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Sunday, February 4th 2007, 12:43pm

Talons 1933 Report


Attracting over 180,000 visitors during the week of flying this airshow has been another success despite ongoing wars and other concerns in the region. The third Talons Over Cordoba Contest is a chance for the best pilots in the world to show off their skills allied with the best fighters available. This year the Fuerza Aerea Argentina made a huge aerial display including a mock combat. Nine Accrisius FN-7 Archers attacked an "enemy" formation of Hawker Audaxes, which bombed a mock target on the ground. Six FMA I.Ae 3 advanced monoplane trainers made a very tight and daring aerobatic display on the opening day and some three FMA 514 trainers and five I-100 fighters also flew during the week.

All contesting pilots have been assigned numbers in the order of application and nationality has not been a factor in the order given.

No1 Major General Carron-Gomez flying his personal bright azure blue FMA I-100 Barron returns again this year
No2 Major S. Castro flying a standard FMA I-100 Barron with a 640hp Mercury VIS.2
No3 de Benardi flying a red and white Caproni-Chiodi CH.1bis fitted with a supercharger
No4 Bergamini has returned for a third time, this year flying a silver Caproni 165 biplane fighter powered by an inline 880hp Asso XI RC.40
No5 Vicente Cortázar is flying his personal Nakajima A2N from the Philippines
No6 Marco Alabastro Filipino "ace of the revolution" is again flying his personal yellow Nakajima Ka-12
No7 FO Webber RANAS returns flying a brand new CAC-7 Shrike monoplane fighter with a 650hp P&W Twin Wasp
No8 Flight Lieu George RANAS is this year flying bright blue CAC-7 Shrike
No9 Engineer Lascurain flying another of his designs, a modified TNCA Quetzalcoat (Winged Serpent) with increased span wings and a 750hp Twin Wasp radial engine
No10 Capitan Valenzuela is a newcomer flying a standard TNCA Quetzalcoat with a 650hp P&W Twin Wasp
No11 Flight Luitenant Ronnie Hellström from Nordmark is flying a Sopwith Odin Mk.II fighter No12 Wing Commander Otto Larsen is flying a standard SAAB Viking carrier fighter
No13 Navy Flight Lieutenant Jacob Huyrluyt from the Netherlands is flying a Fokker D.XVIIbis powered by a 760hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y inline engine
No14 Ms. Rianne Rijker, an experienced Fokker test pilot is flying the second pre-production Fokker D.XIX powered by a 867hp Hispano-Suiza 12Ybrs inline engine
No15 Flying Officer Basil Heath is returning with another sliver Hawker Fury
No16 Flight Lieutenant "George" Bulman is flying the brand new silver Hawker Hurricane; his aircraft is believed to be the second prototype and as such represents a great risk should the aircraft be lost. It is powered by the brand new Rolls-Royce Peregrine I V-12 engine
No17 Colonel Oonishi Manzo, a former champion, returns in an elderly SPAD N-3, better known as the SPAD S.XIII, as the type's final swansong in Japanese service
No18 Lieutenant Commander Naoi Motonari is flying an all cherry blossom coloured, Nakajima Ka-12 with a supercharged Sakae radial
No19 USN Lieu John S. Thatch flying a brightly coloured Grumman F2F-1 fighter
No20 USAAC Major Doolittle is flying a standard Boeing P-26 fighter
No21 Captain Fabris "Jester" Lavidicus Grey is flying the fifth production Spartan F-9 Storm with a supercharged 900hp V-12 engine
No22 Colonel Marcus "Maverick" Cassius flying one of the evaluation FMA I-100 Barron fighters
No23 Pilot Officer Maen Prasongdi flying a red and blue Detroit Lockheed P-30 along with Airman Kusol Chale in the rear seat as navigator
No24 Flying Officer Suan Sukhserm, Flight Lieutenant Chan Nuat-Kheo and Airman Somphong Naelbanthad flying a brand new Focke Wulf 42B-1
No25 Major Alexandr Pavlovich Dyeyev is flying an all white Polikarpov I-31 fighter
No26 Captain Marcel Hurel from Switzerland is flying a Dewoitine D.27 III in overall silver

Groups 6 and 7 are biplanes and the others monoplanes.
Group 1 Numbers 1, 6, 7, 9
Group 2 Numbers 2, 8, 10, 21
Group 3 Numbers 11, 14, 18, 20
Group 4 Numbers 16, 22, 23
Group 5 Numbers 24, 25, 26
Group 6 Numbers 3, 12, 13, 19
Group 7 Numbers 4, 5, 15, 17

8 laps of a 1 mile circuit with four corners, this calls for great cornering skills and the ability to fly fast in a crowded group without mishap.

