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A Tiger Zoo--Flying Tigers AVG, CBI, & 23rd Fighter Grouping + Other PTO ETO Heroes


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AVG John Donovan's 1st Series Official AVG Flying Tigers Patch (1st Photo). This was posthumously given out by RT Smith to be sent to his family in his honour after auctioning his clothes and personal effects in the May 22, 1942 Hostel 1 farewell gathering of 2nd & 3rd Sqdrn AVG + some GHQ staff. John Donovan was shot down and crashed over a Japanese airfield in Hanoi, French Indochina on May 12, 1942.

 

Also one of his many notes and letters he wrote home to his mama (2nd Photo). This incident and many prior missions directly and overtly ordered by USAAF starting April 1942--as well as this openly read out note widely jotted down in many AVG diaries--did not sit well with the already ¨end-of-the-rope¨ stricken AVG pilots and men, having to escort bomber squadrons beyond sovereign China territory such as in Hanoi or in Siam or to protect without hope of replenishment the skies over the retreating Chinese and British Armies in Burma, and with less than 23 operable but badly patched up P-40 fighter planes left for the entire AVG.

 

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Various important evidentiary pictures.

 

Here is AVG Pilot Kenneth Jernstedt's 3rd Squadron Hell's Angels M-422 flight jacket (1st Photo). Note his squadron's unit insignia is painted on the jacket, a fact for all 3 squadron insignias without exception during the period of the AVG Flying Tigers.

 

 

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This is the same commentary made by me in a Chinese Air Task Force forum Posted 22 November 2019 - 06:57 PM:

 

ALSO TO MY GOOD FRIEND AVG Flying Tigers-CBI advanced Collector RICK/WALIKA,here is definitive proof of authenticity of your wonderful Unofficial AVG Silk Variant Patch of late May 1942-June 1942 most likely from the Chungking AVG 1st Squadron Adam & Eves: another exact patch like yours from the Br. India-made khaki tunic of finance man of the AVG Flying Tigers George ¨Pappy¨ Paxton, who stayed half his time in Calcutta.

Side Story. The Adam & Eves and most mechs moved up to ChungKing early in the morning of May 23, 1942 from Hostel 2 in Kunming close to the AVG base. They were not present in the May 22, 1942 late evening farewell bull session and cocktails hosted by AVGPilot RT Smith in the rooms and hallway of nearby downtown AVG Hostel 1 where 2nd & 3rd Squadrons and their ground crew were based, where the official 1st Series AVGFlying Tigers souvenir patches ordered by Skip Adair & RT Smith (rep of the ¨striking¨ AVG pilots) on May 13 & 14, 1942 were handed out. Most of the ground crew of these 2 squadrons were to leave mid June because of the redundancy by the incoming USAAF 23rd Fighter group men who were activating the Kunming base by then.

The Chungking AVG group--basically the non-striking Pilots willing to fly beyond sovereign China territory to accompany USAAF bombing runs to Chiang Mai, Kingdom of Siam & Haiphong-Hanoi zone in Fr. Indochina--missed out on these thinly sewn Official 1st Series AVG silk patches of the Flying Tiger, with some receiving the later Official 2nd Series ¨tightly woven silk¨ AVG Flying Tiger patch in late June while many also ending up ordering additional variants such as yours. If one checks even the late Larry Pistole's book, the chrono sequence & corresponding attributions from his pictures for the kinds of AVG Patches, Silk Peacock, banners & rare Flying Tiger ¨V¨ breast bullion worn by the Flying Tigers folks are robust to the foregoing findings thanks to the diaries, notes & memoire of many AVG like RT Smith, Charlie Bond, etc.

Here is Pappy Paxton's AVG Patch Variant of the Flying Tiger exactly like yours:

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 06:59 PM

And here again, like in my Tiger Zoo forum is your wonderful patch, which one day you can bequeath to me...so my other one doesn't get lonely. With the tightly woven silk and another one like it on AVG George Paxton's bush jacket, this confirms both patches are period AVG Flying Tigers authenticity.

 

 

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An end June 1942 to post AVG period Flying tigers variant patch to reward Chinese staff who worked at AVG HQ, serving as interpreters or liaison, etc. Some of these patches were also collected by outgoing American AVG but not worn because the Chinese characters were not a preference, in conjunction with Western attitudes of the times. This also can be applied to the earliest March 1942 leather patch with the unity Peacocks' painted in and with surrounding Chinese characters. Note also, the material used for the patch is supplied by tardy US forces materiel--not Chinese silk embroidery--only in abundance by mid June 1942.

