Biplane fighter aces

Spain

Capitán Miguel García Pardo

20 November 1907 – 28 March 1939

Miguel García Pardo was born in La Coruna on 20 November 1907.

Joining the military academy at the age of 16, he was promoted to alférez (second lieutenant) in 1928 and sent to an infantry regiment. From here he was selected for pilot training, qualifying as an observer and being transferred to Melilla, in Spanish Morocco.

Promoted to teniente in 1930, Garcia Pardo earned his ‘wings’ as a military pilot a short time later and went on to serve with 3a EscuadraAérea ax Prat de Llobregat, near Barcelona. He immediately displayed excellent leadership qualities, which he combined with good aerial navigation skills to finish first three times in annually organised patrol competitions.

At the start of the civil war, García Pardo was serving in Barcelona. With the Republicans fearing an imminent attack, he took advantage of the confusion reigning at Prat and escaped to Pamplona on 19 July in a Breguet XIX with capitán Calderón, whereupon they both joined the Nationalist cause.

García Pardo flew his first combat missions in the Breguet XIX, before hastily converting onto the Ni-H.52 after a handful of examples were transferred from Andalusia to Burgos.

On 9 August, teniente García Pardo claimed his first victory against a Breguet XIX over Sierra de Guadarrama

In August 1936, a small fighter squadron was formed in Burgos and for a brief period it was under the command of capitán Chamorro, although he soon went on to pilot Dragon Rapides and an Airspeed Envoy, in which he was killed whilst escorting General Mola. Pilots who flew with this squadron included Julio Salvador, Miguel Guerrero García, Martín Campos and Ramón Alvarez Senra, tenientes García Pardo and Ramiro Pasual, and occasionally capitán Ángel Salas.

SS Usaramo with the first contingent of German volunteers arrived at the roadstead off Cádiz on 6 August before docking the next day. They were sent by train to Seville. Hannes Trautloft recalled:

“The next morning we found ourselves at Seville airfield [Tablada], a frequent target for “Red” airmen. On 9 August we started the job of rebuilding our six He 51s - a real piece of teamwork involving pilots and ground personnel. The Spanish personnel were quite surprised to witness us work with such energy, but we really were getting quite impatient and wanted to get our machines into the air as soon as possible.”
Conditions at Tablada were rudimentary. Oberleutnant Herwig Knüppel recorded of this initial period:
“Our single-seaters had to be put together rapidly, as we wanted to strike out as soon as possible to the Front. Breaking open crates, raising aircraft fuselages, attaching wings, fixing bracing struts - that was our first occupation. In doing so, we established friendships with the Spanish pilots [Joaquín García] Morato, [Julio] Salvador, [Luis] Rambaud and others, and with the Spanish mechanics. Many beads of sweat flowed.”
On 10 August, the first He 51 was fully assembled and ready for operations.
The German pilots at Tablada were able to put on a display patrol to both test the re-assembled Heinkels and to impress their Spanish comrades with the performance of their aircraft. In accordance with their instructions they were not authorised to enter combat, and so the first few days were spent training five rebel Spaniards selected from the first group of 18 fighter pilots to join the Nationalist side; capitán Luis Rambaud and Joaquín García Morato and teniente García, Ramiro Pascual and Julio Salvador.
Eventually, the German pilots requested that they be allowed to engage in combat operations, and this permission was granted by general Alfredo Kindelán y Duany, the commander of what was now viewed as the ’Nationalist’ air forces. Of this time Herwig Knüppel recorded:
“After some seven days of strenuous work, with our toothbrushes and shaving gear stashed in the stowage compartment of our He 51s, we flew via Salamanca and the Sierra de Gredos to our small combat airfield of Escalona del Prado, near Segovia.
There, on the northern perimeter of the Guadarrama hills, we were located together with an Escuadrilla de reconocimiento, with whom we soon established a warm friendship. The aircraft stood in the open, replacement parts, ammunition and fuel and oil laying protected from the sun under tarpaulins at the edge of the forest. We ourselves likewise lay to some extent protected from the full glare of the sun and slept when we were not flying, or else had language tuition with the Spanish crews.”
Wolf-Heinrich von Houwald also recorded his observations of early conditions in Spain:
“We arrived at Salamanca, the second stopping place on our way to Escalona - a small town close to the Madrid Front. Salamanca was the first combat airfield I saw. We took a big chance in actually finding it because everything, including the aircraft, was very well camouflaged. We refuelled and took off for Escalona, an airfield that we heard was incredibly small and hard to find. It lay so close to the front that it was quite probable that we would engage the enemy. Nevertheless, we found it after half-an-hour and landed. The airfield was so poor that we were worried whether our Spanish comrades would be able to fly our aircraft from there.
Next day I had a most annoying experience. Full of enthusiasm and idealism, five Spaniards proudly climbed into our aircraft. They did not want foreigners to fight for them while they had to stay on the ground with nothing to do. But as they returned, my aircraft crashed on landing. Fortunately, the other Heinkels managed to land safely. From now on, without an aircraft, I had to stay on the ground while the others each shot down two or three enemy in short order. I had nothing better to do than to wait for new aircraft to come from home. I kept thinking that they would arrive too late because the “Rojos” would be forced to surrender in front of Franco’s massive offensive.”
The small cadre of Spanish pilots working with the Germans had formed themselves loosely into what they called the Escuadrilla Rambaud. After the losses suffered on 23 August, the Escuadrilla was disbanded in the end of the month.

