Aviation Historian 24
A.Tincopa - Marked by misfortune
Officers of the FACh give members of the US Military Mission to Chile a review of the types then in service with the air arm at Los Cerrillos, Santiago, including a pair of Ba. 65s and one of the six Arado Ar 95B biplanes delivered to Chile before the outbreak of the war in Europe.
A line-up of single-seat Chilean Ba.65s at the Breda factory in Milan in the summer of 1938. The aircraft were delivered in a natural-metal finish with fabric surfaces painted with a standard aluminium varnish. Each example was identified with a large number, from 1 to 20, in black on the rear fuselage.
With a single-seater in the background, one of the FACh’s three turret-equipped Ba.65s has its compass swung at the Breda works in Milan before delivery. Some 25 Ba.65s were acquired by the Royal Iraqi Air Force in 1938, the majority being fitted with the same Type M turret, which significantly hampered the type’s performance.
A poor-quality but rare photograph of the Ba.65s at El Bosque Air Base near Santiago during an air force review and parade day held on March 21, 1939, shortly after their entry into service. By this time the aircraft had received white star insignia on their blue-painted rudders, and the FACh’s shield insignia on the undersides of the wings.
One of the FACh’s three turret-equipped Ba.65Bis Tipo Ciles is rolled off the production line at Milan, with FACh engineer Raul Barros Alamos walking alongside the fuselage. The aircraft’s fin/rudder has been painted blue but is yet to receive its white star insignia. White roundels with “BA” are painted on the undersides of the wings.
The somewhat cramped cockpit of the Ba. 65. The control column, fitted with a spade grip, was equipped with a central lever for the compressed-air system that operated the undercarriage and weapons bay doors, and the smaller levers placed either side of the central lever were the firing buttons for the four wing-mounted guns.
The only surviving relic of Chile’s somewhat unsatisfactory relationship with the Ba.65 is this original Breda Type M turret and machine-gun, as briefly fitted to the FACh’s three examples of the Ba.65Bis. It is kept on display at the Museo Nacional Aeronautico y del Espacio (National Aeronautical & Space Museum) in the capital, Santiago de Chile.
Breda Ba. 65 No 10 was arguably the unluckiest of the FACh examples, experiencing a number of mishaps during its operational career, including this forced landing after hydraulic failure in November 1941. Although the variable-pitch propeller was destroyed, the airframe suffered only minimal damage.
The collapsed port undercarriage leg of No 10 after its forced landing in November 1941. Fortunately, the pilot was unharmed and the aircraft was repaired and returned to operational status. After Italy’s entry into the war in Europe in June 1940 the availability of spares for Chile’s Italian aircraft began to dwindle, and it became increasingly difficult to keep the Ba. 65s serviceable and operational.
Four months after its undercarriage mishap, No 10 was hobbled again when its pilot failed to follow the correct procedure to lower the undercarriage during a flight on March 20, 1942. This time the damage was more serious, the starboard wing taking the brunt of the crash; with the wing’s spars damaged beyond repair, the aircraft was written off.
The charred remains of Ba.65 No 5 (c/n 64186), which came to grief after engine failure during a gunnery practice flight on October 31, 1939. Thankfully, the pilot, Capt Hernan Lopez Angulo, was one of the more experienced FACh pilots and managed to execute a skilful forced landing in a field at Maipu, near El Bosque AB. The aircraft was destroyed in the ensuing fire, however.
The aftermath of the accident in which 2nd Lt Traub was killed on September 19, 1939, while participating in a nine-aircraft formation take-off from El Bosque during rehearsals for a parade. The Ba. 65 was not an easy type to master, and Traub was insufficiently experienced to cope with the type’s idiosyncratic handling characteristics.
An all-too-familiar sight by the end of 1939, the wreckage of yet another crashed Ba.65 is surveyed by locals after 2nd Lt Ramon Ortiz was killed in the crash of Ba.65 No 15 on November 3 that year. Ortiz, again an inexperienced pilot, got into trouble after an aborted landing at El Bosque and stalled, the resulting impact with the ground tearing the engine from its mounting.
The Breda Ba.65. Although similar in layout to the Ba.64, from which it was developed, the Ba.65 had a fuller fuselage, and a sliding canopy replaced the open cockpit. Three of the Chilean examples were fitted with Breda Type M turrets, but the other 17 of the FACh’s 20 examples were single-seat versions, as in this Aeromodeller three-view.