Flying Skunks

Flying Skunks

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  • Mar, 13 , 24

The soon-to-be-released Spray and Pray Squadron by Margaret Mills Kincannon chronicles the history of the 3rd Bomb Squadron, 1st Bomb Group, of the Chinese-American Composite Wing during the Second World War. The aircraft of the 3rd Bomb Squadron bore a fairly unusual emblem, that of a skunk and a rising sun inside a blue circle.

Why a skunk? The following excerpt from the book tells the story of the unit’s emblem and nickname:


By this time, bombers assigned to the 3rd Squadron, each displaying the Kuomintang sun, also bore a Chinese air force number—in the range from 713 through 726 for bombers of the 3rd Bomb Squadron. On the nose of each plane was a roundel featuring the squadron’s insignia: a black-and-white skunk with his tail raised in the “armed” position and a self-protective clothespin on his nose. Above his back was his target: a burnt-orange rising sun against a turquoise sky. Its design was the creation of Capt. Hinrichs. The squadron mascot represented yet another example of cultural differences between the Americans and the Chinese, who were unwilling to characterize themselves as skunks and therefore referred to the animal as a weasel or ferret (yo shu).

 Later in the year, MSgt. Hanrahan called his outfit the “skunk-holding-its-nose-to-the-rising-sun” squadron, while “the Flying Skunk” squadron occasionally appeared in newspaper articles back home. The squadron’s historical officer noted that they called themselves the “Spray and Pray Boys.” The term “spray and pray” (generally used derisively) refers to the practice of firing an automatic firearm toward an enemy in long bursts without making an effort to line up each shot or burst of shots, yet hoping for accurate results. In the case of the 3rd Squadron, the name was chosen with a kind of tongue-in-cheek humor. B-25s flown by the 3rd Bomb Squadron can easily be identified by the skunk displayed on the nose, including Hodges’s plane that crashed into the rice paddy. When asked in later years why they chose a skunk as their mascot, Simpson answered, “Well, we had to pick something.”

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