Biplane fighter aces


Luis Alcocer Moreno Abellá

– 2 October 1941

On 16 June 1938, the pilots of the first fighter course held in the Nationalist zone were graduated. The large number of accidents caused by new and inexperienced Fiat pilots in December and January had showed that it was essential to set up a school of this type.
Gallur was chosen as the aerodrome and Maggiore Guido Nobili and teniente Ramón Senra Àlvarez (from Group 2-G-3), were posted there as instructors.
The first fighter course lasted for two months and was attended by 22 pupils. Of these, six were sent to 2-G-3 (José Luis Bernal de Mérida, José M.a Etayo Elizondo, Luis Alcocer Moreno Abellá, Antonio Manrique Garrido, Abundio Cesteros García and Diego Vigueras), eight to 3-G-3 (Heraclio Gautier Larrainzar, Enrique Munaiz de Brea, Fernando Arrechea Belzunce, Carracido, Acuña, Alonso Fariña, P. Téllez Rivas and Epelde), and of the remainder four were posted to fly He 51s, three to the He 45s and one to the Aero 101s.

In the morning on 2 September, a formation of nine R-Zs, escorted by a similar number of I-15s, were attacked by 18 Spanish-flown CR.32s near Monterrubio de la Serena as they returned from a bombing mission. Minutes later nine SBs from 4a Escuadrilla of Grupo No 24, escorted at a distance by 11 I-16s Type 10, hove into view too. The CR.32s concentrated on the Tupolev bombers and their monoplane fighter escorts. In a single attack, capitán Ángel Salas (2-G-3) destroyed three Katiuskas, and then capped this by damaging the I-16 Type 10 flown by the leader of the 1a Escuadrilla Grupo de Moscas No 21 that was escorting them. This pilot, teniente José Redondo Martín (the son of the former mayor of Madrid, Cayetano Redondo Aceña), took to his parachute and was guarded by Salas until he had almost reached the ground. Salas, before flying away, raised an arm in the Fascist salute, and Redondo (I-16 ‘CM-214’) responded in a similar manner with a clenched fist.
Salas noted in his logbook:

“After 50 minutes on patrol I spotted nine “Martin bombers” that were a little higher than us heading in the direction of our lines. I gained height as I flew towards them, cutting off their escape route. As they returned after bombing Monterrubio, I attacked the bomber on the left in the first section, setting his left engine on fire. I then hit the left engine of the leader’s aircraft, setting it on fire too, and the third bomber suffered the same fate. Then I fired straight up at the leader of the second flight, and his aircraft started trailing white smoke. It was then that I noticed some Ratas, so I attacked one. After a long fight it also started to trail smoke, and the pilot took to his parachute. He landed close to his aircraft, north of Belalcázar. During his descent I saluted him and he saluted me back.”
Salas had shot down four aircraft in five minutes. A number of the crewmen from the downed bombers took to their parachutes, only to be killed as they floated down, or immediately after landing, by groundfire from Moroccan troops fighting in this area. Ricote, commander of 4a/24 and flying the SB damaged by Salas, force-landed his bomber on Almodóvar airfield after having one of his engines shot out. This event must have been well known in the Government zone, as it was reported from several sources.
In this combat 2-G-3 also claimed four more Ratas (teniente Manuel Vázquez Sagastizábal (1-E-3), teniente Alcocer, teniente Carlos Bayo (2-E-3) and teniente Esteban Ibarreche) and one more Katiuska (teniente Salvador Serra Alorda (1-E-3)).
The Katiuskas flown by Blas, Monzónis and Pavía were shot down. These were all from the 4a Escuadrilla of Grupo No 24 led by Ricote.
Teniente José Redondo Martín landed in Republican territory and Redondo returned to lead his unit (he had previously been CO of the I-15s in the 3a/26).
When Salas landed at Mérida he received news that his brother, Ignacio, had just been killed in the Ebro sector where he was serving as an army officer, during an attack on Bot (near Gandesa) by Katiuska escuadrilla 2a/24.
The coronel in Charge of the Primera Brigada Aérea (1st Air Brigade) sent the following congratulations to Salas:
“The part played by the group under your command in today's operation has filled me with pride and it gives me great satisfaction to have people under my command who know how to make the best use of prevailing circumstances. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you personally, and the whole of your unit, to whom I hope you will convey this message.”

On 9 February 1939, five I-15s were claimed by Spanish pilots near Peñarroya, in Andalusia. Two were credited to capitán Arístides García López (8-E-3), taking his overall tally to 17, and one each to Juan Frutos Rubio, teniente Antonio Manrique (1-E-3) and teniente Alcocer - the latter two pilots each ‘made ace’ with these successes.
This was the last aerial combat for the CR.32 in Spain

Alcocer ended the Spanish Civil War with 5 biplane victories.

He later volunteered for combat in Russia and was part of the 1a Escuadrilla Azul, (Escuadrilla Expedicionaria) which was formed with 17 pilots with Salas as the Commander. Some of them were veterans of the Spanish Civil War and had a combined score of 79 aerial victories.

The unit crossed into France on 24 July 1941, later arriving in Germany in late part of the month.

They were assigned to training at the Jagdfliegerrschule 1 at Werneuchen near Berlin.

After completing their training on Bf 109 Es, the 1a Escuadrilla left for Russia on 26 September.
At first, the Spanish pilots were worried that they would arrive late to see any action, since they were kept informed of the progress of the German advance towards Moscow.

Azul Escuadrilla is welcomed on the East Front at Moschna airfield in September 1941.

The 1a Escuadrilla received a total of 12 Bf 109 E-4s and –7s and they were assigned to JG 27, VIII FliegerKorps of LuftFlotte 2. They were known as the “15 Spanische Staffel”, and they started to fly their first combat operations on 2 October. Escorting German bombers and reconnaissance aircraft, they operated from 12 different airfields.
Already on the first day, 2 October, they suffered their first pilot causality, when Alcocer (Bf 109 E-7 WNr. 1390) was shot down and killed in air combat with MiG-1s, I-16s and Il-4s 6 kilometres north of Moschna.

At the time of his death, Alcocer was credited with 5 biplane victories.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
? 02/09/38 morning 1 I-16 Destroyed CR.32   Zújar area 2-G-3
5 09/02/39   1 I-15 (a) Destroyed CR.32   near Peñarroya 2-G-3

Biplane victories: 5 destroyed.
TOTAL: 5 destroyed.
(a) Five I-15s were claimed by Spanish pilots. These were the last CR.32 claims in Spain.

Air Aces - Christopher Shores, 1983 Presidio Press, Greenwich, ISBN 0-89141-166-6
Air War over Spain - Jesus Salas Larrazabal, 1974 Ian Allan Ltd, Shepperton, Surrey, ISBN 0-7110-0521-4
Deutsche Luftwaffe Losses & Claims -series - Michael Balss
Fiat CR.32 Aces of the Spanish Civil War - Alfredo Logoluso, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-983-6
Joaquin Garcia-Morato - Best Ace of Spanish Civil War (WWII Ace Stories) - Mihail Zhirohov, 2003
Wings Over Spain - Emiliani Ghergo, 1997 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milano
Additional information kindly provided by Alfredo Logoluso and Ondrej Repka.

Last modified 04 May 2022