lone Tiger story. Interestingly enough, the Ghost P-40 story stems from the first chapter in a book written by the aforementioned Robert L. Scott titled Damned to Glory. Please notice in the very last paragraph Scott's name is mentioned:
"In May 1942, a U.S. Army pilot named Corn Sherrill found himself on the Philippine island of Mindanao 'with 11 mechanics who had escaped to the southern island by devious routes and one cracked-up P-40.' The Warhawk was an E-model with sound wings and six working .50-cal machine guns.
"Four miles away, the Americans located a fuselage, which a gang of Moro tribesmen helped them carry to the wings. By December they'd cut a 5,000-ft runway and equipped their P-40 with bamboo skis for takeoff and an extra 50-gallon gas tank in the baggage compartment.
"On Dec. 8, 1942 --- the anniversary of the Japanese attack --- Sherrill took off with four 300-lb bombs under his wings. He dropped the bamboo skis and flew 1,000 miles to Taiwan--an extraordinary feat for a P-40, even with 50 extra gallons of gas.
"Lieutenant Sherrill attacked the Japanese airfield 'with its neat rows of parked fighters and bombers,' as Scott told the story. 'He strafed them row on row, and he cut the Jap flag from the headquarters building with his wingtip. He laid his first wingbomb right in the enemy offices.' Though intercepted by Zeros, he finished the job and made his escape, flying 250 miles to a Chinese airfield, where he was intercepted and shot down by P-40s of the China Air Task Force."
GHOST P-40: LORE, LEGENDS AND HER WHEREABOUTS
PEARL HARBOR P-40 GHOST SHIP
As for the reality of "taking out meatballs," especially the very first meatball ever, during the early throes of the surprise sneak attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor Sunday, December 7, 1941 only a handful of U.S. fighter aircraft were able to scramble off the tarmacs, get into the air and meet the enemy face-to-face. The following will take you to those handful:
FOR THE NAME OF THE PILOTS WHO GOT IN THE AIR THAT
DAY AND THEIR NUMBER OF KILLS, PLEASE CLICK IMAGE
The panels on the page above depicting the adventures of the Lone Tiger, as mentioned previously, were drawn by master artist-cartoonist Wally Wood. Wood also drew an absolutely fabulous renditioned Flying Tigers stand alone story called "Ordeal" published in 1955 for an EC Comic titled Aces High. See the following:
THE ORDEAL OF LIEUTENANT STONER
Although the Lone Tiger and the P-40s in "Ordeal" are drawn and presented in a serious tone, Wood was a one-time major cartoonist for Mad Comics. One of his most famous stories is a spoof on Terry and the Pirates called Teddy and the Pirates. Milton Caniff, who himself was famous for drawing Terry and the Pirates had in his mix of characters a woman he called the Dragon Lady, based on a real-life warlord of the seas, a pirate queen by the name of Lai Choi San. When the person I call my Mentor in all my works was a young man he was traveling back to India from the Himalayas overland through China. He departed China towards the Philippines via the south China by sea. In doing so, after meeting Lai Choi San, he traveled on one of heavily her armed junks and got to know her fairly well, of which, over time he related to me. In Woods satirical rendition of Terry and the Pirates he draws my all time favorite visual presentation of the Dragon Lady who he calls the Dragging Lady:
(for larger graphic click image then click again)
WANDERLING AND THE PIRATES
TERRY AND THE PIRATES
JANE MARTIN: WAR NURSE
MEETS THE FLYING TIGERS
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR
P-40 GOOSE SHOOT
GHOST AND HAUNTED B-29
P-40: THE OBSOLETE WAR HERO
THE P-40 FIGHTER PILOT DAN ROWAN
THE ART OF WALLY WOOD
THE FLYING TIGERS
THE BOY IN THE MAN REMEMBERS THE LEGEND
TOMMY TOMAHAWK P-40 TOMAHAWK SQUADRON
(please click image)
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.
DESTRUCTION OF THE HUITONG BRIDGE
Both up to and long after the Flying Tigers left Burma the Japanese continued to take over and solidify huge swaths of Southeast Asia on their way toward India. In 1942-1943, not long after the Flying Tigers departed and with the war still raging, a book titled The Lady and the Tigers was published, written by a woman by the name of Olga Greenlaw. Greenlaw had been an integral part of the American Volunteer Group operations, otherwise known as the A.V.G. or Flying Tigers, from the very beginning right up to the end. After the group was disbanded and on her way home to the states, albeit while still in India Greenlaw wrote:
"The Calcutta newspapers annoyed me. I noticed how they were building up the R.A.F. and the new American Tenth Air Force and giving the A.V.G. slight credit --- if at all. I found one story --- about the Jap Advance toward Yunnan Province --- particularly irksome:
THE DRIVE TOWARD PAOSHAN
In north-east Burma another border battle is taking place, and the Japanese vanguards thrusting up the Burma Road are 60 miles to the west of Paoshan, 200 miles inside the Yunnan border. The Chinese have destroyed the bridges across the Salween River and are holding the east bank. Small parties of Chinese appear to be operating in many directions up the Burma Road, and guerilla warfare stages appears to have been reached.