Marco Alabastro in his Ka-12 took the lead early in the race on the fourth lap and he held off Carron-Gomez who was close behind him. Carron-Gomez nearly overtook him on the seventh lap at the third corner but was blocked by Alabastro as he slid in front. Lascurain in his modified Quetzalcoat took third place easily but just lacked the pace to catch the I-100, acceleration though was very good from the start and he did hold second place for two laps. FO Webber found his CAC-7 sluggish but agile in the corners. He steadily dropped behind Lascurain and took fourth.

The crowds knew this would be a hot race with two I-100 fighters competing and both flown by expert test pilots with years of experience. "Maverick" Cassius just claimed the lead on the final lap but Castro was very close behind, only 1.8 seconds separated them and on the ninth turn Castro nearly chewed off Maverick's tail. Flight Lieut. George in his CAC-7 Shrike and Capitan Valenzuela in the Quetzalcoat took third and fourth after their own private battle with both machines being perfectly matched in the corners. The Quetzalcoat suffered from an oil leak on the sixth lap and although Valenzuela carried on he dropped speed and could not catch Flight Lieut. George.

Using a fuel additive, checked by the judges beforehand and declared legal, the Fokker D.XIX flown by Ms. Rianne Rijker took the first place after an amazing race. Although slow to gain speed on the first few laps she flew an exemplary race and finished without mishap. Ronnie Hellström in the Odin Mk.II managed to hold second from Doolittle in his nimble P-26 despite some rough engine running. Lieut. Commander Motonari's Ka-12 took an early lead on the second lap but on the next lap the engine suffered a major oil leak and the engine seized. The propeller and reduction gear detached and chopped off the tailfin, just missing the canopy. Motonari just managed to bailout before the plane spun and crashed just beyond the grandstand. No one on the ground was injured. A piece of debris hit Doolittle's wing and although not serious the damage reduced his overall speed.

"Jester" Lavidicus in his F-9 Storm took first place. Although it performed well last year the standard 900hp engine gave a much improved performance which easily outran the Hurricane. Prasongdi did well to get his bigger fighter so close too the leaner fighters but he never really challenged them finding he had to take wider turns and the acceleration was poorer than the F-9 but he did overtake the Hurricane on the straights and kept his slender lead to score second place. Airman Kusol Chale in the rear seat was essential to help Prasongdi make his effective blocking moves. Suffering from an underdeveloped engine and sluggish performance "George" Bulman did not put up much of a serious fight and so finished third.

Major Alexandr Pavlovich Dyeyev in his all white Polikarpov I-31 fighter pulled away from the first straight and was never challenged. The Siamese Fw 42 on the fifth lap overtook the D.27 and managed to pull away on the straights to create a big enough gap to keep ahead despite lacking the pace and agility to get round the course as neatly as the single-engined types. Captain Marcel Hurel therefore came last.

Jacob Huyrluyt flying the Fokker D.XVIIbis took first after a very tight battle with de Benardi and Thatch. At one point all three were trying to turn together and they nearly all crashed. De Benardi's CH.1bis performed well but could not match the Fokker on the straights and Huyrluyt gained a lead. Thatch in his portly Grumman could not match the CH.1bis on speed and fell behind. On the sixth lap Larsen in his old Viking took third from Thatch after nipping through on one of the turns. The CH.1bis made very tight turns throughout the race and de Benardi nearly hit the pylons twice.

Heath flew a superb race and swiftly gained the lead after Bergamini retired owing to instrument trouble. Cortázar and Manzo flying old relics of the bygone age thrashed their little biplanes around the track. Manzo seemed less enthused than his previous races here and dropped behind the Nakajima. Cortázar had his sights on the Fury but could never get anywhere near Heath.

