PART ONE : INTRODUCTION
Many nations engaged in the Allied side during World War Two,
and some effectively contributed with troops in a way or another. Those who did
could align themselves with the victors in terms of the ultimate sacrifice made
for freedom, the lives of their sons.
Speaking in terms of the American continent, only the USA,
Canada, Mexico and Brazil sent troops who entered combat against the Axis
powers, and succeeded.
Soon after the declaration of the state of belligerence among
Brazil and the Axis nations, it was decided that, besides sending a whole army
to fight alongside Gen. Mark Clark’s Fifth North American army in the
Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO), in Italy, it would also be very
important to send an aviation group. This way, in December 18,1943, the First
Brazilian Fighter Group was created (squadron-sized by north American standards
of the time).
As the Brazilians would fight alongside the North Americans,
the standardization of the military personnel and of the war material was
essential, as to maximize overall efficiency of the combat forces as a whole. The
South Americans were then sent to US stateside bases to be properly retrained,
as the Brazilian training methods were good enough, but distinct from the ones
adopted by the US forces.
As the Brazilians graduated, they were declared a fighting
force, and named 1o Grupo de Caça (1o GAC), and
were then subordinated to the 350th FG, 12th Army AF,
Italy, in 1944.Our Group was the North American fighter group’s fourth
squadron, for all administrative and operational ends. As this FG used at the
time the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt for its missions, this was the aircraft the
Brazilians adopted too, always as a matter of standardization.
The 1o GAC arrived at
Livorno, in Italy’s
western shores, in October 6,1944.It established its first operational base at
Tarquinia, entering combat immediately from there, as soon as the planes were
distributed to the flights in October 12,1944, first with the US more
experienced pilots, then by themselves. The Group was divided into four esquadrilhas
(flights): A-Red, B-Yellow, C-Blue, and D-Green, each one with six planes
(numbered from 1 to 6) in the roster plus two in reserve. This way the P-47’s
were marked A-1...A-6, B-1...B-6, C-1...C-6, and D-1...D-6.There were two more
planes, numbers 1 (1o GAC Commander’s) and 2 (Operations Officer),
both with no letters attached.
Photo : the third flight revving engines for the next mission.
Aeroespacial, via Cap Borges)
Its badge was a fighting ostrich (inspired in the famous
figure of Ten Lima Mendes, "Limatão" for his squadron mates), and
"Senta a Pua" was adopted as its motto (meaning, in English,
"Let’s go to it!", more or less translated). Their radio call sign
was "Jambock", and they were to become famous in theater with this
Figure : the First Brazilian Fighter Group Insignia
Figure : a third flight P-47D starts its diving attack (note
the ‘bazooka’ type rockets)
The Brazilians set an impressive record of operations, launching
its first all-Brazilian strike mission on November 11,1944.Losses were equally
increasing, and personnel replacements were never at the desired pace up to the
end of the war. The main enemy was the infamous Flugabwehrkannonen, or Flak,
for at this point in the war the Germans were totally defensive, and mainly
concerned with defending their own country, so no combats, unfortunately for the
eager pilotos de caça (fighter pilots), existed during the whole
campaign among Brazilian and German fighters in the air, but many German
aircraft were destroyed in the ground. Indeed, even for the whole 350th
FG things were pretty harsh, for between October 31, 1944 and the end of the
war, the period combat-shared with the Brazilians, they scored just 18 kills,
eleven of them in the same day, April 2, 1945!
The most outstanding day of operations, in which the best
results of all the campaign against the Germans was obtained was April 22,1945,
and this date is officially commemorated in Brazil as the "Dia da Aviação
de Caça" (Fighter Aviation Day).
The actions of the Brazilian fighter squadron were so intense in
this last month of war (for the war ended in May 8) that the intelligence of the
350th FG evaluated the South Americans operations as such (in the
figure : a Thunderbolt blasts a locomotive out of its tracks, depleting Axis
supplies, its main objective) :
"During the period of 6 to 29 of April,1945, the 1o
GAC flew 5 % of all tactical sorties executed by the XXII Air Tactical Command
and, from all the results obtained by this Command, to the Brazilians were
atributed 15% of the armoured vehicles destroyed, 28% of the bridges, 36% of the
damaged fuel dumps, and 85% of the damaged ammunition dumps."
The Brazilian outfit initiated its operations with 48 pilots
and finished the war with only 23, with 5 killed by flak, 8 shot down over enemy
territory, 9 taken off operations for exhaustion, and 3 dead in flight
As soon as the war ended, the Brazilians returned to their
country, and passed along all the lessons the war teached them to the next
generation of Brazilian fighter pilots.
In April 22, 1986, the US Congress outorgated to the 1o
GAC, by a President Ronald Reagan proposal, the Presidential Unit Citation,
received only by one other non-North American unit, during the war. This
condecoration was instituted in December 7, 1941, and to be earned, the unit had
to demonstrate "extraordinary heroism in action against enemy
forces" and "determination, heroism and ‘esprit de corps’
when accomplishing its mission, under extreme difficulties and dangerous
conditions, raising itself above other units participating in the same
campaign", the nomination being done by the 350th FG
commander, Cel Ariel Nielsen, during the war.
The Jambock’s tradition lasts to this day, and will
forever within the Brazilian Air Force’s very heart, to inspire
generations of Brazilian fighter pilots.
End of Part One
Part Two : The 1o Grupo de Caça Story by
Part Three : The Modelling Chapter