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date: 26 June 2017

Aviation and Asian Modernity 1900–1950

Abstract and Keywords

Between 1903 and 1950, aviation technology spread around the world and became a key concern of governments and a cultural marker of modernity. After 1903, Asia had to be explored again. Almost as soon as heavier-than-air flight became possible, French and British fliers began pioneering new routes to Asian cities and developing new maps and new airports along the way. With these new forms of knowledge, the colonial powers quickly moved to tie together their empires. New mapping techniques allowed for new forms of control, including what the British called “air policing,” the idea that judicious use of aircraft, and in some cases bombs and poison gas, could cheaply pacify far-flung colonial populations.

Aviation was one field, however, where the Europeans did not have a long lead on Asians. Just as Europeans were using aviation to express their dominance, Asians were using it to express their modernity. Feng Ru was making and flying his own planes in San Francisco by 1912, and Siam had an Air Force by 1913. Asian social and political elite, who had once traveled by rail and steamship, now preferred to fly instead. “Air-mindedness” became a marker of global citizenship.

Japan was the first Asian country to have an aviation industry. They proved their technological prowess to the rest of the world when they entered World War II. Their pilots bombed cities and fleets across Asia between 1937 and 1941. The experience of being bombed as well as the drills and community organizations that grew out of experience ushered in a societal awareness of the military power of airplanes. The war culminated with two atomic air raids and was followed by a scramble, to occupy and connect the newly liberated and independent parts of Asia. Post World War II led to an intensified effort to tie Asia together with faster transportation.

The Promise of Aviation

In 1910 the Italian theorist and aviation enthusiast Gabriele D’Annunzio claimed that flight would lead to “a new civilization, a new life, new skies”1 But what did this mean? Some suggested that better communication and greater trade would lead to an era of universal peace. The American (military) pilots who flew over Asia in 1924 as part of a round-the-world flight claimed that aviation would make war as “out of date as the cuneiform inscriptions of the ancient civilizations the shadows of our Cruisers were passing over.”2 Others saw it as the key weapon of modern conflict. In 1934 Chiang Kai-shek claimed that aviation had ushered in a new age of technological warfare, which would require mobilizing the entire populace for a conflict that would no longer be limited to the battlefront.3 Aircraft were not simply tools; they were creating a new “air-minded” modern culture. Asian states competed to take advantage of these new ways of demonstrating their cultural modernity. Aviation achievements became a last gasp of imperial competition, as the British, Dutch, French, and Japanese tried to tie together their empires and prove the superiority of their people and technology. Aviation served both the empires and nation-states like China and Thailand4 as a way of mapping, controlling, and sometimes bombing remote areas. Aviation also fit into racial and gender discourse as “backwards” peoples, including Indians, Thais, and Chinese, used aviation to try to prove to others and themselves that they were modern.

Although much changed before 1937, it was the outbreak of war between China and Japan, and then of the larger Pacific War, that finally brought the air age to Asia. Aviation tied together the continent with a rapid transit network, culminating in the massive Sino-American airlift “over the Hump.” Prewar theorists promised that aviation would change daily life, but their promises paled beside the impact of the air raids that happened all over Asia. Whatever threats were made before the war regarding the ability of technologically superior nations to easily obliterate their foes paled beside the destruction of Chongqing, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. The end of the war saw an Asia more tied together by air networks than ever before. The air transport networks build during the war were repurposed for Cold War use. The Chinese Civil Wars of 1945–1949 and the Malayan Emergency of 1948–1960 were both in part attempts to use air power to control a guerrilla insurgency, a common pattern in postwar Asia. With the dawning of the jet age in 1949, the promise of truly global tourism began to become real. All of these trends grew directly out of prewar predecessors. Although the scholarly literature on aviation and Asian modernity is still in its infancy, much important work has been done that points out directions for new work.

Heroes and Empires

Exploration and Heroic Flights

With the development of the airplane, the world needed to be re-explored. Flyers claimed regions of the world in heroic flights. In 1911 Charles Van den Born, a Belgian representing the French firm Avions Farman shipped his plane to Saigon, Hong Kong, and Bangkok, providing demonstrations and giving rides, including to two Thai princes.5 Western adventurers would continue to come to Asia, seeking excitement and the money to be made as barnstormers or mercenary pilots. They would be pushed toward Asia by private firms and national governments that wanted to demonstrate their national and technological superiority, and pulled toward Asia by Asian elites eager to participate in this modern culture or use this new technology to dominate Asian space. At least some flights claimed to be purely scientific. Charles Lindbergh’s 1931 flight from New York to Nanjing was intended to demonstrate the feasibility of the Great Circle route, and he also took advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate value of civil aviation by surveying the extent of the Yangzi floods of that year.6 Regardless of his claims to internationalism, however, Colonel Lindbergh was a living representation of Americanism, and like all flights his was in part a matter of claiming territory.

As technology improved, the flights and the scope of imperial ambition increased. In 1920 Calcutta hosted a group of Italians flying from Rome to Tokyo as well as teams pioneering the routes between London and Australia, Paris and Saigon, and Amsterdam and Java.7 These flights were demonstrating the superiority of the pilots and their nations, but also of national technology.

If Europeans were exploring Asia for their empires, Asians were soon competing to make heroic flights as well, explicitly claiming Asian airspace for Asians. Some of these flights were made by ethnic Asians in service of the empire. In 1930 the Aga Kahn offered a prize of five hundred pounds for the first Indian to make a solo flight from England to India. The prize was won by Aspy Merwan Engineer. Engineer (he took the name as a student because of his interest in modern technology) was an Indian Parsi who had trained in Britain at RAF Cranwell. He would later be mentioned in dispatches for his actions against the “tribals” of North Waziristan and went on to serve as chief of air staff in independent India. One of his competitors on the 1930 flight was J. R. D. Tata, of the Tata industrial family and founder of Tata Airways and Air India.8 Both of these men served the British Empire (Tata declined a knighthood), but both were also creating an autonomous Indian aviation sector.

