History of the
American Fighter Ace
China / World War II
By Bill Hess with expanded text by Bill Martin
The next American Aces were produced by the American
Volunteer Group in China. Recruited in mid-1941 to defend
the Burma Road, 109 former Navy, Marine and Army Air
Corps pilots signed on with the AVG.
In a massive air battle over Rangoon on Christmas Day 1941,
Robert P. “Duke” Hedman and Charles H. Older became
the first aces of the “Flying Tigers.” Using the mutual support
tactics of leader and wingman as taught by their commander,
Claire Chennault, the AVG was credited with destroying 297
Japanese aircraft for the loss of only nine pilots in action.
Names like Robert H. Neale, David L. “Tex” Hill and
Jack Newkirk became household words in America.