Sino-Japanese Air War 1937 – 1945


According to some Chinese sources “1941 was the most difficult year for the Chinese Air Force of the entire eight years of war. On this account, in order to render opposition to the Japanese forces, the Chinese actively sought new international assistance.” During the year the Japanese continually conducted massive attacks on Chengdu and Chungking with more than a hundred bombers. The Zeros attacked the airbases, trying to wipe out the remnants of the Chinese Air Force. According to Chinese sources the Japanese flew 1858 attacks involving 12211 sorties (the majority during the summer) during 1941 and 31000 civilians were killed or injured.
In this critical situation the Kuomintang government again turned to the Soviet Union for help. After receiving a pledge from Chiang Kai-Shek to support a common front for battle against the Japanese and loyal relations with the communist party, shipments resumed. To the beginning of 1941 the Chinese actually used the credits from the first two agreements of 100 million dollars and the third of 84.6 million dollars. From the last credits came an additional approximate 200 fighters and bombers. In all, by the beginning of 1941 the Chinese had received 885 fighters and bombers from the Soviet Union; 272 I-15bis, 75 I-153s, 142 I-16s, 73 I-16UTIs, 292 SBs, 24 DB-3s and 6 TB-3s.
Among these was the Polikarpov I-153 Chaika, which had received its baptism of fire at Khalkin Gol where it hadn’t performed badly in the air battle against the Japanese fighters. According to various sources, the Chinese received 70 to 93 I-153s.
Also among the aircraft supplied was the SB. Delivery of aircraft from the USSR continued almost until the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. Among the aircraft delivered to China from the beginning of 1941 were SBs of the last series with M-103 motors and the upper, enclosed MV-3 turret. The Chinese knew them as the SB-III (aircraft with the M-100 the Chinese call SB-2).

January 1941

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

In January President Roosevelt sent a representative, Lauchlin Currie, to Chine, to examine China’s military and economic situation.
Currie returned to the U.S. on 11 March.

In the middle of January the 1st BG was sent to Hami to re-equip with Tupolev SB-IIIs.
As a result, the 2nd BS completely re-equipped with the new equipment, while the 1st BS had a mix of new and old machines.

In January-February 1941 the 3rd PG and the 4th PG (February) were sent to Hami to receive new equipment. The 3rd PG received 17 I-153s and the 4th PG received 20 I-153s and 35 I-16s. The aircraft were divided between the 7th, 8th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 28th squadrons. The only squadron without the I-153 was the 24th PS, which received the I-16 III.

The newly formed 12th BG assembled at Qiongla in January.



During 1941 the Soryu participated in fleet training exercises off Japan but loaned aircraft to the forces in China. The carrier’s own complement was a mere nine aircraft.


2 January 1941
On 2 January 1941 Li Chang-Xiong, the commander of the 14th BS and his entire crew perished in a flying accident with a DB-3 over Chengdu.

February 1941

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

With the new aircraft the Chinese began to return to their basic deployment locations in February-March 1941, though the 26th PS with fourteen I-16 IIIs was sent to Lanzhou for defence against air attacks.
During the transfer flights the Chinese suffered non-combat losses. Returning to Chengdu the 5th PG lost four new I-153s. The 3rd PG lost five new I-16 IIIs on 1 May when, during the flight eastward the SB formation leader lost its course. All the fighters ran out of fuel and destroyed in forced landings to the south of Tianshui (Gansu Province). The fate of the pilots is unknown.


In order to cooperate with the 13th Army’s operation in eastern Chekiang Province in February, the 3rd Hikoshidan concentrated its main force along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River with the Hikoshidan command post and the 1st Hikodan (Headquarters, 90th Sentai and 10 I F Chutai) at Taiyuan and the 3rd Hikodan (Headquarters, 44th, 59th and 75th Sentais) at Hankou.


During early and mid-February the Soryu and the Hiryu moved into the Taiwan area and supported the blockade of the South China.


13 February 1941
On 13 February 1941 the deputy commander of the 8th BG, Liang Guo-Zhang was making a training flight when an engine failed. Attempting a forced landing in the Jianyang district, the DB-3 crashed and burned with the crew perishing.

21 February 1941
The 14th Kokutai attacked Kunming during the day. During the attack was WO Jiro Chono’s (Pilot 15) aircraft hit by AA fire and he crashed to his death. At the time of his death he was credited with seven victories in China.

March 1941

The ground war

The Lend-Lease law was signed by President Roosevelt on 11 March 1941. China was included four days later, whereupon the Chinese promptly requested a thousand aircraft!

The Japanese 22nd Division launched an offensive along the Chekiang-Kiangsi railway during Mars-April.

Chinese Air Force

In the middle of March 30 new SBs were handed over to the 6th BG at Hami. This group was at the time training at Jiayuguan.

The 12th BG received its first equipment when they received 14 old and three new SBs during the first ten days of March.
The group never got into combat. They remained in the rear until 1944 when they were transformed into an auxiliary unit and in October 1944 they were disbanded.


During March-April the 1st Hikodan (90th Sentai and 10th I. F. Chutai) supported the 22nd Division while the 60th Sentai attacked important areas in the vicinity of the railway..

In March, the rest of the 64th Sentai returned from Dongjingcheng, Manchuria, and joined the 1st chutai in Canton.



9 March 1941
On 9 March six long range DB-3 bombers bombed Yichang. The aircraft became separated in the haze and the DB-3 of Captain Gao Guan-Cai was shot down by Japanese fighters. Only the badly wounded pilot managed to bale out, and he came down in Japanese-occupied territory. The local peasants at once concealed him and then carried him along the river to his own forces, but he died of his wounds on 18 March.

14 March 1941
At 09:15 on 14 March 1941 twelve Japanese Zeroes from the 12th Kokutai escorting ten carrier based attack planes were spotted flying towards Chengdu in the Szechuan Province. The 3rd Route Commander of the Chinese Air Force ordered the 3rd and 5th PGs to intercept them, while the present bombers were ordered to relocate to Lanzhou.
The two groups had a combined strength of 31 I-153s. Major Wong Sun-Shui, Commander of the 5th PG led nine I-153s at 7500 feet and Captain Shen Tse-Liu, his vice-commander led eleven I-153s at 7000 feet while Captain Chou Ling-Hsu, commander of the 28th PS of the 3rd PG led another eleven I-15bis’ at 6800 feet. 3rd PG had at this time just flown in from Hami.
The twelve Zeroes flew in two formations, with seven flying at low level, and five providing top-cover high above. The Chinese attacked, and battle was joined over Shangliu, southwest of Chengdu. Four of Major Wong Sun-Shui’s I-153s had to drop out because of mechanical problems. He, however, pressed on with the attack and was fatally wounded after a shot in the head. Ren Yen was also killed in this action.
Captain Shen’s eleven I-153s tangled with the Zeroes near Shangliu and Shen was shot down and killed directly over the Shangliu airfield. Lin Huan and Jiang Tung-Sheng were also killed in the action.
Captain Chou’s group met the Zeroes near Chengdu. The aircraft were out of formation because of clouds and each pilot fought on his own. Chou and Yuan Fang-Bing were both killed in this action, while a third pilot made a forced landing on the water, but was strafed on the surface.
Three I-15bis from the 32nd PS also took part in this combat. These aircraft had been received at the beginning of the year from depot overhaul. Squadron commander Chen Peng-Yang was shot and a lightly wounded pilot, Qin-Bei, escaped by parachute.
The Chinese fought courageously and with determination, but their aircraft were totally outclassed by the Zeroes. Eleven I-153s were destroyed, seven were damaged, and eight pilots were killed in action. According to some sources the Chinese pilots claimed 6 enemies shot down.
Wong Sun-Shui made a forced landing at Sumatou but died two days later on 16 March in a hospital as a result of his head wound.
The returning Japanese pilots claimed 27 destroyed, 3 probables and 7 destroyed on the ground without any losses. Two and one probable was claimed by Koshiro Yamashita during dogfights at low altitude in dense mist while PO3c Masayuki Nakase (in his first combat) claimed five I-15s and one probable. PO1c Matsuo Hagiri claimed three ‘improved’ I-15s while his number two wingman, Keishu Kamihira, claimed three enemy aircraft and one probable.
General Chou Chi-Jou, C-in-C of the Chinese Air Force wept bitterly upon learning the loss of his top flyers and re-named the air base in Chengdu to “Tse-Liu Airfield” in honour of Shen.

After this combat there was again a Chinese order to avoid air combats.

April 1941

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

In April the Commission on Aeronautical Affairs (CAA) ceased to be responsible for purchasing aircraft and support equipment, this responsibility being transferred to the CAF Command.

During the spring of 1941 the 26th PS (I-16s) was responsible for the air defence of Lanzhou, which was the main terminal of the ferry route from the USSR.

