Travis AIr Force Base Heritage Center









(Go to Outdoor Exhibits)


Indoor Exhibits - World War II












Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 . . . “A day that will live in infamy.”
Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 . . . “A day that will live in infamy.”

World War II

World War II, also known as the Second World War or WWII, was a global military conflict that took place between 1939 and 1945.  It was the largest and deadliest war in history, culminating with the dropping of the atomic bomb.

The Allied Powers, led by Britain, the Soviet Union (1941) and the United States (1941), defeated the Axis Powers, led by Germany, Italy, and Japan.

The war was fought in response to the expansionist and racist aggression of Nazi Germany under the dictator Adolf Hitler and the imperial ambitions of Japan in Asia.

It is possible that around 62 million people, or 2% of the world population, died in the war; estimates vary greatly. About 60% of all casualties were civilians, who died as a result of disease, starvation, genocide (in particular, the Holocaust), massacres, and aerial bombing.

After World War II, Europe was informally split into Western and Soviet spheres of influence. There was a shift in power from Western Europe and the British Empire to the two new superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.

In Asia, the defeat of Japan led to its democratization. China's civil war continued through and after the war, resulting eventually in the establishment of the People's Republic of China. The former colonies of the European powers began their road to independence.

Chronology of World War II

  • 1937 War breaks out in Asia
  • 1939 War breaks out in Europe
  • 1940 War spreads
  • 1941 War becomes global
  • 1942 Deadlock
  • 1943 War turns
  • 1944 Beginning of end
  • 1945 End of war.

Travis Control Tower in 1944
1944 Travis Control Tower

The Travis Heritage Center’s World War II exhibits lets you walk in the footsteps of an incredible time in history.  You can:

  • Tread though the early years of the War in Asia with General Claire Chennault and the “Flying Tigers.”
  • Or drone with the immortal “Gooney Bird” (DC-3/C-47) as it wings its way over “the Roof of the World” during “The Hump.”
  • Or lift-off with the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders and the crew of the USS Hornet as they awakened the American people from the depths of despair to an avenging tiger.
  • Or spot enemy artillery in our Piper L-4 “Grasshopper.”
  • Or deploy in a CG-4 Combat glider.
  • Or imagine being an incredible aviation pioneers like the Tuskegee Airmen or the WASPS (Women Airforce Service Pilots). 
  • And then, touch a replica of the “Fat Man Bomb” . . . the bomb, which ended the war.

General Claire Chennault and the “Flying Tigers”

“Flying Tigers”
“Flying Tigers”

As in WWI, numerous Americans took advantage of the opportunity to fly and fight without waiting upon their country to enter the war.  In Burma, Claire L. Chennault, a retired Air Corps major who had served as special advisor to the Chinese Air Force since 1937, formed the American Volunteer Group (A.V.G) nicknamed the “Flying Tigers.”  The unit consisted of approximately 100 pilots and 200 ground crew personnel (most of whom had been released from the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines to volunteer for the A.V.G.) and was equipped with obsolescent P-40B airplanes. It began training at Rangoon in Sep. 1941.

Two of the three squadrons moved to Kunming, China to protect the Burma Road, the only ground route into China, and on Dec. 20, 1941, the Flying Tigers received their "baptism under fire" when they inflicted heavy losses on Japanese bombers attempting to attack Kunming.

Months of combat followed and the A.V.G., greatly outnumbered in the air and operating under adverse conditions (such as no replacement pilots and practically no spare parts for repairing aircraft), scored a very impressive record against the enemy, 286 Japanese planes shot down at a cost of 12 A.V.G. pilots killed or missing in action.  In May 1942, pilots of the 23rd Fighter Group, selected to replace the Flying Tigers, began to arrive in China and the A.V.G. was dissolved on Jul. 4, 1942 when the 23rd Group was officially activated.

“The Hump,” China Burma India Theatre Exhibit

U. S. Army Air force Hump Airlift Operation April 1942 thru September 1945
U. S. Army Air force Hump Airlift Operation April 1942 thru September 1945

During World War II the U. S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) established history’s first sustained, long distance, 24-hour around-the-clock, all-weather, military aerial supply route.  The route extended from the Assam Valley in far northeastern India to the Yunnan province in far southwestern China, a distance of approximately 525 miles.  It was made necessary by a United States pledge that it would provide ongoing Lend-Lease war supplies to China to keep it in the war against Japan as an essential part of the overall Allies war effort.  This route came to be known as the “Hump Operation”.  It was located in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater of operations. 

In early 1942 the Imperial Japanese armed forces completed final isolation of China by land and sea when they invaded Burma.  This cut off supplies to China moving over the Burma Road, the last remaining land route capable of handling large loads of military supplies in support of China’s war against Japan.  The only remaining access to China was by air.  The only air route available was over far northern Burma.

This aerial route crossed over a generally north-south spur of the Himalaya Mountains, the “Hump”.  Highest elevations along the route extended from approximately 16,000 feet MSL to the north to approximately 12,000 feet MSL to the far south.  The mountain valleys of northern Burma contained dense jungles, occupied by uncivilized native tribes and wild animals.  The eastern end of the route fell over the mountainous and plateau area of western China enroute to the main Yunnan province airbase at Kunming.  Other satellite airports in the general area of Kunming were also used.

Continue with the Piper L-4 “Grasshopper”



History of Travis AFB








Basic Trainers
     BT-13 “Valiant”
     T-37 Simulator
     F-100 Cockpit Trainer








Early Years
     Wright Brothers








World War I
     94th Aero Squadron
     Stars and Stripes








Inter War Years
     Spirit of St. Louis
     Cessna AT-17 Bobcat








World War II
     Flying Tigers
     “The Hump”
     Piper L-4 “Grasshopper”
     CG-4 Combat Glider
     Tuskegee Airmen
     Doolittle Raid
     “Fat Man” Nuclear Bomb








Cold War
     Berlin Airlift
     The “Candy Bomber”
     Candy Bomber Honored








Korean War
     Korean War Gallery
     Korean War: “In Field”
     Korean War: “On Base”
     Korean War Stories
     Truman’s Secret Visit
     Flying Cheetahs
     Rescue Mission
     SAC Air Crews
     Travis Crash
     Operation Starlift








Vietnam War
     Vietnam Exhibit
     The Nurses
     Bringing Them Home
     Operation Homecoming








Modern Flight
     Strategic Airlift
     C-141 “Starlifter”
     Lockheed C-5 “Galaxy”
     Aerial Refueling








Space Exploration
     Aerojet General XLR73
     Mercury Spacecraft
     Project Gemini








Humanitarian Missions
     Stinson L-5 “Sentinel”
     EMEDS Unit
     Operation Babylift








     AGM-28 Hound Dog Missile
     PB4Y-2 Bow Turret
     Engine: R-2600-13
     Nose Art
     Military Coins
     Military Uniform Collection












top of page






© Travis AFB Heritage Center Foundation • Website by Classic InsightPrivacy PolicySitemapDirectors’ Page (password-protected)