Monday, November 21, 2016

Águilas Aztecas

Of all the allied nations to take up arms against the axis powers during the Second World War, Mexico is not one that readily comes to mind, undoubtedly because its involvement was relatively minor.

Mexico's contribution to the allied war machine was the Fuerza Aérea Expedicionaria Mexicana (Mexican Expeditionary Air Force) which comprised a single fighter squadron, Escuadrón Aéreo de Pelea 201 (201st Fighter Squadron). The 201st consisted of thirty pilots and roughly 300 ground personnel, all of whom had undergone training in the U.S.A. before deploying overseas to the Philippines where they were attached to the U.S.A.A.F. 58th Fighter Group, Fifth Air Force.

Based at Porac Airfield, located in the Pampanga Province on the Island of Luzon, the 201st began combat operations in June of 1945, flying alongside the U.S.A.A.F.'s 310th Fighter Squadron and using borrowed aircraft. In July the outfit received its own complement of twenty-five P-47s that were marked with U.S.A.A.F. insignia and theater markings. To these the Mexicans added their own national markings on the upper right and lower left wings, with rudder stripes... all in Mexico's national colors of red, white, and green.

When all was said and done after roughly two months in combat, the men of Escuadrón Aéreo de Pelea 201, who had dubbed themselves 'Águilas Aztecas', the 'Aztec Eagles', had flown 96 combat missions, losing five pilots in the process. Not only did the outfit's pilots see combat, but the ground personnel, too, had occasion to face the enemy with a number of firefights taking place, some of which resulted in prisoners being taken.

Small as it may have been, the Aztec Eagles' contribution to the war against Japan was no less valuable or welcome than any other.

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Here's a fine shot of ship #18 that shows EAP 201's Mexican markings on the starboard wing and rudder.

Original image found on the Axis & Allies Paintworks forum


An earlier shot of the same ship shows the Mexican national insignia under the port wing.

NARA via Fold3.com


In his painting 'Strike of the Aztec Eagles!', Jack Fellows captures ship #18, resplendent in its combined American and Mexican markings, rolling in on a target.



Fade to Black...





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