The 4th PG returned to Shuangliu airbase in April. Until then they had avoided engagement with the enemy, as the Aviation Committee had recently given that order to all active air units engaged in reorganisation.

At this time the 3rd PG transferred five of their six remaining I-153s to the 5th PG and the last to the 11th PG, and functionally ceased to exist.

In the beginning of April 5th PG ha only five I-16 IIIs ready for combat duties. Their mission was interception of Japanese reconnaissance aircraft, for which they were reinforced with five I-153s.

On 15 April President Roosevelt officially authorized military service personnel of the US Army to participate in the war in China as volunteers. By this time Colonel Claire Chennault had already long ceased to be an officer of the American army. Having become the advisor to the Aviation Committee in China, formally he represented the Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO). From this company he began to formulate the volunteer fighter group, and recruited a unit of pilots and mechanics.


On 10 April the Imperial General Headquarters ordered the Kwantung Army to place its 32nd and 83rd Sentais under the command of the China Expeditionary Army commander for the duration of the upcoming Chungyuan Operation (7 May – 15 June 1941). The units arrived in the area on 19 April and were placed under the command of the 3rd Hikodan at Hsinhsiang airfield. The China Expeditionary Army then instructed the 3rd Hikoshidan, which had been supporting the Eastern Chekiang Province Operation with its main strength deployed at Ani and Hsinhsiang airfields to cooperate with ground forces of the North China Area Army during this operation.

Major Tateo Kato was appointed commander of the 64th Sentai during April.


In the end of April the Genzan and Mihoro Kokutais advanced to the Hankou base (later Siaokan). The land attack daitai of the Genzan Kokutai was assigned to strategic bombing in the Szechwan Province, while the carrier fighter daitai of the same unit was assigned to air patrol over the base and for direct support of ground forces. The fighter were not involved in any air combat during their stay in China.


May 1941

The ground war

Between 7 May and 15 June the Japanese North China Area Army launched the Chungyuan Operation.

Chinese Air Force

To survey the needs of the CAF, the commander of the USAAC in the Philippines, Brigadier Henry B. Claggett, visited China between 17 May and 6 June.
He recommended the organisation of a training scheme in the U.S. for Chinese air and ground crews, as well as the despatch of 350 aircraft (300 fighters and 50 bombers) manned by Americans.
As a result the lend-lease administration approved the transfer of up to 500 aircraft to the CAF, while Washington agreed to the training of Chinese personnel in the U.S.

The first Curtiss P-40s (Hawk H81-A) destined for the AVG arrived in Rangoon during May. This was 36 aircraft shipped in January 1941. 33 more P-40s arrived during June and the last 31 arrived in July.
Chennault totally acquired 100 Tomahawk IIBs (P-40B) purchased in the USA for 9.3 million dollars. Actually they got 99 aircraft, as one fuselage lacked so many items that it could not be made airworthy and one wing assembly of another aircraft had been drooped into Rangoon harbour, salvaged and stacked with the rest. By the time it was uncrated at Mingaladon, salt water corrosion had ruined the aluminium skin, and that fuselage too was set aside for cannibalisation.

The increasing number on attacks on the route to Burma from northern Indochina led to the creation, in May, of the 5th ARC (Colonel Wong Shu-Ming) at Kunming.

In May the 6th BG was disbanded and its equipment (Tupolev SBs) was distributed to replenish other groups.
Of these, three SB-IIIs went to 6th BS, who had only a few remaining combat worthy DB-3s.

During May-June the Chinese bombers that remained were withdrawn to Jiayuguan.


During the Chungyuan Operation the 1st Hikodan (1st Hikodan Headquarters, 90th Sentai, 10th I F Chutai and 1 reconnaissance chutai from the 15th Sentai) at Ani airfield supported the ground operations of the 1st Army, while the 3rd Hikodan (3rd Hikodan Headquartes, 32nd, 44th and 83rd Sentais) supported the operations of the 21st and 35th Divisions.

On 9 May was the 4th Hikodan (8th and 14th Sentais) placed under the command of the commander of the 3rd Hikoshidan. It was stationed at Taiyuan and Hankou and together with the 75th Sentai, ordered to cooperate with the future operations of the 13th Army.
The 4th Hikodan had previously supported South China Area Army in the landing in the vicinity of Fuchou.
Later the 4th Hikodan commander ordered the 15th Sentai to cooperate directly with land operations and the 8th and 14th Sentais to carry out attacks against important enemy areas to the rear.



20 May 1941
PO1c Ei-ichi Kimura (Otsu 5) of the 12th Kokutai was shot down and killed by AA fire over Central China during the day.

21 May 1941
On 21 May there was a duty flight of eight I-153s from the 21st PS and one from the 29th PS at Xigucheng aerodrome commanded by Captain Chen Sheng-Hsing. During the day they scrambled to intercept 27 Japanese bombers over Lanzhou. The Chinese fighters flew in two formations. The first of five fighters was led by Chen Sheng-Hsing while the second of four fighters was led by Chang Kuang-Yun, vice-commander of the 21st PS. The first formation claimed a bomber shot down and it was shared between Wu Guo-Duan, Sun Bo-Xian, Hu Nai-Wu, Zhu Huan and Chen Sheng-Hsing. This was the first Chinese claim with the Polikarpov I-153.
The Japanese bombers were G3Ms from the Mihoro Kokutai. One G3M was lost and another returned after suffering 70 hits.

22 May 1941
As a result of air attacks 17 aircraft (I-153s) of the 5th PG were sent to Nanzheng (Henan Province) during the day in order to defend it from the Japanese attacks. While refuelling at Tianshu (Gansu Province) they were all destroyed on the ground. The newly appointed commander of the group, Lu Enlung was relieved of command.
The Japanese didn’t suffer any losses in this attack.

The 12th Kokutai attacked Chengdu during the day. During the attack PO3c Shizuo Ishi-I claimed an SB bomber for his first victory (totally 29 – 3 in China).

25 G3Ms from the Mihoro Kokutai returned to attack Lanzhou during the day.
At 10:20, the 4th PG ordered its aircraft to fly to dispersal strips. Liu Chi-Sheng, Squadron Commander of the 24th PS, led seven I-16IIIs towards Wu Wei with an SB-III flown by Yang Chung-An, Squadron Commander 9th BS, providing navigational support.
One of the I-16III could not retract its gears and diverted to Hsi Ku Cheng Airfield at Lanzhou. At 11:02 the remaining I-16IIIs found bad weather in the vicinity of Wu Wei and diverted to Chung Chuan Chun Airfield north of Lanzhou.
Shortly after 12:10 when everyone had landed, the 25 Mihoro Kokutai G3Ms passed overhead. Kao You-Hsin had not yet switched off his engine and he took off, anticipating that the Japanese would turn back to attack the Chinese planes on the ground. Sure enough, nine bombers returned flying at 5,000 meters and were attacked by Kao. The first pass was made from the left side, followed by a pass from the front. Kao fired from 400 meters and dived under the formation after the pass. Two G3Ms; the leader and no. 2 of the 3rd shotai, were seen to emit smoke. Kao made three more passes from the side disrupting the Japanese bomb runs. With the precious time bought by Kao’s attack, the Chinese ground crews were able to get the remaining I-16IIIs started. All five remaining fighters got away with only one of them suffering damage from the fragments of 45 bombs that the G3Ms dropped on the airfield.
Kao broke off after firing 600 rounds, one of which holed a propeller blade due to a malfunctioning synchronization gear.
One G3M, flown by Lieutenant Shin-Taro Hashimoto, went down between Hai Yuan and Ching Yuan. All onboard were killed.

26 May 1941
Eighteen I-153s of 29th PS led by squadron commander Yu Ping-Xiang were flying from the region of Gansucheng to Lanzhou when they encountered Japanese fighters. Immediately were Yu Ping-Xiang and Zhang Senyi shot down, both baling out. The remainder followed the Squadron Vice-commander Tang (or Tan) Zhouli, but when they landed for refuelling, the remaining 16 I-153s were destroyed on the ground by the Japanese.
The Japanese didn’t suffer any losses in this attack.

A flight of eleven A6Ms from the 12th Kokutai under the command of Lieutenant Minoru Suzuki flew a long-range attack during the day. They left Ichang base and attacked Tienshui and Nancheng. During the sortie PO3c Masayuki Nakase claimed three enemy aircraft and PO3c Kunimori Nakakariya (in his first combat) claimed two more enemy aircraft.

June 1941

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

During June the last Tupolev SBs were handed over to the Chinese.

On 12 June the first P-40 was testflown by Byron Glover, bearing CAF serial number P-8113.

During the summer of 1941 ten I-16s and ten I-153s provided the air defence for Chengdu and also tried to intercept Japanese reconnaissance aircraft, but without success. During July and August the Japanese continued to mount massive attacks against the city.

