A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, June 06, 2008

Flying Tigers Pistol

In the Summer of 1941, with a Presidential wink and nod, 300 or so American men infiltrated China as tourists. The Flying TigersTheir mission was to combat Japanese Imperialist expansion on the Asian continent.

The American Volunteer Group, commonly known as The Flying Tigers, was a singular group of American volunteers, who flew shark faced Curtiss P-40 fighters over China prior to WWII, led by General Claire L. Chennault. The operations of the AVG were clandestine at the time, as the United States had yet to enter into WWII. The AVG is a unique group of warriors, who kept in touch even after the AVG was re-absorbed into the US Army Air Force. The passage of time has unrelentingly decreased their numbers. I have the distinct privilege of being able to call one of Chennault's men a friend.

The AVG had a total of 19 Aces among it's members. They were:
Robert Neale: 13 victories
This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue, protect, and provide him medical care.David Lee "Tex" Hill: 10.25 victories
George Burgard: 10 victories
Robert Little: 10 victories
Charles Older: 10 victories
Robert T. Smith: 8.9 victories
William McGarry: 8 victories
Charles Bond: 7 victories
Frank Lawlor: 7 victories
John Newkirk: 7 victories
Robert Hedman: 6 victories
C. Joseph Rosbert: 6 victories
J. Richard Rossi: 6 victories
Robert Prescott: 5.5 victories
Percy Bartelt: 5 victories
William Bartling: 5 victories
Edmund Overend: 5 victories
Robert Sandell: 5 victories
Robert H. Smith: 5 victories

This is good information to know.

Here is an interesting pistol. It's listed on Gun Broker, and it's being billed as a "bring-back from Berma[sic] used by a U.S. Flying Tigers Ace." Flying Tigers M1911?The pistol comes complete with an authentic GI issue holster and magazine. The grips on the Remington/UMC M1911 are plastic WWII style grips, but the package includes carved custom grips reminiscent of the work produced in China at the time. It is no doubt an interesting pistol, and possibly a historical M1911. It has a price that corresponds to this, $4,190.00.

It is entirely possible that this pistol was carried over the skies of China by a member of the Flying Tigers. However, at the price asked, a definite provenance should be expected. To many people, including surviving relatives, anyone who strapped on a Curtiss P-40 was an Ace. The status of an Ace is distinct, however. The list is a short one.

Perhaps I should email Dick a photo of this interesting pistol, to see if he remembers it.

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Blogger KurtP said...

I knew Frank Lawlor while living in Port Aransas, TX.

His most prominent memory of that time wasn't the dogfights he was in, but the way they killed time by shooting rats.

He passed in 1997, if I remember right.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Shayan said...

The first nonfiction book I read was the story of the Flying Tigers. I can't say how much the story of those men inspired me. I still have that book, and will give it to my son someday. If I could go back in time and meet one man in the 20th century, it would be Chennault. You're SO lucky to have had brunch with a Tiger!

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Priscilla said...

Dear Xavier:
I am trying to find out some history for my husband, whose father passed away and was left with a wonderful handgun. We have been told that the grips are Bermese ivory. They have carvings of elephant heads with emerald eyes. One grip has the elephant head and two wings with a 5 pt. star. The other grip has a shield with a 5 pt. star and the 12 point "sun"(I guess) of the Flying Tigers. Do you happen to know any history at all of this beautiful gun. My husband's father used to fly airplanes for his living. Thank you for any time you can spare.

8:54 AM  

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