By Carl Molesworth
Staffed with green USAAF pilots and led by means of a handful of professional veterans of the yank Volunteer workforce (AVG), the twenty third FG used to be shaped within the box at Kunming, in China, on July four, 1942 and flew strive against missions that very same day. The teams 3 squadrons - the 74th, seventy fifth and 76th Fighter Squadrons - have been firstly outfitted with war-weary P-40s passed down from the AVG. those have been supplemented via the hooked up sixteenth FS, flying new P-40Es, and all squadrons decorated the noses in their airplanes with fearsome and iconic sharksmouth designs.
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Additional info for 23rd Fighter Group: Chennaults Sharks
The P-40s were in acrion again rhar afrernoon, knocking down four 'Oscars' over Tien Ho airfield ar Canron while esconing B-25s. Anorher Japanese arrack on Hengyang rhe nexr day nerred five more vicrories for rhe P-40s of rhe 76rh FS againsr one loss. Col Bruce Holloway scored his I Irh and 12rh kills on rhese rwo missions, and his 13rh, andlasr, vicrory came on 24 Augusr during an escorr mission. As he recorded in his diary, Holloway passed up rhe chance ro become rhe all-rime rop-scoring American P-40 ace rhar day; 'We came in wirh rhe B-25s and arracked rhe airfield ar Wuchang.
The primary goal of rhis manoeuvre was ro relieve Chinese farmers in rhe ricerich area of rheir rops, which were needed ro feed Japanese soldiers elsewhere. The 23rd FC squadrons in easr China responded ferociously, raining down a rorrenr ofbombs and bullcrs on rhe enemy advance, but by I December rhe Japanese had surrounded Changreh and held ir under siege. Ar this poinr rhe P-40 pilors convened rheir \'(farhawks inro rransporrs, filling belly ranks wirh ammunirion and food rhar rhey dropped ro rhe Chinese rroops defending rhe ciry.
The 'Oscar' pilot sporred Lopez and whipped around in a right turn to make a headon pass. Both pilots opcned fire, and Lopez could see his bullers hirring home, but by then the twO aeroplanes were practically on top of each other. The Japanese pilot veered sharply to his right, but the left wings of the twO fighters struck each othcr. Lopez felt a jolt and looked back to see the wing of the 'Oscar' separate from the fuselage, sending it whirling down in a crazy dive. The P-40's wing was mangled but intact, and Lopez managed to land his aeroplane without incidcnt at Hengyang.
23rd Fighter Group: Chennaults Sharks by Carl Molesworth