Biplane fighter aces


Diego Vigueras

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 January 1939, Vigueras served in Grupo 2-G-3, which was equipped with Fiat CR.32s

On 23 January 1939, capitanes Miguel Guerrero García and Manuel Vázquez Sagastizábal (CR.32 NC 931/3-118) and Maggiore Guido Nobili (detached from the Nationalist Escuela de Caza) were leading seven CR.32s of Grupo 2-G-3 on a bomber escort mission when enemy fighters were engaged. Capitán Vázquez, together with his wingmen teniente Antonio Manrique Garrido (1-E-3) (CR.32 NC 939/3-123) and Vigueras, chased after the aircraft while the remaining seven CR.32s stayed with the bombers. The three Fiat fighters then ran into a much larger formation of I-15s belonging to Escuadrillas 2a and 3a of Grupo No26 near Hinojosa del Dunque. Manrique was credited with shooting down a ‘Curtiss fighter’ and Vigueras scored a probable before returning to base in his battle-damaged fighter.
Vázquez, however, was badly wounded in the stomach by an I-15 and forced to bail out of his stricken CR.32. He was quickly captured by Republican troops and taken to a hospital in Pozoblanco, where he passed away before he was able to identify himself to his captors. Vázquez was carrying a cigarette case given to him by Joaquín García Morato, which was inscribed with his commander’s initials. Moreover, Vázquez bore a resemblance to Morato, and the Republicans duly announced the death of the ‘Separatist air force’s “ace of aces”’.

Vigueras ended the war with 1 probable biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 23/01/39   1 I-15 (a) Destroyed CR.32   near Hinojosa del Dunque 2-G-3

Biplane victories: 1 probably destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 probably destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with I-15s from Escuadrillas 2a and 3a of Grupo No26.

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

Last modified 19 May 2017