Other heroic Asian fliers were more explicitly nationalist. Japanese flyers were outlining the empire by 1920, and in 1925 a team of Japanese Army pilots sponsored by the Tokyo/Osaka Mainichi newspapers made a flight from Japan via Moscow to Paris, London, and Rome, demonstrating Japan’s international status. Flights might also unify the empire. In 1942, to celebrate the six thousandth anniversary of the Japanese empire, the Manchukuo Air Force sent a formation including seven Japanese pilots, two Koreans, two Mongols, and one Chinese on a flight via Korea to Japan, where they were photographed flying past Mount Fuji, visited Yasukuni Shrine, and enjoyed the entertainments of Tokyo.9

Rival factions in China sponsored flights as a way of demonstrating their modernity. In 1933 Chen Wenlin flew around China in a floatplane built in China with entirely Chinese parts other than the engine, thereby establishing his reputation and that of Ba Yuzao, the Chinese engineer who had built the plane at the naval air station at Fuzhou.10 Chang Huichang made a similar flight in an American-made plane modeled after Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, dubbed the Spirit of Canton. Sun Tonggang made a flight from Berlin to Nanjing in 1933 that made him a national celebrity.11 All of these flights were made by members of the Chinese elite. All had studied abroad, all were male, and all were ethnically Han, other than the Mongol bannerman Ba Yuzao. All were also making a claim that their political/regional faction (Cantonese, Fujianese, Nanjing government) was the best representatives of a modern China

Heroic flights shared certain characteristics. If the flight took place after 1927, the flyers would almost certainly be compared to Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh’s massive celebrity is hard to fully grasp now, but he was the symbol of Americanism, global modernity, and masculinity after his flight. Before and after 1927 these flights, like Lindbergh’s, would be the subject of extensive public attention, press coverage, and discussions of modernity. Heroic flights, and the speeches, banquets, photographs and publications that came with them, drew attention to the nations, companies, and civic elites who sponsored them and advertised and created cultural modernity. Even seeing one of these flights, or, better still, going up in a plane, was a step in the direction of a modern identity.12

Imperial Aviation

Heroic flights were not purely symbolic. Particularly in the early 1920s, they were often preceded by scouts traveling by ship to secure landing rights, find or lay out landing places, and store spare parts and fuel, thus leaving behind the beginnings of regular air routes. The British, with the largest empire and the most developed imperial identity, took pride of place here. In 1921 they began weekly airmail service between Cairo and Baghdad. The service was run by the Royal Air Force, as at this point the distinction between military and civil aviation was not as clear as it would be later. The route involved laying a four-hundred-mile-long track across the desert with auxiliary landing fields, “a chain of giant circles, letters and arrows” to let pilots know how far they had progressed.13 As air routes expanded, navigational and support features would grow to include new charts, radio beacons, weather services, and repair facilities, as well as legal agreements. Eventually the British network would spread across Asia, as far as Hong Kong and New Zealand, and offer mail, passenger, and freight service. These lines served a number of purposes. One was purely symbolic, linking parts of the empire together before foreigners could. The British were eventually in competition to link Australia and New Zealand to Europe before the Dutch could.14 The American China Clipper line began regular service to Manila in 1935 and threatened to link New Zealand to California rather than London.15 Beyond prestige, they also served practical purposes. The trip from Cairo to Baghdad could take a month by ship but only nine hours by air in 1921. By the 1930s government officials, wealthy businessmen, journalists, and elite tourists could be whisked around Asia far faster than ordinary people. The faster circulation of correspondents, newspapers, and non-urgent news created a new imperial media sphere. The Empire Press Union pushed for improved and subsidized air-mail service throughout the 1930s.16

The British Imperial Airways had to compete not only with foreigners but also with the colonized. Indians wanted airlines that would provide service in India. This resulted in the creation of the partly British-financed Indian Trans-Continental Airways in 1933 and the independent Tata Airways in the same year. These rivals were intended in part to increase intra-India service (not a major goal of the Imperial lines) and put more Indians in the cockpit. This of course created problems with Australia, which wanted the air connection with Britain but was unwilling accept the use of Indian pilots on the route.17

Early airlines were almost all subsidized, either through direct payments or through subsidized air-mail rates. For both financial and ideological reasons, states wanted to move away from subsidies and toward self-financing airways.18 In capitalist terms, a nation that could not generate enough air traffic to support an airline without massive subsidies was, by definition, not modern. In practice a fully capitalist system remained a dream in the interwar years. The only airline in Asia to turn a profit without at least an air-mail subsidy was the Australian-controlled Guinea Air, which made short hops from the coast to the New Guinea gold fields.19 Almost everywhere, however, air-mail and passenger traffic grew more rapidly than expected in the prewar years. Asians really did find this new method of communication increasingly valuable.

National states, like imperial states, were eager to expand domestic aviation and state control over remote regions. Thailand was the leader in this regard. Air-mail service was established as early as 1922, and by 1925 there was regular service to several locations in the northeast, carrying letters, newspapers, medical evacuees, and a few passengers.20 Runways were grass trimmed by cows, but the airfields were connected by telegraph to allow weather reports. Travel time between Korat (the end of the rail line from Bangkok) to Nong Kai on the Mekong and the edge of Thai territory dropped from two or three weeks to three or four hours. The state’s goal here was not so much to encourage flying but to bring areas outside the rail network into regular contact with the capital.

Japan also used aviation to quickly link its empire. Civil aviation in Japan itself was often said to be backwards, and this is not surprising.21 National governments in Thailand and China wanted to use aviation to overcome the backwardness of their rail and road systems and to extend their dominance in remote areas, but this was not an important issue in Japan itself. It did become an important issue as Japan extended its empire onto the mainland and needed to connect to and control remote areas.

When the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo was formally established in 1932, the Japanese had only the most limited control over the area, and while its famous railways provided the backbone of a modern communication system, there were also huge areas outside of modern contact. Manchurian Aviation Company (MKKK) was founded in 1931 with close control by the military and promptly began expanding its routes. Manchukuo had a better network of air service than metropolitan Japan by 1937, and after 1937 new airlines were set up to serve northern and central China. From 1940 they began connecting to the international Lufthansa network. MKKK also established a photography bureau, which mapped the new territory (and neighboring Chinese territory) far more quickly than traditional methods could.22 Cartography had always been a tool of empire, but now it became far quicker and easier to do. MKKK mapped areas in northern China still under Chinese control, and the Japanese also took advantage of flights to Southeast Asia to map European colonial possessions. Concern about long-distance flights passing over one’s territory may seem overblown today, but both in Asian and in Europe such flights were used for illicit photo-mapping.23

In the case of China, aviation became a matter of internal factional competition and a way to control foreign imperial ambitions. By the late 1920s every regional militarist needed a private plane and a small air force.24 By 1935 China had three airlines: Eurasia, a joint venture with Lufthansa; China National Aviation Co. (CNAC), eventually a joint venture with Pan-American; and the entirely Chinese Southwestern Airlines.25 Foreign firms and governments encouraged joint ventures as a way of expanding their markets and control, a process that was going on all over Asia. William Pawley, one of the leading figures behind the Pan-Am/CNAC connection, also established the Hindustan Aircraft plant in Bangalore.26 The Chinese government attempted to use these joint ventures to keep some control over domestic aviation while getting the benefit of foreign technology and capital. In practice the lines could be used as methods for foreigners to profit from China. The generous airmail contracts handed out to the foreign companies led to accusations of corruption on the part of the government.27 Each of these airlines had different factional connections inside China, and not only were there regional civil airways, but regional militarists also had separate air forces. One of the promises of air power was that it would provide central governments with a monopoly of a new form of military power. The defection of the Guangdong Air Force in 1936 signaled the collapse of the Liangguang rebellion, and the defecting pilots were hailed in the central-government-controlled media for their commitment to national unity over factionalism.28 As would remain true later, pilots found it easy to defect from one regime to another and were important symbols of support from the most modern sector of society.

