The Cuban Army Air Force (FAEC) and Batista (1952-1955)
Batista´s changes in the aviation. The FAEC
March 10, of 1952, the then senator General Fulgencio Batista and Zaldívar,
made a coup d'etat to the president Dr. Carlos Prío Socarras. When
Prio spoke about sending troops to fight to Korea the Army officials promoted
previously by Batista; Diaz Tamayo and Ugalde Cart, began seditious campaigns
against Prio inside the armed forces. Batista also took advantage of the discontent
by the governments corruption and he struck before the elections, where the ortodoxos
would be able to gain.
On the 23rd
of April of the same year officially the name of the Cuban Army Air Corps was
changed to Fuerza Aerea Ejercito de Cuba (FAEC) or Cuban Army Air
Force. For the first time since Captain Mario Torres Menier in 1933, has a pilot
as chief of the Air Force, Colonel Carlos Pascual Pinard, his command was very
short lived because he died of a painful kidney deceased.
The troop praises Batista after her coup d'etat
After his death Carlos Tabernilla
Palmero was promoted to Chief of the Air Force with the rank of Colonel and
later Brigadier General. Carlos Tabernilla was son of the General Francisco
Tabernilla Dolz, Chief of the Cuban Army General Staff and Batista´s man.
His another son Silito was the leader of the combat tanks, in the base of Columbia
and Marcelo was the Leader of the Bomber Squadron. In this way Batista intended
to control the aviation.
Mutual Defence Programm with the United States
the Mutual Defense Air Program (MDAP) began to take effect, new equipment began
to arrive and the cuban pilots, after receiving basic military training at Managua
Army Military School in the province of Havana and spending some time training
at Military Aviation School at Camp Brihuegas, also known as Campo Columbia, were
sent to the United States, in order to receive the pilot courses offered, flying
the must modern equipment of the time, the PA-18, the North American AT-6, and
later the B-25 or the T-33 for fighter pilots before flying the F-84. Later groups
flew the Beechcraft Mentor T-34, the North American T-28 Trojan before proceeding
to the B-25 or the T-33. Some of the student pilots flew the T-37 a Beechcraft
jet known as the Tweedy Bird. Some of the Cuban pilots flew the F-86 while on
advance training during 1955. All the cuban pilots received the best and the must
up to date instruction in instrument flying, formation flying and all the related
subjects received by the USAF student pilots.
| || Bell-47
similar to them bought under the Aid Program in 1956, see down (Picture
courtesy of Phillip Treweek)|
Promotion of the Aviation
School under the new programs
Aviation School Promotion Eulalio
Beruvides y Ballestéros, Miguel Carro Suarez, Roberto Lam Rodríguez,
Martell Monzón, Juan V. Reinoso, Eduardo Rodriguez, Leonardo Seda Reyes.
1953 Aviation School Promotion
Mario Alvarez Cortina, Mario Bermúdez
Esquivel, Alfredo Caballero González, Carlos Gómez Acosta,
Florencio L. González Rojas, Antonio Hernández Martínez,
Martín Klein Schiller, Jorge Morales, Manuel Navarro Macho,
Hector Ors Pina, Félix Sánchez, Antonio Soto Vázquez.
1954 Aviation School Promotion in United States (first promotion
Blas Balboa Auty, Bernardo
Rodriguez Sardiñas, Virgilio García Cuéllar, Ricardo Rodriguez
de Castro, José Laffite Franco, Alvaro
Prendes Quintana, Roberto Fiad Cura, Gustavo Somoano Alvarez, Héctor
González Fernández, Enrique Zignago Perez, Israel E. Beruvides,
Félix M. Monzón.
In 1953 are send to the Roosevelt Base
in Puerto Rico, the Colonel Matamoros and the Lt. Travieso to receive machine
gun shot, rockets and bombing training. In the first days of November of 1954
are transferred to Gary AFB in San Frameworks, Texas the Capt. Rafael Lima and
the Lt. Jorge González Barreras to receive the helicopters pilots course.
In June of 1955 are send to United States to the base Moody in Georgia Alvaro
Prendes Quintana,, Ricardo Rodríguez de Castro and Virgilio García Cuéllar,
to pass course of flight by instruments.
1955 Aviation School Promotion
Ángel Alvarez Castillo, Pedro
Bacallao Fonte, Juan Bermúdez Esquivel, Luis D. Buria Acosta,
Francisco Chappi Yanes, José Crespo Grasso, Luis de Vale Rojas,
Guillermo Estévez de Arcos, Rafael Fajardo Morejon, Rafael
García Iñiguez, Jorge Intriago Telledo, Orlando Izquierdo
Ramírez, Oscar Más Machado, Justo Morón Ruiz,
Pablo Ors Pina, Roberto Pérez-Valdes Montiel, Osvaldo Piedra
Negueruelas, Luis Soto Camacho.
For the feasts of the 50° anniversary of the Republic
of Cuba (20 of May of 1952), the headquarters of the FAEC wants to have new equipment.
