Cuban Air Force and The Cayo Confites prosperity
New airplanes and the first helicopters Cuba received until the beginings of 1952
the following equipment, some bought and other obtained by the cited programm:
Under the new ARP Interim Program with the United States, begin to arrive new equipment, among which they would be able to have been 8 F-47D Thunderbolt, but Cuba is decided for the North American B-25 Mitchell.
Cuba received until the beginings of 1952 the following equipment, some bought and other obtained by the cited programm:
(Courtesy of Tulio Soto)
Expedition against Trujillo
But the spies maintained Trujillo informed about the conspiracy. The Dominican dictator began a press campaign to denounce the invasion, and the government of Cuba, fearing the scandal, suspend the expedition. The invasion was planned for September 25 but they were detained the same week of the massacre of Orfila September 20, 1947.
The airplanes of the "Legion" are confiscated
- 1 B-24
Liberator that landed in Rancho Boyeros July 31 piloted by Chester H.
Pickup. This bomber was loaded with rifle munitions, and different military loads.
August 1 was confiscated and carried to Columbia by military pilot.
- 2 Lockheed Vega Ventura carried of Rancho Boyeros to the Columbia Camp by military pilot August 1.
- 6 Lockheed P-38F-5 Lightning. August 16 two landed in the Naval Base of Mariel. Other two arrived the day 19 and one the 23. The sixth P-38 landed by mistake in Columbia Camp and was retained for the soldiers. Then the General Director of Sports, Manolo Castro, went to the Presidential Palace to defend the liberation of those airplanes. As result, the soldiers delivered the P-38 and a C-47. The P-38 flew to the Naval Base of Mariel the 4 of setiembre. The P-38F-5 were twin place of photographic recognition painted in black. They were bought in US without armament. But according to some fountains, they were 6 P-38L and 2 P-38F-5.
- 2 B-25 Mitchell. To October 29 already were painted with the insignia of the Cuban air force.
- 1 C-46A Commando.
12 retained in Columbia, the expedicionaries had in Cuba also:
- 2 Cessnas C-78 in the Field of the Anacra in Rancho Boyeros.
- 2 C-47 based also in the Field Anacra of Rancho Boyeros. One of them, with the registered NC-56001 was crashed in Managua, by Havana, August 27 by failure of the motor. The other, registered NC-66113 was confiscated for the Cuban military in Santiago of Cuba, where landed the 5 of setiembre.
According to Kenneth Robinson, an American pilot that accepted to serve of instructor in the base Anacra, also there they were 2 Vultee BT-13, one of them returned to US, and the second was crashed in Cuba.
Results for the Air Corp
Thanks to the confisqued equipment to the Caribbean Legion, that they were found in the air-naval base of Mariel and in Columbia, and the abortion of the expedition of Cayo Confites, the Air Corp, did not have to expect to the birth of the mutual program of aid of the United States, to return to grow. The prosperity of Cayo Confites Key benefit the Air Corp freely in the following form:
The P-38�s originally stationed at the Mariel Naval Air Base, were flown to Campo Columbia by Lieutenants Masmontet, Matamoros, Corvo, Carreras and Lima. The C-46 and the B-24 were destroyed by a hurricane at Campo Columbia.
Aviation School Promotions and events of the period 1947-1950
Aviation School Promotion
Raul Cross Quintana, Rene García Fernández, Jorge González Barréra, Aurelio Martínez Leiro, Emilio Pérez Piloto, Claudio L. Rey Moriñas, Rene Travieso Plá, Raul Vianello Alacán.
During the period of 1947 to 1948 and been the Chief of the Air Corp Colonel Eulogio Cantillo Porras (later a General) the Campo Columbia asphalt runways were built under the supervision of Captain Guillermo Someillan Gonzalez. The runways were oriented 40°/220°, 180°/360° and 80°/260° accordingly to the prevailing winds. In 1948 the old Almendares Hotel was purchased and remodeled to have the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Air Corp. the dependencies, the operational squadrons, dining facilities, rooms for officers and enlisted man dormitories, classrooms for Aviation cadets, a club and an open air movie house. Also during 1948 and while on a second approach to the runway of the summer retreat of President Carlos Prio Socarras in the Altura, Province of Pinar del Rio and under instrument conditions due to a torrential storm with no navigational aids, lost his life Lt.. Hernandez Hector and his mechanic flying an AT-6.
During the summer of 1950 and while flying a P-38 numbered 121, Lieutenant Joaquin Varona suffered a fatal accident over Santa Fe Beach in Havana.