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The "Hump": Lifeline to China

A C-46A en route to China over the Himalayas. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A C-46A en route to China over the Himalayas. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Mechanics salvage usable parts from a C-87, the cargo version of the B-24 bomber, which crashed at an airfield in India. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Mechanics salvage usable parts from a C-87, the cargo version of the B-24 bomber, which crashed at an airfield in India. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Burma lies like a giant wedge between India and China, and after its occupation by the Japanese, the only link between these two countries was a hazardous air route across the rugged Himalaya Mountains -- the famed "Hump." The obstacles posed by terrain and the extremes in climate were difficulties never before experienced in mass operation of aircraft. Across this treacherous route, the AAF undertook and maintained the aerial resupply of China in the greatest sustained aerial transport achievement of the war, carrying cargoes ranging from bombs, gasoline and medicine to spare parts, trucks and K-rations.

Flights over the Hump began in April 1942 when the Army flew gasoline and oil to China for planned use by Doolittle's Raiders following their attack on Tokyo. Under the control of AAF's Air Transport Command (ATC) after Dec. 1, 1942, the India-China Wing of the ATC slowly increased its lift over the Hump from 2,800 tons in February 1943 to more than 12,000 tons a month in early 1944 and 71,000 tons in July 1945. Although the Hump operation cost the lives of some 800 flyers, it kept China in the war.

Click here to return to the War on the Asian Mainland Overview.

 

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