In September, he flew missions over Aragon in Ni-H.52s, He 51s and Breguet XIXs from Saragossa.

In October, García Pardo moved to Seville, where he began flying the CR.32 within the fighter group of the Aviation del Tercio, which was in the process of being formed under the command of recently arrived Maggiore Tarcisio Fagnani (’Faroni’).

García Pardo’s operational sorties on the Madrid front began on 21 October.

On 9 January 1937, Ángel Salas and García Pardo moved to the south to join Joaquín García Morato with the aim to establish an independent Spanish squadrons.
García Pardo went on to join Morato’s Patrulla Azul.

The all-Spanish Fiat Grupo, with the designation 2-G-3, was formed in Cordoba on 4 May from the escuadrillas led by capitán Joaquín García Morato and capitán Ángel Salas (2-E-3). Morato assumed command of the Grupo, and Julio Salvador took over leadership of Morato’s old escuadrilla (1-E-3).
This had been made possible after a further consignment of eight CR.32s had been passed on to the Nationalist air force in April 1937, and they joined the five previously handed over four months earlier to form the basis of the first Spanish grupo equipped with Fiat fighters. Grupo 2-G-3 consisted of 13 aircraft and 15 pilots, which were divided into two escuadrillas of six fighters each. The final CR.32 was Morato’s personal (3-51).
Of the pilots assigned to its escuadrillas, two of them had previously served as wingmen in the Patrulla Azul, while the remaining 12 were chosen according to their experience in fighters.

Escuadrilla 1-E-3
Teniente Julio Salvador (CO)
Teniente Miguel Guerrero García
Alférez Manuel Vázquez Sagastizábal
Alférez Arístides García López Rengel
Alférez Rafael Mazarredo Trenor
Alférez Jesús Rubio Paz
Brigada Ramón Senra Àlvarez

Escuadrilla 2-E-3
Capitán Ángel Salas
Capitán Narciso Bermúdes de Castro
Capitán Javier Murcia Rubio
Teniente García Pardo
Alférez Javier Allende Isasi
Alférez Joaquín Ansaldo Vejarano
Alférez Jorge Muntadas Claramunt

Around 17:00 on 12 July, there was a big air combat west of Madrid. During this combat Bozidar Petrovich of the 1a Escaudrilla saved his leader Kapitan Ivan Yeremenko from the dangerous attack of a CR.32, probably piloted by capitán Joaquín García Morato, but the I-15 of the Serbian pilot was seen to crash, maybe out of control or shot down by a CR.32 flown by teniente García Pardo (2-E-3) (CR.32 NC 596/3-60). Petrovich lost his life in the crash.
Both Yeremenko and Petrovich are credited with one CR.32 each in this combat.

