PMG takes to the skies with Chinese Patriotic Aviation Bonds

In a 1941 attempt to raise funds for new aircraft, the Chinese government created Patriotic Aviation Bonds.

During the course of a prolonged campaign that often bordered on mere survival in the face of overwhelming odds, the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) regularly found itself in the direst of straits. Throughout many of the events leading up to the initiation of hostilities during the Second World War in Asia – primarily the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) – the ROCAF continued to centralize the previously disparate and disorganized aerial combat forces of China in the attempt to stave off Japanese advances in the region. These efforts were supplemented by the support of allied nations such as the United States in the form of aircraft, training, and – later – volunteer combat groups.

Despite this support, however, the situation was such that, by 1940-41, the ROCAF had lost much of its ability to field a viable fighting force through sheer attrition. Many of the aircraft that filled the ranks of the ROCAF throughout the Second Sino-Japanese War and the earliest stages of the Second World War had been lost and the need to replenish the number of aircraft able to resist the air forces of Japan was unavoidable. To this end, the government in China issued bearer bonds to raise $50,000,000 to purchase new planes in 1941.

$10 China Patriotic Aviation Bond

These Patriotic Aviation Bonds were issued in denominations of 5, 10, 50, and 100 dollars. It has been suggested that – since these denominations were given in US dollars – these bonds were primarily targeted toward Chinese individuals living overseas. With no mention of interest to be paid, only repayment five years after the end of the war, the ability of Patriotic Aviation Bonds to raise funds for the purchase of new aircraft was heavily dependent on the Chinese diaspora willingly contributing to the war effort with no hope for future return beyond the mere survival of their homeland.

Featuring a vignette of the Boeing P-26 – one of the aircraft supplied to the nascent ROCAF by the United States – these war bonds are popular with collectors from a wide variety of numismatic foci. By the time the Patriotic Aviation Bonds of 1941 were issued, the P-26 had already complied a prestigious list of honors in the service of the ROCAF. Chief among those honors was the aircraft’s involvement in the world’s first dogfight between all-metal monoplane fighter aircraft when Chinese P-26s engaged Japanese Mitsubishi A5Ms on the 4th of August 1937.

However, despite efforts to raise funds for new planes through measures such as the issue of Patriotic Aviation Bonds, only eleven aircraft were received by the ROCAF. This paltry number was not enough to make any significant contribution to the Chinese struggle against Japanese air power. While the issuance of Patriotic Aviation Bonds may not have entirely fulfilled the needs of the Chinese air forces in 1941, they live on now in the collections of many numismatists as interesting and attractive artifacts from a formative and heroic chapter of the Chinese air force. Perhaps a Patriotic Aviation Bond will fly into your own collection soon.

Sources:

  • Smith, Ward D., and Brian Matravers. Chinese Banknotes. Menlo Park, CA: Shirjieh, 1970. Print.
  • Boling, Joseph, and C. Frederick Schwan. World War II Remembered: History in Your Hands, a Numismatic Study. Port Clinton, OH: BNR, 1995. Print.

PMG is an independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG).


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