The seven group winners flew in the final race. Alabastro took first after holding off Rianne Rijker. His blocking moves were excellent and she could not find a way around him without losing too much speed. "Maverick" Cassius was trying to pass Rianne Rijker and so she was under severe pressure but held onto second. "Maverick" took third but Huyrluyt nearly claimed third but he could not out-turn the nimble I-100. He lost fourth to "Jester" Lavidicus in the F-9 when he used the amazing climb capability to leapfrog him. Huyrluyt on the seventh lap lost fifth to Dyeyev who overtook him with his wings vertical. Huyrluyt held sixth though from Heath who could not keep up.

Flown over a course stretching 27 miles over hills and through a steep valley the course is designed to test the flat out speed of the fighters and the pilot's navigation skills. All made single fights and were timed. The course has been altered this year to add some tougher cross-country navigation. A storm with hail, driving rain and gale force winds did not help things either but the need to keep the schedule and the desire of the pilots to fly regardless meant the race went ahead.

Maj Gen. Carron-Gomez was first in his I-100 having achieved an average of 504 km/h and displaying some superb turns and low-altitude flying. Castro was third in his I-100 with an average of 497km/h and knowing the route very well, but Pilot Officer Maen Prasongdi and Airman Kusol Chale in the P-30 took second with the good navigation skills of Chale. "Jester" Lavidicus pushed his F-9 to the limit and managed to get an average speed of 480 km/h. "Maverick" Cassius got lost and put down on the airport in the fading light. Thatch took fourth with an excellent flight using his naval navigation training well in the worsening conditions. Fifth went to the Siamese Fw 42, Flight Lieutenant Chan Nuat-Kheo navigating and Airman Somphong Naelbanthad keeping a lookout eased the pilot's workload and Flying Officer Suan Sukhserm concentrated on flying. Lascurain took sixth, no doubt helped by his knowledge of the course. The Italian veteran Bergamini knew this course from last year and flew a perfect flight and de Bernadi flew alongside him and they got seventh and eighth. FO Heath took tenth closely followed by Alabastro. Twelfth place went to Larsen who although in very bad rain used his naval navigation skills to get him home safely. Major Doolittle abandoned his run when he nearly hit a hillside and thought better of continuing. Rianne Rijker in the Fokker D.XIX was caught in a hailstorm and her windscreen shattered and her engine was damaged. She managed to get home and claim thirteenth. Webber, like last year, retired early but his countryman George flew on to get fourteenth place. Hellström started off very well but got lost in a violent storm cloud and descended to 200ft before crawling along the valley and getting some 30 miles off course before realising his error. He took fifteenth and nearly overtook George while descending for landing. Motonari did not compete as the spare Ka-12 did not run well on the morning air test. Manzo got hopelessly lost and just got in on petrol fumes. Cortázar had his upper fabric ripped off by hail and he landed in boggy ground and was stuck until after dark. He got off at dawn the next day after a cold night sleeping rough in a stable. Jacob Huyrluyt suffered engine problems some ten miles into the flight and returned to base and Marcel Hurel got lost and landed heavily in a field. Dyeyev also got lost and put down until the storm was over and then flew back to claim seventeenth. The Hurricane did not compete as the RAF did not want to risk the aircraft.

Each pilot was timed along a ten mile straight course during which the aircraft attempted a top speed run after a shallow dive run-in to build up speed. The run was done at sea level to equalise the chances given the variety of aircraft and engines.

Here are the speeds reached from fastest to lowest;
Alabastro 521 km/h, Rianne Rijker 517.8 km/h, Hellström 516.9 km/h, Carron-Gomez 501 km/h, Castro 497.9 km/h, "George" Bulman 493.5km/h, "Maverick" Cassius 492.7 km/h, "Jester" Lavidicus 483.75 km/h, Lascurain 480.2 km/h, Huyrluyt 479.3 km/h, Motonari 469.8 km/h, Bergamini 460.7 km/h , Dyeyev 445.6 km/h, Prasongdi 438.7 km/h, de Bernadi 437.6 km/h, George 439km/h, Webber 434.75 km/h, Valenzuela 402.3 km/h, Larsen 401.8 km/h, Doolittle 375.6 km/h Thatch 370.1 km/h, Sukhserm and crew 303.2 km/h, Cortazar 293 km/h, Hurel 278 km/h and Manzo 219.2 km/h. Motonari suffered from engine troubles during his run. Heaths Fury suffered some engine misfiring and was withdrawn.

