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Brazilian P-47 pilot's of 1ºGAvCa.

1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron of the USAAF 350th FG in Italy

by Jean Fabrício

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How

Formed on 18 December 1943, the 1ºGAvCa ( Grupo de Aviação de Caça) had its cadre composed of volunteer FAB (Força Aérea Brasileira - Brasillian Air Force) pilots and was commanded by Ten.Cel.Av. Nero Moura

The Group had 350 men (43 pilots) and was sent to Panama for combat training, since the pilots already had flying experience; one of its pilots, 2º Ten.-Av. Alberto M. Torres, was the pilot of the PBY-5A Catalina that had sunk the U-199. On 11 May 1944 the Group was declared operational and became active in the air cover in the Canal Zone.

Following the completion of its initial training, the Group was sent to the USA on 22 June for an operational conversion course on to the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt that was to equip the 1ºGAvCa.

The Group departed for Italy on 19 September 1944, arriving at Livorno on 6 October. There it became part of the 350th Fighter Group USAAF, an unit which had been formed on 1 October 1942 in Britain. Until the arrival of the 1ºGAvCa, the 350th FG was made up of three squadrons: 345th Fighter Squadron ("Devil Hawk Squadron"), 346th FS ("Checker Board Squadron") and 347th FS ("Screaming Red Ass Squadron"). When the 1ºGAvCa (1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron - 1st BFS) was incorporated to the 350th FG, that unit was subordinated to the 62nd Fighter Wing, XXII Tactical Air Command, 12th Air Force USAAF. The call-sign for the 1st BFS was "Jambock".

 

What is this?

The badge of 1ºGAvCa was designed while the Squadron was travelling to Italy.

Drawn by the latter, it can be described as follows:

  • The green-yellow surrounding represents Brazil;

  • The red field behind the fighting ostrich represents the war skies;

  • The bottom field - white clouds - represents the ground to a pilot;

  • The blue shield charged with the Southern Cross is the common symbol for the Brazilian Armed Forces; 

  • The ostrich represents the Brazilian fighter pilot, whose face is inspired in that of Ten.-Av. Lima Mendes, and also the stomach of the veterans of 1ºGAvCa; 

  • The white cap was part of the FAB uniform at the time and distinguished the Brazilian pilots from the other Allied pilots;

  • The gun being hold by the ostrich represents the firepower of the P-47, with its eight .50in machine-guns;

  • The motto "Senta a Pua!" is the war cry of 1ºGAvCa;

  • The white streak, at the right, ending on a flak burst, was added later, and represents the danger brought by the German flak (this device appeared only on replacement aircraft). 

Click on images below to see larger images

In action!

The Brazilian pilots initially flew from 31 October 1944 as individual elements of flights of the 350th FG US squadrons, at first in affiliation flights and progressively taking part in more dangerous missions.

Less than two weeks later, on 11 November, the Group started its own operations, flying from its base at Tarquinia, using its call-sign Jambock.

The Group was divided into four flights, Vermelha (Red), Amarela (Yellow), Azul (Blue) and Verde (Green).

 

Colours

Initially the P-47s were finished in standard US fighter colours, olive-drab (top surfaces) and neutral grey (undersurfaces). 
The aircraft of the commander and operations officer were finished in natural metal and olive-drab anti-glare panels. The badge of the Group was painted just after the engine cowling, and the aircraft code (flight letter-aircraft number) was in white letters over the cowling.

National insignia was in four positions, this being the US star-and-bar, with the white star replaced by the Brazilian star. Later, replacement aircraft were in natural metal, with olive-drab anti-glare panels, the codes being in black.

Its power

The 1ºGAvCa flew a total of 445 missions, 2,550 individual sorties and 5,465 combat flight hours, from 11 November 1944 to 4 May 1945.

The XXII Tactical Air Command acknowledged the efficiency of the Group by noting that, between 6 to 29 April 1945, it flew only 5% of the total of missions carried out by all squadrons under its control, but destroyed:

  • 85% of the ammunition depots,

  • 36% of the fuel depots,

  • 28% of the bridges (19% damaged),

  • 15% of motor vehicles (13% damaged) and

  • 10% of horse-drawn vehicles (10% damaged). 

Click on images below to see larger images

Canário

In 01/27/1945 the Red flight (aircraft code: "A") took off for one more sortie, with the 1º Ten. Av. Dornelles as leader of the formation, and one young pilot called Raymundo da Costa Canário, flying the P-47D #44-19663 (the "A6" aircraft). Canário was originally pilot of the Yellow flight.

During an attack at low altitude, Canário collided with an industry chimney which fell down. In the collision the P-47 lost 1.28m (50.394") of the right wing, but that loss of a part of the wing did not hinder it coming back to the base.

Dornelles was his guide, opting to fly over the Adriatic Sea: over the land there was much Germany flak and low and dense clouds. Over Veneza some Spitfires had almost knocked them down therefore they had not recognised them immediately as allied pilots. After this "small" incident , Dornelles flew with Canário until 5000 ft, keeping silence on the radio.

The low and dense clouds made it difficult for a visual approach; when Dornelles found a hole in the clouds he told Canário: "wait for me here. I will to go down to have a look and and I will come back to to tell you if this airstrip is OK!"

Well, at age of 20, Canário ignored the acknowledgment and flew right back with Dornelles.

A few moments before Canário to land he heard on the radio: "abort! abort! A P-61 Blackwidow needed to make an emergency landing!". Canário pulled up the P-47, made another final approach and landed safely.

Dornelles flew 89 missions (he used to say "I'll never became 90 missions) - he died in 04/26/1945, flying his P-47.

Canário flew 51 missions. He survived the war.

The Kit

I used the HTC (Brazilian special edition with Academy parts) kit of an P-47 D in 1:48 scale. The decals were made by FCM decals (a Brazilian company).

The colour scheme was made with automotive paints: Olive Drab (uper surfaces), Neutral Gray (undersurfaces) - both mixed by myself, White (the A6 code), Yellow and Green (rudder), Red ("no step" area)

The rest of the kit was painted stock, in the American scheme.

The right wing was cut and I used plastic to reproduce the internal structure of the wing.

I lower the flaps and upper the left aileron. 

References

  • Squadron P-47 in action

  • A lot of sites on Internet, in special A História da Força Aérea Brasileira

  • Interview with two great Brazilian kit builders experts in FAB, Terlizzi and Abreu

  •  Interview with Brigadier General Rui Moreira Lima, veteran of the 1ºGAvCa, 94 sorties

  • Senta a Pua - book writing by Rui Moreira Lima

  • FAB na Segunda Guerra Mundia - book by Luciano Barbosa Monteiro

  • Jean

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Photos and text © by Jean Fabrício

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