"Flying Tigers" () was the nickname of the "American Volunteer Group", a fighter unit that fought in Burma and China, against Japanese forces during the first year of the United States participation in World War II. After the dissolution of the AVG in mid-1942, the name was applied to its successor military unit, the 23rd Fighter Group, and more broadly to the China Air Task Force and the U.S. 14th Air Force. The shark faced fighters remain among the most recognizable of any individual combat unit of WWII, and they demonstrated innovative tactical victories when the news was filled with nothing but defeat after defeat by the Japanese at the start of WWII before American involvement.
The AVG was largely the creation of Claire Chennault, retired U.S. Army Air Corps captain who had become military aviation advisor to Chinese generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in the Sino-Japanese War. On occasion Chennault may have piloted a plane himself, though stories that he was a combat ace are probably apocryphal. Due to poor fighter material, results were not impressive, and when Russian air units were withdrawn from China in 1940, Chiang asked for American squadrons to replace them.
|type||Fighter group (air force unit)|
|dates||20 December 1941 - 14 July 1942|
|country||Republic of China|
|command structure||3 squadrons|
|size||Approx. 90 aircraft|
|notable commanders||Claire Chennault|