By the beginning of June 1941 the commander of the 3rd PG, Lo Ying-Teh with parts of the command and flying staff were sent to Rangoon, Burma, to take delivery of the Hawk 81A (P-40C) which had been purchased in America. After trying the combat capabilities of these aircraft however, they determined that they would not be able to stand up against the Zero. Therefore the transfer was declined and the aircraft were delivered to Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers.

On 6 June the 5th PG received six I-153s to use as night fighters.


The 59th Sentai at Hankou was selected as the first unit to receive the new Nakajima Ki-43 Type 1 Fighter ‘Hayabusa’ (‘Oscar’). The unit returned to Japan during June-August 1941 to collect some 30 examples of the Ki-43-Ia, which were then flown to Hankou. During these ferry flights and in training flights, folds began appearing in the wings following sharp turns and several mid-air disintegrations occurred. Four or five aircraft out of 20 examined proved to have defects in the wing construction, and at once the Sentai’s ground personnel attempted to install reinforcement. Their efforts proved to be in vain, and the major part of the unit therefore returned to Tachikawa in October to convert to the –Ib model.



1 June 1941
On 1 June the Japanese destroyed four of the 12th BG’s SBs at the aerodrome at Zhaotung.

18 June 1941
On 18 June 1941 a DB-3 was destroyed while flying off on alert to Lanzhou, killing the pilot, Meng Zong-Gao, his navigator and radio operator.

23 June 1941
PO1c Kishiro Kobayashi (Pilot 48) of the 12th Kokutai was shot down and killed by AA fire over Lanzhou during the day.

July 1941

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

On 1 July the 5th PG was disbanded.

At the end of July the remaining I-16 IIIs of the 4th PG were concentrated at Liangshan and Baishiyi airbases near Chungking, for intercepting reconnaissance aircraft, but without results.


On 23 July 1941, Imperial General Headquarters published Army Department Order No. 517 directing the commanders of the China Expeditionary Army, Kwantung Army and the 1st Hikoshidan (located in Japan with units on Formosa) to assist one another by transferring small air units to the areas where they were most needed at a particular time either in Manchuria or China. Until the war’s end, this order was used many times as authority to move small air units from place to place according the urgency of the situation.


In July, the attack daitai of the 1st Kokutai advanced to Hankou and repeatedly attacked Szechwan Province.
The fighter daitai joined them on 29 July flying patrols over Hankou between 29 July and 31 August.

In July, the 3rd Kokutai advanced to Hanoi, French Indochina.


18 July 1941
On 18 July 27 Mitsubishi G4Ms attacked Chungking

28 July 1941
On 28 July 108 Japanese aircraft attacked into the Sichuan Province. Only seven aircraft of the 27th PS were able to oppose them. Lieutenant Gao Chunchou (I-153 no. P-7237) was shot down and only four of the seven scrambled aircraft returned.

August 1941

The ground war

On 1 August the Japanese Army occupied southern Indochina.

Chinese Air Force

In August 1941 the Japanese began an offensive in the south and strengthened their attacks on the Yunnan Province. The situation in Kunming became tense and in order to escape the bombing, the new aircraft factory was moved to a new location on the outskirts of Guiyang. Here three shops were organized, each of about 400 to 500 square meters. They all were dispersed among the mountain ravines. The director Zhu Jiaren and a small contingent of personnel and equipment remained in Kunming. Evidently the final assembly was completed there, while production of the components was dispersed in the mountains.

On 1 August the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) was activated with Claire Chennault as commander. Under his command were three fighter squadrons.
The AVG began training at Kyedaw airfield, near Toungoo.
The main force of personel arrived to Rangoon, Burma, aboard the Jaegersfontein on 15 August.
The 1st AVG was to have been joined by the 2nd AVG in the winter of 1941-42. This was to be a bomber group equipped with A-29s, but the group and its equipment had barely begun the journey across the Pacific when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

In August the 9th and 30th BS re-equipped with the Lockheed A-29 attack bomber.


With the successful conclusion of the Chungyuan Operation in middle of June, the Fifth Air Operation (also known as Operation No. 102) was launched at the beginning of August. During this operation the 1st Hikodan attacked Chungking, Tzeliutsing as well as important areas in north China using Ani airfield while the 3rd Hikodan on the Yangtze River attacked strategic areas in Central China from Kingmen, Hankou and Wuchang.

The second unit to re-equip with the Nakajima Ki-43 was the 64th Sentai. Pilots returned to the homeland in August from the end of August, receiving their new aircraft at Fussa, near Tokyo. Major Tateo Kato, understood fully why the Ki-43 had been adopted, and at once stressed training in over-sea navigation and long distance flights. Consequently the 64th Sentai pilots were able to achieve ranges of 700 km, whilst those of the 59th Sentai, who had not trained in the same way, could manage only 600 km. However the 64th Sentai remained dissatisfied with the integrity of the wings, and subsequently flew to Tachikawa for to be properly strengthed, then flying back to Canton in November.



10 August 1941
While intercepting an attack on Chengdu at dawn on 10 August Captain Ou Yangdeng (no. 7261) of the 21st PS was killed. He was flying with the remnants of the 5th PG when his aircraft was hit and he crash-landed. Unfortunately he died from lack of medical attention.

11 August 1941
On 11 August the Japanese conducted another dawn attack on Chengdu and four I-153s of the 29th PS were scrambled. Squadron Commander Tang (or Tan) Zhouli and two of his deputies, Wang Chongshi and Huang Rongfa were killed in the ensuing combat. During this combat the last I-153s were destroyed.
Taiwanese sources claims that Yang Quanfang, the fiancée of Huang Rongfa, committed suicide on 16 August.
Gitaro Miyazaki of the 12th Kokutai claimed his second and final victory over China during this attack.

18 August 1941
The Japanese flew a reconnaissance sortie over Kyedaw on 18 August to reconnaissance on the AVG.

September 1941

The ground war

In September the Japanese renewed its attack at Changsha. The attack was along the shores of, and across, Lake Tung-Ting.

Chinese Air Force

By September 1941 111 I-16s had been assembled at the Aircraft Factory No. 600 (according to other sources 143). However, there is information that the factory did not deliver them to the Chinese at that time, possibly due to the worsening, and eventual break in relations with Chiang Kai-Shek. From the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, all the assembled fighters were used in the battles against Germany.

During the fall of 1941 squadrons from the 1st, 2nd and 6th BGs took part in the battles for Changsha. During September they flew 34 sorties against shipping and troop concentrations. At the end of September an order was received to redeploy the aircraft to the front. The 2nd BG went to Hunan. During this period the 1st and 2nd BGs operated together.


In September the Fifth Air Operation was halted in order to prepare for the Pacific Area Operations.


The attack daitai of the 1st Kokutai returned to Kanoya, Japan, during September, while the fighter daitai at the same time was abolished. The majority of its pilots were absorbed into the newly created 3rd Kokutai or into the Tainan Kokutai.

In September was the 3rd Kokutai reorganized from a bomber unit to a pure fighter group (as the first Kokutai to do so).

On 15 September the 12th and 14th Kokutais was disbanded as a result of reorganisation. Most pilots of the 12th Kokutai were transferred to the Tainan Kokutai or to the 3rd Kokutai.

The Genzan Kokutai returned to Genzan in September.


23 September 1941
On 23 September 1941 the commander of the 1st BG, Gu Zhau-Xiang led a combined formation of SBs from the 1st and 2nd BG to bomb positions near Lake Dungtinghu. When his aircraft malfunctioned the formation was disrupted and the combat mission was aborted. In the confusion many aircraft strayed off course and made forced landings.

29 September 1941
On 29 September eight SBs of the 1st and 2nd BGs returning to base got lost and all the aircraft made forced landings in the fields.
One of the SBs missing was the aircraft of the commander of the 2nd BS, Zhang Tiqing. Eventually it became clear that he had become a traitor and deserted to the aerodrome at Hankou delivering a complete SB to the Japanese.
After this the 1st and 2nd BGs had to fill up their strength from the 6th BG.

October 1941

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

In October the first Chinese personnel, mainly recently graduated from flight schools, arrived in the U.S. for training on American aircraft.

In October the 9th BS had finished re-equipping again and was combat ready, completing attacks on Yuncheng (Shanxi Province), Hankou and other cities and regions.

In October the 11th BS (Light) was committed to the battle for Changsha.



In October the 3rd Kokutai moved from Hanoi to Takao, Taiwan.


1 October 1941
During a long distance training flight on 1 October 1941 to the Jiayuguan region, the DB-3 of the commander of the 6th BS, Zhou Shi-Yun vanished with its entire crew.

2 October 1941
On the night of 2-3 October the 1st and 2nd BG attacked and airfield during the ongoing campaign at Changsha.

