The 23rd Fighter Group "The Flying Tigers"

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23rd Fighter Group "The Flying Tigers"

Constituted as 23rd Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 17 Dec 1941. Redesignated 23rd Fighter Group in May 1942. Activated in China on 4 Jul 1942. Chennault's American Volunteer Group supplied experienced pilots and a name - "Flying Tigers." Using P-40's and later P-51's, the 23rd group provided air defense for the Chinese terminus of the Hump route from India; conducted a counter-air campaign to whittle down Japanese air strength by destroying enemy planes in the air and on the ground; strafed and bombed Japanese forces, installations, and transportation; escorted bombers; and flew reconnaissance missions. It intercepted Japanese planes that attempted to bomb Allied airfields; attacked Japanese airdromes; strafed and bombed river craft, troop concentrations, supply depots, and railroads; and protected bombers that attacked Hong Kong, Canton, Shanghai, and other targets. Its area of operations extended beyond China to Burma, French Indochina, and Formosa. The "Flying Tigers" operated against the Japanese during the enemy's drive toward Changsha and Chungking in May 1943, supported Chinese forces during the Japanese offensive in the Tungting Hu region in Nov 1943, and took part in the effort to halt a Japanese force that pushed down the Hsiang Valley in Jun 1944. In the latter battle the group, despite bad weather and heavy flak, repeatedly struck boats, trucks, aircraft, troops, and other objectives, receiving a DUC for its operations. The 23rd helped to turn the enemy's offensive in the spring of 1945 and then harassed the retreating Japanese by strafing and bombing their columns. Remained in China until Dec 1945. Moved to the US. Inactivated on 5 Jan 1946.

Squadrons. 16th: 1942-1943. 74th: 1942-1946; 1946-1949; 1951-1952. 75th: 1942-1946; 1946-1949; 1951-1952; 1955-. 76th: 1942-1946; 1946-1949; 1955-.

Stations. Kunming, China, 4 Jul 1942; Kweilin, China, c. Sep 1943; Liuchow, China, 8 Sep 1944; Luliang, China, 14 Sep 1944; Liuchow, China, Aug 1945; Hangchow, China, c. 10 Oct-12 Dec 1945.

Commanders. Col Robert L Scott Jr, 4 Jul 1942; Lt Col Bruce K Holloway, Jan 1943; Lt Col Norval C Bonawitz, 16 Sep 1943; Col David L Hill, 4 Nov 1943; Lt Col Philip C Loofbourrow, 15 Oct 1944; Col Edward F Rector, 12 Dec 1944-c. Dec 1945.

Campaigns. India-Burma; China Defensive; Western Pacific; China Offensive.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Hunan Province, China, 17-25 Jun 1944.

Insigne. Shield: Azure, over a bolt of lightning, in pale, or, a Flying Tiger proper, tongue red, winged argent; all outlines black; a diminutive border silver-grey. (Approved 24 Jan 1957.)


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