They kept in mind the degradation and loss of the equipment received by the program
of aid ARP in 1947, and the equipment confiscated to the Caribbean Legion that
new FAEC F-47D-30-RA Thunderbolt (Picture from the book of Dan Hagedorn "Republic
P-47 Thunderbolt. The Final Chapter. Latin American Air Forces Services")|
received until the middle of 1952 the following equipment, some purchased and
others obtained through the Mutual Aid Plan
16, 1952/Jun 1953- 29 Republic Thunderbolt F-47D. Purchased from USAF with
parts N° 450-451-452-453-454 455-456-457-458-459-460-461-462 463-464-465-466-467
-468-469-470-471-472-473-474-475-476-477-478 (For the recently created
Pursuit and Combat Squadron "10 of March" based on Columbia)
1953- 7 Piper PA-20 Pacer Purchased N° 1-2-3-4-5-6-7
March 1953- 5 Piper PA-18-135 Super Cub
Purchased N° 20-21-22-23-24
1954/aug 1956- 8 Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star Land/lease N° 701-703-705-707-709-711-713-715
Nov 1956- 16 Douglas B-26B & C Invader
Land/Lease N°: 901-903-905-907-909-911-913-915-917-919-921-923-925-927-929-931
Dec 1955/May 58- 4 Piper PA-22-150 Tri Pacer
Purchased N° 25-26-27-28
1955/May 58- 3 Piper Pa-22-160 Tri Pacer Purchased N° 34-35-36
Sep 1955- 1 Piper PA-23-160 Apache Purchased
- Dec 1955- 1 Aero
Commander 560 Purchased N° 128
1956- 2 Bell 47G-2 helicopters purchased N° H-1, H-2
Dec 1957- 1 Douglas TB-26 Land/lease
- 1957- 6 De Havilland
Beavers DHC-2 Purchased N° 15-16-17-18-19-20
4 Curtiss Comandos C-46 Purchased N° 610-611-612-613
| || Republic
F-47D-35RA FAEC N°452 of Columbia Camp, June of 1953. So far at is known,
this was the only FAEC F-47 to have two color (red-yellow) cowling. Others
being painted entirely blue, white, red, green or yellow. Sign "FAEC" appeared
lunder the port wing and on the upper wing panel (Picture and note from the cited
Dan Hagedorn´s book)|
The Sound barrier and others
In February of 1953 visit Cuba
an Squadron of British jet bombers Canberra, in promotion flights. Two years later,
in February of 1954, visit Cuba the famous american acrobatic team "Thunderbirds"
with its F-84G. The demonstration opened a F-86 Sabre that broke the barrier
of the sound in dive. This it is the first time that occurs in Cuba. During the
summer of 1955, while flying an AT-6 over the town of Bejucal on the Havana Province,
Lt Florencio L Rojas Gonzalez, suffered a deadly accident after trying a "Split
S" at low altitude, on the day of his wedding. Lt Rojas was the youngest one of
an aviator's family and the second member of the family to die while piloting
F-47D Thunderbolts. Activities and accidents
FAEC buys the F-47 by the RMSA program and in May of 1952 the first begin to arrive.
By December 1953 the Squadron was still fully up-to-strenght. The FAEC used a
unique method of calculating utilization at this time - throught measurement of
air miles flown. The first three years of service these figures are: 1952
390 1953 2,265
destined to Chile that crashed in Columbia, Havana, following lost of power on
take off. Their pilot, the 1LT Bill Morris suffered only light injuries
and the remainders of the airplane were delivered to the FAEC for to be used like
training (Picture and note from the cited book of Dan Hagedorn.)|
that date the Cuban pilot averaged betwen 150-200 hours of flight in the F-47.
Anxious to show off their new mounts and competence, the FAEC sends from Havana
to San Juan of Puerto Rico two F-47 on July 15, 1953. They visit the Sqn.PRNG
of F-47N in Isla Grande. They were accompanied by the C-46 CU-C434. They returned
on August 4 via Guantánamo naval base. This dramatic increment of the activity
of the olds and eroded F-47 provokes a series of accidents. The F-47 in Latin
America in general sufered habitually by the tropical climate, which also provoked
(among others things) losses of power and fires by the zone of the pipes.
- During 1953, Lt Emilio Perez Piloto,
returning from a patrol flight and trying to land with a F-47, with the propeller
in automatic had an electrical failure on the system while trying a go around,
suffered a fatal accident on runway 8 in Camp Columbia.
1954 Lt. Enrique Perez Zignago while taking off from Camp Columbia, toward the
city of Havana on a F-47, the escape tube of his plane, that passed at both side
of the pilot seat caught on fire. Trying to avoid falling into the city directed
his plane toward the Gulf of Mexico, where he crashed in front the Blanquita Hornedo
Hotel, about 5 miles from the field.
- At the beginning from 1955
the Lt.Alvaro Prendes Quintana
during the first alone flight in the F-47, destroyed it totally, but escapes unharmed.
In August of 1955 the Lt. Virgilio Garcia Cuellar crashed in a F-47, when landing
on the 8 runway of Colombia and destroys various others stationed F-47.
Lt Alvarez Cortina, nosed over a F-47 during
a landing a suffered minor injuries
Pablo Ors Pina suffered a similar accident while flying an F-47 over Cienaguilla
in Manzanillo Oriente over the rebel's operation area
11, 1958, While trying a "go around" Lt. Oscar Mas Machado had an accident flying
the F-47 N°466 when he had a propeller failure with all the ordinance and
full of gasoline, falling inside the city near Campo Columbia
flying a two F-47 plane formation, one of the planes piloted by Lt. Guillermo
Estevez de Arcos and the other by Lt. Leonardo Seda Reyes over Varadero Beach.
The aircraft flown by Lt Estevez experienced severe vibrations and engine stoppage
having to have a forced landing over the coral rock terrain near the beach. Of
this showy accident Lt. Estevez escaped injury while the airplane was completed
of this article are based on the work "History of the Cuban Military Aviation",
of the Captains Manuel Iglesias Ramirez and Esteban L. Bovo Caras (that use as
one of its sources the Dan Hagedorn´s book "Central American &Caribbean
Air Forces"), and the Dan Hagedorn book "Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. The
Final Chapter. Latin American Air Forces Services".
The Trasatlantic Flight of Menendez Pelaez
1913. Audacious Flight of Rosillo and Parlá
1933-1938, Cuban Military Aviation. The 1933 Revolution and her consequences.
Cuban Military Forum