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American Airlines' Secret War in China (ePub)

Project Seven Alpha, WWII

Aviation WWII

By Leland Shanle
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
File Size: 1.3 MB (.epub)
Pages: 244
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781526711069
Published: 31st October 2016


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In late 1941, President Roosevelt agonized over the rapid advances of the Japanese forces in Asia; they seemed unstoppable. He foresaw their intentions of taking India and linking up with the two other Axis Powers, Germany and Italy, in an attempt to conquer the Eastern Hemisphere. US naval forces had been severely surprised and diminished in Pearl Harbor and the army was outnumbered and ill-prepared to take on the invading hoards. One of his few options was to form a defensive line on the eastern side of the Patkai and Himalayan Ranges; there he could look for support from the Chinese and Burmese. It was to be the only defence to a Japanese invasion of India.

To support and supply these troops, fighting in hostile jungle terrain where overland routes had been cut off, he desperately needed to set up an air supply from Eastern India. His problem was lack of aircraft and experienced pilots to fly the dangerous ‘Hump, over the world’s highest mountains. Hence came Operation Seven Alpha, a plan to enlist the aircraft, DC-3s, and pilots, veterans of World War One, of American Airlines. This newly formed Squadron would fly these medium-range aircraft in a series of long-distance hops across the Pacific and Southern Asia to the Assam Valley in India. They would then create and operate the vital supply route carrying arms, ammunition and food Eastward to the Allied bases and return with wounded personnel. This is the story of this little-known operation in the early days of the Burma Campaign.

This book is based on the true experiences of those who were involved and is a fitting tribute to the bravery and inventiveness of a band of men who answered their country’s desperate call at the outset of the war against Japan in Asia.

As featured on...

delphiinternational.com (Warriors For Peace)

Truly one of the best books I’ve read last year !! Yes, because it is about WW2. And yes, because it is about aviation. And yes, because it is about DC-3’s. Three of my main pet subjects for over half a century…. BUT that’s not all. It is especially good because of the way it is written.
It reads like an adventure novel, and Leland Shanle has a wonderful way of describing things. You really feel THERE all the time.
On top of that he describes the operation of the DC-3 in great detail and with much knowledge, making it all the more enjoyable.

Read the full review here.


Many of us might be aware of the CIA operating the 'Air America' airline in Vietnam and South East Asia in the 1970's, but perhaps the involvement of American Airlines in Burma during WW2 is less well known. The use of the novel to tell the story, by an experienced pilot who himself flew US Navy aircraft in WW2 as well as then going on to have a career as an airline pilot, there is clearly a passion for the story and the in the flavour of the detail in many of the descriptions of what those flights across the Himalayas involved for those who made them.

Read the full review here.

Military Modelling, Robin Buckland

This novel is based on true experiences and fits into a growing number of books and films where it might be accurate to regard them as dramatised histories. Its a great read and it covers one of the least known major efforts of WWII, the air bridge to supply China. Easy to see why the book received the Gold Medal Award of the Military Writers Society of America.

Read the full review here.


About Leland Shanle

Leland Shanle is a pilot, award winning author, and military/aviation technical adviser for the movie industry. His consulting projects include Pearl Harbor, Behind Enemy Lines, xXx, The Day After Tomorrow and Stealth. His production company--Broken Wing Productions--has worked on several aviation-based movies and series including the Discovery Curiosity Series; Plane Crash.

Shanle is the author of four books; Project Seven Alpha, Vengeance at Midway and Guadalcanal, ENDGAME in the Pacific and CODE NAME: INFAMY. He has also written for Aerospace Testing International Magazine and as a Contributing Editor to Airways Magazine. Shanle has adapted his book, Project 7 Alpha into a screenplay for a major motion picture studio.

Shanle's lifelong interest in Aviation is a family legacy. His Grandfather was in the airline industry in the 1920s and two uncles (Bob USAF, Larry USN) were combat military aviators. Shanle flew naval aircraft in 10 squadrons; including the F-4 Phantom II, EA-6B Prowler and TA-4 Skyhawk. Attached to CAG 5, 11 and 1 cruising on the USS Midway, America and Lincoln; Leland flew 80 missions over the war torn skies of Bosnia, Somalia, and Iraq.

He got into the flight test world when transferred to VX-30, Naval Weapons Test Center Point Mugu. He flew as a Project Officer on various test programs and was the Squadron Operations Officer. Shanle also attended the Project Officer/Engineers and the Out of Control Flight courses at National Test Pilot School. He was inducted as a Full Member in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) in 1998.

Closing out his Naval Aviation career with 600 carrier landings (200 night) on 11 different carriers; he continues his Aviation career with American Airlines.

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