The Flying Tigers Exhibit Opens Soon at the Pacific Aviation Museum

A Curtiss P-40 E Flying Tiger, which was one of the most popular and successful American aircraft of WWII, joined the aircraft collection at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor in July of 2010 and has become the centerpiece of a new “The Flying Tigers” exhibit which officially opens Thursday, October 27, 5:00 to 7:30PM, with a dedication and gala reception, by invitation to press and dignitaries.

A Flying Tiger

The event will also feature a special tribute to Senator Ted Stevens, who was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force and flew the P-40s in China, 1944 and 1945.

The P-40 is on loan to the Museum from donor corporation FedEx. At a $1.5 million value, the aircraft is preserved in flying condition and is powered up periodically at the Museum. The Museum worked with the Flying Tiger Museum in China to create the exhibit, coordinating efforts among the state of Hawaii, the Museum, and the People’s Republic of China.

Built in 1942 for the Royal Canadian Air Force and used primarily for training during WWII, the aircraft changed ownership before being shipped to Hawaii in 1969 to be used in the filming of Tora! Tora! Tora!

The aircraft is a memorial to Flying Tiger Line founder American Volunteer Group (AVG) ace Robert Prescott, and the Flying Tigers in China, which consisted of AVG pilots recruited from U.S. Forces and contracted with the Nationalist Chinese Air Force. The Tigers are credited with 299 confirmed enemy aircraft destroyed during their service from 1941~1942. The Museum’s P-40 is signed by many of the Flying Tigers. They signed the left (AVG pilots) and right (AVG support crew) horizontal tail assembly during a reunion in 1981.

According to Executive Director Kenneth DeHoff, “More than 14,000 P-40 aircraft were built during WWII. Although often slower and less maneuverable than its counterparts, the P-40 could withstand amazing amounts of battle damage and could out-dive most of its adversaries. It’s the aircraft in our logo and now, the star of an exceptional new exhibit. We’re thankful to the generosity of donor corporation FedEx and their Chairman/CEO Fred Smith.”

The P-40 carried a crew of one and was powered by an Allison V-1710 engine, which was replaced by a “115” engine during the restoration project in 1981 and has 65 total hours. Made by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, the P-40 has a top speed of 362 mph. The number 67 on the plane represents the original number 67 which crashed early, and was not designated to any one pilot. A red stripe on the rear fuselage represents the Third Pursuit Squadron, “Hells Angels.” An insignia on the wings represents the Chinese Air Force. The propeller was purchased from Smithsonian Repair.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. Rated the “One of the top 10 aviation attractions in the nation” by TripAdvisor®, it is open 9am to 5pm daily and is accessed by shuttles from the USS Arizona Memorial/Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Tickets and a free combat simulator flight coupon are available online at www.PacificAviationMuseum.org. 808/441-1000.

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