Argentinian Air Force and Navy Air Arm

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Master Sergeant
Jan 1, 2010
Argentina was early in its development of a military air element. First usage of 'air power' took place in 1866 when balloons were used for aerial observation in the Guerra de la Triple Alianza (the war of triple alliance) against Paraguay. In those years the aerial demonstration scene was dominated by European daredevils never finding a big following by Argentineans until Christmas 1907 when the first take off was organised by Argentineans themselves. With a hot air balloon Aarón de Anchorena and Jorge Newbery managed to cross the River Plate to Uruguay, a feat that was never accomplished by Latin Americans before (although Americans had done it in 1887). This spurred aviation interest in Argentina. On 8 January 1908 the Aero Club Argentino was formed by a select group of enthusiasts putting Argentina in the forefront of Latin American aviation development. This led to the first motorised flight on 30 January 1910 (by Italian pilot Ricardo Ponzelli in a 50hp Voisin) and the inauguration of the first airfield on 23 March of the same year at Villa Lugano, Buenos Aires. The military showed increasing interest in aviation and the Aeroclub was tasked to integrate military aviation in the army. Eventually, the Escuela de Aviación Militar (military aviation school) was formed 10 August 1912 (later, in 1954, this became the official 'day of the air force').

El Palomar in the Campo de Mayo military area was adopted as the home base of military aviation. The early days saw a big influence from the Aeroclub, especially engineers Alberto Mascias and Jorge Newbery because the government simply lacked knowledge, funds and equipment. In honour of their achievements they were granted military aviator status before the first class of officers graduated. Jorge Newbery sadly died in a plane crash 1 March 1914, the Aeroparque airport of Buenos Aires is named after him. Involvement of the civil Aeroclub in military Aviation School ended in 1915 when the military was sufficiently trained to organise flight instruction and air operations renaming the school in Escuela Militar de Aviación in the process. The name reverted to Escuela de Aviación Militar again in 1944 and it is still known by that name today.

In 1919 the first Army air service was formed and after inception of the Grupo 1 de Observación in January 1922, the school was initially dissolved into this unit, but was re-instated in January 1925. After years of operating various small aircraft of European origin (Nieuports and Ansaldos for example), 1926 saw the arrival of about thirty Brequet XIV light bombers. Significant progress in Argentinean aviation was also achieved when on 10 October 1927 the Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) was created at Cordoba. FMA started building Avro 504K, Dewoitine D21 and Curtiss 75 aircraft enabling the first international flight to Rio de Janeiro with FMA built aircraft in 1933. The military aviation school eventually relocated to Cordoba as well in 1937 and was re-equipped with the license built FW44J Stieglitz. Shortly after that a military passengers service was created with Ju-52 aircraft that eventually led to the formation of the air transport group in December 1941 at El Palomar. The first state airline was formed shortly after: Líneas Aéreas del Estado (LADE).

As can be read in the general military aviation history part, the flying units were still part of the army in 1940. The quest for independence gained momentum in the forties. A revolution in 1943 brought a lieutenant colonel from the aviation branch to power among others and the formation of the independent air force was imminent. Subsequently, Air Force command was formed 11 February 1944 and the secretary of Aeronautics on 4 January 1945. The air force also adopted its own badges and ranks in the intervening period. Although the structure was in place, much of the necessary infrastructure still needed to be created. Paved runways and both military and civil airfields were introduced and the late forties and early fifties saw an influx of modern aircraft. The Gloster Meteor was the first jet aircraft adopted in any Latin American country. They arrived in 1947 and by December of that year the first unit, Regimiento 4 de Caza Interceptora (4th Fighter-Interceptor regiment) became operational at Tandil. Other typical aircraft of that era were Lincoln bombers and DC-3, 4 and DC-6 transports. Meanwhile the FMA produced some indigenous aircraft designs as well like the Pulqui and Calquin. The forces were no longer concentrated in the Buenos Aires province as other military aviation regions were formed from 15 March 1950 onward. These included six Brigadas Aéreas (I at El Palomar, II at Paraná, III at Reconquista, IV at Mendoza, V at Villa Reynolds and VI at Tandil). Moreover, other commands were formed at staff level further enhancing the professionalism of the fledgling air force. Many of these commands and brigades are still operational today.

