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Tuesday, December 26th 2017, 6:53pm

The Manila Times, Wednesday, 7 July 1948

Following a stop in Saigon, Indochina, Vice President Roxas and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rómulo have returned home from their European trip, where fruitful discussions were held with friendly powers regarding the security situation in East Asia. While in Europe the delegation was able to successfully negotiate the purchase of additional jet fighter aircraft from Britain, and completed a license agreement with the Skoda Works for a new artillery for the Philippine Army. Some observers have expressed disappointment that Senor Roxas was unable to build a coalition to curb further Chinese aggression but in his own remarks the Vice President has expressed his assurance that the European powers are fully cognizant of the threats posed by China and that “all appropriate steps” will be taken.


Tuesday, January 2nd 2018, 12:57am

Nielsen Field, Manila, Monday, 12 July 1948

The Pan American DC-6 that bore Commander Trevor Stevens USN made its last turn and straightened up for its final approach to the runway. It had been a very long flight from Wake Island and Stevens’ legs ached despite the many opportunities he had taken to walk the length of the half-empty aircraft to stretch them. It had been some years since he had last seen Manila, and the growth of the capital was readily apparent to him. As they had flown over Cavite, he had noted the large assemblage of warships gathered there, and the busy shipyard as well. His brief from the Navy Department was simple, if not straight-forward; assess the capability of the Philippine Navy to defend the islands from potential aggressors and obtain any relevant information that could help or hinder the decision-making of any potential American response.

The DC-6 landed with a thump and rolled down the runway with the squealing of brakes, eventually turning on to the taxiway that led in turn to the terminal. When he was allowed, he stood in gather his belongings and deplaned, following the directions of the airport staff. At the customs shed he showed his papers and was waved through – with his diplomatic status of naval attaché examination of his luggage was unnecessary. A car had been sent by the embassy to pick him up; and he looked forward to some rest before calling on the Ambassador.


Tuesday, January 9th 2018, 1:15am

Cavite Naval Dockyard, Friday, 16 July 1948

The occasion for the gathering of dignitaries was the launch of the Philippine cruiser Benguet, the latest in that service’s series of light cruisers. Commander Stevens he found the Benguet rather small, but obviously well suited to lead and fight alongside destroyer flotillas. He had read his predecessor’s notes on Philippine doctrine and the conditions under which the Philippine Navy was expecting to conduct a defensive campaign. As the obligatory bottle of spirits was smashed against the bow of the cruiser she slid gracefully down the ways, to be taken in tow and move across the yard to continue her fitting out.


Friday, January 12th 2018, 1:32am

The Manila Herald, Saturday, 17 July 1948

According to unconfirmed reports from the Malacañan a special envoy has been sent to Petrograd in the Russian Federation to open talks there regarding the security situation in the Far East. When asked, a spokesman for President Arellano would neither confirm nor deny that the Government has opened negotiations of any sort with Russia.

Naval Operating Base Cavite, Sunday, 18 July 1948

Without fanfare the submarines Columbina and Chen, fresh from their working-up, slipped from their moorings and headed to sea in the gathering dusk. By nightfall they would be at sea, ready to embark on their first operational patrols off the Chinese coast. How many other Philippine boats were already there was a secret not known to the commanders of either boat.


Friday, January 19th 2018, 7:37pm

The Philippine Herald, Wednesday, 21 July 1948

The submarines Cairina and Coracina were completed today at the Butuan naval shipyard. Following their builders’ trials they will begin operational training and should be operational early next year. They follow in the wake of the penultimate pair of Tirador class submarines, Columbina and Chen, which entered service earlier this week.

The Manila Times, Thursday, 22 July 1948

The Malacañan has officially confirmed that Minister of Defense Don Joaquin de la Vega has arrived in Petrograd, capital of the Russian Federation, to open talks with Russian Federation officials regarding joint security concerns in the Far East.


Friday, January 26th 2018, 1:19am

The Philippine Gazette, Saturday, 24 July 1948

Elements of Civil Support Group One, including the hospital ship Santa Maria and the smaller civil support ships Cabo Bolinao and Cabo Engaño, have been ordered north in the wake of the recent typhoon which caused serious damage to northeast Luzon. Troops of the 51st Engineer Regiment from Fort Natividad have already been deployed to repair roads in the region and to assist Constabulary units in the maintenance of public order.


Wednesday, January 31st 2018, 7:55pm

Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, Monday, 26 July 1948

The Philippine Air Force C-47 transport entered the landing pattern and soon began its final approach to the main runway; the landing was uneventful, but to the surprise of a casual observer the transport did not taxi to the main area used by the French Armee de l’Air but rather to the section reserved for the Groupe pour la Défense Aérienne Indochinoise. Finishing its extended movement it was guided into its place by the Indochinese ground staff and its engines were cut.

A few moments later a car bearing the insignia of the Indochinese air arm drew up and two of its occupants disembarked. Looking through the window of the transport’s door Captain Rudy Fernandez of the Philippine Air Force smiled and turned to the loadmaster, “Okay. My ride’s here – crack the hatch if you will.”

