The AVG began their legendary fame on their first combat, December 20, 1941, over the skies southeast of Kunming, China. A formation of Japanese Kawasaki Ki-48 “lilys” from the 21st Hikotai was heading to Kunming. Suddenly, the tight formation of bombers was intercepted by P-40Bs of the First and Second Squadrons of the AVG. The fighters came out of the sun from 20,000 feet. Through the overcast sky they dove, guns blazing in defiance at the intruders. Three bombers were officially credited to the AVG. Chennault was elated – it was their first combat and not a pilot was lost. Only one of the Ki-48 bombers made it back to its home field. Madame Chiang Kai-shek soon would address the American volunteers as, “My boys, my flying tigers.”
Original signature of 29 AVG members: Tex Hill, Ed Fobes, Rich Richardson, “Red” Petach Hanks, PJ Greene, Irv Gove, Ed Stiles, Joe Poshefko, Al Kaelin, Leo J. Schramm, “Catfish” Raine, Ken Jernstedt, Chuck Baisden, Burma Bob Locke, Bus Keeton, Pete Wright, George R. Bailey, Dick Rossi, Charlie Mott, Erik Shilling, Chuck Older, Joe Rosbert, Paul Clouthier, Frank Losonsky, Morgan Vaux, Frank A. Andersen, Bob Layher, Keith Christensen, George Tyrell.
Size 30″ x 24″