Capitán Joaquín García Morato continued to lead Grupo 2-G-3 until September, when he was sent on an eight-week-long technical mission to Italy at the end of the month. Capitán Ángel Salas took over the command of Grupo 2-G-3 and capitán García Pardo took over after Salas as leader of 2-E-3.
On his return, capitán Morato was named as chief of operations for the 1st Air Brigade, an appointment which he held until the end of June 1938, and Salas replaced him officially as Commander of Grupo 2-G-3.

At 08:00 on 29 January 1938, García Pardo and teniente Carlos Bayo from 2-G-3 spotted Russian tanks moving to attack Nationalist positions at Cabezón, in the Singra sector. They attacked these at low level with machine-gun fire, and shortly after found eleven more tanks attacking to the east of Celadas. Returning to base with their ammunition exhausted, they located five tanks on the plain near Singra, with five more behind them.

During 21 February, all the serviceable Polikarpovs took off to try to oppose Nationalist bombers during the Battle of Alfambra.
At 10:20, García Pardo and Javier Allende Isasi of 2-G-3 took off on a routine reconnaissance flight over the Teruel front. There they discovered 20 I-15s and a similar number of I-16s in combat with a few Bf 109Bs. When García Pardo and Allende Isasi went to the assistance of the Messerschmitts, the German pilots failed to recognize them as allies and opened fire on them. They beat a hasty retreat, calling into battle another formation of Fiat CR.32s before continuing with their reconnaissance.
The new formation compromised 24 CR.32s of the XXIII Gruppo ”Asso di Bastoni” led by Maggiore Andrea Zotti. The pilots included the Spanish capitán Carlos Haya González who, after attending his mother’s funeral, arrived by car in Bilbao just as the group was about to take off. Despite Commander Zotti’s opposition, he insisted on taking his place in the formation.
At 11:04 over Teruel when they spotted about 40 Republican fighters split in three formations with I-15 “Chatos” at 3,500 and 4,000 meters, and I-16 “Moscas” at 5000 meters. The Republican fighters were already in combat with 17 Bf 109s. Zotti immediately chased them, and sent part of the Gruppo to attack the “Chatos”, which tried to evade as they were over Republican lines. At Puebla de Valverde, the “Moscas” intervened, but they were faced by the rest of the XXIII Gruppo, which at the end claimed two “Chatos” and a “Mosca” destroyed. One of the I-15s was claimed by Franco Lucchini of the 19a Squadriglia. In attempting to destroy an I-15 that was attacking another aircraft of his squadron, Carlos Haya González approached too close and collided with the I-15, falling to his death. It seems that this was sargento Francisco Viñals Guarro (I-15 CA-013) of the 2a/26, who managed to return despite the almost total destruction of the rudder (according the Republic bulletin, it was teniente Manuel Orozoco Ovira, of the 4a/26, who collided with Haya). Viñals’ I-15 was found to have a shattered aileron, badly damaged upper port wing and missing cockpit door and gunsight. Viñals’ promotion, recommended by the coronel Jefe de Fuerzas Aéreas and the Minister of National Defence, Indalecio Prieto, was effective from 22 February. The order was gazetted in the Diario Oficial issue No 47, which noted, ’For his heroic conduct in yesterday’s combats near Teruel, sargento del arma de aviación Francisco Viñals Guarro is promoted to teniente.’
Juan Lario Sanchez witnessed this combat. Haya fell near Puerto de Escadiòn, and was posthumously awarded with a Medaglia d’oro al valor militare.
The German pilots of J/88 claimed seven I-16s when 1 staffel claimed three near La Pueblé (Leutnants Fritz Awe, Hans-Karl Mayer and Erich Woitke) and 2 staffel claimed four near Sarrion and Teruel (Unteroffizier Herbert Ihlefeld, Leutnant Edgar Rempel, Unteroffizier Kurt Rochel and Staffelführer Oberleutnant Joachim Schlichting).
It seems that the Bf 109s had been in combat with twelve I-16s from 2a/21, which suffered three wounded pilots and one killed in combat with Messerschmitts and Fiats over Teruel in the morning while reporting 18 enemy aircraft downed (daily total?). Leitenant Aleksei Aleksandrovich Denisov (I-16 CM-034) claimed one Bf 109 before being shot down and had to bail out wounded. Leitenant Boris Adil’gireevich Takhtarov was wounded and badly burned when his aircraft (CM-123 or CM-239) caught fire after being hit by Bf 109s and he had to take to his parachute. When he jumped his parachute opened early, and on the way down the Germans tried to strafe him, but his comrades prevented them (he spent 35 days in the hospital and then returned home). The third wounded pilkots was Andrei Ivanovich Belov was wounded. Leitenant Viktor Sergeevich Troshkin was killed while flying CM-032.
General Rojo advised Prieto, the Minister of Defence, that the Air Force had carried out three operations during the day, and that during the last of these they had been involved in a large-scale combat with the Nationalist Air Force. He later advised Prieto that according to information from Jerica (the Air Force’s command centre) five German aircraft – later stated to be five Bf 109s, seven Fiats CR.32s and one twin-engined aircraft had been destroyed. This message included the information that the ace pilot, Carlos Haya, who was reputed to have carried out the night attack on the War Ministry in Madrid, had been killed in this engagement. Their own losses were quoted as two I-16, which failed to return to base and two others, which were damaged and whose pilots were injured. Sergeant Manuel Orozco Ovira, who managed to fly his aircraft back to base after its tail had been destroyed, was recommended an award for outstanding bravery and skill.
The I-15s from the 2a/26 claimed three and two probable CR.32; these were claimed by Teniente Leopoldo Morquillas Rubio (CO) (1 probable), J. Mora Fauria, sargento Francisco Viñals Guarro, Fernando Villins León (1 probable) and C. Zuazo Garre. Francisco Montagut Ferrer from the 3a/26 claimed a Bf 109 while an unknown pilot from the 4a/26 claimed a CR.32. An unknown I-16 pilot from 1a/21 claimed a CR.32.

