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Arthur Tien Chin (Chinese: 陳瑞鈿; pinyin: Chén Ruìdiàn; Cantonese: Chan Sui-Tin; October 23, 1913 – September 3, 1997) was a pilot from the United States who participated in the Second Sino-Japanese War. Chin was compelled to defend his father's homeland when Japan invaded China. He was part of the first group of U.S. volunteer combat aviators. Chin is recognized as the United States' first flying ace in World War II.
|Born||October 23, 1913|
|Died||September 3, 1997(aged 83)|
|Allegiance|| Republic of China|
United States of America
|Service/||Canton Provincial Air Force, National Revolutionary Army|
|Years of service||1933–1945|
|Battles/wars||Second Sino-Japanese War/World War II|
|Awards||Distinguished Flying Cross|
|Spouse(s)||Eva Wu †|
|Other work||Airline pilot, China National Aviation Corporation|
Early life and military careerEdit
Chin was born in Portland, Oregon to Fon Chin, who was from Taishan, China, and Eva Wong, who may have been of Peruvian background. Despite his name, Chin's birth certificate listed him as being "mulatto". Motivated by the Japanese invasion of China, Chin enrolled in flight school (at the Chinese Flying Club of Portland) in 1932, and along with 13 other Chinese Americans including John "Buffalo" Huang Xinrui and Hazel Ying Lee, he left for China and joined the Canton Provincial Air Force under General Chen Jitang as the first and original group of American volunteer combat aviators, and from there was sent to additional aerial-gunnery training with the Luftwaffe at Lagerlechfeld, Germany; returning to China to see the Guangdong Provincial Air Force integrated into the central government's air force under the KMT.
As full-scale war broke out with the Battle of Shanghai, he initially flew in combat with the 28th Pursuit Squadron of the 5th Pursuit Group of Curtiss Hawk IIs led by Capt. Chan Kee-Wong, based in Jurong airbase (known to Cantonese-speaking pilots as Chuyung), engaging Japanese aircraft in an aerial shootout for the first time on 16 August 1937; IJN G3M medium-heavy bombers were already beginning their attack on Jurong airbase when Arthur Chin and Chan Kee-Wong just managed to takeoff in their antiquated Hawk IIs, and barely able to keep up with the sleek and fast G3Ms, Chin was able to score many hits on the G3M likely the lead bomber of Buntaicho (flight leader) Lt. Osugi of Lt. Cmdr. Nitta's second Shotai of the Kanoya Kokutai, puncturing its fuel tanks and wounding a crewmember. Unfortunately for Chin, the lack of speed also meant he was an easy target for the Japanese tail-gunners as his Hawk II floated practically like a sitting-duck at zero degree deflection behind the G3Ms, and suffering multiple hits from the Japanese machine gun fire, his Curtiss-Wright Cyclone engine stopping 2 bullets, Chin had to break-off pursuit at the mouth of the Yangtze and make a forced-landing on an airfield in Jiaxing (Chia-hsing). Lt. Osugi's G3M, was hit 58 times with a gunner wounded, was initially on a course back to Matsuyama airbase in Taiwan, but losing fuel at an alarming rate, Osugi considered turning back to force land at the Japanese legation in Shanghai. Instead, lightening the G3M by jettisoning equipment and anything that can be pried loose, Osugi managed keep the bomber in flight long enough on a safe diversion away from interception by Chinese fighter planes, to Cheju-do between the Chinese mainland and the southwestern coast of Korea, landing or crashing just in time as his fuel ran out. Although written off, this G3M bomber had been credited as Art Chin's first air-to-air "kill" despite the fact that he did not see his "kill" crashing. Arthur Chin would later split command of the 28th PS, 5th PG with Capt. Chan Kee-Wong into two smaller squadrons as the demand for air force units were needed in the northern and southern fronts of the war against the Imperial Japanese advances; Capt. Chan and half of the 28th squadron heading for Taiyuan, and Lt. Chin and other half of the 28th heading for Guangzhou. He would soon transition into the more powerful and much faster Gloster Gladiator fighter plane, ultimately being credited with destroying nine enemy aircraft between 1937 and 1939.