7 October 1941
On 7 October First Lieutenant Sukeichiro Ito (NCO49) of the 59th Sentai was killed in an accident in the Hankou area.

24 October 1941
On 24 October nine Ki-43s of the 59th Sentai flew the first operational mission by this aircraft, a sortie over Henyang.

During the same date the three Squadron Leaders of the AVG, Robert Sandell (1st Sq.), John Newkirk (2nd Sq.) and Arvid Olson (3rd Sq.) flew a reconnaissance mission into Thailand for signs of a Japanese build-up, but found nothing.

26 October 1941
The Japanese flew a reconnaissance sortie over Kyedaw on 26 October to reconnaissance on the AVG. Five P-40s made a fruitless effort to intercept them.

28 October 1941
During the day the Japanese again flew reconnaissance sortie over Kyedaw. The AVG again made a fruitless effort to intercept them, even if one of the intercepting pilots, Eriksen Shilling of the 2nd Sq. got close enough to count five aircraft.

November 1941

The ground war

Chinese Air Force


On 8 November the 1st Hikodan was ordered to prepare for the attack against Hong Kong.

On 16 November, the newly established 54th Sentai arrived from Kashiwa, Tokyo, to Hankou.



8 November 1941
On 8 November was PO1c Masayuki Mitsumasa (Otsu 5) and PO1c Ei-ichi Nakasawa (Pilot 48) from the 3rd Kokutai killed in an accident over China.

December 1941

The ground war

On 7 December Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and other US and British possessions in the Pacific without warning.

The next day, on 8 December, war against Japan was declared by USA, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, the Union of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Free France, and eight Latin American republics.

On 11 December Germany and Italy declared war on USA. During the same day the American Congress declared war on Germany and Italy.

The Anglo-American conference (ARCADIA) opened in Washington, DC, on 22 December to deal with war strategy. President Franklin D Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston S Churchill, Harry Hopkins, Lord Beaverbrook, and American and British Chief of Staffs participated.

Hong Kong surrendered on 25 December.

Chinese Air Force

On 28 December the first 30 Vultee P-66 Vanguards arrived in Rangoon. This was aircraft ordered by the Swedish Government, which had been expropriated by the U.S. and allocated to China at Lauchlin Currie’s request.

By December the 6th BS only had three serviceable DB-3s left and due to lack of spare parts, even training flights ended.

In the middle of December, when it became clear that the Japanese were preparing to organize attacks on the Yongnan Province where the Chinese part of the Burma Road ended, Chennault moved the 1st and 2nd Squadrons of the AVG to Kunming, while the 3rd Squadron moved to Mingaladon, Rangoon on 12 December.

On 30 December 17 P-40s of the 2nd AVG Squadron arrived at Mingaladon to relieve the 3rd Squadron.


In December the 3rd Hikoshidan, commanded by Lieutenant General Sugawara Michio, moved south to Saigon and the 1st Hikodan established its headquarters at Canton and began preparations for the attack on Hong Kong. At this time the Hikodan consisted of the 1st Hikodan Headquarters, 10th, 18th, 66th, 83rd and 87th I F Chutais, 11th, 45th and 54th Sentais and 8th Tokushu Kogekatai (?).
The 1st Hikodan supported ground troops in the Hong Kong area until 25 December, when fighting here ceased. They were from time to time supported by G3Ms of the 1st Kokutai, Ki-51s from the 44th Sentai and Ki-21s from the 14th Sentai.
Only two Japanese aircraft were claimed during the attack on Hong Kong (both by AA fire).
Immediately after the Hong Kong operation the 45th Sentai was transferred to the Southern Area.

In December the 59th Sentai flew its new Ki-43-Ibs to Kompong Trach in Indochina the day before the outbreak of the Pacific War.

The 64th Sentai moved to Duong Dong, Idu Phu Quoc, in December.


During the second half on 1941 almost all Zeros had been transferred from China to the Pacific Ocean in preparation to the attack on Pearl Harbour.

It seems that G3Ms of the 1st Kokutai from time to time supported in the attack on Hong Kong during December.


8 December 1941
At 08:00 an estimated 12 Ki-36s from the 45th Sentai, escorted by nine Ki-27s from the 10th I F Chutai led by Captain Akira Takatsuki, attacked Kai Tak airfield, Hong Kong.
The Japanese aircraft bombed and attacked from low level, heavy bombs falling on the barracks in Shamshuipo Camp while the fighters strafed; one of the three present Vildebeests (K2924, K2818, K6370) and both present Walrus amphibians (L2259, L2819) went up in flames. The Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps Tutor, two Hornet Moths and two Cadets were also put out of action. Five Curtiss T-32 Condor freighters of the resident CNAC were destroyed; a sixth aircraft was in the hangar and escaped damage. Its crew later attempted to fly it to Manila but it suffered engine failure and was obliged to return to Kai Tak, where it eventually was captured intact, painted in Japanese colours and put into service. Three Ju 52/3m airliners of Eurasia Air Corporation were also destroyed; these were believed to have been aircraft ‘XIX’ (ex. D-AGEI), ‘XXII’ (ex. D-ABIZ) and ‘XXIV’ (ex. D-AIMP). A fourth aircraft – believed to have been ‘XV’ (ex D-ANYK) – was undamaged, as was junkers W.34 ‘II’ (ex. D-7).
In the harbour PanAm’s visiting Sikorsky S-42B flyingboat ‘Hong Kong Clipper’ (NC16735), was dive-bombed and set on fire, following which it sank in a “ball of flame”; only a young Philippine boy was on board, and he escaped unhurt and swam ashore. The flyingboat’s skipper, Captain Fred Ralph, and his crew were later flown to India, via the Chinese mainland. One of the British merchant vessels still in harbour, the 2,486-ton Soochow was scuttled by its crew, only to be salvaged later by the Japanese. A number of vessels were captured as they tried to get away.
The returning Japanese pilots claimed 12 aircraft destroyed at Kai Tak. One of the pilots taking part was Warrant Officer Eiji Seino, who together with his wingman, staffed the airfield and claimed a number of aircraft destroyed on the ground.

That night all undamaged civil aircraft, crowded with evacuees, were flown away from Hong Kong by American and Chinese pilots to Namyung, 200 miles inland; the aircraft were then hidden under straw during the day to prevent destruction and in two nights 275 Americans and Chinese were flown to safety.

9 December 1941
The 1st Hikodan continued to attack key points around Hong Kong during the day.

Kai Tak was evacuated during the day although permission was refused for the two remaining Vildebeests to be flown to the Chinese airfield at Kweilin; as a consequence both were subsequently destroyed on orders from AHQ.

At 03:30 in the morning four P-40s of the 2nd Squadron AVG scrambled from Kyedaw on warning of the approach of an unidentified aircraft; a twin-engined aircraft – apparently a Ki-46 – was seen but was too high to be intercepted.
On return Tex Hill crashed a P-40 but was not injured.

A P-40 (P-8153), fitted locally with a Fairchild 20-inch camera (which had been acquired from the RAF) in the baggage compartment, set out for Chiang Mai airport in the hands of Lacy Mangleburg of the 3rd Squadron, AVG, escorted by six other P-40s. No Japanese aircraft were spotted.

10 December 1941
Aircraft from the 1st Hikodan attack and hit two enemy gunboats off Hong Kong, partially disabling them.

During the day IJAAF reconnaissance spots four enemy planes around Rangoon, type uncertain, but enemy fighters advance to the frontier and try to stop the Japanese reconnaissance activity.

During the day Erik Shilling of the 3rd Squadron, AVG, flew a sortie with the camera equipped P-40 escorted by two other P-40s (Ed Rector and Bert Christman). After refuelling at Tavoy the trio flew to Don Muang airfield, with orders to photograph and observe only. There they reported an estimated 50 fighters and almost as many bombers in neat lines.
On seeing the photographs, Colonel Chennault pleaded with Washington to supply him with aircraft capable of bombing this airfield, but to no avail.

11 December 1941
During the day aircraft from the 1st Hikodan directly cooperated with the 38th Division and supported its attack against the main defence line on the Kowloon Peninsula.

12 December 1941
Aircraft from the 1st Hikodan attacked Stonecutter Island, Hong Kong, hitting batteries and barracks and starting several fires.
At the same time, part of the unit hit Kweilin airfield and claimed two enemy aircraft that was reported to trying to attack the Japanese forces from the rear.

13 December 1941
Aircraft from the 1st Hikodan attacked Stonecutter Island, Hong Kong, silencing the batteries on the island.

51 Ki-21s from the 12th and 60th Sentais bombed Mergui in southern Burma. 14 Buffaloes (of 67 RAF Squadron) and 16 P-40s (of 3rd Sq., AVG) had been scrambled from Mingaladon and patrolled around Rangoon, but the raid didn’t come within 200 miles of them.

