FMA IA-58 Pucara COIN aircraft.

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Senior Master Sergeant
Jan 11, 2005
Cordoba - Argentina

The Command-in-Chief of the Argentine Air Force officially presented at the beginning of 1968 the requirements to the Cordoba Material Area for the project and construction of the FMA IA-58 Pucará. The construction of the first prototype began in September of the same year, and made its first flight the 16 of August of 1969. The first prototype was equipped with two turboprops Garret TPE 331 of 904 HP, but soon for the series airplanes the Turbomeca Astazou XVI-G was selected, of 1.021 HP, that drive variables three-blade propellers. The Pucará is the only plane produced by the Military Factory of Airplanes that entered into combat, since it was used by the Argentine Air Force in the conflict of the Malvinas Islands. It is a two-seater ground-attack and tactical support airplane of entirely metallic construction, and their general characteristics are:

Width 14.50 ms; Length 14.25 ms; Height 5.36 ms; wing area 30.30 m2; Empty weight 3,985 kg; Maximum weight in take-off 6,625 kg; Maximum weight in landing 5,800 kg; Payload 2,640 kg; Speed at 3,000 ms of altitude, 520 km/h; Speed in deep 750 km/h; Cruise speed 485 km/h; Rate of climb at sea level 18 m/s; Take-off distance 420 ms; Landing distance 230 ms; Normal range 1,400 km; Ferry flying range, 3,400 km.

It count with two Martin-Baker Mk.6 zero-zero ejection seats. The fixed armament consisted of four FN Browning 7.62 mm machine guns located in both sides of the fuselage, and two HS 804 20 mm cannons in the inferior part of the nose. Has in addition three pylons to transport external loads by a gross weight of 1,500 kg, being able to take bombs, rockets or napalm tanks. In the time of the Malvinas conflict tests for the launch of torpedoes were made, but did not prosper. Were made sales to Uruguay, Venezuela and Indonesia, without counting the units captured by the British in the South Atlantic conflict.

Pucará with the more common camouflage scheme used in the Malvinas-Falkland conflict


An example present in the South Atlantic armed with a ventral container of an additional cannon

In Tucuman:
Toward the year 1975, Argentina was wrapped in a typical low intensity war, against guerillas fighters that belonged to different groupings. Mainly established in the Tucuman mount, it is there where the Pucara was deployed for the first time. The scarce number of available airplanes - there were only 4 airplanes in service - made that their participation was only limited to exploration tasks and support. In this respect some action it is not known in the one that has participated. The used paint scheme was the standard with which left factory, it is natural metal, just as sample the profile of the A-501.


The bordering conflict with Chile:

Toward ends of 1978, dictatorship by means of, the different bordering conflicts with the Republic of Chile were increased. For that reason, all the available Pucara, included those of the Center of Tests in Flight (C.E.V.), with all their personnel, were deployed to the south of Argentina. Concretely, the Pucara was divided in two squadrons: In the BAM Santa Cruz, in the province of the same name, and in the BAM Fuerte General Roca, in the province of Rio Negro. This spread carried out to principle of December of that same year. The Pope's John Paul II opportune intervention avoided the conflict, reason for which the Pucara of the G3A was refolded to Reconquista, in the province of Santa Fe, in gradual form. The last section (2 airplanes) returned coming from Santa Cruz by the middle of January of 1979. For this date the readiness of machines was bigger (around 20 airplanes), being the cadence of deliveries on part of the FMA of one per month. Although scarce information exists about the used scheme of painting, the very few black and white pictures allow us to deduce that the last left airplanes of factory were colored entirely of medium gray, as it shows the figure of the A-557, while the first ones still conserved the natural metal.


