Chinese pilots of the Republic of China Air Force pose for a group photograph at Wujiaba Airport in front of an American-made Curtiss P-40 Warhawk during the Battle of Yunnan-Burma Road. The battle was the beginning of the Chinese intervention to aid the Western Allies in the 1942 Burma Campaign. Its forces were composed of the 5th, 6th and 66th Army under the command of the Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma. Near Kunming, Yunnan, People’s Republic of China. March 1942. Image taken by R.T. Smith.
U.S. pilot Matthew Kuykendall, age 23, of San Saba, Texas, of the
1st American Volunteer Group (”Flying Tigers”) bears the injuries of Japanese fire he sustained over Burma. The 1st American Volunteer Group was comprised of three fighter squadrons of 30 mostly Curtiss P-40 aircraft each, all painted with the distinctive shark-face nose art. Although sometimes considered a mercenary unit, the AVG was closely associated with the U.S. military and officially members of the Chinese Air Force. Initially stationed in Burma, with the Fall of Rangoon to the Japanese, the 1st American Volunteer Group would regroup in China in the spring of 1942 and be inducted into the United States Army Air Forces. Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Mynamar). February 1942. Image taken by George Rodger.
The P-40 played a critical role with Allied air forces in three major theaters: North Africa, the Southwest Pacific, and China. The P-40 offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground-attack aircraft long after it was obsolete as a fighter.