Biplane fighter aces


Capitán Andrés Rodríguez Panadero

30 November 1916 – 28 September 1937

Andrés Rodríguez Panadero was born at San Martín de la Vega, in Madrid, on 30 November 1916,

He worked as a mechanic before volunteering for service in the Arma de Aviación Militar in February 1935.
He was posted to the Escuadra No 1 at Getafe and assigned to the Escuadrilla de Plana Mayor (Staff Flight).

On 1 July 1936 Panadero joined the 1a Escuadrilla of the Grupo de Reconocimiento No 31 as a soldado de la (Private First Class).
He took part in the IV Semana Gimnástica Deportiva Militar (5th Military Sporting Week) to earn himself a month's leave, which coincided with the start of the civil war.

Panadero duly enrolled in a flying course and in November, Leopoldo Morquillas Rubio enrolled in the Escuela de Pilotos at Santiago de la Ribera, where he trained alongside sargento Manuel Zarauza Clavero, Juan Comas Borrás, Miguel Zambudio Martínez, Rafael Magriña Vidal and Panadero.

Panadero graduated in January 1937 as a military pilot with the rank of sargento being rated suitable for fighters.

In March further fighters arrived by sea to the Northern Front when eight Czech Letov Š.231 s were delivered to aboard the SS Sarkani. After a call for volunteers to fly them, a group of pilots were flown in to Santander aboard a DC-2 on 23 March. The new arrivals included teniente Tomás Baquedano Moreno, teniente Julián Barbero López, Lambás Bernal, José González Feo, Sánchez de las Matas, sargento Panadero, sargento José Rodríguez de la Cueva, Olmos Genovés, García Borrajo, Leopoldo Morquillas Rubio and Miguel Zambudio Martínez. The Letovs, however, proved a disappointment. Several turned over on landing before they were even operational, one was shot down on its first sortie (and sargento piloto Juan Olmos captured) and several others were set on fire during an air raid.
Tenientes Tomás Baquedano Moreno, Julián Barbero López and Leopoldo Morquillas Rubio and sargento Panadero were attached to the Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte to fly the I-15s.

On 18 April 1937, the Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte took part in combat over Bilbao. The unit claimed one of the new Dornier Do 17s of the Legion Condor, which crashed in government territory. Its demise was credited to capitán Felipe del Río Crespo (CO).
Another Do 17 was claimed as a shared by sargento Rodríguez Panadero (same aircraft?).

In July 1937 capitán Ramón Puparelli Francia was ordered to take his ten I-15s to Santander to reinforce the northern fighter force, which had lost most of their aircraft in frequent air raids on Somorrostro airfield.
Four more I-15s under the command of teniente Juan Comas Borrás joined soon afterwards, so that 45 Chatos were now available for operations on the Northern front. They were reinforced by eight Soviet-flown I-16 Moscas led by Valentin Ukhov, which arrived on 2 July.
Capitán Ramón Puparelli Francia assumed command of both the I-15s and I-16s.
Following teniente José Riverola Grúas’ departure for the Central front, teniente Leopoldo Morquillas Rubio was appointed CO of the Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte. The Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte was comprised of the following pilots and aircraft during operations on the Santander front in July 1937:

Unit Pilot Aircraft type Aircraft code
1a Patrulla Teniente Leopoldo Morquillas Rubio I-15 ’CA-57’
  Teniente Jaime Buyé Berni I-15 ’35’
  Teniente Nicomedes Calvo Aguilar I-15 ’29’
  Sargento Rafael Magriña Vidal I-15 ’13’
2a Patrulla Teniente Esteban Nazario Ortiz Bueno I-15 ’12’
  Teniente Miguel San José Andrade I-15 ’50’
  Sargento Miguel Galindo Saura I-15 ’28’
  Sargento Panadero I-15 ’20’
3a Patrulla Teniente Juan Comas Borrás I-15 59
  Teniente José González Feo I-15 ’30’
  Sargento Miguel Zambudio Martínez I-15 ’62’
  Sargento Ladislao Duarte Espés I-15 ’23’
Reserve pilots Teniente Julián Barbero López    
Reserve pilots Sargento Antonio Rodríguez Jordán    
Reserve pilots Sargento Antonio Miró Vidal    
Reserve pilots Sargento Román Llorente Castro    

Panadero of the Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte was promoted to teniente on 18 August and then posted to the Escuadrilla I-16 Mosca del Norte.
Panadero’s proven flying ability allowed him to convert onto the monoplane without any need for formal instruction on the type. He subsequently took command of the unit when Soviet pilots left the Northern front and he subsequently led the escuadrilla during the bitter fighting of the Asturias campaign.

On 28 September 1937, five Bf 109Bs were engaged in an air battle with five I-16s over Gijón. Oberleutnant Harro Harder of 1.J/88 (Bf 109B) claimed an I-16 shot down in flames.
This was teniente Rodríguez Panadero, CO of the Escuadrilla Mosca del Norte, who was shot down and killed. The entry in the 6a Región Aérea Operations Record Book noted:

“At 1100 hrs enemy aircraft were detected heading towards Gijón. Four monoplanes and four biplanes were scrambled, which prevented the bombers from reaching Gijón. A combat ensued with the enemy escort monoplanes, several of which were driven off but others arrived, which our aircraft continued to repel. This combat lasted for an hour. The monoplane flown by the teniente Jefe of the Escuadrilla, Andrés Rodríguez Panadero, was shot down in flames. The pilot was killed and the aircraft completely wrecked.”
Rodríguez Panadero was posthumously promoted to the rank of capitán on 26 January 1938.

At the time of his death, Rodríguez Panadero was credited with 1 shared biplane victory, this one claimed while flying the Polikarpov I-15.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  18/04/37   1 Do 17 Shared destroyed I-15   Bilbao area Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 shared destroyed.

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 30 March 2015