This trial was a timed mock interception. The pilot was timed from "Contact", taxiing, take-off and a climb to 5000m or as high as the aircraft can reach to this figure.

The Mexican engineer Lascurain must have had something special in his Quetzalcoat as he managed a rate of climb of 25.4 metres a second at lower altitudes and claimed the first place. "Jester" Lavidicus took second in the supercharged F-9, he managed a rate of climb of 15.7m per sec. Motonari managed to show what the Ka-12 could do with a supercharged engine and claimed third. Bergamini, de Benardi and Prasongdi took fourth (travelling alone), fifth and sixth with Prasongdi's supercharged P-30 being a surprise point scorer here. The I-100 fighters took the other top spots, "Maverick" Cassius took seventh and Castro eighth while Carron-Gomez had to retire and a new engine was fitted that evening. Valenzuela in the standard Quetzalcoat took ninth just beating the Ka-12 of Alabastro. Hellström took tenth place. Rijker in her Fokker suffered a serious engine problem and glided back to the main runway for a perfect landing. The Fury of FO Heath took the eleventh place. The Fokker D.XVIIbis and Hurricane also made good runs. Manzo was last and only Doolittle failed to finish when he had control problems.

For safety purposes no machine guns were fitted to any aircraft in any of these contests. Ballast was added and for these duels a camera gun was fitted. Activated when the trigger was pressed these cameras take a picture, up to three minutes of film could be taken. The films were then judged by an international panel. Present were Eddie Rickenbacker, Ernest Udet and the Fuerza Aerea Argentina gunnery trainer H. Costellos. Groups were the same as the 8 mile races. All pilots fought at once trying to down as many opponents as he could in the thirty minutes available and points were scored according to hits and where those hits were. Critical hits on engine and cockpit scored more.

This duel was a real split difference. The extremely agile I-100 of Carron-Gomez was flicked and rolled and proved itself again as a deadly dogfighter with a fearsome rate of roll few aircraft here could match. Lascurain used the extreme climbing capability of his modified Quetzalcoat to use the vertical fighting tactics of fearsome dives and then fast climbs to outrun his victims. The Ka-12 also proved very agile but the CAC-7 was no slouch either and Webber made some very good tight attacks against Carron-Gomez. The judges felt Lascurain had the edge to get a first place rating as he had scored critical hits on Alabastro and Webber and Carron-Gomez was only a few points behind having made hits on all three opponents. Webber would have killed Alabastro in real combat and he scored hits on the rolling I-100 so he claimed third while Alabastro seemed to put up a lacklustre performance dazzled by the I-100 and Quetzalcoat attacks upon him.

The crowds having enjoyed the first duel expected great things when two I-100 fighters were competing in the same event. "Maverick" Cassius and Castro were locked in vicious personal battle which featured tight turns and fast rolls. Castro stalled and nearly spun into the ground but recovered in time. As he climbed to gain altitude Capitan Valenzuela dived on him and fired a three second burst which would have downed Castro. Flight Lieut. George scored hits many hits on Valenzuela and vice versa despite an engine problem which robbed him of some power. "Maverick" Cassius took first place, Capitan Valenzuela second with his hits on Castro, George third and Castro fourth.

The Dutch team again used the fuel additive, and the Fokker D.XIX flown by Ms. Rianne Rijker flew well but her lack of combat experience showed and she took many hits and only scored a handful of hits. She only scored enough points to claim last place. Ronnie Hellström in the Odin Mk.II took first having dispatched all his rivals within ten minutes of the start. Doolittle in his nimble P-26 out turned the Odin and made a credible performance and scored enough points to get second place including critical hits on Rijker and Motonari. Motonari's Ka-12 began well but engine problems at higher altitudes forced him to fly lower than he wished and despite scoring points he only got third place. Motonari seemed unsettled by his engine troubles and earlier lucky escape and he did not fight as well as hoped for.

