Aerial Operations in the Revolutions of 1922 and 1947 in Paraguay

The First Dogfights in South America

Antonio Luis Sapienza

The aerial operations during the Revolutions of 1922 and 1947 in Paraguay, covering all the recce, light bombing missions, as well as the few dogfights.
Date Published :
January 2019
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Latin America@War
Illustration :
84 b/w photos/ills, 18 color profiles, 3 color maps, 4 b/w maps, 4 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781912390588
Pages : 48
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
In stock


In the first half of the 20th Century, there were several revolutions in Paraguay, starting in 1904, then 1908, 1911-12, 1922-23, 1936 and finally 1947. In 1922, a huge internal crisis in the Liberal Party led to a bloody revolution and for the first time in the history of the country, both sides decided to use aerial power against the enemy. There were not any airplanes available in Paraguay at that time, and very few pilots, just three, so both the government led by President Eusebio Ayala, and the revolutionaries led by a couple of Army colonels, Chirife and Mendoza, searched for foreign pilots and planes in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Many First World War veterans emigrated to Latin America in search of a better life, either opening flight schools or offering their services in local conflicts. That is how some of them came to Paraguay with their own aircraft, which were bought by either the government or the revolutionaries. The three Paraguayan pilots offered their services to the government, which soon established the first air base near the capital, in a wide open field called ‘Ñu-Guazú’ (a Guaraní name meaning ‘Big Field’). Meanwhile, the rebels organized their own air base, first near the city of Villarrica, and later in Cangó. The main types used by both sides were the Ansaldo SVA5 and SVA10, but the government also managed to purchase a Breguet XIV, an Armstrong Whitworth FK.8, a SPAD S.20 and a couple of SAML A.3. Inevitably the first dogfights took place, and also bombing raids, strafing enemy troops, and recce missions on both sides. Finally, in mid-1923, the revolutionaries were defeated and one of the consequences was the foundation of the Military Aviation School.

In contrast, the Revolution of 1947 lasted just a few months but it was as bloody as the previous one, if not more so. The government, supported by the Colorado Party, fought against the revolutionaries, composed of almost 70% of the Army, Navy and Air Arm, supported by the Liberal, Febrerista and Communist parties. Regarding the Air Arm, it split in two, but at the beginning most of the aircraft in flying conditions were used by the revolutionaries, whose main base was the city of Concepción, in the north of the country. Soon, the government air arm had some aircraft in flying condition although most of the Italian types purchased in 1939 were out of service. Only Lend-Lease trainers such as PT-19, BT-13, AT-6 types were used for recce and light bombing raids, using mortar ammunition. Some weeks later, the loyalists managed to repair some Caproni AP-1s to be flown against the rebels. There were a few dogfights but no aircraft were shot down in them, although some were lost due to AA fire. In the end, the government could defeat the revolutionaries, mainly because of the lack of tactical organization in the rebel forces. This is the first in-depth account of them with data, pictures, maps and profiles, some of them never published before.

About The Author

Antonio Luis Sapienza Fracchia was born in Asunción, Paraguay in May 1960. He graduated from the Catholic University of Asunción where he got a B.A. in Clinical Psychology. He also took specialized English courses at Tulane University of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA and San Diego State University in California. He is at present an English Teacher and one of the Academic Coordinators at the Centro Cultural Paraguayo-Americano (CCPA), a binational institute in Asunción. Married with two children, he resides in the capital.He is an Aviation Historian and a founding member of the Instituto Paraguayo de Historia Aeronáutica “Silvio Pettirossi”. He is also a corresponding member of similar institutes and academies in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Spain, the United States and Uruguay. He wrote more than 500 articles in specialized magazines and webpages on the Paraguayan Aviation history, and has given numerous lectures in schools, universities, institutes, military and civil institutions in Paraguay and abroad. Since 2010, he has been an aviation history professor in the Paraguayan Air Force (FAP).He has published ten books: Aircraft of the Chaco War, 1928-1935, with Daniel P. Hagedorn, in the U.S. (1996); Potez 25, with several aviation historians, in France (1996); Pioneros de la Aviación Iberoamericana, with several aviation historians, in Spain (1999); La Historia de Líneas Aéreas Paraguayas (LAP), in Paraguay (2004); La Contribución Italiana en la Aviación Paraguaya, in Paraguay (2007); Silvio Pettirossi. El Rey del Aire, in Paraguay (2011); El Pájaro Verde. Cien años del primer vuelo en Paraguay, with Luis Verón, in Paraguay (2012); Fuerza Aérea Paraguaya, Historia Ilustrada, 1913-2013, in Paraguay (2013); Agustín Pasmor. Un gran héroe aeronáutico del Paraguay, in Paraguay (2016); The Chaco Air War. The First Modern Air War in Latin America, in the U.K. (2018).He received a total of five decorations for his academic merits: The Orden al Mérito Newberiano given by the Instituto Argentino de Historia Aeronáutica in 1995; The Cruz Newberiana Académica by the Instituto Nacional Newberiano of Argentina in 1998; The Orden al Mérito Santos Dumont by the Força Aérea Brasileira in 2003; The Medalla de la Aeronáutica by the Fuerza Aérea Paraguaya in 2003; The medal Dinac Honor al Mérito by the Dirección Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil in 2010.


“Helion's picture-packed volume sports dozens of rare photos and 18 color profiles survey the swath of warplane colors in both conflicts. Action accounts and extended, explanatory captions also supplement the slim study. A selected bibliography cites sources. And several tables and four maps augment the account.”

- Cybermodeler

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