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WWII-era plane pays tribute to Flying Tigers

By Zhang Li in Guilin, Guangxi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-27 07:51

WWII-era plane pays tribute to Flying Tigers

A guest sits in a restored Douglas C-47 aircraft in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Saturday. The airplane honors the American Volunteer Group, which operated between India and China during World War II.[Photo / Xinhua]

A restored Douglas C-47 air-craft that flew missions during World War II has landed in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region's Guilin city to assume its role as a permanent tribute to the Flying Tigers.

The Flying Tigers is the nickname of the American Volunteer Group, whose members risked death to support China during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).

Nicknamed the Buzz-Buggy, the airplane was purchased from Australia last year by the Flying Tiger Historical Organization and was donated to the Guilin Flying Tiger Heritage Park for permanent display on Saturday.

The heritage park was built on the site of Yangtang Air-field, the command base of the Flying Tigers led by United States General Claire Lee Chennault.

To honor the squadron, the 72-year-old airplane started its modern "hump" journey in August from Australia and arrived in Guilin on Nov 19.

Jointly operated by China and the US to transport military supplies from India to China between 1942 and 1945, the so-called hump was a deadly route in which severe weather, Japanese fighters and high mountain peaks claimed more than 600 aircraft and 1,600 airmen.

Larry Jobe, president of the historical organization, said, "When people see the old, unglamorous airplane, I hope they realize the beauty and grace she bestowed on the Chinese people."

Nell Calloway, the grand-daughter of Chennault, said at no time in history has this story been more important. While old enemies have been defeated, challenges still remain, she said, adding that China and the US must be partners again.

"We were victorious in war; now let us all work to be victorious in peace," she said.

Charles Bennett, the US consul general in Guangzhou, said at the handover ceremony that the historic airplane would help preserve the memory of cooperation for future generations.

"Today, the US and China face great challenges on many fronts - from nuclear proliferation to violent extremism; from pandemic diseases to environmental protection. These are just a few of the many issues where our futures are intertwined, where, working together, we can accomplish great things," he said.

James Whitehead, chairman of the Flying Tiger Historical Organization, said the group will continue to donate more relics to the heritage park and restore the command center, a cave where Chennault planned missions.

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