Robert Lee Scott: Flying Tiger, WWII Ace, P-40 Fighter Pilot

Some people know early on what they want to do with their lives. They set their minds to accomplishing their dreams and let nothing get in the way of the dream. They are built of skill, desire, determination. One of these people was General Robert Lee Scott.

Scott was born in Macon, Georgia. He fell in love with the idea of flying in high school and was taken by the stories of fighter pilots in WWI. He completed high school and did what was necessary to get into the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was determined to become a pilot, and, after graduation in 1932, he took whatever flying jobs he could find to gain the hours and to build his flying skills.

Photo: YouTube/Warner Bros.

Scott did what was necessary to get into the war as fighter pilot. He would go to Burma to fly cargo planes full of supplies “over the hump” of the Himalaya mountain range to the allied Chinese forces in China who were at that time in a struggle to stop the Japanese invasion into China. On one occasion, he flew his cargo plane into the airfield where General Chenault’s Flying Tigers were based. The base had gotten information that Japanese Zeros were headed in their direction. Gen. Chenault told Scott to get his cargo plane out of there, but Scott told Gen. Chenault that his plane was still full of supplies and too heavy to do that. He looked over at a P-40 sitting on the tarmac and asked Gen. Chenault to let him fly that plane.

Photo: YouTube/Warner Bros.

Scott was already a Colonel by that time. Chenault told him he was too old and too high in rank to fly with his Flying Tigers, but Scott’s insistance was too great and the Japanese were now too close, so Chenault relented and allowed Scott to pilot that old P-40. This was still early in the war, and the U.S. was not having many victories as yet. But the Flying Tigers were having many victories in the skies flying against the faster and better-designed Japanese Zeros. They were finding ways to fight their better opponents, and Scott was the best among them. He would shoot down some 18 or more Japanese Zeros, becoming the leading fighter pilot Ace in the war.

Photo: YouTube/Warner Bros.

Scott would pen a book based on his experiences while stateside during the war. It became an instant success and was a real moral booster for the nation at the time. He titled it “God Is My Co-Pilot.” It would be picked up by Hollywood and turned into a movie that would see its premiere at a movie theater in his hometown of Macon, Georgia. The movie can still be seen on Youtube and other sites. It is a wartime movie and is full of Hollywood elements, but it is based on Scott’s actual experiences with the Flying Tigers.

Scott not only proved his fighter pilot skills but would eventually replace General Chenault as the commander of the famed Flying Tigers. This is a great story of a man made of grit, determination, skill and love of country. He would tell young people that they should “Thank God every day and do the right thing,” that they should concentrate on building character and the qualities necessary to live a good life. These simple yet challenging ideals are still worthy of being promoted by all of us today.

Photo: YouTube/Warner Bros.

It is good to remember men like Gen. Robert Lee Scott. They are models of what it takes to be a good person, someone who does what is necessary to be good at what they are called to do in life and how to be a good citizen.

The Veterans Site honors the memory of this good man and WWII Ace. His contribution to the victory against Japanese Imperialist tyranny is monumental. We must never forget!

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