Inside look at the Flying Tigers of Moody - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Inside look at the Flying Tigers of Moody

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August 21, 2006

Valdosta - Moody Air Force base is set to gain a piece of military history.  The 23rd Fighter Group, known as the Flying Tigers, have played a significant and historical role in the Air Force since before World War Two.

The legendary Flying Tigers began as a top secret volunteer group of civilians led by Lt. General Claire Chennault.  They used P-40 Warhawks to protect China from Japanese fighters pre-World War Two.  "They were fighting actually before the US was involved in World War Two in the Pacific," said 9th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Gary North.

Chennault wanted to show the fierceness of his flying tigers so he painted the sharks teeth and eyes on the nose of the planes.  "When they saw his P-40's airborne they would know who they belonged to," North added.

When the original Flying Tigers were disbanded, the name was passed on to the 23rd Fighter Group and the sharks teeth soon found themselves on the noses of group's A-10 Thunderbolts.  "It looks great, it speaks to our heritage and it reminds our advisories as well as our folks who work and fly that airplanes that beware, you're Air Force is coming," North said.

The A-10 Thunderbolt was actually built around a giant Gatling gun. Its bullets travel faster than the speed of sound.  "They nicknamed it the silent gun because you knew you were under attack with it after things around you started blowing up," explains Sgt. Jeff Andrews, Assistant Tech Chief.

With armor so tough it can deflect almost all enemy fire and firing 70 rounds per second, enemies from the Cold War to the War on Terror get out of its way.  "And when they realized A-10's were in the area, they actually got out of their vehicle, got extremely far away from them and watched the show. And when the A-10's left, that's when they knew it was safe to get back in their vehicles," Andrews says.

The A-10's as well as the other aircrafts of the 23rd Fighter Group are the only planes authorized by the Air Force to have the sharks teeth painted on its nose.

The Flying Tigers of the 23rd Fighter Group will arrive in Moody next year.

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