John Mongell's Flying Tigers Tribute - A Photo History of the 11th Bomb Squadron - Page 5
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All photos courtesy of Lt. R. Leech, Official Historian of the 11th Bomb Squadron.

  It should be remembered that these bombers were the first combat units of the U. S. Army Air Force in China. Until 5 July, there were no other combat units of the United States present, the American Volunteer Group still being active and providing pursuit protection up until that date.

  The only tools available were those which the ground crewmen had brought along in their portable kits. The only spare parts available were those stripped from the planes as they were retired from long and faithful service.

  One was left behind for that purpose and another for necessary work when, on 30 June, six ships took off for Kweilin, China, for operations in that section of the theatre. Necessary ground crews were sent ahead by transport. This was to be the real beginning of the 11th Bomb Squadron's operations in China, using the guerilla tactics for which General Claire L. Chennault was already famous, tactics in which the 11th soon became expert.

  The first mission was on 1 July, 1942, against shipping in the Hankow area. It must have been a surprise to the enemy for no opposition of any kind was found. The next day, three ships made a return trip to Hankow, this time concentrating on the warehouse and docking facilities.

When working on targets in the Hankow area, it was necessary to work out of Hengyang.

Hengyang airport consisted of one long runway made of rock and dirt mixed. The enemy was not long in overcoming his surprise at being attacked, and during the night of 2 July and 3 July, the 11th experienced at Hengyang, for the first time, the receiving end of a bombing raid.

The night of 2 July, the Japs sent five medium bombers over at 0230 hours and because of a thirty-minute warning, all crew members were safely in slit trenches or a reasonable facsimile thereof. The bombers came into view while still well away from the field because they were using running lights. The first flight of three was in a "V" formation with the second flight flying echelon right. Their formation was perfect and close. They circled the field and made their run down the runway. The actual bombing was bad as all bombs hit to the right of the mark and the damage was slight.

All photos courtesy of  Lt. R. Leech, Official Historian of the 11th Bomb Squadron.

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