16 December 1941
A heavy bomber Sentai (18 aircraft) from the 5th Hikodan, which had been ordered to support the attack against Hong Kong, bombed the battery on the west side of Hong Kong.

17 December 1941
10th Hikodan reconnaissance aircraft report the presence of 19 enemy fighters, 20 light bombers, and 5 heavy bombers at Rangoon; 10 heavy bombers at Toungoo; and 5 fighters at a field 55 kilometres southeast of Tavoy. General Sugawara concludes that the Allied air strength had been increased. He therefore orders the 7th Hikodan to attack Rangoon while the rest of the 3rd Hikoshidan presses forward in Malaya.

On 17 December the 21st Hikotai attacked Kunming with eight or ten Ki-48s escorted by a similar number of Ki-27s.

20 December 1941
On 20 December the 84th I F Chutai, based in Indochina, escorted Ki-48s of the 82nd I F Chutai to attack Kunming. The escort turned back at the Indochina-Yunnan border.
16 P-40s from the 1st Sq., AVG, were in the air between 10:00 – 11:20 led by Squadron Leader Sandell followed by four from the 2nd Sq., which was to patrol over Wu Chi Ba. Four more from the 2nd Sq. took off led by Squadron Leader John Newkirk and this section intercepted the Japanese aircraft but was not able to close in on them.
The Ki-48s fled but was attacked by the 1st Sq., which attacked in full force south-east of Kunming. The 1st Sq. returned claiming at least five bombers shot down; Fritz Wolfe claimed two, Sandell claimed one, Louis Hoffman claimed one and the fifth was claimed by Ed Rector of the 2nd Sq., who had taken off after all the other aircraft and subsequently claimed one bomber. Charles Bond claimed two damaged bombers while Camille Rosbert claimed hits on a bomber. During the return flight Rector ran out of fuel and made a forced-landing in his P-40, wrecking it.
It seems that three Ki-48s were shot down during the combat and a fourth was lost during the return flight.
After this, all three squadrons of AVG volunteers found themselves rotated through both Kunming and Rangoon.

22 December 1941
A Japanese formation was spotted over Tenasserim during the day. The 67 RAF Squadron and 3rd Sq., AVG, were scrambled from Mingaladon, but the interception was called off when it became obvious that the target was not Rangoon.

In the afternoon, the reconnaissance planes of the 70th I F Chutai scouted southern Burma and reported that the enemy had 11 medium bombers based at Toungoo; 2 large, 16 mid-sized, and 13 small planes at Rangoon; none at Moulmein; 6 small and 2 large planes at Tavoy; and 1 large plane at Mergui.

On 22 December Erik Shilling, Ken Merritt and Lacy Mangleburg of the AVG left Mingaladon for Kyedaw in three Curtiss-Wright CW-21s.

23 December 1941
On 23 December 87 bombers attacked Rangoon and its airfields escorted by 30 Ki-27s from the 77th Sentai (commanded by Major Hiroshi Yoshioka). 60th (27 Ki-21s commanded by Colonel Ogawa Shojiro) and 98th (18 Ki-21s commanded by Colonel Usui Shigeki) Sentais attacked the docks and the harbour, while the 62nd (15 Ki-21s commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Onishi Hiroshi) and 31st (27 Ki-30s commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Hayashi Junji) Sentais attacked Mingaladon. The raid approached at 10:00 and twelve P-40s of the AVG’s 3rd Squadron and 15 Brewster Buffaloes of 67 Squadron managed to reach 20,000 feet before engaging.
Sergeant Gordon Williams of 67 Squadron claimed one bomber, one probable and four more damaged while Sergeant C. V. Bargh claimed one probable Ki-27 but had his aircraft (W8143 “B”) shot full of holes; he managed to evade his attackers and flew out to sea, there regaining height. His windscreen was covered in oil so he calmly removed his flyingboot, opened the cockpit and wiped the screen clean with his sock before continuing his search for the bombers. At 17,000 feet he was joined by Sergeant E. H. Beable and together they dived onto a formation seen below. Bargh claimed one bomber shot down, last seen in a dive with its fuselage alight. Beable attacked the bombers repeatedly and followed them over Rangoon; white smoke was seen poring from one and he then attacked a straggler, but as he did so this was shot down in flames from astern by another Buffalo (probably Bargh). Flying Officer J. F. Lambert claimed one bomber (as a He 111!) while Flying Officer J. S. Wigglesworth was credited with a probable bomber (also as a He 111). Flying Officer Bingham-Wallis (W8146 “D”) sighted three vics of five Ki-21s north-east of Mingaladon and during a 15 minute chase he fired at several of them, seeing three spew out white and black smoke. Pilot Officer G. S. Sharp apparently was the only pilot to report seeing ‘unidentified single-engined bombers’ (presumably Ki-30s of the 31st Sentai), firing one long burst at them before being engaged by fighters. He evaded and returned to base, and was credited with one damaged as a result of his attack on the bombers. Sergeant H. Christiansen attacked a formation of bombers, which he also identified as Heinkels, and selecting one did a front-quarter attack, breaking away with his windscreen covered in oil; the bomber was claimed as probably destroyed. He continued firing at different aircraft until his visibility was completely obscured and then returned to base. One other bomber was claimed damaged by Sergeant K. A. Rutherford.
Meanwhile the twelve AVG pilots had split into two flights; one flight of six was led by Flight Leader George McMillan, the other led by Flight Leader Parker Dupouy (in aircraft ‘72’). At 18,000 feet McMillan’s flight spotted the first wave of bombers (probably 62nd Sentai) coming in over the Gulf of Martaban and dived to attack. Flight Leader Charlie Older (P-8157) shot down the formation leader in flames, this aircraft blowing up, while R. T. Smith (in aircraft ‘77’) claimed another which “blew up right in front of me and went down in flames”; he and McMillan then claimed a second (according to some sources Smith only claimed one shared), Smith reporting strikes on five more (one of which may have been the aircraft shot down by Flying Officer Lambert), but was then hit by return fire from one of the aircraft he attacked. McMillan’s aircraft also suffered damage and was destroyed in the subsequent forced-landing, although the pilot survived unhurt. By this time Older had claimed a second, while another was credited to Flight Leader Tom Haywood, who also claimed one damaged. Flight Leader Robert Hedman reported strikes on two others over Rangoon, while Ed Overend made the flight’s sixth claim north-east of Syniam. Escorting fighters then attack and 22-year-old Henry J. Gilbert was shot down in flames and killed. Paul Greene became involved, claiming one fighter shot down and one probable – both identified as A5Ms – before he too was hit and he had to take to his parachute; he was not wounded but the canopy of his parachute was riddled with bullets as he fell; as a result he hit the ground hard, injuring his spine. Hedman, whose cockpit canopy had been shattered by return fire from one of the bombers he had attacked, was also attacked by fighters, but evaded these and pursued the fleeing bombers out to sea before being obliged to return to base.
The second flight meanwhile had apparently run into a second wave of bombers (probably 98th Sentai), Dupouy leading three P-40s in a head-on attack whilst the others came in from the flank; Dupouy claimed two damaged but Neil G. Martin’s aircraft was hit almost at once and he was killed (in fact he went down before Gilbert of the other flight, and was listed as the AVG’s first KIA). Flight Leader Kenneth Jernstedt attacked a straggler, which he reported blew up, and the probably destroyed two more; others were claimed by Flight Leaders William Reed and Bob Brouk, and Ralph Gunvordahl who also claimed a probable while Brouk damaged yet another.
Totally the 67 Squadron claimed three bombers destroyed, three bombers and one fighter probably destroyed and six damaged bombers while suffering one Buffalo damaged. The AVG’s 3rd Squadron claimed ten bombers, three probables and at least ten damaged. They also claimed one fighter and one probable while losing four P-40s and two pilots (Neil G. Martin and Henry J. Gilbert killed).
During the attacks on the docks, the 98th Sentai lost the two Ki-21s on the left side of the second element. Captain Iteya Mitsui crashed near the Rangoon docks killing the pilot and crew while First Lieutenant Nogami Ryohei’s aircraft also went down, the pilot and two crew members becoming POWs. Over the airfield the 62nd Sentai lost five more. The 3rd chutai lost Captain Sabe Keiji’s aircraft (no. 2), which crashed east of Rangoon at 13:02 and Captain Chota Kuko’s which crashed on Rangoons waterfront at 13:07; both shot down by P-40s. The Sentai also lost the aircraft of First Lieutenant Yiso Tokyu of the 1st Chutai (shot down by AA fire), First Lieutenant Shingan Sho of the 3rd chutai (shot down by Buffaloes) and First Lieutenant Chojo Sei from the 3rd chutai (shot down by P-40s). The other ten bombers of this formation all suffered damage. The 98th Sentai’s CO Usui Shigeki, who was flying in the 1st chutai’s leading aircraft (Major Mitsuru Atsumi), was killed by a stray bullet. The gunners of 62nd Sentai claimed 12 enemy fighters and four probables. The fighter pilots, who had not been expecting the AVG, and identified the P-40s as Spitfires, claimed seven ‘Spitfires’ and two Buffaloes shot down, and one further aircraft destroyed on the ground by strafing, while four more probables were also claimed. Pilots credited with successes in this combat were Major Yoshio Hirose (two), Captain Kaoru Kakimi, Lieutenant Shinjirou Nagoshi, Captain Misuhiro Matsuda, Warrant Officer Saburo Hagiwara, Lieutenant Yoshiro Kuwabara, Lieutenant Shigeru Suzuki and Warrant Officer Honma. No losses were suffered by the fighters or by the Ki-30s.
At Mingaladon 17 were killed and about as many were wounded while four aircraft (including two Buffaloes) were destroyed and two more were damaged (Blenheims). Rangoon was also hard hit and about 1000 civilians were killed and about as many were wounded