Air Policing

Asian states wanted to control aviation within their borders in part because it offered a way for technologically advanced regimes to control remote areas. The British Empire in particular had a large contingent of enthusiasts (including Winston Churchill) for “air policing”—the idea that airplanes would allow technologically and racially superior nations to cheaply dominate Asia. Iraq was the best example of this, with the interwar British presence there being managed not by the army or the Colonial Office but the RAF, which claimed that their planes, bombs, and poison gas would let them control the new colony more cheaply than by traditional means.29 All over the world, imperial and national governments were using aircraft to control remote and unruly people. The Chinese government was using aircraft to try to track the bandit known as White Wolf as early as 1913, and Chiang Kai-shek would later use them extensively in his campaigns against the Communists. In 1930 the Japanese used poison gas delivered by air in their attempts to put down the Taiwanese aborigines in the Wushe Uprising, and they would continue to use poison gas in their later invasion of China. The military results of these efforts were mixed.30 Initial air attacks certainly caused casualties and panic, but the colonized soon adjusted, and air attacks led to new tactics. Control of the air did not automatically lead to control of remote areas or revolution for governments before 1945 any more than it did after 1945, but aviation became a vital military tool for suppressing insurrection and gave the state a marked advantage in mobility and communication.

Building Aviation in National Asia

In order to carry out air policing, a state needed technological and social autonomy. States could and did use mercenary Western pilots and could and did import technology, but the goal was always to create an autonomous aviation sector. Training pilots and designing and building planes would prove that a nation was racially modern. Many of the modern people who flew for Asia were foreigners, and many were returned students or members of the diaspora who had learned to fly abroad. Managing these people was a crucial part of building Asian aviation. Asian states also needed to develop technological autonomy. Western states were reluctant to sell their best technology to Asia, and China, Thailand and Japan at different points found themselves cut off entirely from importing Anglo-American aviation technology. As in so many other things, Japan was the most successful in establishing an autonomous aviation sector. China, Thailand, and India also made significant progress.

Who Flew? Aviation, Race, and Gender

Flying took pilots, of course, as well as mechanics and ground crew, and the earliest flights in Asia were mostly all-white affairs. Asian states moved quickly to address this problem. The Ottoman Empire opened its first flight school in 1912, China in 1913, and Thailand in 1915. The Japanese Army opened its first flying school in 1918.31 All of these states had the goal of training national pilots in a national school run by national instructors, and all made progress in that direction. In every case other than Japan, however, they failed. Creating flyers was an important matter because of how flight fit in with international ideas about masculinity and race. Zhang Xiahun became famous as the first Chinese woman to demonstrate the modernity of her race and gender simply by riding in an airplane in 1916.32 As aviation culture spread, pilots became the most important symbol of a modern race. Billy Mitchell, the pioneer American aviator, claimed that the United States was poised to dominate the modern world because it had the greatest reservoir of the types of modern men who could fly, “the young men who go to our colleges and not only are proficient in their studies, but in athletics such as football, baseball, tennis, polo, and other equestrian exercises which make the body and mind act quickly together.”33 He used China as a specific example of a nation that lacked this sort of men. J. R. D. Tata added to this list of qualities good judgment and the capacity to keep cool, as well as the will needed to trust one’s instruments rather than one’s impressions.34 Asians, particularly East Asians, were assumed to lack the ability to either fly or to design and build aircraft. Any success they did have was assumed to be from copying foreign models.35

Flying was also masculine, and in the West female flyers could be seen as “building on feminists successes . . . to further destabilize gender and construct new social relations.”36 A series of British female flyers made flights between England and Australia/New Zealand. These flights were on the one hand praised as examples of the racial superiority of the British and were on the other part of the debate over the relationship between gender, space, and modernity.

In the case of Asia, the first female flyers, like Sarla Thakral in India or Zhu Mufei in China, were more likely to come from elite families that encouraged them to fly as part of a larger demonstration of racial progress. Later female aviators, like China’s Lee Ya-ching and Zheng Hanying, might have used flight as a revolt against traditional gender systems, but they were used by the Chinese government as symbols of a modernizing Chinese race.37

Empire Pilots

States were particularly interested in creating military pilots, and the British government subsidized aviation clubs both at home and in its empire from the 1920s with the goal of creating a reserve of aviation talent for use in war. The Dutch also encouraged aviation clubs and air militias. In Java and Malaya these were all-white affairs, a key part of the social world of the colonial elite, and it was only in India that the colonized were trained as imperial pilots. The British began sponsoring aviation clubs in India in 1928, and clubs were established in a number of cities. Indian Aviation began publishing in Calcutta that same year. By 1933 1,066 of the 1,750 members of the clubs were Indians.38 These clubs trained pilots and pushed for more Indians to be used in imperial aviation. Possibly the most significant of these was the Jodhpur Flying Club, established and financed in 1931 by Maharaja Umaid Singh.39 The club’s initial gymkhana in 1931 featured a “comic event” where competitors drove across the field in a bullock cart and donned women’s clothing before marching to their planes. Pilots also demonstrated their skill at bombing using bags of flour. The club was thus imitating the frivolous culture of the British elite, training for war in service of the empire, and pushing for and expanded role for elite Indians in the empire.

Diasporas and Defining a National Elite

All over Asia, aviation involved sending students abroad, encouraging overseas students who had learned to fly to come home, and mobilizing the diaspora. In 1910 Yoshitoshi Tokugawa and Hino Kumazo made Japan’s first flights. Both were military officers who had been sent overseas to learn to fly. The leading Chinese pilot in World War I was Zhu Binhou (Etienne Tsu), who learned to fly while a student in France and flew for the French Foreign Legion. A number of important figures in Chinese aviation were born overseas but returned to fly in China. In the case of China and to a lesser extent Korea the diaspora was of major importance. China had the largest and most politically active diaspora of the national states, and they were closely involved in the political and economic modernization of China. Sun Yat-sen called the Overseas Chinese “the Mother of Revolution,” and they were, not surprisingly, supporting his efforts with technology right from the beginning. Feng Ru was building aircraft in San Francisco as early as 1909 and was called on by the imperial government to bring his plane to China. He chose instead to support Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionaries, although he arrived too late to assist in the revolution and died in a crash soon after. Tan Gen was barnstorming in Hawaii, again in planes he built himself, as early as 1913, and also made flying demonstrations in Japan and the Philippines before coming to Canton to work with Sun’s government.40 He was featured on the cover of New Youth, the leading magazine of the May Fourth Movement, as an example for Chinese youth.41

Pilots were important symbols of modernity, but by the 1930s the role of the diaspora had expanded greatly. After the Japanese bombing of Shanghai in 1932 the “Aviation to Save the Nation” movement called on Chinese to donate money to buy aircraft, and the overseas Chinese were the most avid supporters of the movement. Overseas Chinese were credited with the bulk of the one hundred planes that were donated to the nation on the occasion of Chiang’s fiftieth birthday in 1936. In the United States at least they also joined flying clubs, which trained some of the most notable Chinese pilots of World War II. While some of these activities, such as buying planes or returning to fly for the nation, had a direct connection to national power, the cultural symbolism of air-mindedness was also important. Korean Americans set up a flying school as early as 1920, on the grounds that “air power is the only way to wage independence war against Japan,” but it is not clear how pilots in America were going to lead a war against Japan without bases or planes.42 The connection between the grand promises of an air-minded people and the practicality of raising money or learning to fly was often not clear.

