'Arthur' 'Art' Chin Shui-Tin
23 October 1913 - 3 September 1997
Art Chin was born on 23 October 1913 in
Portland, Oregon. His father was from Toyshan county, Guangdong (Kwangtung)
province, China and his mother was from Peru.
He was one of a group of 15 Americans of
Chinese descent who were able to start flying in the US in the early
1930s, at Al Greenwood's flying school in Portland. After finishing
primary training in the US, they offered themselves to the Cantonese Air
Force, and on 1 December 1932 he was accepted as a Warrant Probationary
He was promoted to Second Lieutenant on
23 February 1933.
He completed his flight training in
Germany in 1936 receiving air-to-air gunnery training from the Luftwaffe
at Laager Lechtfeld. On 1 September 1936, he was promoted to First
Lieutenant, as a flight leader in the 6th Squadron.
He served as a flight instructor from
February to June 1937, and joined the 28th Pursuit Squadron, 5th Pursuit
Group on 10 June 1937, as Vice Commander.
On 15 August 1937 the 28th PS of the 5th
PG under the command of Captain Chan Kee-Wong was deployed to the Chuyung
Airfield near Nanking.
Early in the morning on 16 August 1937 the Kanoya Ku of the JNAF launched
two raids against Chuyung, which was an important airfield for the defence
of the capital Nanking. Lieutenant Commander Nitta led the first raid of
six G3Ms. Lieutenant Commander Nitta was leading the first Shotai (flight)
of three G3Ms and Lieutenant Osugi was acting as Buntaicho (flight leader)
for the second Shotai. They took off from Matsuyama Airfield in Taipei at
07.40 for its target, the Chuyung Airfield near Nanking. Lieutenant Ishii
led a second group of seven G3Ms in the second raid and their target was
the Yangchow Airfield.
Nitta's group arrived over Chuyung at 10.55. Because of low clouds, the
Chinese Air Raid Warning Net was only able to give a short warning. The
mechanics of both the 17th PS and 28th PS, which both were based at
Chuyung Airfield, worked frantically to get their aircraft started. John
Wong, commander of the 17th PS of the 3rd PG, was the first to get off the
ground in Boeing 281 #1701, followed by Buffalo Wong, Lieutenant Wong
Tse-Tsim (another Chinese American pilot) and Lieutenant Teng Cheng-Hsi.
Captain Chan Kee-Wongís 28th PS managed to get two Hawk IIs in the air,
one of them flown by Lieutenant Art Chin (Hawk II #2802).
John Wong barely had time to turn towards the G3M's when the first bombs
started bursting into the airfield compound. The 17th PS mechanics, which
had stayed and worked so bravely to start up the Boeings, scrambled for
cover. Luckily, only one was slightly injured by fragments. This
experience taught them to dig slit trenches next to the runway in the
Wong caught up with the six G3Ms flying at 900 metres and attacked the
lead flight. Attacking the aircraft of Ensign Umebyashi from the port
quarter, Wong took advantage of the blind spot created by the twin tail of
the G3M where the Japanese gunners could not hit him. Wong shot up the
G3M, causing it to fall in flames north east of the airfield. Pulling up
into a loop, Wong came down to attack another G3M from above and behind,
again from the port quarter. Hitting this G3M, Wong saw it descend with
fuel streaming from its tanks. Turning back towards Chuyung, Wong saw Wong
Tse-Tsim attacking another G3M without success. Joining in the fray, Wong
dived below the G3M, which turned out to be the lead plane flown by
Lieutenant Commander Nitta. Pulling up sharply, Wong fired a long burst at
the belly of the G3M. It caught fire immediately and crashed south of
Chuyung where its bomb load went off. Both crews of the crashed G3Ms
perished in their aircraft.
Meanwhile, Buffalo Wong had caught up with another G3M and scored some
hits. But, unfortunately, his guns malfunctioned at the critical moment,
depriving him of a kill.