"George" Bulman flew an amazing duel to get a first place. The Hurricane although sluggish and a poorer climber it surpassed the F-9 in tight turns and he made some daring moves. He scored enough hits to down all his opponents. "Jester" Lavidicus in his F-9 Storm took second place only failing to score any hits on the Hurricane. Prasongdi found the large P-30 was quite agile in the turn and he used the supercharger well to keep height during the battle. The judges claimed hits on "Jester" Lavidicus in both wings during the duel and more than once a split-S got him out of trouble from Bulman's Hurricane. Airman Chale also put up a good defence and he claimed he downed the other pilots as they attacked, but he had no camera to record any footage so this was discounted. He did, however, give Prasongdi timely warnings on who was lurking behind him.

The Siamese Fw 42 unsurprisingly came last although Airman Somphong Naelbanthad manned the bow gun and made some good deflection shooting to get hits on Dyeyev as he dived onto Hurel near the end of the battle. Flight Lieutenant Chan Nuat-Kheo acted as fire-controller in the dorsal turret and made some excellent shooting against the attacking aircraft (although unlike Naelbanthad he had no gun camera) and he told Naelbanthad when to break. As a bomber design it proved more agile than some had thought and it held its own for a while. Hurel managed to score excellent results against the Fw 42 as did Dyeyev. Dyeyev scored first having outclassed Hurel and made a series of fast dives on him.

De Benardi's CH.1bis proved well matched to Thatch's F2F and although faster the CH.1bis in slower combat was about equal. They took first and second respectively. Jacob Huyrluyt in the Fokker D.XVIIbis used is speed advantage to dive and zoom out of harms way and downed Larsen within minutes but failed to hit the two twisting fighters of de Benardi and Thatch. Larsen in his old Viking made a good fight but his fighter was outclassed by the competition and he came last only hitting Thatch twice. He could not out-roll the CH.1bis and his engine lost power in the final minutes due to a carburettor problem.

The Manzo fan club was out in force hoping for another victory but even he could not overcome his ancient fighter's deficiencies and he put up a poor fight and only scored hits on Cortázar near the end of the battle and a few hits on Bergamini's port wing. Cortázar too was outclassed and came fourth. Heath and Bergamini duelled to the end and both pushed their fighters to the limits and Bergamini used his superior experience to outwit Heath and claim a full kill. Heath took second having dispatched Manzo during a dive out of the sun.

The winners of the monoplane groups duels faced each other in a final showdown. Lascurain used the extreme climbing capability of his modified Quetzalcoat once again to deadly effect and he got hits on the Hurricane which could not climb as fast and the I-100 too was beaten and attacked in the climb. Ronnie Hellström in the Odin Mk.II found his agile fighter could even the tables and he scored critical hits on "George" Bulman's engine and starboard wing and Dyeyev's cockpit area after a Cuban eight move. "George" Bulman mainly fought in a tight turning battle which the I-100 also excelled at. "Maverick" Cassius had to retire when he rolled too quickly and a piece of the tailfin departed but he made a safe landing. Lascurain took first place and Hellström second. Dyeyev stalled and spun his aircraft and lost 2,500 ft of height before recovery. He made a heavy landing and the fighter slid onto its belly damaging the propeller and cowling. Dyeyev was rushed to hospital with a suspected broken back but only a few vertebrae were squashed.

The winners of the biplane groups duels faced each other in a final showdown.
It was an Italian duel as Bergamini and de Benardi fought each other. The weather had got worse again so fighting was done much lower than planned and the two agile fighters were flung around the sky. Both pilots knew each others moves and intentions and this made outwitting each other harder. The judges called a close decision and all rested on a few seconds of film. The judges decided Bergamini had hit de Benardi's port wing and cockpit and he later hit the engine with another burst of camera fire. He took the winner's place.

