I never really traveled in flyboy circles, although on-and-off throughout my life I crossed paths with a number of fighter pilots and bombardiers from three wars and airmen from four. The most influential in my life was of course the person I call my Mentor. Although an American citizen he flew for the British in World War I before the U.S. even entered the war after passing through Canada and fudging about his age. He was wounded twice, once in a raging air battle over Europe flying his Sopwith Camel mounted with twin Vickers against a 1000 foot long a Zeppelin. The above story about the fictional Lt. Stoner being a pilot for the Flying Tigers and having a medal pinned on his chest for his heroic exploits always reminds me of a real life P-40 pilot I met many years after the war. Not a Flying Tiger, just a regular old P-40 pilot in the South Pacific during World War II that ended up receiving a Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart during this tour. The following refers to one of his exploits as found at the link below the quote:
"Coming in low over the target on a second or third pass in the same general area his plane was hit by ground fire, the engine began losing oil pressure. Noticeably disabled he quickly picked up at least three Japanese fighters on his tail. Not being able to engage them on any kind of an equal basis let alone three to one, he decided to evade them by flying through a narrow gap along a mountain ridge causing the pursuing planes to pull up after one of their group slammed into the the mountains. Attempting to reduce the possibility of attracting any more fighters, staying low he arced around hoping to reach Tsili-Tsilli in order to keep both himself and his aircraft intact. Without oil pressure or the oil needed the engine seized basically loosing most operational control of the aircraft. He decided to set down best he could wheels up on a sandbar that turned out to be part of the Waffa River, a subsidiary of the much larger Markham River about 50 miles northwest of Lae, albeit still in enemy territory."
P-40 FIGHTER PILOT DAN ROWAN
One of the pages I have on the internet follows the adventures of a pilot who, like Lieutenant Stoner in the above, above sequence, flew for the A.V.G., the American Volunteer Group, otherwise known as the Flying Tigers. However the particular pilot I'm speaking of, long after the Tigers were disbanded, turned rogue and continued to fly his P-40 against the Japanese invaders of Free China throughout the rest of the war. Named Ed Hill but known as the Lone Tiger, he and his story is illustrated by my all time favorite artist-cartoonist, Wally Wood, who by the way, is the same artist that did the Flying Tigers sequence above.
Although both the Lone Tiger and the previously presented Flying Tigers sequence, as well as the P-40s depicted in them, are all drawn and presented in a serious tone, Wood himself was a one-time major cartoonist for Mad Comics. One of Woods' most famous stories, and mine too, just so happened to show up in Mad --- a spoof on Terry and the Pirates called Teddy and the Pirates. The biggest draw for me to Terry and the Pirates, besides the milieu and perhaps being in love with the Dragon Lady, was that as the strip and the war progressed the characters were pulled more-and-more into the events surrounding the China-Burma-India theater during World War II --- and especially so the Flying Tigers and the use of the Curtiss-Wright P-40. Below is an example of Milton Caniff's drawing-rendition of P-40s shown with Flying Tiger nose art:
Caniff, famous for drawing Terry and the Pirates had in his mix of characters the previously mentioned Dragon Lady. Below Woods draws my all time favorite visual presentation of the Dragon Lady who he calls the Dragging Lady, and of which is drawn not too dissimilar than what I have always visualized her as looking like myself:
(for larger graphic click image then click again)
TERRY AND THE PIRATES
MEETING WARLORDS, ET AL
In later years, staying in a similar but serious theme Wood turned his artistic talents toward a person he called The Infamous Madam Toy as shown in the graphic below:
(please click image)
In 1962 Wood also contributed his creative skills to a series of baseball-like collectable cards called Mars Attacks. As the cards related to me, one of those Mars Attacks collectables played heavily in what I have written about regarding the possibility of a Roswell ray gun. My uncle is said to have found what was for all practicable purposes a hand-held weapon at the Roswell crash site, only to hide it away by burying it some distance up and behind the debris field. Years later when he told me about the existence of such a weapon the first thing I saw in my minds eye was the disintegrator used by the Martians as shown below in the collector series:
THE ROSWELL RAY GUN
(please click image)