Flying Tigers over China
4th May 1942: An American fighter pilot defending the Chinese city of Kunming is 'bounced' by Japanese Zeros
Chinese forces in Burma were falling back alongside British troops. The American Volunteer Group force in Burma, fighting alongside the RAF, had already been forced to evacuate the country when the principal airfields were overcome.
Now the Japanese kept up the pressure within China itself. Bombers continued to hit Kunming, the city at the centre of the Chinese resistance. The principal fighter defence also came from the American Volunteer Group - known as the Flying Tigers.
They were invariable outnumbered but were giving a very good account of themselves, the leading pilots notching up significant scores very quickly. Charles R. Bond1 was among them.
‘I swung my head around and looked to my rear. There they were. Three Jap Zeros right on my tail and firing like mad!’
On 4th May he took on a force of bombers attacking Kunming and returned over the city:
What a sight. Before, the city had been spilling over with evacuees, and now they were jammed all over the place. The Japanese bombs had caught them without any warning. Fires engulfed the city many buildings and houses were blown to bits.
After one last look I concentrated on my landing approach. I slowed down and moved the lever for the flaps and landing gear forward. Suddenly I heard several loud explosions. The noise stunned me. I immediately concluded that my landing gear hydraulic system had blown up. I had been having trouble with it operating correctly the last several days but couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I decided to try to recycle the gear lever. When I reached down, I cried out in pain. I had stuck my left hand into a raging fire!