The four top scoring pilots of each of the two winner's duels have a final battle.
Bergamini, de Benardi (scored high enough to return to the contest), Lascurain and Hellström took part in this fight. Lascurain found his tactics did not work against the two supercharged Italian fighters and he was soon targeted by both in a series of attacks. The Italian fighters mainly used the rolling and tight turning capability in this duel and Hellström found he could match them in speed and rate of turn but he lacked the skill to match them in the tighter turning combat. In all de Benardi seemed to have got the most hits on all his rivals and he would have shot down Bergamini so he got the winners podium place.

The target this year was a fake defensive position with an old 75mm gun and mannequins dressed as soldiers around the sandbagged emplacement with a simulated command post. Each pilot could freely choose which targets to hit and he had two runs to drop his bombs and two strafing passes with the gun camera on the aircraft. Bombing height was left to the pilot's discretion. The bombs were two 12.5lb dummy smoke bombs.
Vicente Cortázar dropped his two bombs some 30m short but he made two good strafes on the gun. Marco Alabastro made an accurate dive-bombing run and hit the gun and made only one long-burst strafe which just missed the command post. FO Webber made a perfect bombing run and made two good strafing runs while Flight Lieu George bombed too high and both bombs missed. He did not strafe. Larsen put his bombs directly on the command post and strafed the gun accurately. Rijker missed by only 5m with her bombs and made one fair firing pass. Motonari made a perfect dive and scored maximum points for bombing and machine gunning the 75mm gun. Manzo was entered and took off but got lost in cloud and failed to compete. He landed some two hours later on a football pitch across town. Thatch also made very good runs as did Doolittle who came in low and slow. His bombs missed by only two meters. The Siamese Fw 42 with its bombsight scored very highly and hit the command post and one very good firing pass was made with the bow turret.
The judges gave these pilots the top six scores, Motonari first, Webber second, Naelbanthad third, Larsen fourth, Sukhserm and Alabastro fifth and Doolittle sixth.


Sunday, February 4th 2007, 12:46pm

Report Part II

[Too big to post as one post so I've had to split it. Just imagine how many of those annoying little squares I've had to edit out!]

After totting up the points and successes the top three pilots were;
1) Engineer Lascurain won the Gold Talon Eagle Trophy
2) de Benardi won the Silver Albatross Trophy
3) Marco Alabastro won the Pilot's Silver Plate
The judges also awarded a Silver Medal to, Captain Fabris "Jester" Lavidicus, Major General Carron-Gomez and Flight Luitenant Ronnie Hellström whose skill enabled them to compete to a very high standard.
The Aviones de Militar Trophy was awarded to Bergamini for his lifetime achievements and long career coupled with successes this year
The Lieutenant Y. Yucuman Memorial Trophy to the pilot who succeeded against the worst odds has been awarded to Flight Lieutenant "George" Bulman who flew a great contest but was hampered by a new and untried combination of untried airframe and engine whilst trying to preserve the valuable prototype aircraft.

The points table:
Engineer Lascurain 42
de Benardi 37
Marco Alabastro 32
Captain Fabris "Jester" Lavidicus 30
Maj Gen Carron-Gomez 30
Ronnie Hellström 28
Bergamini 27
Ms. Rianne Rijker 26
Col Marcus "Maverick" Cassius 22
Lieu Comm Naoi Motonari 22
Maj Dyeyev 22
Flying Off Basil Heath 18
Flight Lieut "George" Bulman 17
Navy Flight Lieu Jacob Huyrluyt 17
FO Suan Sukhserm Fw 42 16
Maj Castro 16
USAAC Maj Doolittle 15
RAAF Webber 14
Capitan Valenzuela 12
Colonel Oonishi Manzo 12
USN Lieu John S. Thatch 12
Pilot Officer Maen Prasongdi 11
Wing Commander Otto Larsen 10
Marcel Hurel 8
RAAF George 8
Vicente Cortázar 8

Points were scored as follows; First 10, Second 8, Third 6, Fourth 4, Fifth 2 and Sixth 1. Last place on the 8 mile rounds and duels equalled 0 (except where Did Not Finish takes last place). Duel Group Final and Grand Final winners scored 15.