In March 1938, the Group took part in Aragón offensive.

In the afternoon on 12 March, 2-G-3 encountered enemy aircraft attempting to stop the sweeping advance in the Aragon offensive. During the afternoon 18 Fiats, led by capitán Ángel Salas (CO) and capitán Joaquín García Morato, escorted Ju 52/3ms on a raid, and having completed this task made a sweep of the front as far as Híjar, where they encountered 19 Chatos that were escorting 11 SBs. In the ensuing dogfights, capitán Salas claimed one probable I-15, capitán Morato claimed two I-15s while teniente García Pardo (2-E-3) destroyed one I-15, which fell near Híjar. Teniente Miguel Guerrero García (1-E-3) set fire to another I-15, whose pilot took to his parachute from a very low height. Teniente Julio Salvador (CO 1-E-3) attacked another machine, which began to trail smoke, but he was unable to continue his attack as his Fiat was almost out of fuel; unable to return to his base at Tauste, he had to land at Saragossa. Teniente Carlos Serra Pablo-Romero, teniente Carlos Bayo (2-E-3) and teniente de Hemricourt (2-E-3) each were successful in shooting down an I-15. Teniente Manuel Vázquez Sagastizábal (1-E-3) attacked three SBs claiming on of them that crashed while attempting to land near Escatrón. No CR.32s were lost in this combat.
The I-15 shot down by teniente García Pardo was from 1a/26 and was flown by Soviet pilot Starshii Leitenant Bela Ignat’evich Arady, who bailed out badly burned and landed in Republican lines. The wreckage of this machine (I-15 CA-057) was recovered subsequently, and a piece of it was retained, on which ensuing victories of 2-G-3 were recorded, as well as the names of all those in the group who were killed.