The sixties saw the first Antarctic base, Base Aérea Vicecomodoro Marambio, being constructed and the first participation of the Air Force in an UN mission in Congo. This decade marked the last one in which American equipment could be obtained (the F-86 and A-4 for example) easily. The seventies saw some harsh internal struggles that demanded attention of government resources. It also led to the restriction of arms sales to Argentina. The FAA had to rely on indigenous manufactured aircraft from the mid-seventies like the IA-58 Pucara and fighter nonetheless received aircraft from several countries (like Daggers from Israel). Thus slowly but gradually modernising its forces the 1982 Malvinas campaign in which the Falkland Islands were captured from the British could be launched successfully. Although some heroic air-to-air and air-to-ship operations were executed, the Argentinean forces failed to ward off the British forces, which recaptured the islands destroying and capturing various Argentinean air assets in the process.

Aided by befriended countries the FAA reinforced itself again to make up for the encountered losses. Mirage 3C were obtained from Israel, Mirage 5 were provided by Peru. More modern trainers were obtained in Brazil (EMB312 Tucanos) to augment the venerable Beech B45 still performing that job at Cordoba. The Pampa project was started aimed at building an advanced trainer and light attack aircraft to replace the MS760 Paris that was still in service in that role. Due to several circumstances the programme was ill-fated and the Paris had to soldier on. More Tucanos were obtained to make up for the delay in Pampa deliveries as well. With a grim economic situation the prospects were not that good for the FAA in the late eighties and early nineties. Noteworthy light at the end of the tunnel was the arrival of the A-4AR Fightinghawk, an upgraded version of the Skyhawk, in the second halve of the nineties. The subsequent boost in the indigenous aircraft manufacturing plant (effectively taken over by Lockheed) meant another leash of life for the Pampa programme as well. Together with Mirage 5 aircraft brought up to 'Finger' standard, the A-4AR forms the backbone of the current FAA which still has a way to go with regard to force-wide modernisation.

Note: This thread is a remake. I am going to add more information and new pictures, but it will basicly contain all the data provided before.
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The SPAD S.XIII was a French biplane fighter aircraft of World War I, developed by Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD) from the earlier highly successful SPAD S.VII. It was one of the most capable fighters of the war, and one of the most-produced, with 8,472 built and orders for around 10,000 more cancelled at the Armistice. Only two units were acquired by Argentina.


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The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 was a British biplane fighter aircraft of the First World War. Although the first examples reached the Western Front before the Sopwith Camel and it had a much better overall performance, problems with its Hispano-Suiza engine, particularly the geared-output H-S 8B-powered versions, meant that there was a chronic shortage of S.E.5s until well into 1918 and fewer squadrons were equipped with the type than with the Sopwith fighter. Together with the Camel, the S.E.5 was instrumental in regaining allied air superiority in mid-1917 and maintaining this for the rest of the war, ensuring there was no repetition of "Bloody April" 1917 when losses in the Royal Flying Corps were much heavier than in the Luftstreitkräfte. Civilian Pilot Grant Jorge Luro, assigned to the ESAN, donated this aircraft, that was used for advanced flight training until its destruction by accident in 1929.


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At the end of 1925, the second prototype D 12 single-seat fighter was re-engined with a 500hp Hispano- Suiza 12Gb (HS 50) 12-cylinder W-type water-cooled engine and redesignated D 21. Intended essentially for export, the D 21 was first demonstrated in January 1926 at Bruxelles-Evere. The first export contract came from Turkey, this calling for two D 21s for evaluation. Czechoslovakia ordered three and Argentina procured 18, plus the prototype. Of these, the three Czech aircraft and seven of the Argentine aircraft were assembled by the EKW in Switzerland. A manufacturing licence was obtained by Czechoslovakia, Skoda building 26 D 21s during 1928-29 (as Skoda D 1s) with Skoda L engines (derived from the HS 12G) of 562hp. Argentina also procured a manufacturing licence and the Fabrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) built 40 examples during 1930-31, but with Madsen machine guns and the licence-built Lorraine-Dietrich 12Eb W-type engine. They thus became effectively D 12s, although the designation D 21 was retained. In the autumn of 1927, Turkey placed a follow-on order for 10 D 21s, these being delivered during 1928-29.


