Aviation Historian 31
A.Tincopa - Wings over Peru
The CAP’S 8As were used extensively during the conflict with Ecuador, often as bombers; here an 8A-3P is rearmed with fragmentation bombs before another bombing sortie from Tumbes forward airfield on the Peru-Ecuador border, in late July 1941. The 8A was also fitted with a pair of Browning 0-3in machine-guns in each wing.
Douglas 8As of 31 EIA taxy out for take-off at Teniente Coronel Pedro Ruiz Gallo airfield in Chiclayo in July 1947.
With only the red, white and red vertical bars of the rudder providing any clues as to its intended destination, one of Peru’s original ten 8A-3Ps, all built at Douglas’s El Segundo factory, is test-flown over the California coast in late 1938 or early 1939. Seven of the 8As were transported to Peru by ship and three were delivered by air.
Showing the type's distinctive perforated flaps for dive-bombing, one of Peru’s initial batch of Douglas 8A-3Ps undergoes flight testing in the USA before delivery.
Four of the five 8A-3Ps that set off on the CAP’s five-week tour of South America in 1940, dubbed “Los Zorros”, during their visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fifth was forced to return to Lima after damaging a wingtip while taxying in Ecuador at the beginning of the tour.
Although of poor quality, this rare photograph shows the overall matt Sea Blue finish applied to the 8A-3Ps from April 1942, and following this machine’s assignment to the newly activated 23 EIA. Note the use of Arabic numerals instead of Roman, which were phased out in 1942.
Douglas 8A-5 serial 276 at Las Palmas in the late 1940s, by which time markings were minimal, with a small roundel aft of the cockpit and the aircraft’s 200-series serial aft of that. Like the rest of the aircraft (apart from the black anti-glare panel on the forward fuselage), the rudder is bare-metal and no longer sports the original red, white and red stripes.
With the rear cowling of its Wright Cyclone engine removed, 8A-5 serial 266 of the re-formed 31 EIA undergoes maintenance at Vitor, Arequipa province, in February 1948. The year would prove to be another busy one for the CAP’s 8As, with operations in support of the government to extinguish a right-wing rebellion in July and two more attempts to overthrow the government in October, the last of which was successful.
Wearing the original bare-metal finish in which the aircraft were delivered and their somewhat long-winded unit codes - XXXI for the Escuadron; 92 for the Escadrille and 1 for the individual aircraft - a formation of 8As patrols over Peru’s northern coastal region in July 1941, at the time of the conflict with Ecuador, also known as Guerra del 41 (The War of ’41).
Fitted with a 1,200 h.p. Wright GR-1820 Cyclone engine and machine-gun gondolas under the wings, the 8A-5 was the most powerful and heavily armed variant of the Northrop/Douglas series of attack aircraft. Norway’s 8A-5s became A-33-DEs in USAAF service, an example of which is seen here at Kelly Field, where they were stored.
Three of the 8A-3Ps await their formation delivery flight to Peru on the tarmac at El Segundo in May 1939. The first of the Peruvian 8A-3Ps to be completed made its maiden flight on November 21, 1938, and the ten were given c/ns 412-421. The 8A traced its heritage back to the Northrop Gamma 2F, developed into the USAAC’s A-17.
A line-up of Peruvian training aircraft at Las Palmas airfield, Lima, in 1956. Nearest the camera is an 8A-3P, with an 8A-5, fitted with machine-gun gondolas, alongside.
Another rare image, this time of 8A-3Ps at Capitan Victor Montes airfield near Talara, in December 1942. These 8A-3Ps have not yet been painted in the Sea Blue finish; the aircraft were repainted in batches so as not to remove the entire unit from service at once. All had been repainted by the time of the arrival of the 8A-5s, however.
For the 4,700-mile (7,600km) delivery flight from Los Angeles to Lima, the three 8A-3Ps were given the serials BO-1G to BO-3G, the first of which is seen here during the flight on June 4, 1939, with Lt-Cdr Armando Revoredo Iglesias at the controls and Capt Jorge Virgil Morey in the rear seat as radio operator/flight engineer.
In November 1943 a total of 13 refurbished Douglas 8A-5s, along with ten Curtiss Hawk 75As, were flown from Texas to Las Palmas, where this line-up of 8A-5s was photographed shortly after their arrival in November 1943. The aircraft were apparently ferried in an Olive Drab scheme, as seen here, but were repainted in a camouflage scheme early in 1944.
Showing the 8A-5’s armament of four 0-3in machine-guns within the wings, a pair of underwing gondolas each containing a 0-5in machinegun, plus a 0-3in machine-gun on a flexible mount in the observer’s cockpit, this example is seen in the Dark Green, Dark Earth and Light Gray camouflage scheme applied from early 1944, and with a squadron badge below the front cockpit.
President Bustamante y Rivero reviews the aircraft and personnel of 31 EIA on October 6, 1948, after their participation in action against rebel sailors of the Peruvian Navy during the “October Revolution” of October 3-5. Before the month was out, the President had been ousted in a coup led by Army General Manuel Odria.
The damage to XXXI-91-2 of No 91 Escadrille is inspected by CAP personnel after a landing mishap at Villa auxiliary airfield in October 1941. That month the conflict with Ecuador drew to a close and the 8As were recalled to Lima, where most had returned by early November
Having deposited its port mainwheel on the runway after a particularly heavy landing at Las Palmas, 8A-5 serial 276 is inspected by 31 EIA personnel. The damage was deemed to be minimal and the aircraft was swiftly repaired and returned to service within a few days. The type proved itself to be a rugged and dependable asset for the CAP.