A new exhibit focused on the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC), a group that served during World War II, opened Aug. 19 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The First Over the ‘Hump:’ The China National Aviation Corporation exhibit is located in the museum’s Air Power Gallery. It tells the story of CNAC’s pioneering search for air routes over the Himalaya Mountains between China and India, known as the “Hump.” CNAC’s success in finding these vital air routes led to the first regular flights over the Himalaya Mountains. Joining with the Air Transport Command, CNAC became a partner in the world’s first strategic airlift. Between April 1942 and August 1945, CNAC crews are reported to have flown more than 38,000 missions transporting 10% of all cargo and personnel over the Hump to Allied Forces in China, Burma and India.
For their contributions to the war effort, CNAC aircrews were granted veteran status in 1993 and awarded all due awards and decorations, including the Victory Medal, Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
“The Allied success in winning World War II was a result of successfully mobilizing and utilizing all available strategic assets, including commercial airlines,” said Terry Aitken, the museum’s senior curator. “The experiences of World War II and the Berlin Airlift compelled the U.S. to create the Civil Reserve Air Fleet – aircraft from U.S. airlines that support Department of Defense airlift requirements in emergencies. This exhibit is an opportunity for the museum to acknowledge the accomplishments of the CNAC veterans and their place in history.”
The exhibit includes several artifacts, such as a khaki bush jacket donated by Capt. Fletcher “Christy” Hanks, who crossed the Hump 347 times during World War II, and a CNAC lighter and custom-made utility knife donated by Capt. Gifford Bull, who is credited with 252 Hump flights.
For more information and photos of this exhibit, click here.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission and parking are free.