In the afternoon on 23 December, the three AVG CW-21s at Keydaw took off for Kunming. They landed to refuel at Lashio. They then took off again but Erik Shilling suffered engine problems and made a force landing after having passed into China. The aircraft had no radios and the other two pilots didn’t know the route to Kunming. Ken Merritt made a belly landing, injuring himself, but able to walk away. Lacy Mangleburg wasn’t so lucky when he crashed into the ground when he tried to land and he was killed.

In the evening Japanese reconnaissance aircraft again reported numbers of aircraft present at Mingaladon and Toungoo, so a further raid was prepared.

25 December 1941
Japanese aircraft attacked Rangoon during the day. The units of the 7th Hikodan were off first, 27 Ki-21s from the 12th Sentai and 36 more from the 60th Sentai, escorted by 25 Ki-43s from the 64th Sentai. The 10th Hikodan followed with eight Ki-21s from the 62nd Sentai and 27 Ki-30s of the 31st Sentai escorted by 32 Ki-27s of the 77th Sentai. Four Ki-44s of the 47th I F Chutai provided patrols over Don Muang in case of attack during take-off or landing. The commander of the 7th Hikodan, Wing Commander Kenji Yamamoto, flew in the leading aircraft of the 12th Sentai together with the 12th Sentai commander, Colonel Kumao Kitajima.
Before takeoff from Don Muang, the CO of 64th Sentai, Major Tateo Kato, told his pilots:

"We must drive away the enemy fighters from our bombers like a paper fan against flies."
On the way the leading Ki-21 of the 12th Sentai with Yamamoto and Kitajima, suffered an engine failure and turned back. The other bombers followed, but realized something was wrong, resumed their original course and proceeded separately from the main force, but still escorted by some of the Ki-43s (from 64th Sentai).
Due to the lack of a proper Operations Room at Mingaladon following the damage suffered after the attack on 23 December, no adequate warning was given to the Allied fighters and most were scrambled rather late. However, three P-40s of the 3rd Sq., AVG, were already up on patrol and these reported a huge bomber formation on the way. Three more went up, meeting the raiders ten miles from Mingaladon, where the Japanese force split into two, half heading for the airfield and half for the city. The AVG went off after the latter and Flight Leaders Haywood and Older (P-8157) each claimed two of these shot down, whilst Flight Leaders Hedman and McMillan claimed three apiece. Return fire hit the latter’s aircraft, shattering the windscreen and damaging the engine, obliging him to carry out a forced-landing near Thongwa, south-east of Rangoon with a flesh wound in his arm. Haywood’s aircraft was also hit, bullets damaging his port wing. Having broken the bombers’ formation, the remaining P-40s – now joined by others – climbed again before diving on scattered pairs and trios. At that point 20 more bombers with eight fighters were seen approaching, and giving up the attack on the first formation, the Americans climbed from below to attack these.
Flight Leader R. T. Smith (in ‘77’) claimed one that “started smoking badly and dove out heading for the ground”, while Hedman, having already claimed three bombers, attacked another three as they were leaving formation and reported that one blew up in mid air. He then chased a fighter, which he identified as a ‘Navy Zero’, for ten miles before claiming this as his fifth victory of the action. With his canopy shot away, he then made a dead-stick landing on the satellite airstrip at Pegu. Overend claimed two bombers, reporting shooting the wing off the second, but he was then attacked by a fighter and had to make a crash-landing in a paddy field with his aircraft shot full of holes. Smith meanwhile engaged a ‘Type 0’ fighter head-on until “he was in flames and went down in the Gulf” – and then he reported shooting down another bomber, plus two more damaged off the Gulf of Martaban. Curtis E. Smith (making his first and only operational flight with the AVG) also claimed two bombers damaged.
The pilot of the three patrolling P-40s, which were further out, spotted 27 bombers escorted by fighters identified as ‘Zeros’ (obviously the 64th Sentai’s Ki-43s) at 18,000 feet over Mingaladon. Flight Leader Parker Dupouy and Fred S. Hodges attacked two, Dupouy claiming one shot down, which he believed was a ‘Messerschmitt 109’, and Hodges the other as a probable – claimed as a ‘Model 0’. Having also claimed a ‘Model 0’ shot down, Flight Leader William N. Reed attacked a bomber and believed he had hit the tail gunner, but this aircraft was then attacked by a Buffalo, which set the starboard engine on fire. Reed then had to dive away from the fight to clear his guns after they had jammed. Dupouy and Reed then pursued three fighters out over the Gulf of Martaban, Reed claiming one shot down in flames and Sergeant Major Shigekatsu Wakayam (Sho-4) of the 64th Sentai was killed. Dupouy, whose guns jammed, rammed a second, losing four feet off the port wing of his aircraft (‘72’); he reported that his opponent lost its complete starboard wing and was seen to spin down and crash. This was 23-year-old First Lieutenant Hiroshi Okuyama (Class 52) of the 64th Sentai, who was killed. William Reed described the combat in his diary:
"I saw another P-40 who was also leaving the scrap. By now we were 140-150 miles across the gulf from Rangoon. I joined the other ship and saw that it was Dupouy. We started back across the gulf at 17,000ft, and had only gone about 30 miles out off the shore of Moulmein when we spotted three Model Os in a V-formation below us, apparently heading home. We dropped down on their tails and surprised them. Dupouy was following me as I picked out the right-hand wingman. I fired from about 50 yards, and Dupouy fired behind me. The Jap exploded right in front of my face. I pulled sharply up to the right to avoid hitting him, and Dupouy pulled up to the left. In doing so, his right wing clipped the other Jap wingman's ship right in the wing root, and the Jap spun into the gulf, too."
It seems that Reed and Dupouy had scored the first two P-40 victories over the Ki-43.
Soon after the action had begun, two pilots of Dupouy’s flight – Bob Brouk and Lewis Bishop – heard over the R/T an order to “pancake immediately”. Believing this to be an order from Dupouy to return to Mingaladon, they had just lowered their wheels to land when six Ki-27s appeared over the airfield and attacked. Although both P-40s were hit, they were able to get away. Bishop subsequently claiming a bomber probable and two damaged. As the Japanese force departed, Brouk claimed a Ki-27 ten miles east of Rangoon, while a few minutes later Flight Leader Ken Jernstedt claimed a ‘Zero’ east of Kyaikto, and Older claimed another – for his third victory – over the Gulf of Martaban, to bring AVG claims to a highly optimistic 24 destroyed, two probables and seven damaged!
The Buffaloes of 67 Squadron had also seen heavy action. Two formations were ordered to patrol in the vicinity of Mingaladon – Flight Lieutenant J. Brandt (W8213) leading six aircraft of ‘B’ Flight in two vics of three (Blue and Green Sections) at 12,000 feet, while Flight Lieutenant Colin Pinckney (W8144/C) patrolled ten miles east of Rangoon with six aircraft of ‘A’ Flight in line abreast at 17,000 feet. Two other Buffaloes flown by Flying Officer Bingham-Wallis (W8146/D) and Sergeant Gordon Williams (W8228) flew top cover to this formation, 3,000 feet higher.
Two formations of enemy bombers were spotted and the top cover attacked the first formation. Bingham-Wallis and Williams together claimed one bomber, which reportedly crashed into the sea. Bingham-Wallis then claimed one of the escorts (reported as a ‘Type 0’; obviously one of the Ki-43s from the 64th Sentai) as a probable while Williams claimed one fighter as a probable. The main formation from 67 Squadron also attacked but 25-year-old Sergeant John Macpherson (RNZAF no. 41486) (AN216) was shot down by the escorting Japanese fighters and he was killed. The remaining aircraft from ‘A’ Flight engaged the fighters, mainly identified as ‘Type 96s’. Sergeant Charles 'Ketchil' Bargh hit one during a 20 minute dogfight, and saw it trail smoke. He was then chased down to ground level by a Ki-43, which he eventually managed to evade. Three more Ki-43s bounced Sergeant K. A. Rutherford as he was attacking a bomber, but he returned safely to Mingaladon. Pilot Officer G. S. Sharp and Sergeant E. E. Pedersen dogfought a number of the Ki-27s for 15 minutes, Sharp claiming one probable before his own aircraft was hit; he force-landed at Mingaladon with some controls and electric cables cut and bullet holes in the ammunition tank. The recently fitted armour plate behind his seat had saved him from injury. Sergeant Pedersen returned safely claiming to have damaged two ‘Type 96’ fighters. Flight Lieutenant Pinckney also claimed a damaged enemy fighter.
The Blue Section of ‘B’ Flight was also engaged with the fighters and Flight Lieutenant Brandt claimed one of them. Brandt’s Buffalo suffered some damage during the action when bullets pierced the petrol tank and aileron; other struck the armour plating behind his back. One of the fighters that attacked Brandt was claimed shot down by Sergeant E. H. Beable. He then made several more attacks and claimed a second fighter as a damaged. His own aircraft also suffered bullets through the airscrew, R/T, fuel tank and wing, though he was able to return to base safely. Sergeant J. G. Finn (W8240) claimed one fighter shot down in flames. His Buffalo received bullet holes in the tail and lower fuselage.
The green Section of ‘B’ Flight, however, suffered heavily. The leader 23-year-old Flight Lieutenant John Lambert (RAF no. 40924) (W8220/U) crashed near Rangoon; he had been shot in the back and had bled to death. The other two aircraft of the section was also shot down and 19-year-old Sergeant Edward ‘Ted’ Hewitt (RNZAF no. 405269) (W8248) and 19-year-old Sergeant Ronald ‘Ron’ McNabb (RNZAF no. 404393) (W8206) were both killed.
Totally the 67 Squadron claimed one bomber and three fighters destroyed, four fighters probably destroyed and three more damaged. Together with the AVG claims this brought the total to 16 bombers and 12 fighters destroyed, 1 bomber and 4 fighters probably destroyed, 7 bombers and 3 fighters damaged for the loss of two P-40s and four Buffaloes; four RAF pilots were killed.
The separate 12th Sentai suffered most heavily, losing three Ki-21s over the target area, while a fourth was badly hit and later force-landed. Most others in the formation were hit, and two or three crewmen were killed in these. The following 60th Sentai was also attacked, and reported that several of its bombers were damaged, but none actually lost. The bombers of the 10th Hikodan didn’t suffer any losses. The escorting fighters were involved in numerous dogfights; the 64th Sentai became broken up and lost two Ki-43s to the opposing fighters (Okuyama and Wakayama), and only the commanding officer, Major Tateo Kato, was able to stay with the bombers during the return journey. The 77th Sentai lost two Ki-27s in the fight when First Lieutenant Masashi Someya (Class 52) was killed and Sergeant Major Kontetu Ri (Sho-2) was shot down and taken POW. A third damaged aircraft later force-landed.
The Japanese also heavily overclaimed. Kato and his pilots of the 64th Sentai claimed ten Allied fighters shot down (two by Kato; one possibly Edmund Overend and one Buffalo by Lieutenant Yohei Hinoki), while the 77th Sentai claimed seven more and four probables. Claiming pilots of the 77th Sentai were Lieutenant Kisaji Beppu, Sergeant Major Matsunaga, Sergeant Niino, Lieutenant Yoshihide Matsuo, Sergeant Major Akamatsu (and one probable), Sergeant Ono (who force-landed on return) and Lieutenant Tsuguo Kojima. The last three probables were claimed by Captain Mitsuhiro Matsuda, Captain Toyoki Eto and Warrant Officer Kitasaka. The gunners of the 12th Sentai claimed no less than 19 fighters shot down!
Mingaladon was heavily bombed. Three Buffaloes at dispersal were destroyed or damaged beyond repair and five more, which were awaiting final assemble, were lost in one of the bombed hangars. The runways were pitted with craters and practically unserviceable, returning fighters landing with difficulty – but fortunately without accident. In Rangoon, civilian casualties were estimated to 5000 killed.

