Aviation Historian 5
A.Tincopa - Wings over Peru
A poor-quality but rare photograph of a formation of Colombian Curtiss Hawk IIs, probably over the Caqueta region of Colombia. The floats caused a marked decrease in the fighter’s performance, but runways were in short supply in the Amazonian rainforest.
This dramatic artwork by JERRY BOUCHER depicts the combat over the Algodon River between Peruvian Air Force Douglas O-38P 1/2-VG-4, flown by Lt Americo Vargas, and Curtiss Hawk IIs of the Colombian Air Force, on May 10, 1933.
The six O-38Ps were the only attack aircraft purchased by Peru’s Cuerpo de Aviacion that arrived in time to take part in the military actions over the Putumayo River on the Peruvian/Colombian border, the focus of much of the action during the Colombia-Peru War (sometimes called the Letigia War) of September 1932 to May 1933.
A pair of unidentified Cuerpo de Aviation officers pose on the starboard Edo float of O-38P 1/2-VG-2 at Puca-Barranca. Although the aircraft were delivered brand-new and had been in service for only a comparatively short time, the wear-and-tear on the airframes as a result of intensive operations is apparent here.
A group of CAP trainee pilots at the Escuela de Aviacion Militar relax around an O-38P (probably the second example to serve at the school, E/BO-10) of V Escuadron de Instruction at Las Palmas in 1937. Peru continued its connection with Douglas, using 8A-3Ps (export Northrop A-17s) from 1939 and A/B-26 Invaders during 1954-62.
Pilots and groundcrew perform last-minute preparations on O-38Ps 1/2-VG-3 and 1/2-VG-6 at Ancon in February 1933, shortly before the biplanes departed for the operations zone.
Factory-fresh - one of the six Douglas O-38Ps supplied to Peru, complete with light-blue fuselage and vivid orange-red wings, applied to make them highly visible over the vast Amazonian forest landscape.
O-38P 1/2-VG-4 leaves Puca-Barranca on another reconnaissance sortie armed with four 25kg (55lb) bombs. It was this aircraft that would be lost during combat with Colombian Hawk IIs on May 10, 1933.
O-38P 1/2-VG-4 alights after an armed reconnaissance sortie. Pilots initially complained about the aircraft’s lack of power, which was partly due to the absence of the recommended 87-octane fuel, only 84-octane fuel being available.
With the help of personnel from a Peruvian Navy river vessel, the remains of O-38P 1/2-VG-5 are recovered from the muddy waters of the River Nieva. The aircraft was transported to Pucallpa, where it was stripped of usable parts and scrapped.