The Malvinas- Falkland war:

The Argentinian Armed forces recapture the Malvinas Islands in april 2 1982, that territory so care to the national feeling. The Pucara of the G3A arrived the same day at the airport of Puerto Argentino (Port Stanley) in squadron (4 airplanes), and their numerals were: A-523, 529, 552 and 556. Starting from that moment this airport was constituted in the BAM Malvinas. In the following days the Pucara Malvinas Squadron was devoted to familiarize with the land and the operations type that would carry out. The offensive recognition would be its main operation way. The Pucara Squadron, to being this the only combat airplane that it prepared the Argentinian Air Force to operate in Malvinas, was reinforced with 8 more airplanes, that which took at 12 the total of machines. Also began to look for alternative runways to be able to deploy the noted Pucara Squadron, due to the congestion of air traffic in the runway of Puerto Argentino, besides the scarce available place to park the airplanes. The only capable considered place for these airships was a land located in the proximities of Port Darwin. In fact, to say capable it doesn't mean ideal, since in fact the runway was far from being considered in that way. The "runway" not measured more than 500 meters. With a prominent wave that if somebody observed the take off career from some of the runway heads, you grieve it could sight the superior part of the line of the airplane. This way, due to the rough and irregular of the land, each take off and landing they constituted an enormous effort. To this place it denominated BAM Condor, being like an alternative the use of the BAN Calderon that was in hands of the Navy, located in the Pebble Island. Starting from April 24 the Pucara Malvinas Squadron, such its official name, began to operate in the "runway" of the BAM Condor, task that was intensified toward ends of the same month.
The 1st. of May:

Although the boss of the BAM Condor was noticed of the attacks suffered by the BAM Malvinas at the tomorrow's 4:44 and 8:00 local time, the defenders of the base were taken by surprise, when at the 8:24 three Harriers of the 800 Sqn of the aircarrier Hermes fliying at great speed and low height, throwing cluster bombs. This happened while the A-527 of the Lt. Juckic started the engines, being reached by a bomb, perishing the pilot and six mechanics. As consequence of the attack three airplanes they were damaged and one destroyed. That same day they were carried out patrol flights without results. The BAM Condor was useless, and the Pucara they were reestablished in the BAN Calderon. It was there where May 15 a blow command of the 22° SAS destroyed 11 airplanes, including 6 Pucara. The scarce Pucara in service was finally established in the BAM Malvinas. Other airplanes arrived of the continent, in fact from Commodore Rivadavia, where they were colored before the crossing to the islands. When the British troops began the blockade to Darwin, the Pucara was used in an intense way during the whole place; destroying places of advanced of the British, observation positions, carrying out attacks to troops, etc. In May 28 a section of Pucara detected, in Darwin's proximities, two British Scout helicopters. The A-537 of the Lt. Gimenez was able to shot down one of them with a combined cannon-rockets burst, while the other Scout suffered smaller mishaps.

. With Darwin's fall, the Pucara settled down definitively in the BAM Malvinas. With the blockade to Puerto Argentino the Pucara was again active, using 68 mm. rockets shot to targets pointed out by the Argentinian artillery, with having not been so uncertain, because the British answer was not made wait every time that the Argentinian airplanes operated. Finally, a last attack intent to the positions of the English artillery with later return to the continent drifted for June 14, but it was canceled due to the rendition of the Argentinian troops.

Camouflage and insignia:
Although little its known, because no officially revellation never existed in this respect of the used colors; but, for the available pictures, it is supposed that these been:

Medium green: Similar to the israeli (FS 34227).

Brown (Toasted) : Similar to Tan (FS 30219).

Light blue (Aviation): Lower part of the airplane.

But well, we should clarify that 4 camouflages existed, whose base is the colors up exposed.
Dark Camo: Just as it was exposed up, and perhaps until a little darker. An example of this camo was the A-537, 536 and 555, only with national insignia in wings and fuselage, conserving the medium gray in the inferior part, likewise the national insignia and the numeral one.

Standard Camo: We will denominate this way it to be the one that possessed most of the Pucara. More lighter than the previous one. Example: A-517, 513 and 515; most conserved their national insignia and numeral, it leaves bottom of the fuselage in natural metal.


Light Camo: More lighter than the standard, these airplanes were seemingly the first ones in being colored to be correspondents to Malvinas. Examples: A-522, 532 and 528; they conserved national insignia and numeral, it leaves bottom part of the fuselage in light blue. The A-536 it was something attractive, since having been colored with the light camo, it was repainted in the dark camo, being able to appreciate this in the tail of the airplane, where the dissimilar paintings were superimposed.
Interesting. I enjoyed reading about the Falklands war from the Argentinian point of view. What a foolish nation to try and take the Falkland Isles.
...What a foolish nation...

