|* screen colors may vary from print colors|
|Print Size: 37" X 25"||
all prints are sold unframed
BY THE DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT
by John D. Shaw
PRINT 2 IN THE JOHN D. SHAW FLYING TIGERS SERIES
March 24, 1942 . . . The early morning silence was split by a small group of shark-mouthed Flying Tigers P-40s bearing the Chinese national insignia as they wrought havoc on the enemy squadrons massed at the Southeast Asian headquarters of the Japanese Air Force at Chiang Mai, Thailand. Artist John D. Shaw has worked painstakingly with Flying Tigers pilots to accurately recreate one of their most significant moments in his second of a series of Flying Tiger scenes. <<< READ the exclusive full length story of Chiang Mai mission below! >>>
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Charlie Bond, Vice Sqd. Leader
Carl K. Brown, Flight Leader
Irving Gove, Crew Chief
Al Kaelin, Admin. Clerk
Willard Musgrove, Crew Chief
Don Rodewald, Armorer
Joe Rosbert, Flight Leader
Dick Rossi, Flight Leader
Fritz Wolf, Flight Leader
George Bailey, Crew Chief
Morton 'Twisty' Bent, Operations
David 'Tex' Hill, Squadron Leader
Robert 'Buster' Keeton, Flight Leader
Bob Layher, Flight Leader
Charlie Mott, Flight Leader
Ed Rector, Vice Squadron Leader
Peter Wright, Flight Leader
Frank A. Andersen, Crew Chief
Charles Baisden, Armorer
Paul Clouthier, Operations
Ken Jernstedt, Flight Leader
Paul J. Greene, Flight Leader
Frank Losonsky, Crew Chief
Chuck Older, Flight Leader
Joe Poshefko, Armorer
R.J. 'Catfish' Raine, Flight Leader
Erik Shilling, Flight Leader
Ed Stiles, Crew Chief
Ed Fobes, Admin. Clerk
'Red' Foster Petach, Nurse
'Rich' Richardson, Communications
Robert M. Smith, Communications
John Young, Engineering
This story is taken from the 2002 Flying Tigers Reunion Program, produced by Valor Studios.
"By The Dawn's Early Light"
By March 1942, the Japanese conquest of Burma was raging. Rangoon had fallen on March 6, and Chennault, along with the generals commanding British, Indian, and Chinese forces, was desperate to contain them. The Japanese war machine in Southeast Asia had become greatly reinforced; its army and air force were larger and better equipped. Fewer than fifty aircraft of the R.A.F. and AVG were based at Magwe, in central Burma, and they were opposed by about 450 enemy aircraft that had massed throughout southern Burma and Thailand.
Realizing that one major attack could potentially destroy most of his pilots and planes, Chennault began the tactic of attempting surprise raids on some of the enemy airfields, hoping to destroy as many planes as possible on the ground. The climax of these missions would come on March 24, when Chennault launched a raid against the Japanese Air Force’s Southeast Asian headquarters at Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Ten volunteers from the 1st and 2nd squadrons would undertake this risky mission. Bob Neale was chosen to lead one group, including Charlie Bond, “Pappy” Boyington, Ed Rector, Bill Bartling, and William “Black Mac” McGarry, against the primary Chiang Mai target. The second group, led by Jack Newkirk, included Robert “Buster” Keeton, Frank “Whitey” Lawlor, and Hank Geselbracht. Their plan was to break off at Chiang Mai and attack another smaller field at Lampang.
In the predawn darkness of March 24, the ten AVG fighters took to the skies and headed toward Chiang Mai, to the southeast. At around 7:10, the fliers discerned the outlines of the airfield’s hangar buildings below. Plummeting downward, the Tigers attacked. Their timing could not have been better—parked wingtip to wingtip, enemy fighters, recon planes, and transports crowded the field. Over the next 10 to 12 minutes, the small group of AVG P-40s tore savagely into the enemy’s forces, making pass after pass, skimming over the lines of aircraft, causing wild confusion on the panic-stricken field below.
At some point during the melee, Japanese anti-aircraft gunners found their way to their guns and poured heavy fire toward the harassing Tomahawks. Not wanting to press its luck too far, the group finally broke off the attack. After rejoining for the return flight, “Black Mac” McGarry’s P-40 began trailing smoke and he had to bail out. His fellow AVG pilots circled and dropped a map and chocolate bar to him before having to continue on. After 28 days in the jungle, he was arrested by Thai officials and imprisoned until 1945.
The major tragedy of the day, however, turned out to be the loss of Jack Newkirk. Following the discovery that the secondary airfield was empty, Newkirk’s group had attacked nearby targets of opportunity. While straffing a column of Japanese armored vehicles, his Tomahawk was struck by groundfire and impacted the ground at 300 mph.
That evening, the events of the morning were remembered. Charlie Bond wrote in his diary: “There had to be at least 50 Japanese aircraft on Chiang Mai airfield. I am convinced that we destroyed at least 25 to 30 of them… Indeed, this was a great success for the AVG and the allies. But can the AVG afford to lose such men as Jack Newkirk and Mac McGarry and two P-40 aircraft in these times? We wonder . . .”
Ultimately, the AVG raid on Chiang Mai would be viewed as a significant contribution to the Allied efforts in Southeast Asia. It halted the Japanese advance long enough to give the British valuable time to recuperate from their recent aircraft losses. Air Vice-Marshall Stevenson later wrote to Chennault, “Many thanks for the breathing spell furnished by your magnificent attack.”
John D. Shaw has pursued his art and graphics career since 1985. Born in 1961, this native of Carson City, Nevada has always maintained an interest in creating both fine and commercial art. As an illustrator, Shaw has created artwork for a variety of clients such as Lucasfilms Ltd., Kellogg's, Major League Baseball, Coast Federal Bank of California, etc.
Shaw's work took a major new emphasis in 1993, when he began creating paintings with an historical aviation theme. With special attention to the World War II era, his depictions of these aircraft, people and their missions have won national awards.
His artwork has adorned the covers of national magazines, from Private Pilot's Aviation Art Gallery, to Challenge Publications' Aviation Art, to Primedia's World War II and Aviation History.
John D. Shaw with the original painting
"By The Dawn's Early Light"