Technology Transfer and Technological Autonomy

Pilots were only one part of the aviation complex. Ground crews and communications and weather technology also had to expand. Increasingly complex repair facilities were needed. The early heroic pilots often flew with a mechanic on board. Particularly for military aviation, states wanted to move beyond importing technology to developing their own. Relying on foreign technology not only limited access to the most advanced aircraft but also made it possible for Asian nations to be cut off from their suppliers. China was under an arms embargo in the 1920s due to Anglo-American concerns about warlordism, and this at least in theory included most aircraft. Both Thailand and Japan eventually found themselves cut off from American aviation technology. Control of access to advanced technology was one of the best ways for the powers to establish a client-state relationship with Asian nations.

Developing indigenous technology was difficult, particularly given how fast aviation technology was advancing, especially after about 1935. Feng Ru could buy an engine and build a plane in his backyard in 1909. By 1939 even assembling a modern aircraft from a kit was a complex matter, and by 1949 most warplanes were too complex to be effectively assembled from parts.43 Developing entirely new technology took large-scale technological and engineering investment, which only Japan among the Asian states was capable of.

Western firms were usually willing to transfer technology, and Anglo-American firms were usually eager to do so even if their governments disproved. The Italian, German, and Soviet states were at various points eager to provide both planes and technology. Almost all agreements to purchase planes included technology transfer and licensed production.44 Both China and Thailand were at least assembling imported planes by 1940.

The one Asian nation that was fully successful in creating an autonomous modern aviation sector was Japan. The Japanese Army was reverse-engineering foreign engines as early as 1911. They encouraged the growth of an aviation industry, and by 1924 private firms were producing more planes than government arsenals.45 A fully autonomous sector was created by the Independent Aircraft Technology Plan, drafted in 1930 and aimed at creating Japanese-designed and built military aircraft. They did this partially by systematic borrowing of technology but also through a system of managed competition, where different firms competed to provide prototypes and parts, but then would share in final production contracts, a forerunner of Japanese postwar industrial policy. The most famous result of this project was the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. When the plane first performed, Admiral Maehara Issei tearfully proclaimed, “I feel as if I live in an advanced nation.”46 The Zero became one of the key symbols of Japanese techno-nationalism, due in part to its supposed wedding of traditional Japanese craftsmanship with modern science.47

Japan and Aviation Culture

Not only was Japan the most technologically advanced Asian country, but it also had the most developed air-minded culture. Aviation was more than just pilots and the military. After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, planes made almost five hundred flights over Tokyo and Yokohama to assess damage and drop leaflets. The quake also revealed the Japanese citizenry’s regrettable lack of modern orderliness and self-mobilization capacity. Starting from 1928, urban citizens were regularly participating in air raid drills, and while they were unenthusiastic at first, they would become increasingly interested as tensions grew.48 Japan had more aviation journals than the rest of Asia. The European modernist culture of aviation found more of an audience in Japan than elsewhere in Asia. This was driven in part by the modern press and its eagerness to capitalize on the drama of flight.49 The Italian film Luciano Serra, Pilota, which glorified the pilot as the quintessential modern man, was a major hit that led to Japanese imitations.50 Japan was the only Asian nation approaching mass air tourism before the war. Another aspect of aviation culture where Japan far surpassed the rest of Asia was gliders. Nazi Germany in particular had emphasized gliders as a way of both training youth to be pilots and spreading a broader air-minded culture, and Japanese universities and other institutions took to this model with great enthusiasm.51

Japan spread this air-minded culture to the colonies. Just as in Japan, Korean, Manchurian, and Taiwanese youth were encouraged to fly gliders and build models. This pan-Asian modernity was not always easy to control: in 1941, a hundred airmen of the Manchukuo Air Force mutinied, killed their Japanese officers, and attempted to flee and join the Chinese resistance.52 When a Korean won a model-airplane-building contest in 1943, the result was violence between Japanese and Korean students.53 Creating this new pan-Asian elite was not the same as controlling it. While aviation cadets or middle school students had a more privileged position than infantry conscripts, these privileges did not make them loyal to the empire. Japanese aviation aid to Thailand also did not buy loyalty.54

The China Incident/World War II

As with almost every other aspect of Asian society, existing trends of change accelerated after the outbreak of war between China and Japan in 1937, and then with the outbreak of the Pacific war in 1941. Interwar air theorists had prophesied that aviation would annihilate distance, transform warfare, and rain death on unprepared civilians, who would be transformed by this experience. All of these things turned out to be true, first in China, then across Southeast Asia, and then in Japan. The war was a test of national technological power in direct military terms. In 1940 the British officer A. C. Bishop offered an assessment of the Thai Air Force:

The Thai Air Force would be at its maximum efficiency at the outset of a campaign, but with the paucity of pilots, aircraft, and maintenance facilities, would deteriorate at a very rapid rate under the service strain imposed by active service conditions, and soon would not exist at all as an effective force.55

This analysis proved to be true in the case of Thailand, and this quotation could just as well be applied to the Chinese facing the Japanese, or later the Japanese facing the Americans. None of the Asian states had built an aviation complex capable of building planes, training pilots and personnel, and developing technology that was capable of keeping up with their enemies. The war also tested nations in terms of communication and transport and the ability of civilian populations to mobilize themselves to resist bombing. The radical social changes caused by the war did not happen only at the front, in part because every part of the nation could fall under attack by the enemy. Most of the developments of the postwar period grew out of wartime predecessors.

