- Yunnan China Airfields
I studied in Yunnan last spring and visited several of the
airfields used by the American Volunteer Group "Flying Tigers", the
14th Air Force, and Air Transport Command (the "Hump" pilots). These
photos show the Air Transport Command airfield at Lijiang (Likiang) near Baisha
village in the northwest of Yunnan. Used mostly as an emergency field,
this airfield was where famous botanist/anthropologist Joseph Rock fled from
approaching communist forces in 1949. These photos show 1) the runway
looking south, 2) the runway looking north, and 3) the remains of the
administration buildings. (click photo to enlarge)
These photos are of the airfield at Yunnanyi.
This was originally a training base for the Chinese Air Force with AVG advisors.
It was intended for the other AVGs that the outbreak of war with the US negated.
After the AVG was disbanded, it was used mostly by the 23rd Fighter Group, as
well as the ATC and other 14th Air Force units. As a forward base close to
the Sino-Burmese border, it was the site of many air battles as the JAAF in
Burma sought to neutralize it. Most famous were the Christmas 1942 raids
in which Lt. Robert Mooney, wounded and with a badly damaged plane, stayed
at the controls to avoid it crashing into the town (Xiang Yun) below. He
bailed out too low as a result and was severely injured, dying later that night.
He was credited with two Ki-43s in the battle. These photos show (click
photo to enlarge):
1) the Burma Road near the airfield
2) the American compound (now a PLAAF compound)
3) a bomber/transport revetment
1+2) a bomb shelter near the revetments
3) another large revetment
1+2) a line of revetments
3) the remains of an administration building
1) me sitting on the runway
2+3) the hardstand in use today (to thresh wheat!)
The aerial photo was supplied by Mr. Ge Shuya of Kunming.
The revetment in the first group of photos is the one on the far right.
The revetment in the second is the one to its left. The bomb shelter is
around the "p" in transport. The road next to the first
revetment leads to the American compound. The hardstand is near where it
says "Former AVG Area".
These are photos of the airfield at Chenggong
(Chenkung) near Kunming. This was the home of the 308th Bomb Group, 14th
Air Force using B-24 bombers. It is now a PLAAF reserve field and home
to three worn-out biplane trainers. The stone rollers were used, in the
absence of steam rollers, to pack down the gravel airstrips. They were
each pulled by teams of two-three hundred people.
1) the runway looking north
2) runway looking north, large stone roller in field
3) three large rollers with bomber revetment in background
Dorm buildings used by the men of the 308th.
These are photos taken in Kunming. I could not take
photos of the airfield itself because it is now a PLAAF airfield and I had the
bad luck of being there during the spyplane incident. The first group of
photos is of the #1 Hostel in Kunming. This was the home of the AVG's
2nd Squadron "Panda Bears" and 3rd Squadron "Hell's
Angels". It was also home to the AVG headquarters staff (including
General Chennault) and occaisionally to General Stilwell and Generalissimo and
Madame Chaing Kai-shek. This is also where General Doolittle pinned his
General's stars onto General (then Colonel) Chennault. The photos show
the cornerstone, front facade, and a light fixture in the foyer. The
second group shows the #3 Hostel near the airfield, home to the 1st Squadron
"Adam and Eves" of the AVG. It was known as "Adobe
City" by the men who lived there. The third group shows the
downtown Kunming headquarters of General Chennault. I am part of an
effort to preserve and restore the #1 Hostel along with a group in Kunming.
If you want to see what it looked like in its glory days, look in the new (May
2002) issue of "World War II" magazine.
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