In 1939, while flying a Gloster Gladiator, the fighter in which he scored 6.5 of his 8.5 aerial victories, he was hit by enemy fire and forced to bail out of his burning aircraft, and although he parachuted to safety, he suffered serious burn injuries. Nevertheless, after several years of surgery and recovery, and an escape from the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, he returned to China in 1944 to fly supplies over the Himalayas, a route known as the "Hump".
Later life and legacyEdit
Chin is recognized as America's first ace in World War II. A half-century after the war ended, the U.S. government recognized Chin as an American veteran by awarding him the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal. About a month after Chin died, on October 4, 1997, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Airpower Heritage Museum in Midland, Texas as the first American ace of World War II.
After his aviation career, Chin became a postal worker in his hometown of Portland. On January 29, 2008, Congressman Representative David Wu (D-Oregon) introduced House Resolution 5220 to name a United States Post Office in Aloha, Oregon after Major Arthur Chin as the "Major Arthur Chin Post Office Building". It was unanimously approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. President Bush signed it into law on May 7, 2008.
- Cheung, 2015, p. 51. After Art Chin was badly burnt in the 27 December 1939 battle over Kunlun Pass, Ms. Chin (Eva Wu) took care of him in their quarters next to Liuzhou Airbase (Guangxi), in a heroic effort worthy of a Hollywood script, Ms. Chin sacrificed her life to protect her husband and two sons during an air raid... she took her children down to the basement bomb shelter, and then went back up to help her husband who was unable to move or see because of burn injuries and heavy bandaging... as Art Chin heard the shrieking of falling and exploding Japanese bombs moving closer to their quarters, Ms. Chin threw herself over her husband, as their surroundings exploded and collapsed, Ms. Chin took a fatal shrapnel... During an interview many years later Art said simply “I held her dead body to mine until help came.”
- Sun, Shen, Vlasova, Harmsen, Einreinhofer, Drea, Kuan... "Shanghai 1937 – Where World War II Began". SHANGHAI 1937: WHERE WORLD WAR II BEGAN. Retrieved 2020-12-21.
When did World War II begin? Shanghai 1937: Where World War II Began answers that question in a way most audiences will find surprising. Americans might say December 7, 1941… The day the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. For Europeans, it was September 1, 1939… When Nazi Germany invaded Poland. But in China, people will tell you a different date. August 13, 1937.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- "World War 2 Flying Ace Arthur Chin's Amazing True Story". Disciples of Flight. 2015-10-07. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
- Cheung, Raymond (2015-05-20). Aces of the Republic of China Air Force. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9781472805614.
- "Arthur Chin, Nominee" (PDF). National Aviation Hall of Fame. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-06-03. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Air Enthusiast #121 January/February 2006 article by Thomas, Andrew Oriental Gladiators The combat debut for the Gloster biplane pp73-75
- Congress honors Chinese WWII Hero[permanent dead link]
- GovTrack: H.R. 5220: Text of Legislation
- White House News Release
- Cheung, Raymond. OSPREY AIRCRAFT OF THE ACES 126: Aces of the Republic of China Air Force. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2015. ISBN 978 14728 05614.
- 徐 (Xú), 露梅 (Lùméi). 隕落 (Fallen): 682位空军英烈的生死档案 - 抗战空军英烈档案大解密 (A Decryption of 682 Air Force Heroes of The War of Resistance-WWII and Their Martyrdom). 东城区, 北京， 中国: 团结出版社, 2016. ISBN 978-7-5126-4433-5.
- Biplane Fighter Aces: China: Major 'Arthur' 'Art' Chin Shui-Tin a more detailed history of his military career.
- Blog entry in Chinese detailing his life and service