Is not a very fortunate statement....... :confused:


The Torpedo Armed Pucará

The South Atlantic conflict caused the Argentinean Armed Forces to face not only a world power when it comes to military might, but also their own internal limitations and failures in warfare.

Not only the maritime might, but the certain threat posed by the British submarines was evidenced with the sinking of the cruiser ARA "General Belgrano" on 02-May-82, and for this reason, the Argentinean Navy and Air Force sought to implement solutions to counteract this troublesome situation.

Despite the controversial decision to withdraw the ships from the fleet to safer waters, the Naval Aviation developed, besides their attack operations to naval targets, many options to protect the fleet from attack coming from enemy ships and submarines, and part of the success of these options was due to the withdrawal of the fleet to shallow waters.

On the other hand, the Air Force, despite having had little experience in attack operations against naval formations, began to evaluate the possibility of adapting aircraft and to develop tactics specifically aimed to
that end, in an attempt to increase its attack capabilities.

By the middle of May, 1982 the Strategic Air Comand of the Air Force decided to undertake a series of test flights, with the purpose of make operational the IA-58 Pucará, armed with torpedoes.

The weapon chosen in this case, would be the U.S. built Mk.13 torpedo, which by then had almost been withdrawn from use by the Argentinean Navy. Built between the years 1944 - 1952, it was a sturdy weapon, having been designed to be launched from boats and aircraft. The Argentinean Navy employed it for many years, launching it from Consolidated PBY-5A Catalinas, with the launching speed being 100 knots.


While not being the most modern weapon, the large number of examples remaining in the inventory caused its selection for the evaluation being conducted. The then Comodoro Jorge S. Raimondi was placed in charge of the project, conducted at the Naval Base of Puerto Belgrano, in order to obtain cooperation from the Navy. The Navy quickly supplied enough torpedoes, which were equipped then with the brackets necessary to mount them to the airplanes, and after a long time of inactivity, the torpedoes' mechanisms and systems were back in service.

On 21 May, lands at the Comandante Espora air base, Pucará registered as AX-04, which had been assigned to the Centro de Ensayos en Vuelo (Flight Testing Center) at the Area Material Córdoba, flown by Capitán Rogelio R. Marzialetti and the Supervisor Mario A. Loiacono (both belonging to the CEV).

This specific aircraft was a standard series unit (A-509) having been modified after leaving the assembly line, to be employed as prototype for the evaluation of weapons and aircraft systems, and having as part of its equipment, a film camera to be employed to document the moment when the torpedo was launched. The torpedo was carried on the aircraft's Aero 20A-1 central weapons station.

The first launch of a Mk.13, takes place on 22 May, the torpedo having been a practice round, not equipped an explosive head. The launch zone established by the Navy, was located 40 miles from Puerto Belgrano, and would be the same location where later the same day, the second test launch would take place.

Launch involved having the aircraft establish a 20 degree dive, at a speed of 300 knots and at approximately at a height of 100 mts., resulting on the destruction of the torpedo when it impacted the sea. The same happens the next day when the parameters were a 45deg. dive, speed of 250 knots, and approximate height of 200 mts.

It became evident that there was something missing for the torpedo to be effectively deployed from an airplane with the performance of the Pucará.

Lacking the torpedo's operational manuals for air deployment, the only information available was that it should enter the water at an angle of approximately 20 degrees. With a less acute angle, the torpedo would bounce when hitting the water, thus damaging the internal and propulsion mechanisms, and if the angle was greater, then there existed the risk that it would "spike" itself on the bottom of the sea.

After consultations conducted with retired sub-officers who had been assigned to the Army's torpedo shops, a nose-mounted aero-dynamic brake was installed on the Mk.13, and a biplane stabilizer was installed in the tail end, additions that would be destroyed when the torpedo hit the water.

After these modifications were undertaken, the first successful launches take place on 24 May, off Trelew, in the waters of the San Jose Gulf. These took place while the airplane was on a straight and level flight attitude and at a height of 15 meters, and it was then determined that the optimal speed was 200 knots, since higher speeds caused the torpedo to impact the bottom of the sea.

