The front of the famous Flying Tigers Curtiss P-40 (Tomahawk) is one of the most recognized aircraft markings known. The nose of each Tomahawk is painted with a grinning shark’s mouth, but what about the “Blood Chit” (rescue patch) on the back of the jackets worn by the pilots of the famous Flying Tigers? (Chit is English slang for a small document or note.)
Formed in 1937, The American Volunteer Group (AVG) nicknamed “The Flying Tigers” fought with China against Japan under the leadership of Claire Chennault.
They first saw combat in December 1941 and were officially credited with 297 enemy aircraft destroyed before being dissolved on July 4, 1942.
Chennault taught the pilots everything he knew. He showed them the strong points of the P-40, and the weaknesses of the Zero. He repeated over and over again, “Never try to turn with a Zero. Always get above the enemy and try to hit him on the first pass. After that keep going.”
The Zero could not catch the P-40 in a dive. But what if a pilot wasn’t so lucky and got shot down? That’s where the blood chit comes in.
The typical message instructed whoever might come upon this downed flyer to protect and help him. Officially issued Blood Chits were 7½ x 9½ inches, made of silk, serial numbered and stamped in red with the chop (seal) of the Nationalist Government’s Commission for Aeronautical Affairs (or Air Force Committee).
Our Flying Tigers design shows a variation of the standard AVG Flying Tigers Blood Chit. This one features both an American and Chinese flag as well as the China-Burmese-India patch. The chits identified the bearer as a friend of the Chinese and asks them to protect the downed pilot. Interestingly the Blood Chit reads from right to left.
“This foreign person has come to China to help in the war
effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue,
protect, and provide him medical care.”
-Issued by the Commission for Aeronautical Affairs-
US pilots have carried blood chits in Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War, Bosnia and in every armed conflict ever since. The modern versions also includes some money.
The squadron insignia on the front of our design is derived from the Disney created logo used by the Flying Tigers. It is interesting to note that Disney later went on to form a five-person team that created 1,200 aircraft insignias between 1939 and 1945!
(Click to see our Flying Tigers design.)
We certainly don’t want to get very political in this blog but here is a subject that we have a hard time with. It is the subject of User Fees. While we are currently enjoying a temporary absence of user fees don’t get too comfortable about it. The Obama adminstration is still interested in instituting user fees by 2011 (see these articles for more info…AIN online-Aviation may be included in infrastructure bank or AOPA-User fees in Obama’s budget proposal ) so don’t let your guard down and please write your congressman and say that you don’t want to be like the rest of the world that unfortunately, and rather unsuccessfully, pays for their aviation system with user fees. Just say no!!