Biplane fighter aces


Capitán Chindasvinto González García

11 March 1911 –

Chindasvinto González García was born at Urda, in Toledo, on 11 March 1911.

He joined the Servicio de Aviación at the Escuela de Mecánicos at Cuatro Vientos in February 1930.

He graduated as a mechanic in June 1932 and was posted to Escuadrilla Y-2 at the Escuela de Tiro y Bombardeo at Los Alcázares airfield.
A further posting followed in November 1934 to the Escuela de Vueloy Combate at Alcalá de Henares.

González was subsequently appointed flight engineer on Fokker F.VIl/3m '20-4' and then underwent training on multi-engined aircraft.

The start of the civil war caught González on leave in Madrid, and he joined his unit on 18 July. Ten days later he was posted to Getafe airfield, from where he operated as a sargento mecánico with the Escuadrilla Mixta de Breguet XIX y Nieuport 52 led by capitán Juan Quintana Ladrón de Guevara. The unit moved first to Don Benito airfield and then to Herrera del Duque for operations on the Extremadura front.

González was promoted to sargento mecánico in August 1936.

Returning to Getafe in late September, González served as a flight engineer for the DH 89 Dragon Rapide flown by teniente Miguel Kiriguine - a White Russian whose name has also been rendered in Spanish records as ‘Kriguine’, ‘Kryguine’ and ‘Kringuin’. González flew with Kiriguine on liaison missions between Los Alcázares and Alcalá de Henares.

In early December 1936, González joined the Escuela de Vuelos pilots’ course at San Javier as a brigada mecánico. At the school he logged only four hours of dual training on DH 60 Moth Majors, but flew 14 hours solo and 17 hours on Breguet XIXs.

In January 1937, González completed his basic flying training, after which he took the fighter pilots’ course. He logged 11 hours that month, and a further 12 hours on Ni-H.52s in February. The school CO, comandante Félix Sampil, rated González as ‘highly skilled, devoted and particularly suitable for fighter operations’. After completing the course, however, he was posted not to a fighter unit but to the 1a Escuadrilla of the Grupo No 20, equipped with Polikarpov R-Z Natacha light bombers and commanded by capitán Crescendo Ramos. This unit operated from the airfields at Albacete, Tembleque, Linares and Madridejos.

In March, González (1a/20) was promoted to teniente piloto, the alférez and brigada ranks having by then been abolished.

On 20 April, teniente González’s (1a/20) R-Z was damaged during a battle with CR.32s on the Andalusian front, his gunner/bombardier, sargento Florentino Jiménez de la Fuente, being killed by enemy fire.

In early May, teniente González was posted to the 1a Escuadrilla of the Natacha Grupo No 25, which was operating from the airfields at Lérida and Balaguer on the Aragon front. The Grupo had been reduced to one squadron, the Escuadrilla Independiente No 40, and González was appointed patrulla CO. This unit operated from the airfields at Tembleque, Camporreal and Madridejos, flying sorties over the Córdoba, Guadalajara, Huesca and Saragossa fronts.

At the start of the Brunete offensive in July 1937, the Republicans had 50+ combat- ready I-15s and I-16s at their disposal.
Only one Spanish fighter unit was committed to the campaign - the 2a Escuadrilla of the Grupo No 26 (I-15), commanded by the in July newly appointed CO teniente González. The unit successively moved to the airfields at Azuqueca de Henares, Caspe, Alcañiz and El Toro.
Sargento José Redondo Martín was posted to the unit in July. Sargento Vicente Castillo Monzó joined the unit on 8 July when he joined the unit at Archena airfield, in Murcia. As a member of this unit he moved to Chozas de la Sierra and took part in air combat over Brunete.

