Aviation Historian 37
L.Hellstrom - Sweden's Carribean connection
In perpetual fear of being deposed, the Trujillo government spent heavily on defence, particularly the air arm. As a result, the AMD’s mix of aircraft types was truly astonishing; this panorama shows Vampire F.1s, Thunderbolts and Mustangs as well as Douglas B-26s, Curtiss C-46s, a Lockheed Lodestar and a PBY Catalina.
Swedish technician Lennart Engerby in front of a line of Vampire FB.50s, including serial 2733 nearest the camera. The former Flygvapnet jets are already showing signs of wear and tear after only a year or two in AMD service and are each loaded with eight 14.5cm Psrak m/49A high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rocket projectiles on their inner wing section hardpoints.
The first jet fighters in the Caribbean, six Vampire F.1s, are seen here undergoing assembly at San Isidro, still devoid of Dominican markings, in early 1956. In the corner is an AMD Hiller UH-12 helicopter and outside the hangar are a couple of decrepit Thunderbolts.
The Dominican Republic’s first Mustangs were bought on the American civil market in 1948. Seen here are the two that survived the longest; nearest the camera is P-51A serial 1704, beyond which is P-51K serial 1703. Behind the Mustangs are three of the Lockheed P-38s also obtained early on.
A pilot of the Aviacion Militar Dominicana strikes a classic pose beside his colourful former Swedish Mustang.
Smile please! With their “shark’s mouths” applied, the former Swedish Mustangs of the Aviacion Militar Dominicana (AMD) form an impressive line-up on the original flight line in 1955.
A magnificent line-up of around 30 Mustangs, each wearing the colour of their assigned group, ranged along the northern taxiway at San Isidro, which by this time had been considerably widened. Ramfis Trujillo had obviously been promoted to a three-star General by the time this photograph was taken - 1956-58 - as the canopies are now adorned with three stars.
A member of the second group of Swedes to arrive in the Dominican Republic, Arne Svensson is seen here running up the Packard Merlin engine of Mustang serial 1915 (‘‘Red 1”) in 1955. This was possibly the aircraft used as a demonstrator for the new striking colour scheme of Escuadron Caza "Ramfis” and is still lacking black trim on the leading edge of the fin.
A seemingly unending line-up of Mustangs typical of the AMD’s fondness for pageantry. Nearest the camera, serial 1929 retains its Flygvapnet serial, 26071, in very small figures aft of the roundel. Note also the two stars applied to the canopy, reflecting Trujillo Jr’s rank. Serial 1929 would be lost during night-flying training in 1967.
A busy ramp at San Isidro, with a sea of Mustangs, Thunderbolts and Texans visible behind a rudderless Beech AT-11 of Escuadron Caza-Bombardero. The AMD operated a total of four C-45/AT-11s, the first two having been acquired in early 1946 and lost in 1948. The later two, given 1500 serials, were acquired in 1950 and 1952.
Four-starred Mustang serial 1938 (possibly “Red 2") is used as a backdrop for a group of Swedish technicians in early 1959, including Valter Ekberg (standing, furthest left) and Ola Thorn (furthest right). The front row includes Curt Hellstrom (third from left), Yngve Humble (fourth from left), Lars Lundstrom (fifth from left) and Harje Kjellberg (furthest right, sitting).
A mid-1954 group photo of the first Swedish technicians to arrive in the Dominican Republic to serve with the AMD. From left to right: Ove Helderud; Curt Stodberg; Folke Gardvall (the group’s leader); Valter Ekberg; Yngve Humble; Bennet Pettersson; Harje Kjellberg and Lennart Engerby.
From late 1954 the Swedish contingent also took care of the AMD’s fleet of T-6 Texans, being familiar with the type from Flygvapnet service. Red cowlings signified aircraft of Escuadron de Caza “Ramfis” while yellow represented Caza-Bombardero. Here, Curt Stodberg is seen riding an early 1950s Cushman Allstate scooter, complete with unit badge.
Some of the AMD’s 50 or so North American AT-6 Texans lined up, looking freshly painted and polished. The Dominican Republic initially acquired six examples - three AT-6Cs and three AT-6Ds - from the USA as part of Lend-Lease arrangements in April 1943, with numerous other examples joining the air arm after the war.
Доминиканский F-47D «Тандерболт». Фото 1954-1955 гг.
A superb photograph of an AMD Republic F-47D Thunderbolt of Escuadron Caza-Bombardero having its Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine run up. Note the five stars on the top leading edge of the fin. It was one of these F-47s that Swedish Vampire pilot Gosta Hamilton grappled with at San Isidro in January 1956.