Background to the Book

The following articles contain extended information regarding the main people, events and organisations featured in the book.

Intercontinent and the sale of P-40s to China

Since 1933 Intercontinent had been the exclusive agent for Curtiss-Wright aircraft exports to China and received a 10 percent  commission on any sale of planes to China regardless of the circumstances.

In January 1941 when Morgenthau engineered the reallocation of a hundred P-40s from the British to the Chinese, Intercontinent was within rights to demand its commission, especially if the British were to sell the planes back to C-W which would then turn around and sell the planes to the Nationalist regime.

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Henry Morgenthau Jr, Roosevelt’s fixer

Henry Morgenthau Jr had long been Roosevelt’s fixer and became the US government’s ‘aviation czar’  From 1939 to March 1941 he deftly handled all foreign sales of US military aircraft through an ad hoc organization, known as the President’s Liaison Committee which reported to him at the US Treasury.

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The Missing Company Records

It turned out that I was not the first person to look at my grandfather’s papers.

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The Leighton Papers

Buried in the middle of Leighton’s CAMCO, A.V.G. file was an intriguing telegram from Bruce to Bill Pawley dated January 16, 1941. It referred to a conversation with Mort Deyo who was the assistant to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. I knew from my mother that he was an old Navy friend of Bruce.

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The Flying Tigers Today

In recent years, the People’s Republic of China has embraced the story of the Flying Tigers as part of its mission to rewrite the history of the Sino-Japanese war.

This effort includes the ‘rehabilitation’ of Chiang Kai-shek as wartime leader of China and patron of the Flying Tigers. In the past ten years or so the PRC has opened theme parks dedicated to the Flying Tigers and reached out to descendants of the AVG in the United States to come to China and take part in ceremonies to do with the legendary volunteer group. That has proved to be an effective way of converting a group of Americans who had been devoted to the cause of Nationalist China into friends of the PRC.

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US-Britain-China Relations

As I cobbled together the back story of the Flying Tigers, it seemed to me that three so-called allies, the United States, China and Britain never entered into a genuine coalition.

Instead they were locked into three bilateral relationships, Sino-British, Sino-American and the “special” Anglo-American relationship bolstered by FDR’s policy of “all aid short of war” for Britain.

They were like couples on a dance floor, occasionally bumping into each other. Each seemed to keep the contents of their arrangements secret from the others; at times each partner for the sake of national interests undermined the others.

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Bruce Gardner Leighton (1892 -1965)

When I was growing up, my brother and I were  in awe of our maternal grandfather, ‘Daddy Bruce’ who had a farm in the Indian River near Stuart Florida.

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