In the morning on 26 August, the CR.32s escorted 19 bombers to Villamajor. Close to the bombers was the 20a Squadriglia, while the 18a and 19a Squadriglie stayed above them. The weather was far from ideal and soon a layer of cloud separated the two higher flying Squadriglie from the rest. The minutes slowly ticked away as the formation moved toward the target area. Suddenly the clouds broke and Capitano Enrico Degli Incerti noticed a swarm of enemy aircraft below. Followed by his wingmen, he dived through the tattered clouds and found himself in perfect position behind an I-15. Five short bursts and the fighter began to fall. Degli Incerti followed his victim and saw it crashing into the Ebro River.
In order to gain altitude, he pulled the stick back – only to discover five I-15s at 3,000 feet, coming straight for him. His wingmen were nowhere in sight. The Republican leader, as he soon found out, was a very able pilot. He attacked the Italian at once, and while he engaged his adversary, the four other I-15s flew around them and sent bursts toward the CR.32 at close range. Bullets smashed the windscreen, tore into the parachute pack and holed the fuselage, but Degli Incerti's luck held. He threw the Fiat into a steep dive, but his foe clung to him. Bullets broke instruments on the panel and one bullet tore the belt off his waist without wounding him. Degli Incerti didn’t even try to aim anymore. He just shot wildly in the direction where a winged shadow appeared. Only three minutes went by, yet they seemed an eternity. Using all the tricks he had ever learned or heard of, he somehow managed to evade the fire of his adversaries. Then suddenly, the Republican leader’s tail came into sight. His fighter instinct made him aim and fire, but at the same second, another I-15 sent a burst into the Fiat. There was no pain, but the warmth of blood rolling down his leg made him realize that he was wounded. In desperation, he opened the throttle full, but the crippled machine didn’t respond. Glancing back, he saw a thin streak of smoke trailing him. The engine’s revolutions dropped from 2900 to 1000 and it seemed a miracle that the CR.32 was still airborne. The I-15s attacked with renewed fury and the Fiat descended more rapidly while the Republican leader closed in for the coup de grace. A hail of bullets hit the aircraft but it continued to fly. Degli Incerti noted with some relief that he had just crossed into Nationalist territory. But the attacks of his pursuers became more determined as they tried to finish him off. The I-15s opened up again and he put the Fiat’s nose down. Somehow, he managed to pull the machine out and found himself alone. He smelled smoke then felt the rapidly increasing heat of the burning fuselage. To add to his troubles, the engine suddenly stopped. Luckily, however, the ground was only a few meters below, so he switched the fuel off and landed the fighter. The burning Fiat’s tail rose into the air and then luckily fell back to the ground. Paralyzing pain knifed into his wounded leg as he tried to get out of the cockpit. However, the will for survival made his muscles move and set his body into motion out of the burning aircraft.
The 20a Squadriglia lost two pilots when Tenente Gilberto Caselli and Sottotenente Enrico Schievano were shot down over Villamajor and killed (Caselli was shot down wounded and captured but died of his wounds in hospital). Both pilots later received a posthumous Medaglia d’oro al valor militare.
It seems that at least some of the bombers escorted by the 20a Squadriglia were He 46s from 3-G-11 led by the unit’s CO commandante José Pérez Pardo, who was shot down and killed together with his observer Salvador Blanco. They had possibly been intercepted by I-15s from 1a/26 led by Kapitan Anatoly Serov and it seems that they claimed three destroyed He 46s, one of them claimed by Kapitan Yevgeniy Antonov.
It also seems that 2a/26 (I-15) took part in this combat and while flying from Alcañiz during the Belchite offensive, sargento Vicente Castillo Monzó claimed one CR.32 over Fuentes de Ebro and a Ro.37 over Caspe.
The CO of the unit, teniente González claimed two CR.32s shot down.
Sargento José Redondo Martín was mentioned in dispatches as follows:

“A major air battle over the Aragon front near Saragossa this morning ended in complete success for the Republican air force, which managed to shoot down five enemy aeroplanes - four Fiats and a Romeo - without loss to our escuadrillas. Worthy of mention in this combat is the conduct of a recently graduated sargento, José Redondo, son of the former mayor of Madrid, Cayetano Redondo. In combat with a Fiat, Redondo shot it down, despite numerous machine gun hits to his own aircraft, several of which damaged its port wing. After shooting down the Fiat Redondo flew his aircraft the considerable distance back to his airfield. The groundcrew found it hard to understand how Redondo had managed to make it to their airfield with such damage to his fighter aircraft and a serious leg wound.
The Minister of National Defence congratulated the heroic pilot, and in the presence of all the personnel of the fighter escuadrillas at the airfield, promoted him to teniente. Several captured enemy airmen stated that our offensive in Aragon had occupied a great deal of the aviation forces operating on the Santander fronts. One of the captured airmen, comandante Pérez Pardo, has a serious stomach wound and is in hospital.”

González, CO of the 2a/26 (I-15), was promoted to capitán and confirmed as escuadrilla commander in September.
The 2a/26 operated from Sariñena during the battles that took place in the early days of September.

The autumn of 1937 saw the establishment of the Grupo No 26 (I-15) and on 9 October 1937, capitán Juan José Armario Álvarez was appointed CO of the Grupo, which initially comprised three escuadrillas with 15 aircraft each.
The Soviet 1a Escuadrilla was led by Kapitan Yevgeniy Antonov and operated from Sagunto and Sabadel airfields, while teniente Gerardo Gil Sánchez headed up the Spanish 2a Escuadrilla (capitán González had handed over command to his deputy, Gil, to act as an interim CO). Both operated on the Aragon front. The Spanish 3a Escuadrilla was formed at Figueras under the command of teniente Juan Comas Borrás, which initially flew defensive patrols over the Catalan coast. The unit’s initial cadre of pilots consisted of Leopoldo Morquillas Rubio, Miguel Zambudio Martínez, Juan Olmos, José Redondo Martín, Antonio Britz Martínez, Rafael Sanromá Daroca and Antonio Nieto Sandoval-Díaz. Later, they were joined by José María Campoamor Peláez, Elías Hernández Camisón, Francisco Montagut Ferrer, Jesús Pérez Pérez, Alfredo de Albert Porcar and José Puig. Many of them were surviving pilots from the Northern front and later in the month the unit operated from Reus airfield.
Capitán Armario initially flew with the Soviet patrulla of the staff flight of the Grupo No 26, often accompanying Starshii Leitenant Stepanov.

On 7 November, capitán González resumed command of the 2a/26 at Figueras airfield, reliving his deputy teniente Gerardo Gil Sánchez and moved with it to Celra that same day.
On 23 November, the unit left the airfield when two patrols were sent to Bujaraloz and the remaining two headed for Candasnos airfield, where all the I-15s were concentrated the following day.

On 10 December and in order to camouflage a planned Nationalist offensive towards Madrid on the Guadalajara, the Republican air forces were to be destroyed on their airfields east of Zaragoza. A Nationalist force of 88 bombers and 56 fighters took part in the operation. The slower bombers (SM.81s and Ju 52/3ms) were to attack the nearby airfields in the Barbastro zone; the faster bombers (SM.79s, Breguet 20s, He 111s and Do 17s) those at Sariñena, Bujaraloz, Candasnos, Puebla de Híjar, Selgua, Pomar, Lérida and Balaguer. The Condor Legion’s bombers, which had to operate from more distant bases, would require refuelling before making their return flight, and facilities were provided at Sanjurjo.
The attacks failed to achieve the desired success, however; the airfields were empty and about 70 fighters were waiting in the air. It must be said that the Republicans were very well prepared to deal with surprise air attacks. They had constructed a large number of airfields and at each was based at most a single squadron, its aircraft widely dispersed around the airfield perimeter. In addition, they had built a number of decoy airfield on with mock-up aircraft.
At least, the VI and XVI Gruppi of the Aviazione Legionaria took part in this combat and Tenente Corrado Santoro of the 31a Squadriglia (VI Gruppo) took part in an escort mission to bombers attacking Sariñena and Sottotenente Mario Visintini of the 25a Squadriglia (XVI Gruppo) took part in his first combat, firing at some enemy aircraft but without claiming anything.
At the end of the battle, the Italians claimed eight I-15s shot down for just one CR.32 lost and its pilot KIA when Sottotenente Vittorio Barberis of the 32a Squadriglia, was killed in action near Alcubierre when his CR.32 collided with I-15 CC-022, flown by Soviet pilot Mikhail Vasilhevich Kotyhov from the 1a/26. The latter pilot also perished.
Group 2-G-3, which was flying below the Italians, climbed to their assistance and claimed seven I-15s without losses.
1.J/88 was airborne, with 15 Bf 109s flying deep into enemy territory. They were attacked by 30 enemy fighters. Oberleutnant Harro Harder recounted:

”Another major action on December 10. The Fiats patrolled the front, we flew deep into enemy territory with fifteen Bf 109s. Fifteen Curtisses and fifteen Ratas climbed up in close formation. There was nothing else to do, we attacked repeatedly, but so many aircraft immediately dove on us that we were happy just to escape in one piece.”
The German fighters didn’t claim anything during the day.
Totally, the Nationalist and the Italian fighters claimed to have together shot down 15 Chatos while losing only one aircraft.
It seems that Republicans lost two I-15s and two I-16s, while 21 other fighters returned with various damages to their bases.
The 2a/26 claimed to have downed five CR.32s, one of them falling to capitán González (CO). The remaining four were credited to teniente Nicomedes Calvo Aguilar and sargentos Vicente Castillo Monzó, Jaime Torn Roca and A. Martín García.
During an engagement on the Aragon front, teniente Miguel Zambudio Martínez and Antonio Britz Martínez of the 3a/26 (I-15) claimed a shared Legion Condor He 111. This seems to have been a He 111 from K/88, which was lost during a mission against the aerodrome of Candasnos when it exploded in flight for reasons unknown. The crew (Leutnant Friedrich-Karl Beucke, Leutnant Heinrich Klein, Feldwebel Anton Bergmann, Unteroffizier Fritz Brühl and Obergefreiter Alois Ehlen) were all KIA.

26 P-Zs, escorted by 26 fighters, bombed ground troops twice in the Barrios de San Blas area on 5 January 1938.
The first mission was not intercepted but during the second, at around 15:00, they were intercepted by Fiat CR.32s and Bf 109s.
Leitenant Aleksey Loskutov was shot down and killed in his I-15. It is possible that Loskutov in fact was flying in I-16 CM118 from 5a/21 since this is the only Republican loss reported during the day.
The gunners in the R-Zs reported that one CR.32 was shot down from which the pilot parachuted and landed in Nationalist territory. The Republican fighters claimed three CR.32s and one Bf 109. Only two claimants are known and flying from El Toro airfield, capitán González, CO 2a/26, claimed a Bf 109 destroyed as his final recorded aerial victory while Emilio Ramírez Bravo from the same unit claimed a damaged CR.32.
The Italians reported that in the afternoon, Maggiore Andrea Zotti led 16 CR.32s from XXIII Gruppo on a surveillance patrol over Teruel. The aircraft intercepted a formation of R-Zs and claimed five shot down. One was credited to the gruppo’s second-in-command, Capitano Guido Nobili.
Oberfeldwebel Ignaz Prestele of 1.J/88 (Bf 109) claimed one I-16 in the same combat.
The only known Nationalist loss is a damaged CR.32 when Jorge Muntadas Claramunt from 2-G-3 made an emergency landing at his home airfield.

On 8 January, capitán González’s (CO 2a/26) fighter (Chato ‘CA-002’) was hit by anti-aircraft fire while strafing la Muela de Teruel, damaging its fuel tanks and forcing González to crash land at Sarrión.