While operating over Teruel on 30 May, capitán Ángel Salas, teniente García Pardo and teniente Carlos Serra Pablo-Romero, all received damage to their aircraft.

During a second sortie of the day on 19 June, ten Fiats of 2-G-3 took off at 18:00 led by capitán Ángel Salas, to escort Ju 52/3ms bombing La Puebla de Valverde. They encountered a formation of 18 Chatos, which they chased as far as Alcublas, where nine Ratas joined the fray. Capitán Salas dived over the Chatos to attack, but was unable to fire his guns because a leak had emptied his compressed air bottle. Despite this, he continued to make dummy attacks, being hit five times by the Ratas, one bullet puncturing the coolant radiator. Teniente Julio Salvador (CO 1-E-3) enjoyed better luck, bouncing two Chatos from above near La Puebla, one of which exploded in the air, the other following in flames. It seems that these come from the 3a Escuadrilla and both pilots survived with wounds. Salvador then had to retire with an overheating engine. Teniente García Pardo (2-E-3) effectively removed a Rata from the tail of alférez Arístides García López Rengel’s (1-E-3) Fiat by shooting it down. Teniente de Hemricourt (2-E-3) downed a Chato near Alcublas, then a Rata to the north of Villar del Arzobispo, and saw a Chato turn somersault as it attempted to land at its aerodrome. Teniente Esteban Ibarreche fired at a Chato close to the ground, and this separated from the rest of the formation and fell near to Hiruerela. Alférez Joaquín Ansaldo Vejarano (2-E-3) had to return to base when an engine cowling parted company from his Fiat.
No CR.32s were lost in this combat.

In the morning on 14 August, Grupos 2-G-3 and 3-G-3 attacked a formation of Ratas, which were pursuing some He 111s over Gandesa. Other Chatos and Ratas later joined in the battle. Totally the Spanish pilots reported 52 I-16s and 28 I-15s (!).This massive formation of Polikarpovs was also targeted by ten Bf 109s.
Group 2-G-3 claimed three Ratas (teniente García Pardo (2-E-3), teniente Carlos Bayo (2-E-3) and teniente de Hemricourt (2-E-3)) and 3-G-3 claimed two more (comandante Joaquín García Morato and teniente Emelio O’Connor Valdivielso (4-E-3)). 2-G-3s record of operations described the combat:

“García Pardo attacked some Ratas which were pursuing an He 111, shooting down one of the which fell near to Mora de Ebro … Teniente Bayo attacked three Ratas and succeeded in destroying one which fell on the edge of the Blanerías mountains. Later he attacked a Chato, but was unable to ascertain whether it was destroyed as damage to his engine forced him to land at Horta…
Teniente de Hemricourt fired at one Rata without any result; and then attacked some Ratas engaged with other Fiats, hitting one which fell in a wood to the north of Reus.”
The Bf 109s of J/88 claimed seven I-16s. Unteroffizier Willibald Hein (3.J/88) and Unteroffizier Willhelm Szuggar (1.J/88) claimed two each while Leutnant Otto Bertram (1.J/88), Hauptmann Wolfgang Schellmann ((1.J/88) and Leutnant Wolfgang Lippert (3.J/88) claimed one each.
The Republican side reported that 1a, 3a and 4a Escuadrillas fought against 90 enemy aircraft, which included seven Bf 109s and 27 He 111s, and claimed the destruction of three Fiats and one He 111. They lost one Rata from 4a Escuadrilla and two more pilots were injured. Republican pilot Francisco Meroño also managed to get a Rata back to base with half of the elevator shot away. According to Nationalist records no bomb fell on this day, and the only Fiat to be lost was that of alférez José Mesía Lesseps (2-E-3) (3-75) which did not return to base. Teniente Bayo (3-127) had to make a forced landing at Horta de San Juan and alférez Alonso Fariña (3-139) was wounded and landed at Puig Moreno. Alférez Antonio Manrique Garrido’s Fiat was hit 30 times, but he managed to get back to base at Escatrón. Johann Krug’s He 51 was also badly mauled by enemy fire, but he too got back to base at Mas de las Matas.