With practiced movements the loadmaster had the door open and the stair deployed. Fernandez took up his flight bag and deplaned into the heat of the Indochina summer. He walked confidently towards the waiting car.

“Welcome to Saigon,” said one of the two Indochinese officers. “We have been expecting you. If you would come with us please?

Fernandez donned his sunglasses as a defense against the bright sun. “Lead the way,” he replied.


Tuesday, February 6th 2018, 8:16pm

Petrograd, The Philippine Embassy, Wednesday, 28 July 1948

Minister of Defense de la Vega and his assistant sat in the embassy library, discussing the results of their conversation with a series of Russian officials.

“Ramon,” said the minister, “what do you think of the Russian offer?”

Magsaysay paused a moment before answering. “Certainly it is tempting. The Mikoyan aircraft is one of the best – if not *the best* fighter aircraft in the world at the moment. Certainly it is superior in performance to anything we might obtain from the British. I just have my doubts we have the capacity to build it.”

“But the Russians have offered to send technicians to assist us setting up a production line at home. We have been manufacturing aircraft – some to our own design – for more than a decade.” De la Vega was animated by the prospect of replacing the Philippine Air Force’s older aircraft. “And we cannot stand still.”

“Yes Minister,” Magsaysay acknowledged. “Though given the recent threats to Russian security offered by China they might be amenable to less ambitious schedule.”

“Such as?” De la Vega signaled his assistant to continue.

“In addition to a manufacturing license for the MiG-15, and the technicians to turn that license into a reality, the Russians have offered to provide us a quantity of the aircraft’s two-seat conversion trainer variant. And those are all very valuable. But getting such an advanced fighter aircraft into production will take time – and China’s recent adventures suggest that time may not be on our side. Perhaps if we could persuade the Russians to provide a modicum of operational MiG-15 aircraft to bridge the gap until our own production is underway…”

“I see,” the minister said, smiling. “Our pilots have obtained some experience with jet aircraft while flying the Vampires we have obtained from Britain – with the availability of conversion trainers their transition to operational MiGs would be comparatively easy. And the appearance of the Mikoyan fighter in our inventory would give the Chinese more than sufficient pause. I shall propose this to the Russians at our meeting this evening.”


Wednesday, February 7th 2018, 9:55am

The best fighter in the world huh? Big claims methinks. :D
I wonder if its time to reignite the Talons contest and see what the best of the best actually is?


Wednesday, February 7th 2018, 10:38am

It has been a while since the last Talons......


Monday, February 12th 2018, 6:00pm

Tam Sa, The Sansha (Paracel) Islands, Friday, 30 July 1948

Captain Rudy Fernandez merely affected the demeanor of brash fighter pilot – though he had scored four combat ‘kills’ in the last war with China. He was, in fact, one of the most incisive minds in the Philippine Air Force, something that had brought him to prominence as a staff officer at a young age. As he waited for his flight back to Saigon he updated his notes regarding the benefits offered by the Indochinese authorities in the use of their developing facilities.

“Land, refuel, and service fighter and maritime patrol aircraft at Tam Sa,” he noted. The facilities available at the moment were spartan, to say the least, but they were being expanded. They would be sufficient for occasional use.

“Equal access to the Indochinese/French air defense dradis data and plot at the Tam Sa control tower”. Such information would expand Philippine ability to monitor Chinese air movements across the strategic South China Sea, and complement the ‘civil’ network in the Kalayaans.

“Construction of a warehouse for maintenance and storage of supplies.” That would be vital for any long-term use of the facilities being offered at Tam Sa.

“Access to base facilities – desalinization plant, infirmary, etc.” Yes, that would be important as well in the long term. It would make Tam Sa much more than a mere emergency or diversion field.

An Indochinese officer interrupted his thoughts. “Captain Fernandez, we are ready to depart.”

“Very good,” Fernandez replied. He grabbed his flight bag and stuffed his notebook into it. It would be several flight hours back to Saigon, and then many more back to Manila.


Tuesday, February 20th 2018, 2:46pm

Philippine News and Events, August 1948

The Manila Times, Tuesday, 3 August 1948

Minister of Defense Don Joaquin de la Vega has returned from Petrograd in the Russian Federation, where he held very fruitful discussions with Russian officials in regard to the security situation in the Far East. No details of the visit have been released though de la Vega was immediately whisked to the Malacañan Palace to brief the Council of Ministers on the results. A formal report to the Senate is anticipated for later this week.


Friday, February 23rd 2018, 10:10pm

The Philippine Herald, Saturday, 7 August 1948

In his report to the Senate yesterday Minister of Defense Don Joaquin de la Vega announced that an agreement in principle has been reached with the Government of the Russian Federation for the supply to the Philippine Air Force of a number of Mikoyan MiG-15 fighter aircraft, as well as a number of operational trainer variants, to the Philippine Air Force. Moreover, if approved by the Senate, the agreement calls for the licensing of type for local production, together with Russian technical assistance in arranging manufacture in Philippine factories. It is expected that the Senate will readily agree to the terms proposed, and assure the air defenses of the nation with this most potent combat aircraft.

