Chennault, Claire Lee, 1893-1958

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1893-09-06
Death 1958-07-27
English

Biographical notes:

Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault, a native of Commerce, Texas, earned his military pilot's wings in 1917. He was the chief fighter flight trainer at Maxwell Airfield, Alabama, in the 1930s, and he wrote a book on tactical air defense entitled THE ROLE OF DEFENSIVE PURSUIT (1935). During the Second World War, he commanded the volunteer group The Flying Tigers, which led the air war in China beginning in 1942.

From the description of Claire Lee Chennault letter and passport, 1941 Oct. 25. (Louisiana State University). WorldCat record id: 299748338

In April, 1937, Claire L. Chennault, then a captain in the United States Army Air Corps, retired from active duty and accepted an offer from Madame Chiang Kai-Shek for a three month mission to China to make a confidential survey of the Chinese Air Force. This was the beginning of Chennault's stay in China which did not terminate until 1945 at the close of World War II. It was his experiences in China, together with the knowledge he attained of combat tactics and the operations of Japanese Air force over China, that laid the ground work for the organization of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) in 1941. The AVG was a group of pilots hired from abroad and later named the "Flying Tigers" which fought the Japanese in China before America's entry into World War II. Chennault's three squadrons used P40's and his tactics of "defensive pursuit" to guard the Burma Road, Rangoon, and other strategic locations in Southeast Asia and western China against Japanese forces. The Flying Tigers were formally incorporated into the United States Army Air Forces in 1942. Prior to that, Chennault had rejoined the Army with the rank of colonel. He was later promoted to brigadier and then major general, commanding the Fourteenth Air Force. Chennault was ultimately promoted to lieutenant general, one day before his death. He died of lung cancer in 1958 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

From the description of Chennault collection, 1941-1954. (US Air Force Academy). WorldCat record id: 288722307

Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault was born in Commerce, Texas, Sept. 6, 1893. He worked as a high school principal and he earned his flier's wings as a military pilot in 1917. By 1935, he was the chief fighter flight trainer at Maxwell Airfield, Alabama. He wrote a book on tactical air defense entitled "The role of defensive pursuit" (1935). During the Second World War, he commanded the volunteer group The Flying Tigers, which led the air war in China beginning in 1942. Chennault established the Civil Air Transport, Inc., which flew transport missions for nationalist China under Chiang Kai-shek, 1946-1958. Chennault's son, David W., worked for Civil Air Transport in Taipei, Taiwan, beginning in 1952.

From the description of Lt. General Claire Lee Chennault and family papers, 1943-1956. (Louisiana State University). WorldCat record id: 298462182

Born: Commerce, Texas, September 6, 1893; son of John Stonewall and Jessie Lee Chennault. Education: Louisiana State Normal College; Louisiana State University. Military Service: joined the Avaition Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Reserve (Army Air Corps) in 1917 and served until his retirement, largely for deafness, in 1937. Became air advisor to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek of China; organized the famous Flying Tiger squadron composed of volunteer American pilots who fought with China against Japan in 1941. Reactivated in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served as a brigadier and major general of the 14th Air Force unti 1945. After the war, organized the Civil Air Transport airline and rendered aid to the Nationalist Chinese in their struggle against the Communists. Died: New Orleans, July 27, 1958; interred at Arlington National Cemetery. (Dictionary of Louisiana Biography).

From the description of Lt. General Claire L. Chennault/Chennault Air Force Base collection, 1950's-1960's. (McNeese State University). WorldCat record id: 36902160

Civilian flyer and Army Air Force officer in China.

From the description of Papers of Claire Lee Chennault, 1941-1954. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71061437

Major general, United States Army Air Forces; commanding general, American Volunteer Group, 1941-1942, China Air Task Force, 1942-1943, and United States 14th Air Force, 1943-1945.

From the description of Claire Lee Chennault papers, 1941-1967. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754869187

In April, 1937, Claire L. Chennault, then a captain in the United States Army Air Corps, retired from active duty and accepted an offer from Madame Chiang Kai-Shek for a three month mission to China to make a confidential survey of the Chinese Air Force. This was the beginning of Chennault's stay in China which did not terminate until the close of World War II in 1945. It was his experiences in China, together with the knowledge Chennault attained of combat tactics and the operations of Japanese Air force over China, that laid the ground work for the organization of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) in 1941. The AVG was a group of pilots hired from abroad and later named the "Flying Tigers" which fought the Japanese in China before America's entry into World War II. Chennault's three squadrons used P40's and his tactics of "defensive pursuit" to guard the Burma Road, Rangoon, and other strategic locations in Southeast Asia and western China. The Flying Tigers were formally incorporated into the United States Army Air Forces in 1942. Prior to that, Chennault had rejoined the Army with the rank of colonel. He was later promoted to brigadier and then major general, commanding the Fourteenth Air Force. Chennault was ultimately promoted to lieutenant general, one day before his death. He died of lung cancer in 1958 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

From the description of Chennault - Byrd collection, 1937-1985. (US Air Force Academy). WorldCat record id: 317972531

Biographical Note

  • 1890, Sept. 6: Born, Commerce, Texas
  • 1917: Commissioned First Lieutenant, U.S. Army. Became military aviator
  • 1937: Retired from U.S. Army Air Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel
  • 1937 - 1941 : Adviser to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek
  • 1941, Aug. - 1942, July : Commanding Officer, American Volunteer Group in Chinese Air Force
  • 1942: Commissioned Brigadier General, U.S. Army Air Forces
  • 1942, July - 1943, Mar. : Commanding General, China Air Task Force
  • 1943: Promoted to Major General
  • 1943, Mar. - 1945, Aug. : Commanding General, 14th Air Force
  • 1945: Retired from U.S. Army Air Forces
  • 1946 - 1958 : President, Chinese National Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Air Transport, and its successor organizations, Civil Air Transport and China Air Transport
  • 1949: Author, Way of a Fighter
  • 1958, July 27: Died, New Orleans, Louisiana

From the guide to the Claire Lee Chennault papers, 1941-1967, (Hoover Institution Archives)

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Subjects:

  • Aeronautics
  • World War, 1939-1945--Economic aspects
  • Floods
  • Military Bases
  • World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns
  • World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations, Chinese
  • World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations, American
  • Generals--Biography
  • World War, 1939-1945--China

Occupations:

  • Army officers
  • Aviators

Places:

  • Louisiana--Lake Charles (as recorded)
  • Lake Charles (La.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Burma (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)
  • China. (as recorded)
  • Chennault Air Force Base (La.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Louisiana (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)
  • Burma (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Louisiana--Calcasieu Parish (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Taiwan (as recorded)
  • Lake Charles Air Force Base (La.) (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)