Former HBO Films president Colin Callender’s Playground Entertainment has announced that they are turning the story of the Flying Tigers into a ten-hour TV miniseries.
The 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force in 1941–1942, famously nicknamed the Flying Tigers, was composed of pilots recruited from the United States Army, Navy and the Marine Corps and was commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. As at the time of the unit’s founding, the United States had not yet entered the war so the group was covertly put together, though at the direct request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had authorized servicemen on active duty to resign in order to join the AVG. Accompanying the pilots and support crews were 100 P-40B Tomahawk fighters, sold to China under the loophole provided by the “Cash and Carry” provision of the Neutrality Act of 1939.
The Tigers’ shark-faced fighters remain among the most recognizable combat aircraft of World War II and under Chennault’s leadership they developed innovative tactics for combatting the Japanese air assaults on China, flying their first mission just 12 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and providing reportable American victories at a time when the news was dominated by stories of American defeat at the hands of Japanese forces.
Playground Entertainment has partnered with the Chennault family for the project. “We are in discussions with numerous broadcasters in the US and in China on the project,” says Jim Griffith, one of the executive producers of “The Flying Tigers.” Callender, Griffith and Ron Shelton will executive produce the miniseries. Bill Macdonald, the co-creator and writer of HBO’s Rome will produce and write “The Flying Tigers.”