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The Savoia-Marchetti S.57 was an Italian single-engine biplane flying boat intended for aerial reconnaissance, built by Savoia-Marchetti for Regia Aeronautica after World War I. Of wooden construction with a single-step hull, with pilot and observer/gunner in tandem open cockpits in the bow, the S.57 was powered by a single 186 kW (250 hp) Isotta-Fraschini V6. The observer had a single ring-mounted 7.7 mm (.303 in) FIAT machine gun. Eighteen S.57s were accepted by Regia Aeronautica in 1925 and used as trainers. A sole S.57bis (improved) was built, with a 224 kW (300 hp) Hispano-Suiza 42 engine. A single unit was acquired in 1928 by Italian aeronautical added in Buenos Aires, who had for private use. Assigned to the BAPB and then to the ESAN. He served until 1934.


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Built as a private venture by the Stearman Aircraft Company of Wichita (bought by Boeing in 1934), this two-seat biplane was of mixed construction. The wings were of wood with fabric covering while the fuselage had a tough, welded steel framework, also fabric covered. Either a Lycoming R-680 (PT-13) or Continental R-670 (PT-17) engine powered most models, at a top speed of 124 mph with a 505-mile range. An engine shortage in 1940-41 led to the installation of 225-hp Jacobs R-755 engines on some 150 airframes, and the new designation PT-18. The US Navy's early aircraft, designated NS-1, eventually evolved into the N2S series, and the Royal Canadian Air Force called their Lend-Lease aircraft PT-27s. (The Canadians were also responsible for the moniker "Kaydet," a name eventually adopted by air forces around the globe).

The plane was easy to fly, and relatively forgiving of new pilots. It gained a reputation as a rugged airplane and a good teacher. Officially named the Boeing Model 75, the plane was (and still is) persistently known as the "Stearman" by many who flew them. It was called the "PT" by the Army, "N2S" by the Navy and "Kaydet" by Canadian forces. By whatever name, more than 10,000 were built by the end of 1945 and at least 1,000 are still flying today worldwide.

After the WWII, there were many remainning planes available for foreigners customers, and that allowed Argentina to acquire 60 units of PT-17 version. At the beginning, they were assigned to the Aviation Naval School, being later transfered to the General Purpose Aeronaval Squadron, where they were used for very different tasks. In 1958 many were retired, although some examples were bought by sport association or sold to other neighbouring countries.


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The prototype of the Fairey III was the N.10 floatplane, which was designed and built in 1917 by Fairey Aviation (along with the smaller N.9) to meet Admiralty Specification N.2(a) for a carrier-based seaplane for the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War. N.10, also known by its constructer's number F.128 was a two-bay biplane with folding wings and powered by a 260 hp (190 kW) Sunbeam Maori engine. It first flew from the Port Victoria seaplane station on the Isle of Grain, Kent on 14 September 1917. Following tests both as a floatplane and with a conventional wheeled undercarriage, production orders were placed for two versions both powered by the Maori, the IIIA and IIIB, with 50 and 60 aircraft planned, respectively. The Fairey IIIA was a reconnaissance aircraft intended to operate from aircraft carriers, and as such was fitted with a wheeled or skid undercarriage, while the IIIB was intended as a floatplane bomber, with larger span (increased from 46 ft 2 in/14.19 m to 62 ft 9 in/19.13 m) upper wings and a bombload of three 230 lb (105 kg) bombs. While all 50 IIIAs were built, only 28 of the IIIBs were completed as intended, as a new improved bomber/reconnaissance floatplane, the Fairey IIIC was available, of which 36 were produced, which reverted to short equal-span wings like the IIIA but was powered by the much more powerful and reliable 375 hp (280 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine and could still carry a useful bombload. Many of the IIIBs were completed as IIICs.