Known units taking part in combat during 1941

Chinese Air Force

Known units, commanders and stations
Squadrons Groups Commanders Stations Aircraft types Note
  1st AG        
  1st BG Gu Zhau-Xiang ( – 24/09/41) Hami (01/41 – ) Tupolev SB  
1st BS 1st BG   Hami (01/41 – ) Tupolev SB-2
Tupolev SB-III (01/41 – )
2nd BS 1st BG Zhang Tiqing ( – 29/09/41) Hami (01/41 – ) Tupolev SB-III  
  2nd BG Wang Shi-Yi ( – 12/41)
Jin Wen (12/41 – 16/01/42)
Hunan (09/41 – ) Tupolev SB  
11th BS (Light) 2nd BG     Tupolev SB  
  3rd PG Lo Ying-Teh Hami (beginning/41 – ) Polikarpov I-153 (beginning/41 – 04/41)
Polikarpov I-16 (beginning/41 – )
7th PS 3rd PG Lu Tian-Long (1938 – 20/03/41)
Cai Ming-Yong (1941)
Hami (beginning/41 – ) Polikarpov I-15bis (03/38 – 01/41)
Polikarpov I-153 (01/41 – 04/41)
8th PS 3rd PG Chou Geng-Hsu (1940 – 02/05/41) Hami (beginning/41 – ) Polikarpov I-15bis (03/38 – 01/41)
Polikarpov I-153 (01/41 – 04/41)
28th PS 3rd PG Captain Chou Ling-Hsu (1940 – 14/03/41) Hami (beginning/41 – ) Polikarpov I-15bis
Polikarpov I-153 (beginning/41 – )
32nd PS 3rd PG   Chengdu Polikarpov I-15bis
Polikarpov I-153 (early/41 – )
  4th PG Major Cheng Hsiao-Yu (1940 – 22/04/1942) Hami (02/41 – 04/41)
Shuangliu (04/41 – )
Polikarpov I-153 (02/41 – )
Polikarpov I-16 (02/41 – )
21st PS 4th PG Captain Chen Sheng-Hsing (1940 – 1941) Hami (02/41 – ) Polikarpov I-153 (02/41 – )
Polikarpov I-16 (02/41 – )
22nd PS 4th PG   Hami (02/41 – ) Polikarpov I-153 (02/41 – )  
23rd PS 4th PG   Hami (02/41 – ) Polikarpov I-153 (02/41 – )
Polikarpov I-16 (02/41 – )
24th PS 4th PG Liu Chi-Sheng (1941 – ) Hami (02/41 – ) Polikarpov I-16 (02/41 – )  
  5th PG Major Wong Sun-Shui (16/11/40 – 14/03/41)
Lu Tian-Long (20/03/41 – 05/41)
Lu Enlung (16/05/41 – 22/05/41)
Chengdu (beginning/41 – ) Polikarpov I-153
Polikarpov I-16 (beginning/41 – )
17th PS 5th PG Ma Kuo-Lien (1940 – 1941)
Liu Jing-Guang (1941 – )
  Polikarpov I-153 (12/40 – 09/42)  
26th PS 5th PG Liu Ling-Si (1941) Lanzhou (02/41 – ) Polikarpov I-16  
29th PS 5th PG Yu Ping-Xiang (1940 – 05/41)
Tang Zhouli
Chengdu Polikarpov I-153  
  6th AG        
  6th BG   Jiayuguan (March 1941) Tupolev SB The group was disbanded in May 1941.
  8th BG     Ilyushin DB-3  
  11th PG     Polikarpov I-153  
  12th BG   Chengdu (16/12/40 – 01/41)
Qiongla (01/41 – )
Tupolev SB  
45th BS 12th BG   Chengdu (16/12/40 – 01/41)
Qiongla (01/41 – )
Tupolev SB  
46th BS 12th BG   Chengdu (16/12/40 – 01/41)
Qiongla (01/41 – )
Tupolev SB  
47th BS 12th BG   Chengdu (16/12/40 – 01/41)
Qiongla (01/41 – )
Tupolev SB  
6th BS   Zhou Shi-Yun ( – 01/10/41)   Ilyushin DB-3 (05/40 – 01/42)
Tupolev SB-III (05/41 – )
9th BS   Yang Chung-An   Tupolev SB-III
Lockheed A-29 (08/41 – )
14th BS   Li Chang-Xiong ( – 02/01/41)   Ilyushin DB-3  
27th PS       Polikarpov I-153  
30th BS       Lockheed A-29 (08/41 – )  

American Volunteer Group
Squadrons Groups Commanders Stations Aircraft types Note
  AVG Claire Chennault Rangoon Curtiss P-40  
1st Squadron AVG Squadron Leader Robert Sandell (18/08/41 – 06/02/42) Kyedaw (08/41 – mid/12/41)
Kunming (mid/12/41 – )
Curtiss P-40 A.k.a. ’Adam & Eves’.
2nd Squadron AVG Squadron Leader John Newkirk (18/08/41 – 24/03/42) Kyedaw (08/41 – mid/12/41)
Kunming (mid/12/41 – 30/12/41)
Mingaladon (30/12/41 – )
Curtiss P-40 A.k.a. ’Panda Bears’.
3rd Squadron AVG Squadron Leader Arvid Olson (14/08/41 – 04/07/42) Kyedaw (08/41 – 12/12/41)
Mingaladon (12/12/41 – )
Curtiss P-40 A.k.a. ’Hell’s Angels’.