 

 

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The One Making All Those Confusing Post AVG Period CATF (July 1943-Dec 1943 Actual) Patches, Squadron Insignia Souvenirs & Also Copied by Dealers Way Into the 80s. Some notes about the earliest American Volunteer Group Association, called the AVG Memorial Fund, which was the instigator for many souvenir patches sold to avid CATF & 14th Airforce airmen, almost 85,000 rotating into the CBI. This did not count the then giant demand for a piece of that yankee courage from avid U.S. mainland fans.

 

AMERICAN VOLUNTEER GROUP

G. L. PAXTON TREASURER AVG MEMORIAL FUND

45 Prospect Pl., Tudor City, Apt.1004

New York City

June 10, 1943

Dear "Veteran of the AVG" :--Tigers or Whatnots:--

Several of us were fortunate enough to see General Chennault while he was in Washington recently and in order that more of you may be acquainted with some of the AVG developments I take this means of advising you:

AVG COST: The total cost to the China Defense Supplies; Inc. for the AVG is:

For 100 P-40 Planes US$ 7,500,000.00

Commission on Planes 250,000.00

Estimated additional expenses for Insurance, Freight etc 254,267.46

Advance to Camco as agent for AVG program 2,995,732.54

TOTAL - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - US$ 11,000,000.00

Less a wide estimate of $ 2,000,000.00 value turned over the Army

The AVG in China accounted to Camco for the sum of US$ 761,395.49. Camco took this into their books, broke it down into various expense items, and accounted to China Defense Supplies for the total advances to Camco as follows:

Cash and Receivables US$ 323,985.58 Air Freight (Far East) US$ 28,076.91

Salaries Paid 1,551,187.55 Airplane Operating (F. East) 104,298.09

Death Benefits 83,100.00 Dormitory & Labor 33,468.26

Victory Bonus 148,499.87 Tools, Fix. & Supplies 29,523.45

Travel & Transportation 577,472.19 Paid Heacock Co., Manila 25,000.00

Sta.,Postage,Cables,Fur. 40,674.54 Miscel 36,806.78

Rent 13,639.32 TOTAL US$ 2,995,732.54

 

 

AVG Pilot Chauncey ¨Link¨ Laughlin Collection item (2nd Photo). Photo from my humble collection about the initial ideas of an AVG Memorial Fund, the hoped for association to cash in the fame of the AVG Flying Tigers and hopefully managed by Chennault and his AVG finance man George ¨Pappy¨ Paxton; which by this Sept 1942 letter morphed into a proposed ¨Memorial Hall¨, mixed in with disparate points and ideas from the then ex AVG head and CATF General Claire Lee Chennault. Later onwards by May 1945, (1st Photo) this movement by AVG Vets finally was incorporated with former AVG pilots as regular board members taking up money-making opportunities in the corporate agenda, to help out all AVG members post WW2, especially by perpetuating their fame and ¨brave Horatius-like¨ image, attracting sponsorships and fans at lucrative events.

 

​You can read the rest in the main Flying Tigers Patch Comparison study.

 

 

 

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So finally we can end this exhaustive AVG Flying Tigers Patch study and related notes with a comparison of all Official 1st & 2nd Series Official AVG Flying Tigers Patches (Top Row) vs. all known Unofficial Period AVG Flying Tigers variant patches (2nd Row).

 

Part 1 Picture Title. Official 1st (first 3) & 2nd Series ¨tighter weave¨ (4th tiger) AVG Flying Tigers Patches (top row), May 22, 1942 Kunming, China vs. Unofficial AVG Patch Variants frm. Chungking, China-based 1st Squadron Pandas, most AVG Mechanics & AVG HQ staff, June 1942 Part 1

 

 

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Part 2 Picture Title. Official 1st (first 3) & 2nd Series ¨tighter weave¨ (4th tiger) AVG Flying Tigers Patches (top row), May 22, 1942 Kunming, China vs. Unofficial AVG Patch Variants frm. Chungking, China-based 1st Squadron Pandas, most AVG Mechanics & AVG HQ staff, June 1942 Part 2

 

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For purposes of comparison from the study, here, which see, with Official AVG Reproduction patches in the CATF July 1943-Dec 1943 actual period (Top Row, 1st two patches) awarded to the 5 AVG holdover pilots & 23 mechanics and GHQ staff. Reference SDASM.