Aviation and the China Incident: The Failure of Technology

When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, Japan had a clear advantage over China in every military category. This was true in the air as well, with Japan having a huge advantage in the number of planes and pilots. Even more than in the number of planes, the Japanese had a huge advantage in its ability to support its air forces and also had a military apparatus capable of adjusting its tactics and technology to new situations.56

Japan dominated the early air battles, and the Chinese air forces eroded quickly. China found itself assisted in the air by the Russians and later the Americans. Even before the war the American government had tried to provide air aid to China, and the Soviets provided hundreds of planes and also pilots in the early years of the war.57 This was a pattern of great-power aid to client states that would continue into the Cold War. Aviation aid was exactly the type of high-tech weaponry that client states could not create on their own. It was also a relatively easy thing to disavow. The Soviets gave strict instructions to their pilots to avoid attention as much as possible, and there was very little publicity given to their actions, which in any case ended after 1941. The Americans worked at first through the American Volunteer Group, a group of international mercenary pilots also known as the Flying Tigers, much as they would use Air America in Southeast Asia after the war.58 The Americans did eventually establish a small Chinese American Composite Wing, and Chinese personnel were sent to the United States for training, but China would remain dependent on its American ally for aviation. The Americans tried to build a modern Chinese army in China but simply imported an American Air Corps, just as the later People’s Liberation Army Air Force would remain dependent on the Soviets.59

Japanese domination of the air mattered remarkably little militarily at first. The Chinese air forces were never totally eliminated, and it is hard to point to any drastic difference airpower made in the steady progress of the Japanese armies across China.60 The Second Sino-Japanese War became a test of modernity in the form of “strategic” bombing.61 Strategic bombing eventually became the accepted euphemism for what was usually called terror bombing before the war and was called “area” or “precision” bombing during it. It refers to the high altitude bombing of civilian areas, aimed at producing panic and damaging enemy morale and production. Strategic bombing was intended to convert domination of the air into appropriate geopolitical results.62 As would prove to be the case after 1945, it did not work as expected. Bombing did have a profound effect on Chinese society, but it did not cause social collapse or national surrender.

In the first year of the war the Japanese used urban bombing as a way of spreading panic. They would continue to do this throughout the war, and it would continue to be effective. These early aerial bombings were as culturally important as the first flights so many Asians had witnessed in the decades before. Firsthand accounts of the war frequently mentioned the narrator’s first bombing raid as the moment when the implications of the war first became real for them. Bombing also led to an increased focus on civil defense and state-led mass military mobilization. Air raid drills and organizations had existed even before the war, but they expanded and were taken much more seriously by both states and people after the bombing started. Air raid precautions and responses were the most common way for Asians to be mobilized for the war.

Although the impact of bombing civilians was first seen in China, cities all over Asia were eventually bombed, either by the Japanese or by the Americans. India provides a good example of this impact. Although few raids took place there, many fled the cities fearing air attacks. A third of the population of Madras and Calcutta fled the cities in the first months of the war. The inland industrial city of Jamshedpur lost 40 percent of its population in the beginning of the war. “With India so vulnerable to attack by an enemy who had so recently been so far away, a drastic political and cultural reorientation took place from which the British could never recover.”63 In the case of India many of those fleeing in the early months of the war were mostly the urban poor and the working class, fleeing to the safety of their home villages. China saw flows of the urban poor out of the cities, but also more organized resettlement of populations and industries seen as being of valuable to the state.64 Japan made a systematic attempt to move children out of cities to avoid bombing.65

Air raids were central to the refugee experience.66 One of the greatest impacts of the war was the extent to which it moved populations around, sometimes temporarily but often permanently. Unlike earlier wars, where refugees usually fled the actual battlefront, in this war people could be fleeing from anywhere, and their goal was likely not a remote city but the countryside.

When the Japanese advance across China stalled after the fall of Wuhan in October 1938, the Japanese moved to a strategy of intensive bombing of Chinese cities as a way of forcing China to surrender. The chief, although not only, target was Chongqing, the wartime capital of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government. The city was bombed extensively each summer from 1939 to 1941 in what became known as the Great Bombing of Chongqing. These attacks have become one the key Chinese war memories of Japanese aggression and terror.67 This was the first time that a nation had tried to use “strategic” bombing to force an enemy to surrender. While Japan proved capable of maintaining the pace of operations necessary to kill countless Chinese, this did not have much effect on the war. The Chinese did not surrender, and the resistance of the Chinese people at Chongqing was a valuable propaganda asset for the Chinese government as it tried to convince foreigners to intervene on its behalf.68 Japan dominated the air over China, but despite that the war remained a stalemate.

Technological War: Japan’s Air Heroes of the Pacific War

In the Pacific and Southeast Asia the war turned out quite differently. The shocking speed of Japan’s early victories was one of the most important cultural and political aspects of the war. The technological superiority of Japanese aviation, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse, and Japan’s rapid advance and dominance of the air shocked everyone. Japan was not only technologically superior in the air, its ability to support, replace, and move air assets was far superior to the Americans and the British. General Percival, the British commander in Malaya, was surprised that the Japanese were able to bomb Singapore in the first days of the war despite the fact that their nearest airbase was seven hundred miles away. He would soon profess his amazement at the performance of Japanese aircraft and their ability to launch coordinated attacks on targets all over Malaya.69 European empires were sustained by the myths of technological, racial, and organizational superiority. Japan’s superior planes, pilots, and organization shocked the British, Dutch, and Americans, who were unprepared both militarily and mentally. Japanese propaganda, both domestic and Pan-Asian, claimed that Japan was an advanced nation that was liberating Asia from European colonialism. This superiority did not lead to final victory in the war.70 Rapid success led to “victory fever” on the part of Japanese policymakers and an unwise expansion of Japanese war aims.71

The Allied War in the Pacific

Despite these early victories, Japan and its empire were eventually ground down by superior technology, organization, and logistics, much of it by air. Peter Schrijvers has analyzed how for Americans the war exposed them to a new frontier, the Pacific rim, that needed to be rapidly explored, linked, by transport systems, and in some places destroyed with incendiary violence.72 Aircraft were of course crucial to this, and although most of the Americans and their British allies were not aware of it, the Japanese had done the same thing a few years before. The second half of the war in the Pacific, like the first, was largely a war of air bases and aircraft carriers, but it was also a war of transport over great distances with limited infrastructure. The most significant effort was the massive effort to fly supplies to China “over the Hump” of the Himalayas, and the associated logistical and repair facilities in India and China. While the Americans and to a lesser extent the British provided the technology, they also expanded repair and production facilities all over Asia. A number of the pilots and more of the support and repair people were Chinese, Indian, or Chinese American.73 The efforts to spread aviation technology and air-mindedness before 1941 were dwarfed by those afterward. The Hindustani Aircraft plant in Bangalore grew drastically in size and capabilities during the war, as did almost every other aspect of aviation in the Allied areas.74

Bombing Japan

The final stages of the war saw American and British bombing of many of the Japanese-occupied cities of Asia that had not been bombed before, the kamikaze attacks, and the strategic bombing of the Japanese home islands. The kamikaze, or Special Attack Units, were Japan’s last attempt to stave off defeat, combining technology with a traditionalist ethic of sacrifice, and they would remain one of Japan’s most potent war memories down to the present.75 Although they were uniquely Japanese, they fit in well with the heroic pilots that almost every nation valorized during the war as symbols of the national essence. The bombing of Japan was also not entirely new, in that China had suffered strategic bombing earlier in the war, but the scope, extent, and impact of the attacks on Japan were unprecedented.76 The social impact of these bombings was immense, although little studied.77 As in Europe, the military and economic record of these bombings is mixed. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the ultimate air raids, destroying entire cities with no damage or even risk to the attackers, and they have generated a huge literature and stand as one of the most important memories of the war both in Japan and outside, although in terms of total number of casualties they did not stand out from the conventional bombing of other Japanese cities.