The first major production model was the IIID, which was an improved IIIC, with provision for a third crewmember and capable of being fitted with either a floatplane or a conventional wheeled undercarriage. It first flew in August 1920, powered by a Rolls-Royce Eagle, and initial production for the Fleet Air Arm, together with aircraft produced for Australia and Portugal retained the Eagle, while later aircraft were powered by the more powerful Napier Lion. The naval variants were usually three-seaters; pilot, observer and gunner and the wings would could be folded back parallel to the fuselage for storage aboard ship. In floatplane configuration, carrier-borne Fairey IIIs would be launched from the deck using a trolley and would land on the water upon their return. The Fairey III floatplane could also be catapult-launched from a ship. The IIID had a wooden, fabric-covered fuselage and usually a wooden, two-blade, fixed-pitch propeller. One IIID was built with metal wings and floats. A total of 207 IIIDs were produced for the Fleet Air Arm and RAF, with a further 20 being built for export.

A Fairey III floatplane (G-EALQ) with a 450 hp Napier Lion was entered into the Air Ministry Commercial Amphibian Competition of September 1920. The most prolific and enduring of the Fairey IIIs was the final model, the IIIF, which was designed to meet Air Ministry Specification 19/24 for a three-seat spotter/reconnaissance aircraft for the Fleet Air Arm and a two-seat general purpose aircraft for the Royal Air Force. The IIIF, which first flew on 20 April 1926, had a more streamlined engine installation and initially a fuselage of mixed metal and wooden construction, with similar wings to the IIID, although later production aircraft were fitted with an all-metal fuselages and wings. Over 350 IIIFs were operated by the Fleet Air Arm, making it the most widely used type of aircraft in Fleet Air Arm service between the wars. In fact, of the British military aircraft in the inter-war years, only the Hawker Hart family was produced in greater numbers. Three IIIFs were modified as a radio-controlled gunnery trainer, known as the Fairey Queen. The Fairey IIIF was also the basis for development of the Gordon and Seal.


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Six units were bought at the UK in 1930. The floats were made of aluminum, with a weight of 100 kg, what made them lose the 10% of its speed and autonomy. They were sent to the Patrol Plane Squadron first, and later to the Reconnaissance Sea Fleet. In 1935 these planes were fitted with the new Armstrong Siddeley Panther IV engines, which improved its performance. One of them (R-54) was lost in an accident, and the goverment decided to acquire a new unit, this time a Fairey IV "Seal", with a better performance than the others. At the end of its life they were destinated to the "Punta Indio" Aeronaval Base, were they were used as light bombers. They were withdrawn from service in 1940.


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From 1928 until 1937 the company Aeroposta Argentina SA, on all routes operated by aircraft Laté Laté 25 and 28. Subsequently, on February 2 '37 by Decree No. 99,184, issued by General Agustín P. Fair, authorized the company to extend services to Buenos Aires from Rio Grande (Tierra del Fuego) and Bahía Blanca and also established the Civil Aeronautics Administration, to establish a new contract whereby the parties agreed to give valid 10 years from that date. Among the obligations under its terms, Aeroposta should "... be replaced within the first year of flight equipment in use, modern aircraft that meet the needs and conveniences in particular the safety, regularity, speed and convenience of the public service ".

Importantly, continued to use his monoplane Aeroposta Laté 28 until October. But in parallel and in order to comply with the provisions of the preceding paragraph, signed a contract with the German company Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft for the acquisition of three Junkers Ju-52/3m unit cost amounted to 160 000 reischmark. The aircraft, equipped with engines of 625 HP BMW Hornet were registered and baptized as LV-AAB (W.Nr. 5824) Patagonia, LV-AAH (W.Nr. 5833) Pampa and LV-CAB (W.Nr.) Quichua. Oct 14 '37 began regular flights between Buenos Aires (Aeropuerto de Quilmes) and Rio Grande (Tierra del Fuego), with stops at Bahia Blanca, San Antonio Oeste, Trelew, Com. Rivadavia, Puerto Deseado, San Julián, Santa Cruz, Rio Gallegos and Rio Grande. This Ju-52 served until 1947, when they were replaced by Douglas DC-3.

