Flying Tigers AVG Board

Topic : P-40E's in the AVG

Posted By: Jimd0586 on April 2, 2018, 1:29 pm
Hi all. I am building a model P-40E and would like it to have AVG markings and not 23rd fighter group markings. I know the bulk of P-40s in use by the AVG were B's and C's but I found online that about 33 E models made it to the group before they converted over to the 23rd Fighter group. These airframe numbers were supposedly 101-134.
I was looking to build this to be Boyington's plane (however he flew a B model number 21). I have some flexibility with the kit though. It has decals for 1st Squadron Adam and Eve, so I can build any E variant assigned to that squadron. I have so far found a pic of just one E variant in that squadron: Airframe 125. Do we know what pilots flew what aircraft? What aircraft were assigned to what squadron? What all Boyington flew before he left in April 42? Could he have also flown a newly acquired E?
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
- Jim

Posted By: aaatripp on April 4, 2018, 1:09 pm | Post: 1
Thanks, Jim, for your post to our AVG Forum.  You are correct in most of your assumptions.  Robert M. Smith's book and the Pictorial History of the Flying Tigers by Larry Pistole have good lists from which to ID the planes and assigned pilots.  Please note:  the 100 P-40B a/c all came right off the assembly line of Curtiss-Wright in Buffalo, NY.  When these aircraft arrived at the Port of Rangoon in mid-1941 they were ferried (after assembly and testing) to the AVG training base at Keydaw Airfield, Toungoo, Burma.  Civilian radios were installed and later makeshift bomb racks were added to some a/c.  These modifications may have made these "C" models.

Yes, there were at least 33 P-40Es ferried in from Accra, Africa by AVG pilots in the spring of '42.  The numbers indeed were 101-134.  We have never seen a list of assigned pilots to these E-models acquired from the U.S. Army Air Force.  In the R.T. Smith book TALE OF THE TIGER you can see a few photos from R.T.'s ferry mission which give you a good idea of the plane markings.  Of course, there was some painting to be done once they landed in Kunming and entered service with the AVG of the Chinese Air Force.  After disbandment of the AVG on July 4, 1942 nineteen of the 33 P-40Es were acquired by the 10AF/CATF/23FG.

We have no information on whether or not Greg Boyington ever flew one of the AVG P-40Es before he was terminated by Chennault.

Please let us know if we can help you further!

Edited by aaatripp : April 4, 2018, 1:18 pm


Tripp Alyn, chair
Historical & Museums Committee
AVG Flying Tigers Association

Posted By: Jimd0586 on April 5, 2018, 6:51 am | Post: 2
Thanks aaatripp!

Posted By: Jimd0586 on April 5, 2018, 7:16 am | Post: 3
I actually do have one more question. The AVG P-40's obviously have an non-uniform appearance to a degree. I assume ground crews repaired when and where they could and painted where they could. But on photos I have seen online the P-40B/C models all more often have squadron insignia while the later E versions that came in through March and April did not. Would it be incorrect to paint an E version with the squadron badge on it? Maybe someone has a pic of an E model with both the Flying Tiger insignia and Squadron insignia that is pre-23 air group?
Neither E model has squadron decals. Even more interesting is Tex Hill's being a part of the 23rd air group but still having Chinese stars. Some one know the answer to that?!
I bought the decal sheet, I'd like to get the most out of it, and Squadron decals add a lot in my mind. But I still want to stay historically accurate.

Posted By: Jimd0586 on April 5, 2018, 8:04 am | Post: 4
Also, I recall seeing somewhere that P-40s were bought from the British, reverse Lend Lease. Were these the P-40B's or P-40E's? Any idea?

Posted By: mickelman on April 15, 2018, 4:04 am | Post: 5
The Tex Hill sideview is probably accurate, though I'm not positive about the leaping-tiger decal. You can see the Chinese suns on the underside of the wing, and you can also see where the USAAF star has been painted over on the flank. If you build a plane from this sideview, you should try to confirm in a photograph that Hill's P-40E had the tiger decal. They were supplied by the Walt Disney studio in the late winter or early spring of 1942, and whether the AVG headquarters still had a supply when the P-40Es began trickling in has never been confirmed AFAIK.

Those planes were sent to West Africa in USAAF warpaint and flown to Kunming that way by AVG and civilian ferry pilots and maybe a few US Army pilots. They were repainted in Kunming by the AVG ground crews. All this is covered in detail in Daniel Ford's history of the AVG

The AVG Tomahawks (strictly speaking, they weren't P-40Bs but a variant built for the British) were taken from a lot being built for the RAF. They weren't Lend-Lease, which came in later. China paid for them directly to Curtiss-Wright, and paid General Motors for the engines, using an American loan. Then the USAAF later bought the left-overs back from China in July 1942.

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