Transition to a New World

The Pacific War ended in 1945 with a spasm of airborne violence. Although the bombing stopped, the role of air transport remained vital after the surrender. Colonial powers and Chiang Kai-shek used air transport to quickly move troops into relinquished territory and attempted to use air power to suppress rural rebellion. The Malayan Emergency of 1949–1960 was a widely copied model, and while bombing did not crush the insurgency there any more than it had in wars before or after, state forces made full use of the greater mobility it provided for them.78 The geopolitical nature of power in Asia was now centered on a string of American bases, including the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” of Taiwan, and the Communist Chinese doctrine of People’s War was intended to counteract the military and mobility advantages of the Americans and their alliance. The first jet passenger aircraft, the British de Havilland Comet, began service in 1952, ushering in a new age of global tourism.79 While all of these were important new developments, none of them would have seemed surprising to the air-minded Asians of the 1930s.

Discussion of the Literature

Secondary Literature: Academic

Many sources touch on aspects of the modern culture of aviation in Asia, but there are as yet few of the broad or even narrow synthesizing works that exist in the literature on Europe and North America. There is no equivalent for Asia of broad transnational works on aviation in modern culture like Wohl’s.80The only specific country studies of aviation like Palmer or Corn is Young’s study of Thailand.81 There is one study of the relationship between gender and aviation in Britain and its empire. As yet there are no studies on the relationship between aviation and ideas of masculinity in Asia, although such works do exist for other areas.82 There are a handful of English-language studies that deal with aspects of the aviation industry in Asia.83 Japan is particularly well served with studies on technology transfer and policy.84 The kamikaze and their position in Japan’s modern culture have been studied 85 Air raids and civil defense have received some attention.86 The literature on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bomb attacks and their physical and cultural impact is extensive.87 The literature on the impact of strategic bombing more generally is more limited. This is a somewhat disappointing record, but also an encouraging one. There is a great need for studies of aviation in individual Asian countries that, like Young’s, examine both military and civil aviation as a single complex and draw on both local and foreign sources. Although aviation is a topic that lends itself to transnational work, very little of this has been done for Asia, other than in the context of the British Empire.

Popular and Memoir Sources

Aviation is a popular topic that attracts attention and publications, rendering the always problematic line between academic and popular work particularly porous. Ignoring “non-professional” works, either as a source of data or as a source of insight, is as inadvisable for studies of aviation as it is for studies of railways. Popular and often quite thorough biographies of important figures have been published both in English and Asian languages. There are also publications by technical and military scholars who tend not to ask the same questions a typical humanities academic might.88 Non-academics have also done a great deal of work on aviation, and much of it is quite helpful. Popular sources are likely to focus on military history or the technical side of aviation, but these can be treasure troves of data, although often less well sourced than one might hope. In particular they tend to be far better illustrated, and thus more useful to those concerned with the visual culture of modernity.89

Primary Sources

Primary sources on aviation are numerous and easily available. Besides the many published memoirs there were many journals and magazines devoted specifically to aviation. English-language journals sometimes had very good international coverage, given the keen interest aircraft companies had in the international market.90 Many of these have been digitized and are available through Google Books. For those scholars associated with an institution connected to the Hathi Trust, access can even go beyond 1920. Chinese and Japanese journals also existed, with the Chinese ones carrying a mix of China news and items translated from the foreign press.91 There were also a number of Japanese journals, some of them appearing much earlier than those elsewhere in Asia.92

India had a number of aviation-related journals. With the beginning of digitization it is also starting to be possible to do broader searches that go beyond the aviation titles. How accessible these are, of course, varies. Japan’s National Diet Library has digitized much of its collection, although these sources are only available on-site. Digitized Japanese newspapers are probably the easiest to access of all the Asian nations. The Shanghai Library has digitized its invaluable collection, but these sources are available only in the library building itself. Digitization in other parts of Asia is limited or nonexistent.

Archival Sources

Archival sources are also plentiful for some aspects of aviation. Some studies have drawn on corporate records, given the importance of the Asian market to the major Western producers. American and British diplomatic records are also valuable, given the Anglo-American concern for controlling the arms trade and also the importance of aviation aid in their foreign policy. There are also substantial military records for the years after the wars began.

Asian states have preserved at least some of their records. The National Archives of India holds the 1919–1947 records of the Department of Civil Aviation. China’s Second Historical Archives has holdings on both military and civil aviation, although the current state of access is unclear. Many of these records and memoirs have been published in China, especially those dealing with air raids. Academia Historica in Taiwan also has holdings. In the case of Japan some of the more sensitive technical records were brought to the United States after the war, but there are still substantial holdings at the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Institute of Defense, as well as at many university libraries and corporate archives such as those of Mitsubishi and elsewhere.

Further Reading

Byrd, Martha. Chennault: Giving Wings to the Tiger. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Davies, R. E. G.Airlines of Asia since 1920. London: Putnam, 1997Find this resource:

Dierikx, Marc L. J. “Struggle for Prominence: Clashing Dutch and British Interests on the Colonial Air Routes, 1918–42.” Journal of Contemporary History 26.2 (1991): 333–351.Find this resource:

Hagiwara, Mitsuru. “The Japanese Air Campaigns in China, 1937–1945.” In The Battle for China: Essays on the History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. Edited by Mark Peattie, Edward J. Drea, and Hans van de Ven, 237–255. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Kort, Michael. The Columbia Guide to Hiroshima and the Bomb. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Melzer, Juergen. “‘We Must Learn From Germany’: Gliders and Model Airplanes as Tools for Japan’s Mass Mobilization.” Contemporary Japan 26.1 (2014): 1–27.Find this resource:

Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko. Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Omissi, David E.Air Power and Colonial Control: The Royal Air Force, 1919–1939. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1990.Find this resource:

Peattie, Mark. Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909–1941. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Pirie, Gordon. Air Empire: British Imperial Civil Aviation, 1919–39. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Samuels, Richard J. “Rich Nation, Strong Army”: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

Tow, Edna. “The Great Bombing of Chongqing.” In The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. Edited by Mark Peattie, Edward J. Drea, and Hans van de Ven, 256–282. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Xu, Guangqiu. War Wings: The United States and Chinese Military Aviation, 1929–1949. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001.Find this resource:

Young, Edward M.Aerial Nationalism: A History of Aviation in Thailand. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994.Find this resource:


(1.) Robert Wohl, A Passion for Wings: Aviation and the Western Imagination, 1908–1918 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996), 97. Wohl’s work is the best introduction the transnational culture of aviation, but it focuses on Europe and the Americas. The Wrights first flew in 1903, but they were not particularly forthcoming about their evidence, and it was not until their public demonstrations in Washington and Paris in 1908 and Blériot’s flight across the English Channel in 1909 that aviation hysteria really took off. Airships are ignored in this essay.