A total of 7 practice runs were conducted, and another 10 launch, this time with an explosive head, was conducted on 10 June, on a zone with deeper waters and near cliffs, North of the Port of Santa Cruz, but the depth here was not enough to compensate for the speed of 250 knots developed by Pucará A-566 which hade replaced AX-04 on the testing.

A last attempt is conducted on 14 June, in the neighborhood of Pingüino Island (near Puerto Deseado) chosen because of its maximum depth and ruggedness of the shoreline, and establishing a definite launch speed of 200 knots, but while the preparations for launching were taking place, this operation is completelly cancelled, due to the surrender of the Argentinean troops which were fighting in the Malvinas.

It is worth mentioning that at the same time that this project was being undertaken, studies were also conducted regarding the launching from the Pucará, of anti-ship mines Mk.12, in an attempt to mine the San Carlos Straits (in the Malvinas Islands), but this did not go beyond the loading up testing of the mines to the airplane.

While these testing operations were taking place, the Air Force deployed a section of IA-58A Pucara from the Grupo 3 de Ataque, to the airport of La Plata (Buenos Aires) to conduct patrolling missions on the approaches to the Río de La Plata, due to the possibility of British submarines operating in the area.

The end of the South Atlantic conflict, marked the end of the evaluation of the employment of the Pucará for the delivery of torpedoes and other specific weapons, for use against naval targets, and the aircraft involved in the testing, were returned to their parent units.

You took the quote out of context. You do not believe Argentina was foolish to try and claim the Falkland Isles from Britain? Even with the benefit of hindsight?
Do you really are waiting that I am to agree with you... ? :rolleyes:

If we look back the Anglo-Argentine relations where very good in the 20 century, maybe with a short intermezzo de 1940-1946, when took the power a serie of very pro-german military goverments.

The 1982 conflict poisoned for ever the frienship between this 2 countries.

Back on topic.



Towards year ends 1980, the Uruguayan Air Force (FAU) decides the purchase of 6 Pucara, to locate them in the Air group Nº 1 with base in Durazno. The machines were given of the serial numbers corresponding to the Argentinian Air Force as they left factory. For example, the matriculations that corresponded to the A-542, 543, 544,
546, 547 and 548, were dropped from rolls for their sale to the FAU. Until the present the quick Pucara services in the FAU not anticipating their replacement in immediate time. The numbers of identification go from the 220 to the 225, without no area code or letter that accompanies them. As it notices peculiar we will say that the FAU has the first IA-58 woman pilot. The color scheme used at a first moment by the Uruguayan airplanes was the three colors used by the US in Vietnam, that is: Tan FS 30219, Green FS 34079 and Green FS 34102. We must brief that the badge of the unit was placed in the empennage (tail) of the airplane. Later the FAU adopts for all their airplanes a scheme of camouflage in the Europe I style. We say is similar because all the colors of the same one are not
contemplated. For the Pucara the Green FS 34092 and Dark Grey FS 36081 were adopted, for the superior surface, and Light Grey FS 36622 for the inferior one.





The late 1980s was a very violent and bloody time for Colombia.
the increase in strenght of the Narco-guerrilas and urban cartels devastated the country with a serie of terrorist attacks and selvatics affensives.

With the strong conviction something have to be done, the President of Argentina Dr Carlos Saul Menem donates 3 IA-58 Pucara and a pack of spares.
The planes where delivered by with Argentine crew in december 1989.

The IA-58 was "THE" aircraft for the combat against the drug traffic and the guerrilla. Such they were assigned to the Base of Apiay, but indeed to the Swarm of Special Operations Nº 314. The serial numbers in FAC are the 2201, 2202 and 2203.
On the COIN task it replaced the FAC T-33 and complemented the AC-47 gunship.
The favorite weapons layout was 6 low drag 125 kg argentine frag bombs in the central pilon and four 19x70mm rockets launchers in the wings pods.
Pucara indeed has participated for the aim by which they were donated. Of all ways the life utility of the Pucara in Colombia was short.
Despite the roughness of this craft.... the lack of adecuate maintenance left them out of service. The paint scheme was equal to the one of the FAA, in natural metal, with exception, obviously of the national insignias.