Known units, commanders and stations
Regiments Squadrons Commanders Stations Aircraft types Note
8th Sentai     Chiatung (12/41 – ) Kawasaki Ki-48
Mitsubishi Ki-15
Mitsubishi Ki-46
11th Sentai     Canton (11/41 – ) Nakajima Ki-27 (?) Consisted of one reconnaissance squadron and three army cooperation squadrons.
12th Sentai   Colonel Kumao Kitajima Ani (08/41 – )
Sien Reap (12/41 – )
Mitsubishi Ki-21  
14th Sentai     Chiai (12/41 – ) Mitsubishi Ki-21  
15th Sentai         Reconnaissance unit.
32nd Sentai     Hsinhsiang (19/04/41 – )   Light bomber unit.
44th Sentai     Wuchang (08/41 – ) Mitsubishi Ki-51  
45th Sentai     Canton (11/41 – ) Tachikawa Ki-36  
54th Sentai   Major Yasunari Shimada (07/41 – 04/44) Hankou (16/11/41 – 02/42) Nakajima Ki-27 (07/41 – 02/43)  
54th Sentai 1st chutai Captain Shoji Tomita (07/41 – 02/42) Hankou (16/11/41 – 02/42) Nakajima Ki-27 (07/41 – 02/43)  
54th Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Toshio Dozono (07/41 – 04/42) Hankou (16/11/41 – 02/42) Nakajima Ki-27 (07/41 – 02/43)  
54th Sentai 3rd chutai Captain Yaichiro Hayashi (07/41 – 11/43) Hankou (16/11/41 – 02/42) Nakajima Ki-27 (07/41 – 02/43)  
59th Sentai   Major Naoto Doi (12/39 – 09/41)
Major Reinosuke Tanimura (09/41 – 13/12/41)
Hankou (12/40 – 11/41)
Kompong Trach (12/41)
Nakajima Ki-27 (07/38 – 06/41)
Nakajima Ki-43 (06/41 – 02/43)
59th Sentai 1st chutai Captain Takeyo Akera (10/39 – 09/41)
Lieutenant Naganori Maekawa (09/41 – 12/41)
Hankou (12/40 – 11/41)
Kompong Trach (12/41)
Nakajima Ki-27 (07/38 – 06/41)
Nakajima Ki-43 (06/41 – 02/43)
59th Sentai 2nd chutai Lieutenant Kan Tashiro (08/40 – 01/42) Hankou (12/40 – 11/41)
Kompong Trach (12/41)
Nakajima Ki-27 (07/38 – 06/41)
Nakajima Ki-43 (06/41 – 02/43)
60th Sentai     Hankou (08/41 – )
Kurakar (12/41 – )
Mitsubishi Ki-21  
64th Sentai   Major Takeo Sato (10/39 – 04/41)
Major Tateo Kato (04/41 – 22/05/42)
Canton (03/41 – 12/41)
Duong Dong (12/41)
Nakajima Ki-27 (04/38 – 11/41)
Nakajima Ki-43 (09/41 – 12/42)
64th Sentai 1st chutai Captain Fumio Maruta (03/39 – 05/41)
Lieutenant Saburo Takahashi (05/41 – 08/12/41)
Canton (01/40 – 03/41)
Duong Dong (12/41)
Nakajima Ki-27 (04/38 – 11/41)
Nakajima Ki-43 (09/41 – 12/42)
64th Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Iori Sakai (09/39 – 07/41)
Lieutenant Tadao Takayama (07/41 – 22/12/41)
Canton (03/41 – 12/41)
Duong Dong (12/41)
Nakajima Ki-27 (04/38 – 11/41)
Nakajima Ki-43 (09/41 – 12/42)
64th Sentai 3rd chutai Captain Katsumi Anma (09/40 – 08/04/42) Canton (03/41 – 12/41)
Duong Dong (12/41)
Nakajima Ki-27 (04/38 – 11/41)
Nakajima Ki-43 (09/41 – 12/42)
75th Sentai     Hankou (02/41 – )
Kingmen (08/41 – )
Kompong Trach (12/41 – )
Kawasaki Ki-48  
83rd Sentai     Hsinhsiang (19/04/41 – )   Reconnaissance unit.
90th Sentai     Taiyuan (02/41 – )
Ani (08/41 – )
Kompong Trach (12/41 – )
Kawasaki Ki-48
Mitsubishi Ki-30
90th Sentai 1st chutai   Taiyuan (02/41 – )
Ani (05/41 – )
90th Sentai 2nd chutai   Taiyuan (02/41 – )
Ani (05/41 – )
98th Sentai     Ani (05/41 – )
Kurakar (12/41 – )
Mitsubishi Ki-21  
Independent 10th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai Major Akira Takatsuki (08/40 – 08/42) Taiyuan (12/38 – 03/41)
Shanghai (03/41 – 05/41)
Taiyuan (05/41 – 11/41)
Canton (11/41 – 02/42)
Nakajima Ki-27 (07/38 – 06/42)  
Independent 16th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Ani (08/41 – )   Reconnaissance squadron
Independent 17th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Kingmen (08/41 – )   Reconnaissance squadron
Independent 18th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Canton (11/41 – ) Mitsubishi Ki-15  
Independent 66th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Canton (11/41 – )   Army cooperation squadron
Independent 82nd Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai     Kawasaki Ki-48  
Independent 83rd Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Canton (11/41 – )   Reconnaissance squadron
Independent 84th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai Major Tsunao Nagano (08/40 – 10/42) Jaram (10/40 – 10/42) Nakajima Ki-27 (01/07/39 – 06/42)  
Independent 87th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Canton (11/41 – )   Reconnaissance squadron
Independent 8th Tokushu Kogekatai (?)   Canton (11/41 – )   Army cooperation unit.


Known units, commanders and stations
Group Squadrons Commander Station Aircraft type Note
Hiryu Fighter daitai   Taiwan area (02/41)    
Hiryu Bomber daitai   Taiwan area (02/41)    
Hiryu Attack daitai   Taiwan area (02/41)    
Soryu Fighter daitai   Taiwan area (02/41)    
Soryu Bomber daitai   Taiwan area (02/41)    
Soryu Attack daitai   Taiwan area (02/41)    
1st Kokutai Fighter daitai   Hankou (29/07/41 – 31/08/41) Mitsubishi A5M Disbanded in September 1941.
1st Kokutai Attack daitai   Hankou (07/41 – 09/41) Mitsubishi G3M  
3rd Kokutai     Hanoi (07/41 – 10/41)
Takao (10/41 – 12/41)
Mitsubishi A6M
Mitsubishi A5M
Reorganized from a bomber group to a pure fighter group in September 1941.
12th Kokutai Fighter daitai     Mitsubishi A6M (07/40 – ) Disbanded on 15 September 1941.
12th Kokutai Attack daitai       Disbanded on 15 September 1941.
14th Kokutai Fighter daitai   Hanoi (07/10/40 – 15/09/41) Mitsubishi A5M
Mitsubishi A6M (09/40 – )
Disbanded on 15 September 1941.
14th Kokutai Bomber daitai   Hanoi ( – 15/09/41)   Disbanded on 15 September 1941.
15th Kokutai Bomber daitai   Hanoi (07/10/40 – )    
15th Kokutai Reconnaissance daitai   Southern China    
Genzan Kokutai Fighter daitai   Hankou (04/41 – 09/41)
Genzan (09/41 – 10/41)
Mitsubishi A5M  
Genzan Kokutai Attack daitai   Hankou (04/41 – 09/41)
Genzan (09/41 – 10/41)
Mitsubishi G3M  
Mihoro Kokutai Attack daitai   Hankou (04/41 – )
Thu Dau Moi (12/41 – )
Mitsubishi G3M  

Last modified 27 September 2010