Nine Lives of the Flying Tiger

Volume 1 - America’s Secret Air Wars in Asia, 1945-1950

Albert Grandolini, Marc Koelich

This volume describes the circumstances of the creation of the Civil Air Transport company, a paramilitary airline owned by the CIA, its participation in the Chinese Civil War, and the story of its founder, General Claire Lee Chennault of the famed Flying Tigers.
Date Published :
November 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Illustration :
c 150 photos, maps & profiles
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781915070593
Pages : 80
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


The famed American Volunteer Group (AVG) created in August 1941, under the command of Claire Lee Chennault set an example of heroism for the American public opinion at the onset of the Second World War. This band of volunteer aviators serving under the Chinese Government tried to stem the tide of the Japanese onslaught throughout Southeast Asia. Amid chaos and resounding defeats of the Western powers in the area, the AVG fought tenaciously against the Japanese. Highly publicised in the US as the Flying Tigers, the AVG set up the origin and legacy of further United States clandestine air wars in Asia, and elsewhere in the world in the coming decades. From that point on, the name of Claire Lee Chennault was associated with paramilitary and secret air operations on behalf of the United States Government in Asia. However, if his involvement in China in late 1930s is well documented, his involvement in various clandestine air operations after the Second World War is far less well known.

Far from the image of a lonesome maverick often portrayed, Chennault was right from the start closely in contact with the US intelligence services and, with the support of the US presidency, developed plans to wage a secret air war against Japan. After the Second World War, he returned to China to create the Civil Air Transport (CAT), an airline originally involved in refugee relief missions but that was soon caught in the Chinese civil war where CAT was quickly involving in paramilitary operations, flying troops and supplies to supplement the Chinese Nationalist Air Force. Despite the dedication of the CAT personnel, the Nationalists suffered a series of disastrous defeats and the remnants of their forces withdrew into Taiwan. The near-bankrupt CAT found a last-minute investor, the newly created US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which purchased CAT for its clandestine operations in Asia in this nascent Cold War period. Officially a Taiwanese airline that ran regular commercial operations, the CIA was also running a discrete paramilitary department which was engaged in numerous clandestine air operations until the early 1960s when it was rechristened as Air America.

This first volume covers the birth of CAT and its involvement in the Chinese Civil War up to the Nationalist withdrawal to Taiwan.

About The Author

Military historian and aviation-journalist Albert Grandolini was born in Vietnam and gained an MA in history from Paris 1 Sorbonne University. His primary research focus is on contemporary conflicts in general and particularly on the military history in Asia and Africa. Having spent his childhood in South Vietnam, the Vietnam War has always been one of his main fields of research. He authored the book Fall of the Flying Dragon: South Vietnamese Air Force (1973-1975) two volumes on Vietnam’s Easter Offensive of 1972 for Helion’s Asia@War Series, and three volumes on Libyan Air Wars for Africa@War Series, and has written numerous articles for various British, French, and German magazines.

Aviation enthusiast and historian, Marc Koelich is interested in the lesser-known post-Second World War conflicts, and more particularly in South-East Asia, where he has spent most of his adult life. He has published articles in German, French and Indonesian magazines.

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