Given the good performance of the Junkers F-13 and K-43 already serving in our country, the Army Aviation Command, in charge of the military airline by 1945 would become LADE (Lineas Aereas State ), managed by 1940 the acquisition of five Junkers tri Ju-52/3m, provided a complete navigation instruments including remote compass, artificial horizon, gyro directional gyro, autopilot and radio equipment, with capacity for 17 passengers and a flight attendant and had sanitary facilities, essential for long flights which would be allocated. Although the planes were formally assigned to the Monitoring Group No. 1, based in El Palomar, the benefit from these new devices were the two airways passenger and correspondence that depend on this command, initially LASO (Airline South West) and from LANE also 1943 (North-East Airlines). By late 1939 the German war production was in full operation, with the objective of sustaining the prevailing needs. That is why the five aircraft required by the Aviation Command are sent to our country disarmed by sea, and no other but with the corresponding helices. Once received, were assembled in the Military Aircraft Factory of Córdoba.


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nice pictures, but the Ju 52 in the middle pic, is it fitted with American radials maybe from a C-47 and the guys in front are holding a spinner cone ?????
nice pictures, but the Ju 52 in the middle pic, is it fitted with American radials maybe from a C-47 and the guys in front are holding a spinner cone ?????

Dont know if it´s a C-47 radial, but sure it is not its original engine.
Junkers W 34 was a German-built, single-engine, passenger and transport aircraft. Developed in the 1920s, it was taken into service in 1926. The passenger version could take a pilot and five passengers. The aircraft was developed from the Junkers W 33. Further development led to the Junkers Ju 46. One Junkers W 34 be/b3e managed to break the then current altitude record on May 26, 1929 when it reached 12,739 meters (41,402 feet). That aircraft carried the markings D-1119 and it was equipped with a Bristol Jupiter VII engine. The airplane was flown by Friedrich W. Neuenhofen. A single unit was bought by Argentina, that used it for trainning purposes, althought sometimes it was used for photograph and reconnaissance duties.


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The Vought O2U Corsair was a 1920s biplane scout and observation aircraft. Made by Vought Corporation, the O2U was ordered by the United States Navy (USN) in 1927. Powered by a 400 hp (298 kW) Pratt Whitney R-1340 Wasp engine, it incorporated a steel-tube fuselage structure and a wood wing structure with fabric covering. Many were seaplanes or amphibians. In 1927, a total of 291 O2Us were produced. The O2U-2, -3 and -4 were ordered in 1928 with minor changes. By 1930 they were being superseded by the O3U which was basically similar to the O2U-4, one of which was fitted with the Grumman float, and were manufactured until 1936. A total of 289 were built. Many of them had cowled engines and some had enclosed cockpits.

Export versions included the Corsair V-65F, V-66F and V-80Fp for the Argentine Navy. A total of 12 units were sent to Argentina in 1933 (eleven V-65-F and a V-66-F). They were used for many different duties, like fighters, light bombers and as reconnaissance aircrafts for the navy. They were used also in numerous raids across the country. For example: feb1933 raid BAPI-Ushuaia with the R-61; nov1933 another raid Patagonia with 3 devices, which is recognized by 1 ° time since the air around Lake Musters; abr1935 BAPI-Posadas raid, raid mar1935 Patagonia with 6 devices; ene1937 Bermejo River survey with the R-62, etc. These seaplanes could be changed quickly with the placement of a central pontoon and a smaller one on each wingtip. They were retired in 1949.


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Initially created to compete for a United States Navy contract dated February 28, 1928, the prototype Model 9, XPY-1, was designed by Captain Dick Richardson and Isaac M. 'Mac' Laddon. Beginning construction in March 1928, the aircraft was ready for its first flight by the end of the year. Lieutenant A. W. Gorton made the first flight out of Anacostia NAS, Washington, D.C.. The production contract was opened to other bidders, and the Glenn L. Martin Company undercut and was awarded the contract to construct the plane as the Martin P3M-1 and P3M-2.