Art Chin also managed to catch up with a G3M, likely to be the lead plane
of the 2nd Shotai commanded by Lieutenant Osugi. Lieutenant Teng Cheng-Hsi
of the 17th PS attacked it without success and soon broke off. The G3M had
dropped its bombs and was picking up speed trying to escape towards the
mouth of the Yangtse. Chin, in his antiquated Hawk II, could barely keep
up. Firing steadily, Chin was able to score many hits on the G3M,
puncturing its fuel tanks and wounding a crewmember. However, the lack of
speed advantage meant that the Hawk II was also an easy target for the
Japanese gunners as it hung there at zero degree deflection behind the
G3M. Chin later recalled that his Hawk II was hit many times, the Cyclone
engine stopping 2 bullets. Finally, Chin had to turn back at the mouth of
the Yangtse with Osugi's G3M descending, streaming smoke and fuel. Chin
managed to nurse the battered Hawk II to an airfield at Chia Hsing where
he made a forced landing (the Hawk II ended up on its nose as the brakes
failed). Osugi's G3M, which had been hit 58 times and with a gunner
injured, lost fuel at an alarming rate and Osugi considered turning back
to force land at the Japanese legation in Shanghai. Finally, lightening
the plane by dumping equipment and anything that can be pried loose, Osugi
managed keep the G3M in the air long enough to divert to Cheju-do off the
southern coast of Korea. Japanese records say the Osugi made an
"unscheduled landing" at Cheju-do just as his fuel ran out, meaning
anything from just an "unscheduled landing" to a crash. Based on his
report alone, the ROCAF awarded Chin a "kill" even though he never claimed
to have seen it crash.
The 28th PS was tasked with defending Nanking but with pressing demands
for air defense in both Northern China and Southern China, the 28th PS was
split into two. One group of four 28th PS Curtiss Hawk IIs, reinforced by
three others from the Air Force Academy, went sent north to Tai Yuan under
the command of Captain Chan Kee-Wong. The remaining four Hawk IIs, led by
Captain Chin, were sent south to protect the Shaokwan Aircraft Factory in
On 27 September 1937, three JNAF G3Ms from the Kanoya Ku attacked the
Hankou-Canton Railway in the Kwangtung Province. Lieutenant Chen Shun-Nan
led three Hawk IIIs of the 29th PS from Tien-ho Airfield in Canton and Art
Chin led four Hawk IIs of the 28th PS from Shao-kuan Airfield to
Both groups attacked the G3M's over Lok Cheung (Le Chang in Pin-yin) and
the 29th PS claimed to have downed one G3M and damaged another. Chin only
claimed to have shot up a JNAF plane and "drove it away".
JNAF records indicate that none of the G3M's went down immediately but the
No.2 aircraft commanded by a Lieutenant Yoshida was badly shot up. On the
initial attack, one Hawk III hit and wounded one of the Japanese gunners
and put two holes in the fuel tank. This was followed by an attack
described by the Japanese as being by "another fighter aircraft" (probably
referring to Hawk IIs as distinguished from Hawk IIIs with retractable
landing gears). This attack was much more devastating, shooting up the
fuselage, fuel tanks and wounding the two remaining gunners as well as
Lieutenant Yoshida. The G3M managed to fly out to sea before running out
of fuel and ditching off the coast of Swatow. A British freighter rescued
the Japanese crew but one of the gunners died of his wounds. Credit for
this kill should be given to both squadrons involved and was most probably
the aircraft attacked by Chin.
In October 1937 the Kuomintang government had purchased 36 Gloster
Gladiator Mk. Is, which were shipped to China an assembled. The first
batch of 20 Gladiators were ready in January 1938. After retraining of the
new fighter these were pressed into service with the 17th, 28th and 29th
Squadrons of the 5th PG. A second batch of 16 aircraft was received in
January 1938 and after assembly these were also assigned to the 28th and
29th Squadrons as a measure to replace attrition. By February the
Gladiators were ready for action.
In the early hours of the 9 February, the commander of the 5th PG, Wong
Pan-Yang took off from Heng Yang in a Vought V-92C Corsair in order to
guide 11 Gladiators from the 28th PS up from Nanchang. When the group ran
into a snowstorm Wongís engine started to play up and he was forced to
turn back to Heng Yang. The Gladiators continued on to Nanchang but only
eight aircraft made it. Chin Shui-Tin (Gladiator no. 2801) flew low to see
if he could find a landmark but ended up crashing into a hill, writing off
the aircraft and suffering injuries to the orbit of his right eye. Chou
Geng-Hsu (alternatively Flight Leader Chou Yung-Shu) (no. 2805) also got
lost during this flight and he had to bail out. Chou Ling-Hsu (no. 2810)
became lost and put down at Gaon.
