"Chine's Wings" by Gregory Crouch

Discussion in 'Non-fiction' started by vikingBerserker, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2009
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    China’s Wings
    by Gregory Crouch
    Bantam Books - 2012
    ISBN 978-0-553-80427-0


    And now for something totally different. In the early 1930’s Curtiss-Wright Corp invested $500k for a 45% stake in a joint project with the Nationalist Government of China. So began the life of the airline CNAC – the China National Aviation Corporation, perhaps the most successful Sino-American Partnership of all times.

    The book is 498 pages long divided into 4 parts, 28 Chapters and has 48 pictures.

    The books’ main focus follows an American man named William Langhorne Bond as he transforms this fledgling airlines into the success it became, helps arrange Curtiss’ sale of its’ shares to Pan-Am, managed it through WW2 and finally when Pan-Am was “forced” to sell their interest to the Nationalist Chinese in December 1949 (engineered by none other than Chennault of AVG fame).

    They airline flew Loening Air Yachts, Douglas Dolphins, Stinson Detroiters, Consolidated Commodores, DC-2s, DC-3s, C-53 and the worlds’ only DC-2 ½ - a DC-3 with half of a DC-2 wing (done to fly the plane for repair after having a wing blown off by the Japanese). The war years were the most interesting to me; the American pilots (a number of which were former AVG pilots/aces) were forced by the Chinese to fly military related missions, violating American neutrality. A number of the planes were either shot down by the Japanese, killing crews and passengers or bombed at their airfields destroying them. The group actually pioneered flying the hump, six of their pilots alone making over 2,400 trips. The truly fascinating part was comparing their efficiency versus the USAAF’s. In September of 1943, the USAAF moved 5,198 ton with 225 planes. In that same time the CNAC moved 1,248 tons with 27 planes. Even General Stilwell stated in his diary:

    “The over-promoted Air Corps is sunk when it comes to administration and management. Just a bunch of aerial chauffeurs….The CNAC had made them look like amateurs.” Page 332

    The book has a few comments devoted to the actions of the Chinese Air Force that early on in the war actually held its’ ground against the Japanese, but it is not a lot.

    Now for the part some folks might bother. Since the book does focus on William Bond, there is some romance involved. Nothing tacky like Pearl Harbor, but it is in there.

    So my rating?

    If the romance does not bother you then I give it a full 9 First Class seats.

    If the romance does bother you, then I give it 9 First Class seats, less the charges for carryon luggage and the groping of a female 200 lb TSA Agent named Bertha with more facial hair then you.
  2. steve51

    steve51 Member

    Sep 30, 2009
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    Thanks for that review. I've been debating whether to purchase that book and I believe you've talked me into it. The romance part does make me a little nervous though.

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