(2.) Jenifer Van Vleck, Empire of the Air: Aviation and the American Ascendancy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 37.

(3.) Chiang Kai-shek, Guomin yu hangkong (Shanghai: Zhongguo Wenhua Xuehui, 1934), 33.

(4.) Siam’s name was changed to Thailand in 1939. The name was changed back in 1947, and changed to Thailand again in 1949. Here is it referred to as Thailand throughout.

(5.) Edward M. Young, Aerial Nationalism: A History of Aviation in Thailand (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994), 1.

(6.) Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1935).

(7.) Flying 10 (May 1921): 148.

(8.) R. M. Lala, Beyond the Last Blue Mountain: A Life of J. R. D. Tata, 1904–1993 (New Delhi: Penguin, 1992), 86.

(9.) Nihon Kōkū Kyōkai, Nihon no kōkū 100-nen: Kōkū, uchū no ayumi (Tokyo : Nihon Kōkū Kyōkai, 2010).

(10.) Fang Xiongpu, Huaqiao hangkong shihua (Beijing: Zhongguo huaqiao, 1991), 51–56.

(11.) Amy O’Keefe, “Stars in the Nation’s Skies: The Ascent and Trajectory of the Chinese Aviation Celebrity in the Prewar Decade,” in Liangyou: Kaleidoscopic Modernity and the Shanghai Global Metropolis, 1926–1945, eds. Paul G. Pickowicz, Kuiyi Shen, and Yingjin Zhang (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013).

(12.) Joan Judge, Republican Lens: Gender, Visuality, and Experience in the Early Chinese Periodical Press (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015).

(13.) Robert S. G. Fletcher, British Imperialism and “The Tribal Question”: Desert Administration and Nomadic Societies in the Middle East, 1919–1936 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); and Roderick Hill, The Baghdad Air Mail (London: E. Arnold, 1929).

(14.) Marc L. J. Dierikx, “Struggle for Prominence: Clashing Dutch and British Interests on the Colonial Air Routes, 1918–42,” Journal of Contemporary History 26.2 (1991): 333–351.

(15.) Van Vleck, Empire of the Air, 96.

(17.) Gordon Pirie, Air Empire: British Imperial Civil Aviation, 1919–39 (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2009), 155.

(18.) Dierikx, “Struggle for Prominence.”

(19.) Sydney Bernard Smith, Air Transport in the Pacific Area (New York: Institute of Pacific Relations, 1941), 62.

(20.) Young, Aerial Nationalism, 31–42.

(21.) “Japanese Aroused by Weakness of Civil Aviation,” Far Eastern Survey 4.8 (1935): 62–63.

(22.) Manshū kōkū shiwa (Tokyo: Manshū Kōkū Shiwa Hensan Ininkai, 1972), and Manshū kōkū shiwa (zokuhen) (Tokyo: Manshūkōkū Shiwa Hensan Iinkai, 1971).

(23.) Kobayashi Shigeru, Gaihōzu: Teikoku Nihon no Ajia chizu (Tokyo: Chūō kōron shinsha, 2011); Kobayashi Shigeru, ed., Kindai Nihon no chizu sakusei to Ajia Taiheiyō chiiki: “Gaihōzu” e no apurōchi (Osaka: Osaka Daigaku Shuppan Kai, 2009).

(24.) Xiaoxing Gao and Ping Shi, Minguo kongjun de hangji (Beijing: Haichao Chubanshe, 1992), 18.

(25.) William M. Leary, Dragon’s Wings: China National Aviation Corporation and the Development of Commercial Aviation in China (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1982); Karl Morgenstern and Dietmar Plath, Eurasia Aviation Corporation: Junkers and Lufthansa in China, 1931–1943 (Munich: GeraMond, 2006).

(26.) Anthony R. Carrozza, William D. Pawley: The Extraordinary Life of the Adventurer, Entrepreneur, and Diplomat Who Cofounded the Flying Tigers (Washington, DC: Potomac, 2012).

(27.) Lane Harris, “The Post Office and State Formation in Modern China, 1896–1949” (PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2012), 260–265.

(28.) Xinwen zazhi 1.10 (1936): 18.

(29.) David E. Omissi, Air Power and Colonial Control: The Royal Air Force, 1919–1939 (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1990); and Priya Satia, “The Defense of Inhumanity: Air Control in Iraq and the British Idea of Arabia,” American Historical Review 111 (February 2006): 16–51.

(30.) Daniel R. Headrick, Power over Peoples: Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012).

(31.) Alvin D. Coox, “The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Air Forces,” Aerospace Historian 27.2 (Summer/June 1980): 76.

(32.) Judge, Republican Lens, 213.

(33.) William Mitchell, Winged Defense: The Development and Possibilities of Modern Air Power—Economic and Military (New York: Putnam, 1926), 24.

(34.) Lala, Beyond the Last Blue Mountain, 90.

(35.) Lucian Zacharoff, “Japan’s Bush League Air Force,” Air News, September 1941, 4–8; and Hallett Abend, “Yes, the Japs Can Fly,” Saturday Evening Post, April 19, 1941, 29–33.

(36.) Liz Millward, Women in British Imperial Airspace, 1922–1937 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007), 5.

(37.) Patty Gully, Sisters of Heaven: China’s Barnstorming Aviatrixes: Modernity, Feminism, and Popular Imagination in Asia and the West (San Francisco: Long River, 2007).

(38.) J. A. Shillidy, “Civil Aviation in India,” Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 83.4299 (1935): 477–492.

(39.) Peter Vacher, The History of the Jodhpur Flying Club (Burlington, ON: Apogee Prime, 2010).

(40.) Fang Xiongpu, Huaqiao hangkong shihua (Beijing: Zhongguo Huaqiao, 1991), 35.

(41.) “Da feihang Tan Gen,” Xin qingnian 1.6 (1916): 1–2.

(42.) Edward T. Chang and Woo Sung Han, Korean American Pioneer Aviators: The Willows Airmen (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2015), 16.

(43.) John David Anderson, The Airplane: A History of Its Technology (Reston, VA: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics), 2002.

(44.) Guangqiu Xu, War Wings: The United States and Chinese Military Aviation, 1929–1949 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001).

(45.) Hiroyuki Odagiri and Akira Gotō, Technology and Industrial Development in Japan: Building Capabilities by Learning, Innovation, and Public Policy (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996), 214.

(46.) Richard J. Samuels, “Rich Nation, Strong Army”: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996), 117.

(47.) Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Technological Transformation of Japan: From the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 152.

