Aviation Historian 39
A.Tincopa - Wings over Peru
The Seals acquired by Peru were ultimately used both as floatplanes and with wheeled undercarriages. The latter is seen here as a student poses beside a Seal of the Primer Escuadron de Instruccion (First Training Squadron) at San Andres airfield at Pisco on Peru’s southern coast, after a training exercise in November 1940.
This photograph of Cuerpo de Aviacion del Peru (CAP) officers in front of a Fairey Seal floatplane of the Primer Escuadron de Bombardeo y Observation (1 EBO - First Bombardment & Observation Sqn) at the Alferez Carlos Huguet seaplane base at Ancon provides a good impression of the large size of the single-engined biplane.
CAP students receive instruction on maintenance and overhaul of the Seal’s Panther engine. Note the naval biplane's wings folded rearwards. In total, only 104 Seals were built, 91 of which went to the Fleet Air Arm, with six being sold to Peru, two to Chile, one to Argentina and four to Latvia.
Seal 1-BO-3C during a flight while operating as part of IV EA - note the “IV” above the main serial. Peru was not the only South American nation to acquire the Seal; one (c/n F.2111), fitted with a Panther VI engine, went to the Argentinian government and two were acquired by Chile with Napier Lion XI inline water-cooled engines.
After completing a three-year flight course at Las Palmas, fourth-year cadets at the Escuela de Aviacion Militar (Military Aviation School) had to complete a six-month course in seaplane operations at Ancon. Here, an instructor and student cadet return to the seaplane base after completing a training sortie in November 1938.
In April 1940 the Seals found a new role when they were reallocated to the Primer Escuadron de Instruccion (I EI - First Training Squadron). Here, students and their instructor from the Escuela de Aviacion Militar pose for a photograph in front of a Seal of I EI in December 1941.
The CAP underwent several reorganisations throughout the 1930s, the Seals of 1 EBO being reallocated in October 1936 from III Escuadron de Aviacion (III EA) to IV EA, with the resulting slight change in (rather long-winded) serial from III/1-BO-1C etc to IV/1-BO-1 C etc. Here, the latter aircraft and four other Seals undergo maintenance at Ancon sometime before the next CAP reorganisation in 1939.
Developed from the Fairey IIIF under Air Ministry Specification 12/29 for a “Spotter Reconnaissance Aeroplane” for the Fleet Air Arm, the prototype Seal (a converted IIIF) made its maiden flight on September 11, 1930, with a wheeled undercarriage; and with floats, as seen here on production example K3522, on September 29, 1932.
Seen here fitted with a wheeled undercarriage and wearing the markings of 1 EBO while the latter was still part of III EA, Seal 1-BO-6C (c/n F. 1939) has suffered damage to its rear lower fuselage and is at Las Palmas air base near Lima for repairs. The Peruvian Seals were fitted with supercharged Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIIA engines.
A rare photograph of one of the two Seals fitted with dual controls for the training role. This included the fitting of full instrumentation and throttle controls in the rear cockpit. With yet another reallocation in late 1941, the Seals were given serials 28-4-12 to 28-4-16 when they were operated by the 4th Flight of training unit 28 EI.
The CAP Seals underwent yet another reorganisation in June 1939, when they were allocated to XXXII Escuadron de Informacion Maritima (XXXII EIM), part of Tercer Grupo Aerea (3 GA). The six Seals initially operated with 82 Escuadrilla de Informacion Maritima; this example, fitted with floats, bears the revised serial XXXII-82-6.
... and crunch again! In December 1943 Seal 28-4-15 was involved in a taxying accident when the pilot made a miscalculation and struck a CAP Vultee BT-13 parked next to the runway, causing considerable damage to both aircraft. By late 1944 the Seal had been replaced by more modern American types and, after 11 years of rugged service, the type was retired.
Crunch! This unmarked CAP Seal suffered extensive structural damage following a landing accident at Villa auxiliary airfield, near Las Palmas, in September 1940. The Seal was damaged beyond repair and was withdrawn from service.