Biplane fighter aces


Teniente Álvaro Muñoz López

10 October 1915 – ?

Álvaro Muñoz López was born on 10 October 1915 in Irún, Guipuzkoa.

He had been studying for a job in the civil service prior to the arrival of Nationalist troops in his hometown in July 1936. He immediately left for Barcelona by way of France.

On 22 December he volunteered for service as a pilot at La Ribera airfield, undertaking elementary flying training alongside 45 other candidates at Boissy-le-Châtel, in France, between February and July 1937. Here, Muñoz flew Potez 60, MS.341 and C.600 Aiglon aircraft, logging 47 flying hours.

Muñoz returned to Spain on 25 July after elementary flying training in Boissy-le-Châtel, France.

Muñoz joined the air force as a pilot sargento in September and continued advanced training on Breguet XIXs at La Ribera.

In November, sargento Muñoz graduated as a fighter pilot after two months of training at La Ribera.

Following a period at the newly established Grupo de Transición y Eventualidades (pilot’s pool) at Celrá, sargento Muñoz was posted on 8 March 1938 to the I-15-equipped 1a/26, the squadron being led by Soviet pilot Aleksandr Osipenko.

While flying with this unit, Muñoz engaged in several successful aerial battles on the Aragon front. He was subsequently posted to the 3a/26 at Monjos airfield, this unit helping to oppose the Nationalist offensive on the Aragon front. Enemy forces were eventually stopped near their bridgehead over the River Segre.
The 3a/26 was later transferred to the Castellon front.

After seeing action on the Levente front it moved again on 10 August. The unit’s pilots also saw action in operations over the Ebro front.

On 21 August, sargento Muñoz claimed a CR.32 over Ebro.

Muñoz was promoted to teniente in September.

The 3a/26 (I-15) claimed seven CR.32s on 1 November. These were claimed by teniente José Falcó Sanmartín, Muñoz, Esteban Corbalán Marín, José Garre Solano, Francisco Sánchez Matos, José Santander Menéndez and J. Tremosa Arnavat.

Returning from a month’s leave on 24 December 1938, teniente Muñoz was confirmed as the 3a/26 CO after teniente Antonio Nieto Sandoval-Díaz.

Teniente Muñoz (CO 3a/26) flew sorties over the Catalan front until 8 January 1939, when he and the 3a Escuadrilla moved to the Central-Southern area to participate in the offensive in Extremadura. However, when this operation was cancelled the unit was transferred to Fuenteovejuna, where Muñoz fought several engagements against Nationalist CR.32s.
The 3a Escuadrilla was subsequently transferred to La Señera airfield to provide fighter cover for the port of Valencia.

When the victorious Nationalist forces arrived at La Rabasa airfield on 29 March, teniente Muñoz (CO 3a/26) surrendered his unit to them.

Muñoz ended the war with 2 biplane victories.
During the civil war he had logged about 450 flying hours, 340 of them in I-15s. His 200 operational sorties include strafing, frontline patrol, bomber escort and combat missions.

Subsequently court-martialled, Muñoz was sentenced to death, although this was commuted to life imprisonment.

Eventually released on parole, Muñoz moved to France and lived in Biarritz during the 1970s.
The date, and location, of his passing remain unrecorded.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 21/08/38   1 CR.32 Destroyed I-15   Ebro area 3a/26
2 01/11/38   1 CR.32 Destroyed I-15     3a/26

Biplane victories: 2 destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 destroyed.

Fiat CR.32 Aces of the Spanish Civil War - Alfredo Logoluso, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-983-6
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 21 October 2016