Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Flying Tiger to be pulled from lake for renovation

TO FLY AGAIN A group of explorers joined forces with an aviation history foundation to find the plane and plan its future recovery and restoration

AP , Beijing

A World War II-era US fighter plane that crashed in China more than 60 years ago is set to be salvaged next year in the hope that it will take to the skies once more, state media said yesterday.

The P-40 fighter plunged into Dianchi Lake in Yunnan Province on April 28, 1942, killing the pilot.

Painted with sharks' teeth and nicknamed the Flying Tigers, the P-40s belonged to the 300-strong US Volunteer Group under the command of retired US Army Air Corps captain Claire Lee Chennault, Xinhua news agency said.

Between mid-1941 and mid-1942, the Flying Tigers supported China's fight against Japanese invasion.

The recovery will mark the 60th anniversary of the allied forces' victory in World War II, said Hua Jianning (華建寧), who heads the China office of the Sino-American Aviation Heritage Foundation's office.

Chinese explorers began to search for the debris of the wrecked aircraft in 1998 and a project between the foundation and the China Expedition Association started last year to attempt to recover it.

If salvaged, it will be taken to the US for repairs and "the best-case scenario will see the plane back in the air," the China Daily said.

Several US World War II aircraft have been found in China recently.

Last August, 300kg of debris believed to be the remains of a B-29 bomber or of a C-47 transport aircraft was found in Sichuan Province.

The plane likely crashed in 1944 and came from a unit stationed in Sichuan's Xinjin County, one of the largest US air force bases in East Asia during the war.

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