At 13:00 on 31 May 1938 nine JNAF Type 95 (E8N) aircraft were spotted and
phoned into the Chinese Air Raid Warning Net by ground observers. The JNAF
floatplanes were flying towards Hukou from Shu Sung in the Anhuei
Province. Art Chin and four pilots of 28th PS took off from Nanchang to
engage the raiders. They sighted nine E8Ns in a 'V' formation at 6000 feet
near Hukou. The Gladiators had a height advantage of 1500 feet and Chin
immediately signalled to attack. Immediately he rolled his Gladiator and
dived to attack the E8N formation with his wingmen in hot pursuit. Since
the E8Ns were less manoeuvrable they resorted to abrupt rolling and
banking to try to shake off the attacking Gladiators. After 30 minutes of
attacks, Chin shot down an E8N. Its wreckage and two dead Japanese
crewmembers were later found approximately 20km north of Chen Chia-Ying
(Chen Jia-Ying in Pin-yin). Chou Ling-Hsu also shot down an E8N. This
aircraft crashed near Anqing and the survivors were rescued by a Japanese
vessel. Chin's other wingmen, Kwan Yen-sun, Teng Chung-Kai and Fan Hsin-Min
also inflicted damage to other E8Ns. The Gladiators withdrew from their
attacks when they began to run low on fuel and all of them landed safely
On 1 June 1938 he was promoted to Captain, and became Commander of the
On 16 June 1938 reports indicated that nine enemy fighters were sighted
near Nan Hsiung. John Wong, commander of the 5th Air Group, and eight
Gladiators were dispatched from Xiaoquan airbase to search for enemy
planes. As they reached 13000 feet above Xixin, Teng Chung-Kai saw what
they identified as six Ki-21 heavy bombers in two 'V' formations flying
2000 feet below him.
In fact the Japanese aircraft were six JNAF Type 96 G3M's from the Takao
Ku. Lieutenant Yoneda led one flight of three while the second was led by
Lieutenant (jg) Fumio Iwaya (author of "Chukoh").
Teng swirled his Gladiator #2809 slightly to notify Wong who then gave the
signal to attack. Wong in Gladiator #2909, Art Chin in Gladiator #2802 and
Teng took the lead to dive into the second enemy bomber 3-plane formation
Wong attacked Yoneda in the lead bomber with his favourite approach of
diving from above and pulling up to shoot at the belly of the bombers. He
hit the bomber's externally slung bomb-load (8 x 60kg bombs) under the
belly and detonated one of the bombs, destroying the Japanese aircraft.
The explosion possibly also damaged the other two bombers in the
Chin shot down the aircraft flying to the left of the lead bomber and it
went down in flames. Wong also claimed three additional shared destroyed
in this combat. The Japanese Lieutenant (jg) Iwaya reported that he saw
all three G3M's from Yoneda's flight descend into the cloud cover, one of
them wrapped in flames from the explosion, a second aircraft streamed fuel
from its right wing tank while a third was in a 90 degree bank. ROCAF
records indicate that two wrecks were found in rice fields between Lok-Cheung
(Le Chang) and Yun Fa (Ren Hua), almost certainly that of Yoneda and his
Other Gladiators followed and attacked the remaining bombers. After an
hour of fierce combat, three more Japanese bombers were claimed shot down
and the only surviving bomber sought refuge in thick clouds, escaping with
a leaking wing tank trailing white smoke. The Chinese Air Force claimed
five victories in this combat, which had taken place between 10.30 and
11.30 but in fact none of the G3M's in Iwaya's flight was lost although
all of them were damaged and streaming fuel from punctured wing tanks. One
of the gunners from the No.2 in this flight was badly injured. The Chinese
however lost two Gladiators in this combat. Kwan Yensun in Gladiator #2811
was hit by enemy fire and he was forced to bail out with minor facial
burns. The other Gladiator lost was #2814, piloted by Shen Mu-Hsiu, which
force-landed near Chennam due to damaged sustained from enemy fire. Louie
Yim-Qun, who claimed a shared destroyed in this combat, landed with a
punctured wing tank and Wong's Gladiator sported many holes caused by the
explosion of the enemy bomber he hit.
The No.3 aircraft of Yoneda's flight also failed to return from this
action, but it didn't go done at the same place as the other two. The
Chinese found it farther away by Tong-Tse Wan (Tong-Tse Bay) at the Wu
Shui River near Lok Cheung. Indications are that it was Chin who finished
this G3M off since when he landed a mechanic ran to his aircraft and told
him that the Air Raid Warning Net phoned in a report that there was a lone
G3M flying along the coast. He took off once again and caught up with this
G3M over the bank of the Wu Shui River that runs past the city of Lok
Cheung (Le Chang). He fired his remaining ammunition into this bomber and
sent it away smoking heavily. This is almost certainly the No.3 from the
Yoneda flight. Perhaps it was damaged in the initial encounter with John
Wong's flight and was searching for its bearings after descending through
the cloud layer. In any event, Chin's description of the lone aircraft and
the crash site supports this theory. Chin only claimed this as a damaged
On the night of 2 August 1938, Kwangsi mechanics from the 32nd PS
installed a piece of armour to the seat back of Chin's Gladiator No. 2809.