Don Joaquin also reported that orders have been placed in the United States for a number of Consolidated PB4Y-2 four-engine long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the first of which are expected to be delivered before the close of the year.


Tuesday, February 27th 2018, 5:48pm

The Freeman (Cebu), Friday, 13 August 1948

The antisubmarine gunboats Descubierta and Atrevida have completed their training and have been declared fully operational by the Philippine Navy. They are to be assigned to the Southern Sea Frontier, operating from Palawan, to patrol the southern portion of the South China Sea against incursions by unfriendly submarines.


Saturday, March 3rd 2018, 7:42pm

The Daily Guardian (Iloilo), Sunday, 15 August 1948

Yesterday was a red-letter day for the workers of the Butuan Naval Shipyard. It saw the launch of the escort destroyers Roxas and Rosario as well as completion of the anti-submarine gunboats Vencedora and Cazadora. Such vessels will be vital in the defense of the nation from any aggressor.


Thursday, March 8th 2018, 12:48am

The Manila Times, Monday, 16 August 1948

The light cruiser Tarlac was laid down yesterday in the Cavite dockyard. She is the third Benguet-class cruiser scheduled to be built under the present naval law, and is to be followed by a sister-ship set to commence construction in the autumn. The lead ship of the class was launched last month.


Thursday, March 15th 2018, 4:54pm

Manila, The American Embassy, Thursday, 19 August 1948

Commander Trevor Stevens reviewed his voluminous notes as he prepared his first major report to Washington; and he had much to include. He had been present when the latest Philippine cruiser, the Benguet, had been launched, and his hosts had afforded him the opportunity to visit and inspect several of her older half-sisters. The dockyard at Cavite was working flat out, as the Benguet was being followed by two other cruisers already on the ways and it had been announced that a fourth would be laid down within weeks. He had yet to have the opportunity to visit the Butuan shipyard on Mindanao, but by all reports it was as busy as Cavite in constructing destroyers and smaller warships.

Work had commenced on the strange floating ‘concrete fortresses’ designed by a British expert; these he had been told would be emplaced at strategic points throughout the Islands where shore-based artillery was not available to counter possible Chinese raids. According to what he had been told, the first was expected to be deployed sometime in the autumn – depending – his informants told him – on how quickly the concrete used in construction cured. Clearly the Philippine Navy saw its principal opponent as China, as did all the Philippine services – their training and deployment presumed a Chinese attempt at a first strike. Thus far Stevens had developed a healthy appreciation of the Philippine Navy’s ability to defend against such a move, should it ever come.


Wednesday, March 21st 2018, 2:30am

The Mindanao Post, Sunday, 22 August 1948

Patrol Escort Squadron Six has been transferred from the control of the Southern Patrol Force to that of the Western Patrol Force, and will transfer to its new operational base at Palawan over the next several weeks.

The Daily Guardian (Iloilo), Monday, 23 August 1948

The Ministry of Defense has confirmed unofficial reports that the newly operational antisubmarine gunboats Descubierta and Atrevida have been dispatched to Palawan where they will operate as part of the Western Patrol Force, which is tasked with maintaining security in the South China Sea and the Kalayaan Islands.


Sunday, March 25th 2018, 4:41pm

The South China Sea, Thursday, 26 August 1948

The North American PBJ patrol bomber had taken off that morning from Puerto Princesa for a routine mission of monitoring shipping traffic. It had been uneventful but while the weather over the area to which the aircraft was assigned remained clear and calm, to the south of Palawan a storm was brewing and lashing rains would soon sweep over their base.

The radio operator’s voice crackled in the pilot’s earphones. “Puerto Princesa tower says that the ceiling is coming down really fast boss.”

The pilot asked his navigator, “What would be our best ETA if we headed back right now?”

It took a moment or two for the navigator to make his calculations. “Two hours, maybe more if we run into headwinds.”

Fuel wasn’t the issue – it was the risk of landing in zero-zero visibility. “Advise Puerto Princesa tower that we will divert to Tam Sa in the Paracels,” the pilot ordered, and the radio operator tapped out the message. “I guess we’re going to be the first to visit our Indochinese friends.”


Wednesday, March 28th 2018, 2:46pm

The Bohol Chronicle, Sunday, 29 August 1948

The Ministry of Defense has announced that the escort destroyers Cabanatuan and Calamba have completed their trials and training and are fully operational. It is expected that they will join the Northern Fleet.

The Manila Times, Tuesday, 31 August 1948

The battlecruiser Mindanao, accompanied by the destroyers Amorong, Arayat, Iraya, and Mariveles, departed today for a good-will voyage to Hong Kong. It is expected that their cruise will last approximately two weeks.