The Rebel Air Force operations against Batista
Attacks of the FAEC to the airstrips of FAR in Mayarí Arriba
October 22 the rebels kidnap the DC-3 CU-T266 of Cubana, that performed a flight of Cayo Mambí to Moa. Another DC-3 of Cubana, the CU-T8 in route Camaguey- Manzanillo-Holguín, is abducted November 5 and carried to Mayarí Arriba, where was the other DC-3.Ryan Navion Super 260. The FAR had two aircraft of this model
The passengers of both airplanes DC-3 immediately were freed, including
to Amado Cantillo, son of the General Eulogio Cantillo, one of the maximum leaders
of the Batista´s regime. To Mayarí Arriba arrived too an Ryan Navion
Super-260 kidnap November 25. Its pilot was Mario Díaz, that collaborating
to the government and with pending count with the rebels, and was executed. All
the airplanes are camouflaged with branches of trees. During the combats by that
zone, November 12 the pilot of an B-26 (N° 903) that returned from an bombing
mission to Mines de Ocujal, note some lumps near the runway of Mayarí Arriba.
| ||DC-3 of Cubana as the two captured for the FAR and hidden in the airstrips of Mayarí Arriba. The FAEC B-26 discover them and destroy inNovember 12|
The B-26´s pilot suspecting that were the airplanes DC-3 sought by the FAEC, and requests by radio instructions to Camaguey through an air command C-47. Is ordered to attack immediately, but he not having already munition, requests support of another B-26. Arrives the B-26 N° 923, that bombing and shoot the lumps. When being hit, both DC-3 are set on fire completely, in spite of the intents by extinguishing the fire. The rebel command takes the decision of abandoning partially the runway, and to place in her obstacles, therefore the Army plans an air disembark there. On November 22 a F-47 sets on fire with rockets a house in the proximities, that was the kitchen of the rebels in evacuation, and next to where was being repaired the Kingfisher motor.
The days 21 and 22
of November 7 airplanes B-26 and F-47 of the FAEC, with the C-47 (N° 205)
as air command, bombing the town Mayarí Arriba and their near zone, destroying
all. In these attacks one of the B-26 was seriously damaged by the rear mashine
gun of the Kingfisher. The day 23 in the morning two F-47 again attack by surprise
in low level flight the runway zone. One of the F-47D (N° 451) was hit by
the gunners, the impacts destroyed it the radio. For this bombing and the destruction
of the DC-3 Raúl Castro, changes Orestes del Río as FAR Chieff by
Evans Rosales, in decree of December 4, ascending Evans to the Captain rank.
| ||The C-47 FAEC 205 that served as flying command and observation during the attacks. Behind it is seen a F-47 Thunderbolt|
| ||North American F-51 Mustang FAR-400 after the revolution victory|
Attacks to the headquarters of La Maya
Leonel Paján flew like this Navy Kingfisher guncrew
The rebels urgent need to finish the yield of the headquarters, that resisted expecting help, while the FAEC tried throw them air supplies. The FAR received its first combat mission, the order of bombing the headquarters. November 7, 1958 at 5.30 o'clock the Kingfisher, piloted by Silva Tablada and with the gunner Leonel Paján, take off from Mayarí Arriba for the "Operation A-001". He carried 2 bombs of demolition. When the Kingfisher arriving, the Army soldiers jump of joy "¡the FAE, the FAE!", but Silva in three pass places the two bombs in the center of the headquarters and shoot them. The psychological impact for the soldiers was great, and they immediately hoist a white flag and yielded, finalizing 14 days of fierce battles. With this victory the territories of two rebels fronts are united and the highway Santiago - Guantánamo is totally controlled. Then the FAEC bombing the runway of Mayarí Arriba and Cananova, without results.
Attack to Sagua de Tánamo
||Silva Tablada with the Kingfisher. The attack to the Army headquarters of Sagua de Tánamo the December 20, 1958, was the last combat mission in the war|
| ||The T-28 Trojan of Jorge Triana after the revolutionay victory. See that the FAEC letters no longer is used, but the FAR not yet, only the transitory of FAC. Both this airplanes were the only used in combat|
The Major Castillo of the rebels forces, claims the repetition of the mission with urgency. Silva Tablada, Triana and Paján go with other rebels in jeep to Sagua de Tánamo, where the rebels teach the exact objective to bombing. At 17.50 o'clock the Kingfisher and the T-28 take off again in the Operation A-003. This time the bombs don´t leaved the Kingfisher, but was able to shoot to the Army soldiers, causing great commotion among them by be confused again as the FAEC. The following day 20 of December is carried out the Operation A-004, and the bombs of the Kingfisher hit the objective, provoking a great fire and helping to the fall the day 24 of the garrison.
Operational Results of the FAR
Cessna-180 similar to the two that had the FAR. One was bought in Miami and brought to the FAR by Silva Tablada, the second was occupied in Maisí (Courtesy of Phillip Treweek)
During 8,5 months of operations, the FAR performed 77 flights: 50 of them of liason, recognition, transport of weapons and personal among the rebels zones, four of personnel transport to the outside, five bringing personnel from the outside, 11 with military loads from the outside to the Second front, 7 combat missions (4 of bombing and 3 of escort). The FAR was an happy success, that showed the possibility that the guerrillas operated their own air arm. Is not only the presence of the airplanes, but the existence of an infrastructure of shops, runways, refuge, factories of explosives and armaments, and others.
The FAR lost 10 airplanes by the following causes:
|1||Cessna-195||Crashed July 25 near San Germán|
|1||Aero Commander||Crashed August 16 near Guantánamo Bay|
|1||Beechcraft D-17S||Crashed September 29|
|1||Beechcraft D-18||Destroyed by the FAEC and the rebels August 30 near Cayo Espino|
|2||Douglas DC-3||Bombed and destroyed by the FAEC November 12 in Mayarí Arriba|
|1||Ryan Navion Super 260||Confiscated in United States October 10, 1958|
|1||Cessna-182||Confiscated in United States May 12, 1958|
|1||Piper Pa-20||Confiscated in Jamaica after the landing here May 6, 1958|
|1||Piper Pa-12||Write off by bad conditions|