(48.) J. Charles Schenking, The Great Kanto Earthquake and the Chimera of National Reconstruction in Japan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 324n17, 313.

(49.) I would like to thank Juergen Melzer for this and other insights about Japan.

(50.) Michael Baskett, “All Beautiful Fascists?: Axis Film Culture in Imperial Japan,” in The Culture of Japanese Fascism, ed. Alan Tansman (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 220.

(51.) Juergen Melzer, “‘We Must Learn from Germany’: Gliders and Model Airplanes as Tools for Japan’s Mass Mobilization,” Contemporary Japan 26.1 (2014): 1–27.

(52.) Chong-Sik Lee, Revolutionary Struggle in Manchuria: Chinese Communism and Soviet Interest, 1922–1945 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 286.

(53.) Deborah B. Solomon, “‘The Empire Is the Enemy of the East’: Student Activism in 1940s Colonial Korea,” Journal of Korean Studies 20.1 (2015): 149–175.

(54.) Young, Aerial Nationalism, 208.

(55.) Young, Aerial Nationalism, 177.

(56.) Richard P. Hallion, Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack, 1910–1945, 2d ed. (Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press, 2010), 117–118.

(57.) Anatolii Demin, “Soviet Fighters in the Sky of China,” Aviatsiia i Kosmonavtika 9 (2000) translation by George M. Mellinger available online.

(58.) Martha Byrd, Chennault: Giving Wings to the Tiger (Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press, 2003).

(59.) Xiaoming Zhang, Red Wings over the Yalu: China, the Soviet Union, and the Air War in Korea (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2003).

(60.) Hagiwara Mitsuru, “The Japanese Air Campaigns in China, 1937–1945,” in The Battle for China: Essays on the History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945, eds. Mark Peattie, Edward J. Drea, and Hans van de Ven (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 237–255.

(61.) John Buckley, Warfare and History: Air Power in the Age of Total War (London: Routledge, 2006); and Tami Davis Biddle, Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914–1945 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009).

(62.) An up-to-date survey of work on the evolution of ideas about bombing cities is Tami Davis Biddle, Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914–1945 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009). On the Japanese campaigns against China see Mitsuru, “Japanese Air Campaigns in China.” On the U.S. campaign against Japan see Gordon Daniels, A Guide to the Reports of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey: I Europe, II The Pacific (London: Royal Historical Society, 1981).

(63.) Srinath Raghavan, India’s War: World War II and the Making of Modern South Asia (New York: Basic Books, 2016), 263–268.

(64.) Alan Baumler, “Keep Calm and Carry On: Airmindedness and Mass Mobilization during the War of Resistance,” Journal of Chinese Military History 5.1 (June 2016): 1–36.

(65.) Samuel Hideo Yamashita, Daily Life in Wartime Japan, 1940–1945 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2016), 61.

(66.) R. Keith Schoppa, In a Sea of Bitterness: Refugees during the Sino-Japanese War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).

(67.) Pan Xun, Kangri zhanzheng shiqi Chongqing da hongzha yanjiu [Research on the great bombing of Chongqing during the War of Resistance] (Beijing: Shangwu, 2013); Pan Xun and Zhou Yong, Kangzhan shiqi Chongqing Dahongzha riji [Diary of the wartime great bombing of Chongqing] (Chongqing: Chongqing Daxue, 2011); and Edna Tow, “The Great Bombing of Chongqing,” in Battle for China, eds. Peattie, Drea, and van de Ven, 256–282.

(68.) Baumler, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

(69.) Christopher Shores, Brian Cull, and Yasuho Izawa, Bloody Shambles, vol. 1, The Drift to War to the Fall of Singapore (London: Grub Street, 2013), 87, 96.

(70.) Tagaya Osamu, “The Imperial Japanese Air Forces,” in Why Air Forces Fail: The Anatomy of Defeat, eds. Robin Higham and Stephen John Harris (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky), 177–202.

(71.) John J. Stephan, Hawaii under the Rising Sun: Japan’s Plans for Conquest after Pearl Harbor (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002), 122.

(72.) Peter Schrijvers, The GI War against Japan: American Soldiers in Asia and the Pacific during World War II (New York: NYU Press, 2005).

(73.) K. Scott Wong, ed., Americans First: Chinese Americans and the Second World War (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008), 162.

(74.) “India,” Flight 27 (August 1954), 296.

(75.) Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2002).

(76.) Bret Fisk and Cary Karacas, “The Firebombing of Tokyo and Its Legacy: Introduction,” Asia-Pacific Journal 9.3 (January 17, 2011): 1–5.

(77.) Chang Jui-te, “Bombs Don’t Discriminate? Class, Gender, and Ethnicity in the Air-Raid-Shelter Experiences of the Wartime Chongqing Population,” in Beyond Suffering: Recounting War in Modern China, eds. James Flath and Norman Smith (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2012), 59–79; and William M. Tsutsui, “Landscapes in the Dark Valley: Toward an Environmental History of Wartime Japan,” Environmental History 8.2 (2003): 294–311.

(78.) Malcolm Postgate, Operation Firedog: Air Support in the Malayan Emergency, 1948–1960 (London: Stationery Office, 1992).

(79.) Christina Klein, Cold War Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945–1961 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

(80.) Wohl, Passion for Wings; and Robert Wohl, The Spectacle of Flight: Aviation and the Western Imagination, 1920–1950 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005).

(81.) Scott W. Palmer, Dictatorship of the Air: Aviation Culture and the Fate of Modern Russia (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Joseph J. Corn, The Winged Gospel: America’s Romance with Aviation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002); and Young, Aerial Nationalism.

(82.) David T. Courtwright, Sky as Frontier: Adventure, Aviation, and Empire (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004).

(83.) Leary, Dragon’s Wings; Young, Aerial Nationalism; and Xu, War Wings: All three of these helpful studies are based on Western-language sources.

(84.) Mark Peattie, Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909–1941 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2007); and Samuels, Rich Nation, Strong Army.

(85.) Ohnuki-Tierney, Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms.

(86.) Baumler. “Keep Calm and Carry On”; Chang “Bombs Don’t Discriminate?”; and Tow “Great Bombing of Chongqing.”

(87.) Michael Kort, The Columbia Guide to Hiroshima and the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007).

(88.) Daniels, Guide to the Reports.

(89.) Gully, Sisters of Heaven; Håkan Gustavsson, Sino-Japanese Air War, 1937–1945: The Longest Struggle (Croyden, U.K.: Fonthill Media, 2016). This is based on the author’s website. This and other sites like The Early Birds of Aviation, Inc. sometimes include references but, even when they do not, can be used to provide leads (names, dates, etc.) for research.

(90.) Flying, 1927–present; Aviation, 1922–1947.

(91.) Hangkong shenghuo; Feihang zazhi; Fangkong huabao.

(92.) Kōkū jidai; Mankō.