This armour was salvaged from a Russian fighter, which has been written
At 07:40 on 3 August 1938, 18 G3Ms were seen flying over Guangde. Later at
09:00, more than 70 Japanese fighters were reported heading for Hankou. In
response to this treat, the Chinese Air Force scrambled 52 fighters
consisting of 20 I-15bis, 13 I-16s, 11 Gladiators and 7 Hawk IIIs in four
groups from Hankou to intercept the Japanese intruders. The 11 Gladiators
were assigned to the 4th PG, which was divided into two subgroups.
Subgroup A was led by Captain Wu Yu-Liu, Commander of the 3rd PG, who was
flying an I-15bis and with four Gladiators under his leadership. Subgroup
B was led by 28th PS leader Chin Shui-Tin, who was flying Gladiator no.
2809 and with six Gladiators under his leadership.
Subgroup A took off from Hankou at 09:55. Because Wu Yu-Liu's I-15bis not
could match the speed of the Gladiators, he was forced to fly astern of
the Gladiators and he therefore passed the command to Zhu Jia-Xun,
Squadron Leader of 32nd Squadron. As Zhu led the Gladiators to move into
the forward position, Wu's I-15bis was attacked by A5Ms. Since the I-15bis
was obsolete in comparison to the more nimble Japanese fighters, Wu's
situation was most critical but luckily Zhu and his Gladiators returned
and attacked the A5Ms. Zhu and He Jermin took charge of the attack while
the other Gladiators provided them with cover at a higher altitude. Zhu
attacked the two A5Ms chasing Wu's I-15 and one of them abruptly turned
and fled while the other was hit by Zhu, who punctured the A5Ms wing tank
causing it to lose altitude rapidly. Zhu's wingman, He Jermin, shot down
another A5M, which ditched into Lake Chaoping. Totally, Subgroup A was in
combat with the A5Ms for more than 10 minutes and they landed at Hankou
airbase at 11:30.
Subgroup B was airborne just a few minutes after Subgroup A departed. Chin
led the seven Gladiators in a wide orbit in the south-west corner of
Hankou climbing to 12000 feet. The height made the Chinese pilots groggy
from hypoxia when they suddenly became aware that the sky to their left
was speckled with A5Ms. Chin signalled the Gladiators to climb to 21000
feet but the Japanese fighters detected them. Over 30 A5Ms diving from
2000 feet above engaged the seven Gladiators. There were three I-16s from
the 1st Air Group (probably from the 26th PS) attached to Subgroup B and
these were lagging behind the Gladiators. The attacking A5Ms immediately
cut these off. Squadron vice-commander Louie Yim-Qun in Gladiator no. 5732
was flying in the tail end Charlie position and he was attacked
simultaneously from different directions but he was relieved by Chin and
Shen Mushiu in Gladiator no. 2804. Louie Yim-Qun claimed a shared enemy
aircraft destroyed in this combat.
An I-16 under attack from several A5Ms was helped by Chinís wingman, Fan
Hsin-Min in Gladiator no. 2805, who dived to his rescue but he was soon
himself under attack from other A5Ms. Chin went to his wingman's aid and
managed to shoot the A5M off his tail. Before Chin could deliver the coup
de grace to his victim, he came under attack himself. The first indication
he got of the attack was bullets bouncing off the newly installed armour
plate, which probably saved his life. Chin turned tightly to evade the
attack but his Gladiator was already damaged. Three A5M's lined up to
making firing passes, diving from above, firing and then zooming back up
for altitude, taking full advantage of the A5M's better performance in the
vertical plane. After a few passes, Chinís aircraft was badly shot up,
with a number of wing-bracing wires shot away. His aircraft was almost
uncontrollable and he decided to take one of the A5M's with him. As one of
them completed his firing pass and began his zoom climb, Chin reversed his
turn and rammed the A5M. His right wings and nose hit the tail of the A5M
and tore it off. Chinís head was slapped against the side of the canopy of
the wildly spinning Gladiator before he was able to bail out. Landing in a
field, Chin was presented with a machine gun salvaged from his crashed
Gladiator. Hitching a ride back to Hankou in a Douglas O-2MC, Chin was
sent to the infirmary when Chennault came to visit him. Chin joked about
the machine gun by asking Chennault if he could swap it for a new plane to
fight the Japanese. Chennault later embellished the story in "The Way of a
Fighter" saying that Chin found the gun, carried it back to the airfield
and asked to swap it for a plane. More dramatic but not quite the truth!