On the morning on 1 September, seven CR.32s from Grupo 2-G-3 attacked a flight of two-seat Grumman FF-1 biplanes from Grupo No 28 over the Cabeza del Buey front. Two Delfines were shot down, their destruction being credited to teniente García Pardo (2-E-3) and teniente Rodolphe de Hemricourt (2-E-3).
Only one FF-1 was actually destroyed, with its pilot wounded and observer killed.

At midday on 19 January 1939, six CR.32s of Grupo 3-G-3, led by comandante Joaquín García Morato, and six from 2-G-3, headed by comandante Ángel Salas, flew a surveillance patrol near Igualada, on the Lérida-Barcelona road. The biplane fighters were accompanied by five He 112s of Grupo 5-G-5, led by capitán García Pardo.
During the course of their patrol the Nationalist fighters intercepted 16 I-15s and 13 I-16s, and comandante Morato shot down an I-15 from 4a Escuadrilla (Morato’s 40th and last victory). García Pardo also claimed a Rata destroyed for his 13th, and last, aerial success. It was also the only victory credited to the He 112 in Spain.

On 28 March 1939, capitán García Pardo of 5-G-5 lost his life in a flying accident at Almaluez airfield upon returning from a surveillance sortie on the Guadalajara front in a He 112.

At the time of his death, García Pardo had claimed 12 biplane victories and a total of 13.
During the Spanish Civil War, he had flown more than 600 combat missions totalling 1100 hours, with the bulk of these being at the controls of a CR.32. Garcia Pardo had been credited with 13 and 2 shared victories, 11 of them in the CR.32.
He was posthumously decorated with the Medalla Militar (Individual Military Medal) and promoted to the rank of commander as a result of his war record.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 09/08/36   1 Breguet XIX Destroyed Ni-H.52   Sierra de Guadarrama  
  1937                
? 12/07/37 17:00 1 I-15 (a) Destroyed CR.32 NC 596/3-60 W Madrid 2-E-3
  1938                
? 12/03/38 afternoon 1 I-15 (b) Destroyed CR.32   Híjar 2-E-3
? 19/06/38 18:00- 1 I-16 Destroyed CR.32   Alcublas 2-E-3
? 14/08/38 morning 1 I-16 (c) Destroyed CR.32   Gandesa area 2-E-3
? 01/09/38 morning 1 Grumman FF-1 (d) Destroyed CR.32   Cabeza del Buey 2-E-3
  1939                
13 19/01/39 midday 1 I-16 (e) Destroyed He 112   near Igualada 5-G-5

Biplane victories: 12 destroyed.
TOTAL: 13 and 2 shared destroyed.
(a) Bozidar Petrovich of 1a/26 KIA.
(b) Starshiy Leytenant Bela Ignathevich Aradi from 1a/26 shot down and pilot WIA.
(c) Claimed in combat with I-16 from 1a, 3a and 4a Escuadrillas which lost at least one I-16 and got three more damaged while claiming 3 CR.32s and 1 He 111. 2-G-3 claimed three I-16s and 3-G-3 claimed two more while losing one CR.32 and getting 3 more damaged.
(d) Claimed in combat with Grumman FF-1s from Grupo No 28, which lost 1 aircraft for claims of 2 by 2-G-3.
(e) Only He 112 victory in Spain.

Sources:
Aces of the Legion Condor – Robert Forsyth, 2011 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-347-8
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
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
Soviet airmen in the Spanish civil war 1936-1939 - Paul Whelan, 2014 Schiffer Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-0-7643-0
Spanish Republican Aces – Rafael A. Permuy López, 2012 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-668-4
Wings Over Spain - Emiliani Ghergo, 1997 Giorgio Apostolo Editore, Milano
Additional information kindly provided by Eugenio Costigliolo, Stefano Lazzaro, Alfredo Logoluso and Ondrej Repka.




Last modified 02 February 2017