 

Photo Title: Master AVG Patch Comparison May 1941- post AVG CATF period March/Dec (actual) 1943

 

 

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Jose, Well great to see you still lead the way in Tiger material. After your slumber you must be ready to jump back in! I don't think Bob Prescott went to CNAC. He was flying VIP's around for various meetings towards the end of WW2 and was well in to starting Flying Tiger Line late 1946-47 if I remember right. I only met him once at Tigers as being a line pilot did not bring me in to the lofty confines of hQ except for training sessions. I started with FTL on the L1049H and only flew right seat about 100 hours in it before being forced to head to CL-44 training which I did not complete as I had a 3 year leave for active duty US Army Helicopters ( Vietnam) then back to Tigers as a FO on the DC-8-63 and did the next 20 with them before Fedex bought us and did 9 more with them. All good. The day Tigers became Fedex one of the ops girls gave me the wall calender

with a sliding square focused on that date.Hangs downstairs to this day. Had a few very interesting trips as a tiger , and of course flew with some great people.!

As promised from 2 months ago, after long tumultuous travel and work that all of us get through, I'm so happy to find holiday time to post my friend and former Flying Tigers Lines Senior Pilot Robert's/flytiger's fabulous collection of his wings, as he climbed the hierarchy of that organisation until it merged with FEDEX and his retirement.

 

With his permission and because I'm a little more ¨techie¨ with fatter fingers than him--hahahahhehehe--we display now his wonderful set of rare Flying Tigers lines wings earned over a career lifetime. Thank you for your service too, my bro & Happy Thanksgiving with fam:

 

1st Photo without the most rare earlier version wings.

 

2nd Photo with the earliest version Flying Tigers pilot wings.

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I hasten to mention that my friend Robert/flytiger stated that the early Flying Tiger Line wings in his possession, which see again below, was owned by former AVG Pilot & founder of the airline Robert Prescott. Bob Prescott joined up with CNAC in China after some rest from his Flying Tigers days, and then rejoined the War Effort in the European side, by lending his senior pilot experience to fly diplomatic ¨Missions to Moscow¨, including the special envoy former U.S. ambassador Joseph Davis to the Soviet Union.

 

In 1945 he founded the National Skyway Freight Corporation, and with lucrative contracts from US Ferry Command post WW2 to man pilots & provide maintenance of no-go parts to non-demobilised US forces spread throughout the globe in occupied Japan and Europe & Pacific Islands, he changed the name of the then profitable enterprise to the Flying Tiger Line in 1947, all the while inviting more and more of his old AVG buddies to work with him, even including in the 60s Gen. Chennault's widow, Anna Chennault.

 

 

AVG Robert Prescott's Rare Early Flying Tiger Line wings given to forum member & former FT Line Pilot ¨flytiger¨.

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  • 3 months later...

Believe this is another example of the official 1943 AVG reproduction. Blue wool is a bit darker than my photo shows.

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In Peace and War, US Merchant Marine. WARNING: Dangerous Cargo. No Visitors, No Smoking, No Open Lights.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wharfmaster,

 

Yes, you have a spot-on AVG patch given out to the remaining original Flying Tigers personnel during the early China Air Task Force period replacing the former from July 1942. If we were with the curators at the San Diego Air and Space Museum like for the one they have and I do in possession, they would also fully agree that your patch was ¨made in China¨ during that period by the skilled tailors of Jinxing Street in Kunming, China, using more abundant materials during the U.S.A. period, June 1942 onwards. (i.e., the CATF including the 23rd Fighter Group + 1 bomber squadron had sent up materiel and men in significant instances to prepare their base and takeover of the AVG Flying Tigers as early as May 1942, before the end of the AVG in early July 1942)

 

That is a beautiful patch, showing how U.S. materiel like wool elements vs. the stringy silk from the chopped up mulberry forest in the hinterlands, was much easier to work with for the local Chinese tailors. Your patch with the form of the handsome Siberian/Amur tiger is definitely from the Jinxing Street tailors, of Kunming. You can even compare it to the significantly different rendition of the tigers appearing on the India-made AVG tiger patches commissioned by visiting AVG Pilot Bob Neale and AVG finance-supplies man & ferry pilot Pappy Paxton. Yes, American logistics and supplies for uniforms, ammo & aircraft no-go parts flown up from the Assam airfields over the hump to Maj. General Chennault's CATF command (July '42-Dec '43, actual), were the key in holding back the Japanese Army from overrunning the US Army Airforce and their Chinese army allies.

 

Thank you for sharing your wonderful CATF period authentic AVG Flying Tigers patch. Maybe you could let us know how long you've had this and from where you bought this?

 

Thanks, and Happy Sunday

 

Jose

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Believe this is another example of the official 1943 AVG reproduction. Blue wool is a bit darker than my photo shows.

