Hikoki's Axis Aircraft in Latin America


Amaru Tincopa and Santiago Rivas




$56.95 from Specialty Press


Scott Van Aken

Notes: ISBN 978-1-902109-49-7, 400 pages, over 350 photos

With much 'mainstream' aviation history having been told and retold and revamped, the enthusiast has been blessed with a number of fascinating books on subjects that have been either partially covered or not covered in any sort of depth. This volume takes care of one relatively unknown aviation aspect and that is the sales and operation of aircraft from two of the major Axis powers in WWII.

Of course, I am talking about Germany and Italy.

After WWI aviation was on everyone's mind. The coming of age of the airplane was a major event of the war and the promise of widespread air travel caught the fancy of many in Europe and North America. It was also not unnoticed in South America and to a lesser degree in Central America.

These areas had a stronger tie to Europe than it did to the United States so it is not unusual that those wishing to implement aviation in these regions turned to Europe for aircraft. The major benefactor of this quest for aircraft was Germany and particularly Junkers. The number of nascent airlines that started out with their rugged and reliable F.13 is pretty amazing and it is not unexpected that the larger Ju-52 would follow. Not only that, but these aircraft had military uses as well and operated well on both floats and wheels.

This latter capability was very much in demand as initially, the number of available airstrips was quite limited and these planes could operate out of harbors and on the broad rivers that are found in South America. Of course there were more than Junkers planes. Focke-Wulf sold many FW-44 and FW-58 aircraft, a not inconsiderable number to various military organizations. In addition, the Italians, particularly Fiat, were successful in selling single engine fighters like the CR.20 and CR.32. There were many more types, but I don't want to tell all the story! Amazingly, even though parts dried up due to the war, a large number of these types operated successfully through the war and even into the 1950s.

Thanks to a lot of primary research by the authors (both experts in Latin American aviation), we have a pretty complete story of the operation of these aircraft. This includes both the civil and the military side of things. These planes were involved in several of the wars that broke out during this time and played an important part in events.

The book itself is arranged by country, starting with Argentina and ending with Uruguay. Within each country, the aircraft are described more or less in alphabetical order. Since Central America used mostly US aircraft, that section is separate and relatively small. We then move to visitors, which would be things like the arrival of the Do.X or long distance flights from Italy to Brazil or the arrival of the Graf Zeppelin.

The final sections cover the boost that Germans and Italians leaving the country after the war provided to various nation's aircraft development and production. Civil types are then covered as is a nice section on survivors, of which there are more than you'd think. The final section is one on the various types by serial number that operated in the region. This is an incredible listing and the research must have been intensive to provide this level of information. It is all superbly illustrated with hundreds of quality period photos and a goodly number of full color profiles as well. In all, it makes for an outstanding book that is likely to become the standard for many years to come. It will not be a quick read, but well worth the time. Most highly recommended.

January 2017

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