Antonio Allegro's Press Cuttings

Just for fun the judges added up which fighters were propelled by whose engines to discover the most popular engine manufacturers. Is this the beginning of a new monopoly by America as the favoured engine maker of choice?
Pratt & Whitney 6, Nakajima 4, Bristol 3, Hispano Suiza 3, BMW 1, Rolls-Royce 2, Curtiss 1, Husquarna 1, Isotta-Fraschini 1, Klimov 1, Piaggio 1, Spartan 1, SAAB 1.

The Argentine camp was less enthusiastic about its chances after last year and the death of 1st Lieutenant Y. Yucuman. Already the I-100 was being matched and in some cases better by the advanced European companies. The FAA and FMA gave every assistance to their needs and the hangar was full of tools, parts and engines. Major Castro, a former commander of the Fighter School took the place of Yucuman. Many commentators noticed the interest the FAA took in the F-9 Storm after its good show this year.

The Italian team returned with their stalwart fliers de Benardi and Bergamini. Both were flying the graceful biplanes and the Caproni 165 was voted by the crowds the best looker of the contest. Both pilots followed each other during the hazardous cross-country route to make sure neither got lost. How did they decide who would cross the finish line first? De Benardi, "Well I thought I should let my superior officer and more experienced colleague get the better position. I felt duty over glory as every good pilot should."

The bombing judges were wary when Vicente Cortázar took off this year. His bombs again were short but this time missed the judges who had built themselves an impressive bunker for protection. He seemed happy enough with this year's effort asking the judge "that's better, good enough to win?"

Engineer Lascurain again slept in the hangar beside another of his creations. He tended it like a baby and carefully made every adjustment. He has taken some 50 hours of fighter tactics training in Mexico and now he can really mix it with the best. His mathematical brain seems to work out the deflection calculations like a machine. When he was announced the winner this shy, modest man mumbled a few words before heading off to the hangar. He shuns the lime light, he only wants to test his machines to the limit and he himself declares, "I'm no ace just an engineer. I create things and just happen to fly them quite well too."

The Dutch team was a new visitor and had come with perhaps two of the best all-round fighters of the contest. Being descend from the line of excellent Fokker fighters this was to be expected. Police were suspicious of the tobacco smoked in the Dutch hangar and they confiscated some illegal substances but no convictions were made under an agreement with the Argentine officials. Ms Rijker was this year's only female competitor but was not about to let this stop her professional outlook and flying talent.

Another new team was the Russian team who it seemed every night would engage in bouts of heavy drinking and partying until the early hours. Many other nations suspected the plying of vodka to their pilots to hamper their performance the next day! Major Dyeyev was a heavy drinker, being a big set man he seemed too big for his little fighter but he got in every time. His faithful ground crew enjoyed the warmth of the Argentine autumn and cheered him on very loudly during every contest. When he crashed they rushed to the wreck in a rickety old truck with a very primitive first aid kit which the Argentine medic refused to allow anywhere near Maj. Dyeyev. They did however administer a large dose of vodka which did some good!

The Americans returned with a big camp with an experienced USAAC and USN ground crew. Some 9,200 individual spares were transported here and a mini mobile workshop set up. Navy and Air Corps personnel had a few friendly rivalries, and a few fights, and the pilots seemed to chalk up the female admirers. Three international Baseball games were played among the ground crews and the US players normally won although Mexico proved a good hand and it too. The tubby Grumman F2F looked slow and dumpy but the pilot's real worry was the manual retractable undercarriage. Every time Thatch took off and pumped the handle the little fighter would wag its wings as if to wave goodbye!

Flying Officer Heath returned with a handsome handlebar moustache and his silver Fury was polished to perfection. Every time he got in before an event he would stop and brush his moustache in the polished cowling. Stocky pilot Flight Lieutenant "George" Bulman flew the new Hurricane which the author was allowed to inspect. This is the newest fighter here and seems to be very modern although the rear fuselage is still the old fabric and stringer construction. Although teething troubles hindered its performance I feel in the future this fighter may be very important to Britain. The ground crews played regular cricket matches in between events and taking the idea from the Americans began a series of international games of Rugby, normally an RAF/RAAF team versus Argentina and Siam who seemed to enjoy the game.

