Biplane fighter aces


Captain Chan Kee-Wong

Chan Kee-Wong grew up in the United States and learned to fly there before joining the Chinese Air Force in the 1930ís.

On 15 August 1937 the 28th PS of the 5th PG under the command of Captain Chan was deployed to the Chuyung Airfield near Nanking.
The unit took part in the fierce combat over the city during the day and Chan recalled that he had shot at two of the Kisarazu Ku G3M's that went down over Nanking. Citing possible discrimination by the Central Air Force against Cantonese pilots like himself, Chan was bitter that neither he nor any of his squadron mates ever got credit for their contributions to the defense of Nanking.

The 28th PS was tasked with defending Nanking but with pressing demands for air defense in both Northern China and Southern China, the 28th PS was split into two. One group of four 28th PS Curtiss Hawk IIs, reinforced by three others from the Air Force Academy, went sent north to Tai Yuan under the command of Captain Chan. The remaining four Hawk IIs, led by Captain Chin Shui-Tin, were sent south to protect the Shaokwan Aircraft Factory in Canton Province.

Chan's contingent arrived in Tai Yuan on 16 September. Up to this point, JAAF aircraft had been able to operate freely in support of the Japanese Army in Northern China.

On 21 September 1937 fourteen Mitsubishi Ki-2 heavy bombers of the Japanese Army Air Forceís 12th Hiko Rentai attacked Tai Yuan escorted by seven Kawasaki Ki-10 fighters of the 1st Daitai of the 16th Hiko Rentai. Major Hiroshi Miwa, commander of the 1st Daitai, 16th Hiko Rentai, led the IJAAF fighters. Hiroshi was well known to a number of Chinese pilots who were trained by him in Marshall Chang's flight school in Manchuria.
When approaching the IJAAF Ki-10s caught and shot down two V-65 Corsairs observation planes of the 12th Recon Squadron, which were on their way to Tai Yuan after undergoing repairs at Tai Ku. Both Chinese pilots, including Kwok Loy Louie - classmate of Louie Yim-Qun at the Portland Chinese Flight School, were killed.
Seven Curtiss Hawk IIs from the 28th PS, 3rd PG were scrambled at 14:00 to intercept the IJAAF raiders. Captain Chan Kee-Wong, commander of the 28th PS, flying Hawk II No.7 from the Academy, led them. The IJAAF fighters arrived before the Chinese Hawks were able to climb to altitude. Diving into the attack, the IJAAF fighters scattered the Chinese Hawks. Lieutenant Liang Ting-Yuan in Hawk No. 2810 was shot down and killed. Lieutenant Louie Yim-Qunís guns jammed and he had to retire from the action.
Captain Chan found himself all alone facing three IJAAF Ki-10s led by Major Miwa. In what appeared to a challenge to "single combat", Miwa apparently ordered his wingmen to circle above while he took on Chan alone. Chan saw Miwa dive at him from above. Chan countered by pulling his nose up to face Miwa head-on. Anticipating that Miwa would need to pull out of his dive after they pass each other, Chan pulled into a tight chandelle. He was into his manoeuvre even before Miwa passed him head-on. As a result, Chan was able get turned around and was above and behind Miwa when he began to pull out of his dive. Taking advantage of his position for a zero-deflection shooting pass, Chan shot up Miwa's Ki-10, sending it crashing into a field near Ta Meng. Miwa was pulled from the wreckage alive but later died of his injuries.
After seeing their flight leader downed, the two remaining Ki-10s dived into the attack. Without a wingman to cover him, Chan was put at a big disadvantage. Chan fought desperately to hold off the two Ki-10s, which were co-ordinating their attacks. After a series of frenzied turns, Chan found that he had lost a lot of altitude and running out of room to manoeuvre. In an attempt to shake his pursuers, Chan headed for the walls of Tai Yuan. Chan had hoped that ground fire from the Tai Yuan defenders would help drive off the IJAAF fighters. However, as he passed, Chan saw that the defensive positions on Tai Yuan's walls were empty. The defenders had probably taken cover when they saw what appeared to be three aircraft in a diving pass at them. Chan led the two Ki-10s in a mad dash above the rooftops of Tai Yuan, dodging around the smokestacks of the industrial city. Finally, the inevitable happened. Turning to avoid one of the Ki-10s, Chan was caught from behind by the gunfire of the other. Raking across the Hawk's unarmored seat from behind, two bullets hit Chan, one in the small of his back and the other in his left elbow. Chan recalled that his left arm "went cold" and he began to feel faint. Fearing that he would go into shock and lose control, Chan quickly looked for a place to land. He made for the playing fields of the Tai Yuan Women's High School, but could not clear one of the school buildings that was in the way. The stricken Hawk II crashed into the roof of the building causing Chan further injuries. Pulled from the wreckage gravely injured, Chan was evacuated to the rear. Doctors from the famous American-run Hsiang-Ya Hospital in Hunan were able to save Chanís arm but his flying career was over.
The Japanese pilots returning claiming totally five victories and two damaged for the loss of Miwa. One of the Japanese victories was probably claimed by Yoshio Hirose of the 2nd chutai (Mizutani chutai) of the Miwa Daitai (Ki-10s), who claimed one victory over Tai Yuan during the day.

He was replaced by Captain Liu Chui-Kang as squadron commander. Liu however crashed and died on the way to his new post on 26 October.

Popular with his men and noted for his prowess in aerobatics, Chan was fondly remembered by 28th PS veterans as the CO that first led them into combat. Chan recalled that he had shot at two of the Kisarazu Ku G3M's that went down over Nanking in the fierce action of August 15th, 1937. Citing possible discrimination by the Central Air Force against Cantonese pilots like himself, Chan was bitter that neither he nor any of his squadron mates ever got credit for their contributions to the defense of Nanking.

Chan Kee-Wong ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

His name is sometimes spelled Chen Chi-Kuang. He is also known as K. K. Chan.

After the war he lived in Toronto, Canada.

His brother Chen Chi-Wei (28th PS) was killed in Gladiator no. 2808 on 24 February 1938.

Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 21/09/37 1 Ki-10 (a) Destroyed Hawk II #7 Ta Meng 28th PS

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Major Miwa Hiroshi, commander of the 1st Daitai, 11th Hiko Rentai, shot down and killed.

Information kindly provided by Raymond Cheung, Tom Chan and Erich Wang.

Last modified 12 October 2013