I always thought that it looked a good little plane ideal for use in drug wars and similar low intensity situations.
Reading about the Falklands they were robust planes capable of taking a lot of damage, and giving it to the british troops they were attacking. In many ways similar to the American Bronco
It would have been fly to blast one too. ;)
Yes, most of them was destroyed in ground attacks made by Harriers ans Sea Harriers.


Sri Lanka:

Surprisingly in 1993 the Air Force of this ignoto country acquired 5 aircraft. The instruction as much of mechanics and pilots was carried out in Cordoba. Later the airplanes were disarmed and sent on board of a C-130 of the FAA. This country was suffering a bloody civil war against the denominated guerrilla Tamil Tigers, that in addition dominated a part of the island.


The use of the machines was intense, as soon as they were in operative conditions were put in support missions. The conditions of the climate of this country, with intense heats and high humidity, added to the intense beaten use went degrading to the Pucara Thus towards 1998 were retired from duty when only they were 2 left of the 5 original ones. Test this once again that its name was not put in vain. The
scheme of paint and insignia is represented in a profile. In the superior part was used a Light Gray, while in the inferior




Although it was an operation that was frustrated at last moment, the fact that existed one of the three airplanes acquired by this African nation and in addition a photography, feeds our modelistic curiosity. Beyond of the details that happened to the frustrated sale, the interesting thing is the description of the standards and painting colors. The matriculation that initially it had was pasavante (provisory civil matriculation) 5T-MAB, located in the
fuselage and wings, whereas the national insignia of the country in the empennage and the wings. The colors were for desert climate were: Desert Yellow and Brown Chocolate, for the upper part, and Pale Blue even the inferior one. The profile gives an idea us how it had left factory originally.




Let me say that I included the Pucara captured by the English like a tribute to its task in the Malvinas conflict. Then the airplanes captured in Port Stanley (Puerto Argentino), those that were in flight condition or almost, were taken to England for their evaluation. The matriculations of those airplanes were: A-515, 533, 522, 528 and 549. After evaluating all the cells it was decided that the 515 would be the chosen one to return it to flight condition an to evaluate, serving the others like source as spare parts. Thus in April of 1983 ZD 485 (former A-515), flew for the first
time. The tests concluded in September of the same year. Therefore the A-515 returned to Cosford with a different pain scheme from which it had when it flew for the FAA. The profile represented in this note corresponds to ZD 485.

The British liked them. Yes, most of them were blown up on the ground by SeaHarriers and ground forces. My dad saw quite a few blown to pieces. The British forces captured an Argentine Huey too and were using it before the reinforcement Chinooks went down.

My dad tried to take the Peto head off one of the wrecked Hueys but didn't have the tools to take it off, and didn't want to break it, so he left it there. That would have been a great souvenier.
Great post CB!

As usual.... ;)

The only Pucara downed in air-to-air operation was in the 21 may 1982 1045 hours, when it was catched by No.801 Squadron CAP ( Lt. N. Ward, Lt. S. Thomas and Lt. A. Craig ). It was hit several times by 30mm cannon fire from Ward's Harrier and the pilot, Major Carlos Tomba, ejected and walked back to Goose Green. Ward later complemented Major Tomba on how he continued to fly his aircraft after Ward had filled it with so many holes. :rolleyes:

Improved versions.


This aircraft used two Defa 553 30 mm gun instead the 20 mm HS-804.
As result the lower fuselage presented a very prominent bulge to allow the chamber of this revolver-cannon.
3 aircraft completed.


Very improved version, single place ( the front cockpit was eliminated).
Increased pilot and fuel armor. The nose added a single 30 mm Defa 553 gun


The fixed weaponry now is : 4 x 7,62 mm with 900 rpg, 2x 20 mm with 270 prg and 1 x 30mm with 170 rpg. The total rate of fire is around 7000 rpm.


Equipped with ECM, more modern HUD and marginal pilons for Matra Magic AAM and Martin Pescador air to ground missiles.

Hard to tell....check this view, not a good quality photo but it shows the cockpit layout.


The only very germanic thing is the landing gear and shock damper, very similar to .....Ju-88 :shock:

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