Aviation Historian 3
R.Lezon - El Relampago en Argentina
Built by Airspeed at Christchurch during the winter of 1947-48, de Havilland Mosquito B.35 LV-HHN (formerly VR794 and CF-HMK) was damaged beyond repair at Rio Cuatro, Cordoba, on November 22, 1963.
Originally serialled 44-27205, the P-38L was registered NX34992 in February 1946, this pair of photographs showing it in excellent condition some time after its civil registration had been applied to the rudders. Note the faired-over gun ports in the picture above. The machine was to be used only for “exhibition flying and racing”.
The Lightning (relampago in Spanish) in Argentina as LV-HIX, with pilot Miguel Fitzgerald in the cockpit with an Air Force corporal perched alongside. Although popular with its pilots, the P-38 was hard to maintain.
A splendid Kodachrome transparency taken by LARRY MILBERRY of Lockheed P-38 Lightning CF-JJA at Lakehead Airport, Thunder Bay, Ontario, on September 3, 1961, while the aircraft was in service with Aero Surveys Ltd.
A rear port-side three-quarter view of CF-JJA in service with Aero Surveys Ltd. According to a census of air survey operators published in the February 14, 1958, issue of Flight, the company operated “two Ansons and one P-38”. In total 12 P-38 Lightnings were operated on the Canadian civil register, the majority for aero-survey work.
With fire extinguisher to hand, the engines of CF-JJA are started up before another photo-survey flight. The Lightning was painted in a distinctive orange colour scheme with Day-Glo red fins and propeller spinners, markings which were retained throughout its survey career, even after its move to its new air survey operators in Argentina.
The rigours of aerial survey work resulted in the forging of close friendships between the crews at Albarenque, including this one photographed beside the P-38 at Bariloche. From left to right: Miguel Fitzgerald (pilot), Greco (navigator/camera operator) and Antonio Tomizzi (mechanic).
Although the addition of a longer nose for camera installations marred the looks of the Lightning, performance was little affected and the aircraft served both California-based Fairchild Aerial Survey Inc and Aero Surveys in Canada well.
On December 30, 1964, the career of the much-travelled Lightning came to an end when it suffered engine failure on a survey flight from Ezeiza and made a forced landing at Suipacha, to the west of the airfield.
The pilot of the Lightning, Julio Gaudin, skilfully brought the aircraft down in a field. This and the shortage of spares meant the scrapper’s torch for a machine that had been built for war but which had proved itself a useful and reliable asset in peace.
Acquired by Servicios Aereos Albarenque of Argentina in June 1960, this North American TB-25J was originally built as B-25J serial 44-31498 and was registered LV-GJX in Albarenque service. Its career was comparatively short, however, and it was derelict at Ezeiza by 1964 and finally broken up in March 1968.