A fourth A5M was claimed by Liu Ling-Yang of 28th PS. His own aircraft was
however damaged and he bailed out into the Yangtze River and swam to
Subgroup B lost another Gladiator in this combat. This loss was attributed
to an engine failure when the engine on Gladiator no. 5723 stopped in the
middle of the combat. The Gladiator started to spin and with many
difficulties was the pilot, Chou Ling-Hsu, able to get out of the cockpit
in time since when he was hanging in his parachute, the Gladiator exploded
in mid-air, sending debris flying several thousand feet in all directions.
In this combat claimed the commander of the 26th PS, Captain Wang Han-Hsun,
an enemy aircraft before his I-16 was badly hit; in his cabin were more
than 60 bullet hits. Liu Ling-Chi (no. 5922) also shot down a Japanese
aircraft. When his I-16 was set afire the pilot baled out. I-16 no.5921
was shot down and no. 5920 made a forced landing.
The Japanese escort seems to have been 21 A5Ms, which returned claiming 27
enemy aircraft and 5 probables for the loss of three fighters from the
15th Kokutai (Lieutenant (junior grade) Naohisa Shinjo (Class 62) and PO2c
Hitoshi Fukusawa (Pilot 27) were killed while PO3c
Namitaro Matsushima (Pilot 30) was taken prisoner but later returned)
after having been intercepted by a reported 50 Chinese aircraft.
On 1 October 1938, the 28th PS was re-assigned to the 3rd PG and sent to
Lanchou to train on I-15bis. Chin, as Squadron Leader went with them. The
remaining Gladiators from the 28th and 32nd PS were sent to Liu-Chow in
Kwangsi for overhaul.
Chin Shui-Tin (to the right) in front of a Polikarpov I-15bis.
On 1 December 1938 he was promoted to Major.
On 20 December 1938 he became deputy Commander of the 3rd Group.
He and two other pilots went down to Liu-chow in August 1939 to pick up
three Gladiators to fly back to Lanchou when the Japanese invaded Kwangsi.
Thus began the "guerrilla campaign" waged by Art and his small band, which
ended in December 1939.
On 2 November 1939 he damaged a "Type 97" reconnaissance aircraft over
Wuming Airfield, Kwangsi together with Tang Hsin-Kwang. After the combat
Art was frustrated as he had silenced the Japanese rear gunner and was
expecting his wingman Tang Hsin-Kwang to finish off the kill - which he
failed to do.
A few days before Christmas 1939 he claimed a lone twin-engine bomber
over Kwangsi. He recalled downing it by diving and then pulling up to hit
This claim has not been possible to verify with Japanese records.
On 27 December 1939 Chin Shui-Tin flew his final action over Kwangsi.
Chin was leading two Gladiators and one I-15bis from the 32nd PS on an
escort mission for three Soviet Volunteer BG SB bombers. During the
mission they became involved in combat with Japanese fighters. All three
Chinese fighters were shot down. One pilot, Wei Yi-Ging (Commander of the
32nd PS) was killed and the I-15bis pilot, Chen Ye-Hsin, force-landed on
the battlefield after being wounded in the back. Chin, after being hit
while shooting an A5M off Chen's tail, was hit from behind by another A5M.
His Gladiator caught fire but he managed to nurse it back over Chinese
lines near Naning before bailing out, suffering terrible burns to his face
and hands. The Japanese fighters were probably A5Ms from the 14th Kokutai
led by Ensign Kazu-o Muranaka. Muranaka who had arrived to Nanning during
the day flew a combat air patroll in the afternoon together with Sea1c
Nojima. They engaged single-engine aircraft they jointly claimed 2
victories and one probable. These were the 14th Kokutaiís first victories.
However the Soviet Volunteers got through and bombed their targets
unmolested, contributing to the successful Chinese Army counter-attack at
the Kunlun Pass.
Chinese sources also claimed that ground troops found three enemy wrecks
(two with serial numbers recorded) in the area after the action, which
could match with Chinís claim for 2 destroyed and 1 probable during this
combat. However, these claims have not been possible to verify with
Chin lay wounded in a rice paddy for several days until he was found
and rescued by Chinese soldiers.
ROCAF records indicate that the 32nd PS flight of three Gladiators and
one I-15bis under Art Chin fought 2 air-to-air engagements in September
1939 and 5 in November and December 1939, claiming 4 confirmed kills (3 on
27December 1939) and 3 damaged.
Chin spent a long time in various hospitals. He was in Hong Kong when
it was captured by the Japanese, but managed to escape with his wife and
two children, and eventually returned for treatment to the US.
He was discharged from the Chinese Air Force on 1 March 1945.