Hi Wharfmaster,

 

Oops, forgot to tell you I replied to your post and if you have any provenance stories from your authentic AVG patch made in the early CATF period of 1942. My exact patch came from AVG Tex Hill as explained in prior blog post, whilst the San Diego Air & Space Museum's better preserved patch came from the AVG Flying Tigers Association lawyer.

 

Please let us know if any there be stories or backgrounder of your nice AVG patch made in the CATF period? Thanks!

 

Jose

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Wharfmaster,

 

Oops, forgot to tell you I replied to your post and if you have any provenance stories from your authentic AVG patch made in the early CATF period of 1942. My exact patch came from AVG Tex Hill as explained in prior blog post, whilst the San Diego Air & Space Museum's better preserved patch came from the AVG Flying Tigers Association lawyer.

 

Please let us know if any there be stories or backgrounder of your nice AVG patch made in the CATF period? Thanks!

 

Jose

 

Thanks for the info Jose, most appreciated.

 

I purchased the patch in an antique mall years ago in Oregon. Were any of the AVG men from that State ?

 

 

Wharf

In Peace and War, US Merchant Marine. WARNING: Dangerous Cargo. No Visitors, No Smoking, No Open Lights.

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Thanks for the info Jose, most appreciated.

 

I purchased the patch in an antique mall years ago in Oregon. Were any of the AVG men from that State ?

 

 

Wharf

Hi Wharf,

 

Thanks for the input on where you purchased your AVG Catf period patch ¨years ago.¨

 

1) I remember there were 2 AVG Flying Tigers members from Oregon, but you'll have to email Mrs. Lydia Rossi at the FT Association website for more info.

 

2) AVG Ace Pilot Ken Jernstedt was an Oregon man, through and through. He lived there all his life, doing business and becoming a local politico up to state senator. He had 2 families, thus minimum 2 addresses, at various stages of his life.

 

3) Please look at page 4 of this Tiger Zoo blog, section 86, which shows AVG Ken Jernstedt attending the second charter members/stockholders meet of the Flying Tigers Incorporated entity, initially a club to meet annually then every 2 years, morphing into a money-making enterprise on the Flying Tigers' fame. He lists Hood River, Oregon as his home. Now that was 10 years after he left the AVG, quite an early known record.

 

2 Possibilities. To me, if you have more receipts or stories on the patch, then you can attribute directly to Ken Jernstedt's provenance ownership. The likelihood of this possibility is pretty good, because AVG Ken Jernstedt, I recall from both RT Smith's diary & latecomer AVG Lester Hall's notes in my collection, that the former was sent home weeks before the July 4, 1942 official ending of the AVG, because of severe illness, etc. So, he never received the 1st Series nor 2nd Series AVG Flying Tigers silk patches given out by his fellow 3rd Squadron RT Smith or from AVG HQ Mini-boss Skip Adair.

 

The official AVG Flying Tigers series patches + individual silk banners, etc, were handed out on May 23, 1942 through very early June 1942 because a good part of the ¨striking¨ pilots group & ground crew of the AVG, mainly emanating in the 2nd Squadron Pandas & the 3rd Squadron Hell's Angels, were being sent home starting on June 10, 1942, way earlier than the formal July 4, 1942 disbandment. CATF Gen. Claire Chennault must've mailed Ken Jernstedt's souvenir AVG patch during the very early part of the CATF period of July 1942-December 1943, actual; for the former AVG Commander had sent many letters post AVG but within 1942 to former members, handing out their AVG diplomas, formal Honourable Discharge Certificates, Award notes in behalf of the Chinese Air Force still using the AVG letterhead, with accompanying decoration insignia, etc. This is one possibilty.

 

The second, of course, is that it was also highly possible, that in the avid interchange of period AVG & post AVG memorabilia by a huge fan base of CBI theatre airmen + U.S. mainland fans, your authentic China-made, same Jingxing street tailor-designed AVG tiger patch partly using USA forces cloth material with local bullion, it ended up traded anonymously & unremarkably to that antique mall shop, where you found it. And so, the patch cannot be attributed definitively. Do you recall the year you found this patch?

 

 

Hope the above helps, my friend.

 

 

Jose

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Hi Jose.

 

Thanks again for all the information.

 

I purchased the patch probably between 1993 and 2000. At that time, I guess most collectors would have thought this non typical AVG patch was a fake.

 

 

Wharf

In Peace and War, US Merchant Marine. WARNING: Dangerous Cargo. No Visitors, No Smoking, No Open Lights.

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