A new contract was placed by the US Navy on May 26, 1931, for a prototype of a developed version of the Model 9, XPY-1, designated the Model 22 Ranger by Consolidated. Incorporating features of the Model 16 Commodore such as the enclosed flight deck, designated the XP2Y-1 by the Navy, this new prototype had the same 100 ft parasol wing, but became a sesquiplane with a smaller wing mounted lower, at the top of the hull, replacing the booms that had supported the stabilizing pontoons on the XPY-1. Two Wright R-1820-E1 Cyclone engines, were located close below the top wing and had narrow-chord cowlings. A third similar engine was mounted on a strut along the centerline above the wing, but removed after the first test in April 1932. The Navy ordered 23 P2Y-3s as production models similar to the P2Y-2s that were modified from the original batch of P2Y-1.

The Argentinian Navy bought six units in 1936. They were armed at the BAPB workshop and joined the Patrol Boat School, replacing the Southamptons. They took part in very important misions, travelling to the Falkland islands. In 1946/47 they were transfered to the ESAN, being replace two years later by the Catalinas.


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After Argentina signed the Rio Pact in 1947, three Grumman Geese, 0184/PGM-1, (C/N B.53, BuNo 37800), 0185/PGM-2, (C/N B.29, BuNo 37776) and 0186/PGM-3, (C/N 1100, BuNo 3846), were suplied by the U.S.A. to this country to be operated by the Navy. The first couple (0184/PGM-1 0185/PGM-2) were of the JRF-5 model, while the third (0186/PGM-3) started life as a JRF-1 model in 1939 but in 1940 it was part of a batch of ten JRF-1 aircraft converted to the JRF-4 model, which allowed them to launch depth charges. This first batch of three aircraft would in the years to come serve with the Armada Nacional de Paraguay (ANP). Then in 1947 three more Geese of the G-21A model, 0293/PGM-4, 0294/PGM-5 and 0295/PGM-6, would be acquired. From 1946 to 1957 all of the Geese would initially use serials of the Prefectura Naval Argentina (PNA) but in fact they were operated at discretion by the Navy which was in control of the Prefectura at that time. This was done to hide this purchase from the government of that period which was politically against the Naval Aviation. This forced the Prefectura to buy some four Nord 1203 Norécrin to perform some of the functions required.

Since all of these aircraft were equipped with radios they were ideally suited for fishery control, patrol, surveillance, SAR, MEDEVAC, light logistics and general utility duties, but in practice they saw limited flying. Last but not least, they did operate in the Antarctic in four summer campaigns. It seems that, even thought they could be armed with one rack under each wing for either a 250 lbs bomb or a 325 lbs depth charge, they were never used by the Argentinean Navy, nor by the Prefectura, with any kind of weaponry. They were based at B.A. Jorge Newbery and operated by the Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Patrulleros. By 1957 another couple of Geese, PNM-7 and PNM-8, of unknown model would be acquired. For a brief period, just before being finally transferred to the operational use of the Prefectura sometime in 1957, they were reserialled as follows, 3-P-21 to 3-P-25 and 3-P-50 to 3-P-52. The service of these Geese was very similar with the Prefectura with the exception of the Antarctic missions performed by the Navy. When finally operational control was transferred to the Prefectura they were reserialled as PM-1 to PM-8. They finally were retired in from service in 1963 and some of them, PM-1, PM-2, PM-3 and probably PM-5, would be transferred in 1967 to the Armada Nacional de Paraguay. The fate of the reminders is unknown.


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The Douglas Dolphin was an amphibious flying boat. While fewer than 60 were built, they served a wide variety of roles: private " air yacht", airliner, military transport, and search and rescue. It began in 1930 as the twin-engine "Sinbad," intended as a luxury aircraft. It was a high-wing monoplane, with two radial engines mounted above the wing. Its six to eight passengers looked out picture windows, and their baggage was stored in a 30-cubic-foot area. The Depression curtailed demand for such extravagance, so the Sinbad was sold to the United States Coast Guard. 58 of the next version, the Dolphin, were built between 1931 and 1934. The Dolphin retracted its landing gear for water landings and evolved into 17 variants to meet military or civilian needs. It . Among the first purchasers were the Wilmington – Catalina Airline and Standard Oil of New Jersey. A sigle unit was sold to Argentina in 1933. It served with the Navy Departament and also as a transport aircraft and giving logistic support to the operative squadrons. It was retired in 1948.


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