"On and on it went. The whole thing is so familiar to me. No mention of the A.V.G., who were the one who had destroyed the large bridge across the Salween by dropping bombs."
THE GORGE, THE BURMA ROAD, THE SALWEEN RIVER, AND THE HUITONG BRIDGE
An equally tantalizing synopsis that quickly and accurately sums up the whole Huitong Bridge thing in one paragraph, albeit a tad more dramatic and exciting than Olga's account of the same event --- but written historically sometime afterwards --- can be found in a descriptive analysis accompanying Tigers in the Gorge by by John D. Shaw --- the Gorge being of course as shown in the above graphic along the Salween River and Tigers being the Flying Tigers:
"Thousands of refugees fled down the tortuous Burma Road toward Kunming, China to escape the advancing armored forces of Imperial Japan. With the armies of china devastated, it was evident that nothing but the winding Salween River at the bottom of the treacherous gorge could slow the enemy's surge toward the capitol city. After destroying the bridge behind them, those fleeing watched helplessly as the Japanese hastily started to construct a makeshift pontoon bridge. It appeared that China would face certain surrender if the enemy made it across. Hopes of an easy victory quickly began to fade through, when suddenly through the gorge rang the echoes of snarling Allison engines, powering shark mouthed P-40s of the legendary American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers! With 'Tex' Hill leading the charge, and with only a handful of men and planes, the AVG stopped the Japanese cold in the Salween River Gorge, and China would not fall."(see)
Another tantalizing account of the attack on the Salween Bridge is found in the following paragraph from the source so cited:
"At the Battle of Salween Gorge in May 1942, the AVG held back the crack Japanese 56th Red Dragon Division from crossing into China. For four days, Tex Hill led eight AVG P-40s, now equipped with bomb-racks, in dive-bombing the armoured column. After losing 4,500 troops, the Japanese retreated, ending their northward advance. Had the Red Dragon Division crossed the Salween River, the road to both southern China and India would have been open to them."(source)
FACT OR FICTION: DID THE FLYING TIGERS BOMB HANOI IN 1942?
THE FLYING TIGERS BOMB HANOI: 1942
For those who may be so interested I have provided an access-link to a free and complete PDF online version of Olga Greenlaw's book by going to the The Lady and the Tigers link below. By all measures most who came across her or knew her, she was invariably considered exotic, beautiful, covertly cunning and provocatively ingenuous. For others who simply cast the smart-as-a-whip Greenlaw's preeminent standing in the Flying Tigers as being based solely on her marriage to Colonel Harvey Greenlaw, the second in command of the Flying Tigers, they were usually in for a rude awakening. Even if such was the case initially, over time, because of who she was, the right person in the right place at the right time, it wasn't long before her being there took on a life of it's own.
JAPANESE INVASION OF INDIA DURING
WORLD WAR II
THE TEA-HORSE TRADE ROUTE
THE LADY AND THE TIGERS
THE WANDERLING: OF OLGA GREENLAW, FIREHAIR, AND
A BUNCH OF OTHER EARLY INFATUATION EXPERIENCES!
Under the cover of darkness, on the night of May 11, 1944, after more than a two-year ordeal of fully armed Japanese and lesser-so Chinese troops facing each other over the Salween River, the Chinese Expeditionary Army mounted a full-scale river crossing counter-offensive. On the first day 40,000 troops crossed the river using nearly 400 American supplied rubber boats and countless handmade bamboo rafts. In the next few days 60,000 more troops and thousands of pack animals carrying supplies crossed the river. The counter-offensive was successful and the Japanese troops retreated, most to their Songshan base. One month before the Japanese had thrown a major thrust of combatants westward into India, now behind them a major contingency of well trained and well armed Chinese troops were positioning themselves to come in on their less defendable and more open rear as well as cutting off their supply lines. William Samuel was an American imbedded with the Chinese troops. Samuel, who went on to fight in the Korean War, writes, speaking of China and World War II:
"I was, after all, a captain of infantry in two long wars. I lived with Chinese infantry troops in the field for nearly three years---subsisting with them, nearly starving with them. The few American soldiers in China had very little support from the United States during World War II. We were at the end of the world's longest supply line, and anything that reached us from home had been flown over Japanese occupied countries, over the great Himalayan Mountains into Kunming, thence to be trucked and packed in by animals to us, wherever we might be."
A SOLDIER'S STORY
GENERAL JOSEPH STILWELL
WILLIAM SAMUEL & FRIENDS: A SECRET REVEALED
RALPH A. MULTER
GUNNER'S MATE 3rd CLASS, U.S. NAVY