Subsequently posted to the 3a Escuadrilla de Chatos as deputy CO, teniente Leopoldo Morquillas Rubio was given command of the 2a Escuadrilla of Grupo No 26, based at Villar airfield, in Valencia, on 11 January 1938, replacing capitán González.

On 31 January, capitán González was ordered to accompany trainee pilots to Kirovabad in the USSR.

Capitán González returned to Spain from Kirovabad, USSR, on 10 May.

In early July, capitán González was appointed to lead the formerly Soviet 1a/26 in succession to Aleksandr Osipenko, this unit being based at Manises and Requena airfields during the Levante campaign. According to one of González’ subordinates, unit deputy CO teniente Juan Sayós, he enjoyed a mixed reputation during his short period in command:

“He was a big, aggressive man. He was authoritarian and did not like his orders being questioned. He gave us instructions about our conduct over the front as if we had never been there before or as though we used to turn tail and run. We were flying a strafing mission over the Sarrión area when we noticed three or four enemy aeroplanes far in the distance. We warned the capitán about the presence of these aircraft and, although there were nine of us, he ordered us to return to base immediately. After we landed we asked him why we had not attacked those fighters. He angrily asked if we had realised that there were 15 or 20 of them. It was obvious that fear had made him see what hadn’t actually been there, and that his shouts and his aggressive behaviour was just a mask to hide his cowardice.
We were ordered to fly top cover for another escuadrilla, the 3a de Chatos, which had to strafe enemy positions. We were over the target together and, while we flew top cover at 9000 ft, the 3a Escuadrilla pilots dived to fulfil their mission, confident that we were covering their backs and would intercept enemy fighters. For a while it looked as though everything was going fine, but some minutes later we saw a group of Fiat fighters heading straight for us, and the capitán ordered us to retreat once again. One after another, all of us formally accused González of desertion in the face of the enemy.”
In light of these events, capitán González resigned command of the unit on 20 July 1938 and was posted to Alcantarilla airfield. There, he performed the role of test pilot for factory-fresh I-15 Chatos, as well as serving as an instructor at the Escuela de Caza. González was still at Alcantarilla airfield at the end of the civil war, being captured by the victorious Nationalist forces.
Capitán González was succeeded as CO of the 1a/26 by teniente Vicente Castillo Monzó.
Later in the month the 1a/26 was transferred to Valls airfield

González ended the war with 5 biplane victories, all of them claimed while flying the Polikarpov I-15.

No further information has come to light on his post-war years.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 26/08/37 morning 1 CR.32 Destroyed I-15   near Saragossa 2a/26
2 26/08/37 morning 1 CR.32 Destroyed I-15   near Saragossa 2a/26
3 10/12/37   1 CR.32 (a) Destroyed I-15   From Candasnos airfield 2a/26
4 ??/??/3?   1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed I-15     2a/26
5 05/01/38 15:00 ca 1 Bf 109 (b) Destroyed I-15   Barrios de San Blas area 2a/26

Biplane victories: 5 destroyed.
TOTAL: 5 destroyed.
(a) The Nationalist and the Italian fighters claimed to have together shot down 15 Chatos while losing only one aircraft. It seems that Republicans lost two I-15s and two I-16s, while 21 other fighters returned with various damages to their bases.
(b) The Nationalists claimed 5 destroyed R-Zs and 1 I-16 and only 1 damaged CR.32 is known. The Republicans claimed 4 CR.32s and 1 Bf 109 while known losses are 1 I-15 (or I-16).

Aces of the Legion Condor – Robert Forsyth, 2011 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-347-8
Fighter Pilots Of The Spanish Republic (Vol. 1) - Rafael A. Permuy López, Historica 36/39 no. 1, ISBN 84-87314-89-9
Spanish Republican Aces – Rafael A Permuy López, 2012 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-668-4

Last modified 19 October 2023