Of all the pilots here this year the most talked about was the incredible Colonel Oonishi Manzo. A former champion much was expected of him and rumours of a new fighter he would fly were rife before the contest began. In fact his elderly SPAD seemed a world away from the Hurricane, Odin and I-100. Its final swansong was not the best and Manzo seemed not to be as focused as he has been and tended to relax and enjoy the events more. As he said, "go slower, see more."

Siam entered a Focke Wulf 42 bomber. Although they called it a turret fighter and proclaimed the advantages of a turret for combat to reduce pilot workload many nations were not fooled. The judges spent five hours walking around it before deciding to let it fly, after all several other planes here were borderline on breaking the rules, the Hurricane especially. The bombing judges thought abut removing the bombsight but after a vocal protest by the pilot Suan Sukhserm it was allowed. In return though, they were forced to agree that the dorsal turret on the Fw-42 and P-30 could not have gun cameras as this would be too advantageous in the duels. The local Argentine fighter training flight made several mock attacks upon it; the Fw 42 being the only monoplane bomber in this part of the world made it an invaluable training tool. Flying Officer Suan Sukhserm would shake his fists at the trainers while Flight Lieutenant Chan Nuat-Kheo and Airman Somphong Naelbanthad manned the turrets. The students claimed nine bombers shot down and the Siamese crew claimed eight fighters, both it seems overestimated their kills. On the ground too it attracted considerable attention from the pilots and officers of the world's air forces and from the public because of its "tail-first" appearance and odd aerodynamics. I heard more than one boy saying, "Daddy why is that plane flying backwards?" One odd fact was that Flight Lieutenant Chan Nuat-Kheo was in charge of the aircraft at all times but did not fly it, his job was to "captain" the aircraft and direct it in combat and he was also navigator. Airman Somphong Naelbanthad was the forward gunner, radio operator and mechanic on the ground.


Sunday, February 4th 2007, 12:57pm

If the Fw-42 at Cordoba is a Fw-42B, then it doesn't have a turret in the bow, instead there are ports for 6 forward firing weapons (4 MGs and 2 Type FF 20mm cannon) in the nose with the weapons replacing the bow turret position.

Great stuff, as always. We'll have to see, but Germany might have some planes to fly in Cordoba in 1934 (the trick will be to keep General Udet from flying them himself).

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "Hrolf Hakonson" (Feb 4th 2007, 12:59pm)


Sunday, February 4th 2007, 1:51pm

Awesome and well done sir! And... a Dutch pot joke? I didn't know you had it in you! :D

Vicente Cortázar gets last.. but then he gets all endearing with the judges. I can't stay mad at him.


Sunday, February 4th 2007, 2:26pm

Excellent. Very good writeup and enjoyable to read as always.

I think Bergamini is going to have to retire next year and let anothe Italian pilot take his place. I think the Italians have taken biplanes more or less as far as they'll go. Its interesting that in the actual combat they fared best. Next year we'll see the first of the new generation of Italian monoplanes. Speed seems to be the area to improve on and the CR.35 prototypes are already looking impressive in their trials at Guidonia.


Sunday, February 4th 2007, 4:10pm

Great stuff. :)

As Hrolf pointed out the Fw 42B, a "proto-Zerstörer", doesn't have the bow turret (or bombsight) unlike the 42A (which would fit the a/c as described...). It does, however, retain the tail gun position.

Next year, Siam will likely enter a I-100/Fw 42B team. ;)


Sunday, February 4th 2007, 4:16pm

Wohoo!!! It took three tries but Lascurian finnally did it! This will really help Aeronautical developments in Mexico.

Next year will probably see a totally new aircraft from Australia. A twin engine (Cessna style) seaplane fighter!


Sunday, February 4th 2007, 4:32pm

Disappointing results for the British industry, but pretty much what was to be expected considering the entrants.


Sunday, February 4th 2007, 9:28pm

A respectable performance by Atlantean contestants, considering that I shook the roster up a bit this year.

Overall a very interesting read, nice work!


Monday, February 5th 2007, 1:03pm

Not a game for the faint-hearted...

" Dyeyev was rushed to hospital with a suspected broken back but only a few vertebrae were squashed."

The whole write-up is very well done! It holds your interest until the end.