Claire Chennault: Introduction (01:22)
Chennault was a pilot from Louisiana who had little patience for those he deemed foolish. He resigned his commission four years before WWII and established a freelance American air force in China.
Chennault's Early Years (03:13)
Chennault was born in Texas in 1890. He graduated from college and enlisted in the Army, earning his wings in 1919; he was part of the first Air Corps flight demonstration team. Chennault argued the importance of air superiority and use of fighters.
Chief of Pursuit Training (03:35)
In 1936, Chennault made defensive pursuit a core concept in fighter pilot training, causing conflict with military command. In 1937, the military declared Chennault medically unfit for service. Chennault went to China to teach defensive pursuit to the Chinese air force.
Establishing the American Volunteer Group (04:24)
Chennault arrived in China and was surprised by the condition of the Chinese air force. He received permission from President Roosevelt to recruit American pilots and convinced Gen. Chiang Kai-shek to purchase American planes.
Flying Tigers (02:59)
Chennault's pilots, planes, and personnel arrived in China and were extensively trained; pilots began painting the noses of their planes. In December 1941, two AVG squadron attacked Japanese bombers, striking the first American blow on the Japanese Army.
AVG Popularity (03:36)
The Flying Tigers captured the imagination of the American public. Chennault's focus on training and use of defensive pursuit was successful against the Japanese air force in China; Chennault never had more than 100 Flying Tigers.
Conflict with Superiors (02:39)
The American Army arrived in China in 1942; most of Chennault's pilots chose not to enlist in the 14th Air Force. Chennault stayed, but did not agree with Gen. Stilwell's focus on ground support. In 1945, Chennault had the choice of resigning or being demoted and fired.
Chennault's Post-Military Career (00:54)
Chennault returned to China as a civilian in 1946 to establish Civil Air Transport. He returned to the U.S. in 1950; his doctrine of defensive pursuit became the status quo. The Air Force promoted Chennault to lieutenant general in 1985; he died nine days later.
Credits: Legends of Air Power: Claire Chennault (00:29)
Credits: Legends of Air Power: Claire Chennault
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