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Mexicans at war

Discussion in 'Air War in the Pacific' started by Mahross, May 21, 2003.

  1. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    The 201st Mexican Fighter squadron was the only Mexican unit to see active service in the war. it arrived in Manilla in May 1945. They sufferred 9 casualties before their disbandment in december 1945. It conducted grond support missions in central and northern Luzon.

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    The "Escuadron Aereo de Pelea 201" (201st Mexican Fighter Squadron) of the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Expedicionaria Mexicana) has the honor of being the only military unit that has fought outside of Mexican Republic.

    This Squadron fought in the liberation of the Philippines while assigned to the 58th Fighter Group, under the command of Major Ed Roddy, a fighter ace with 8 kills to his credit while assigned to the 348th Fighter Group under Col. Neal Kearby, 5th Fighter Command, 5th Air Force; (six of its pilots had trained in dive-bombing at NAS San Diego, California in 1944 in USN SBD's).

    Mexico joined the allies against the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan and Italy) after May 28, 1942, when German U-boats had attacked and sunk two Mexican ships without warning, even after the declaration of war Mexico would lose 5 more ships.

    With Mexico entry in the war, its military benefited from the Lend-lease programs, that helped modernized the Mexican Army, Navy and Air Force.

    But it was in 1944, that the desicion to send a Mexican military unit was made by Presidente General de Div. Manuel Avila Camacho, choosing the air force to represent the Mexican Armed forces.

    After a selection process a group of over 300 personel was formed to be sent to training in the USA, this group was called Grupo de Perfecionamiento Aeronautico under the command of Col. P.A. Antonio Cardenas Rodriguez (1905-1969), a veteran flyer and had participated in a Mission of observers in North Africa in 1943.

    When the group arrived in the US, in July 1944, they were sent to diferent parts of country to be trained by the speciality to form a fighter squadron, that was to be equipped with the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber. Later they would be reunited at Pocatello AAFB in the state of Idaho. But due to severe weather conditions, the training was moved to the state of Texas, in November 1944 where the GPA complete its training on February 23, 1945.

    During thier training a selected group of American instructor was form known as Section I , which was commanded by Capt. Paul B. Miller (24 Aug.1944 - 14 Jan.1945) who was replaced by Lt.Col. Arthur W. Kellong. By November 1944 the section comprised of 23 officers and 31 enlisted.

    Before that date the GPA by January 1st, 1945, became the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force under Col. Cardenas and the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron under Capt. 1/o. P.A. Radames Gaxiola Andrade (1915-1966). A group of American personnel to include pilots and ground personnel was include the MEAF, for duties overseas, this group was led by Lt.Col. Kellong (USAAF). Also created was a replacement group of personnel under the command of Major P.A. Rafael J. Suarez Peralta.

    The MEAF arrived in the Philippines in April 1945. They flew thier first combat mission after a period of in theater training conducted by the 5th FC and the 58th Fighter Group. They were issued various sub-types of the P-47's from the 58th Fighter Group (some ex-35th and 348th Fighter Groups). They flew thier first missions the Mexican pilots first assigned in American formations of the 58th Fighter Group squadrons from June 4th to the 7th, when the squadron conducted two missions as a unit but with elements of the 58th Group. For the rest of the month the Mexicans flew ground support missions to American troops that was praised in the following report:

    'The squadron flew with the 58th Fighter Group the rest of the month on support missions, often two per day helping the 25th Division in its break-through from Balete pass and Marikina Watershed area into the Cagayan Valley.'

    They attacked every type of target marked in various manners, ie by map co-ordinates, by dry run vectoring,by bombing on white phosphorus artillery or mortar shells and L-5 spotters etc.

    The Groups mission including those run by the 201st in support of the 25th Division was highly commended by the Commanding General of the Division.There was no separation of a Mexican missions from an American mission as far the ground forces were concerned and that is sufficient praised in itself.

    Not only did the pilots get into combat, but also certain members of the ground personnel who encoutered Japanese troops, having some fire fights and capturing a number of enemy troops as well.

    201st Squadron started to received its own P-47D, under the Lend-Lease. In July 1945 the 201st flew 4 "Fighter Sweeps" to the island of Formosa (Taiwan), and in August a dive-bombing mission to the Port of Karenko.The final mission for the squadron was a convoy escort mission in the North Sea of the Philippines were all the pilots took part.

    The 201st would lose five pilots in the P.I. in accidents and transferring new aircraft from New Guinea to the Philippines.These losses were pilots in command positions, that would later affect the 201st, when the 58th was moved to Okinawa to continue operations agaisnt Japan. It was decided to leave the 201st Squadron in the P.I. and await the arrival of replacement to make good the losses the squadron had. One of the Mexican pilots though lost at first was rescued by a Test pilot out of Biak, New Guinea and C.O. of the 374th Service Squadron Major Larry D. Davis who was years later decorated by the Mexican goverment.

    Also two more pilots were killed in training in the US as part of the replacement training in the Southern part of the USA. One ground personnel also died in a US hospital due to illness contracted in the Philippines and had been evacuated back to the US.

    In September 1945 the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force was assigned to the 13th Air Force. With the end of the war it returned to Mexico by November 1945. After its return the Mexican Expeditionary Air Force was disbanded by Presidential degree of 1st December 1945. The 201st Squadron returning to the Mexican Air Force.

    The historical tradition of the MEAF is carried on by Escuadron Aereo de Pelea 201 that is today based at Cozumel, Quitana Roo of the present day Mexican Air Force flying the Pilatus PC-7 Turbo-prop COIN/CAS trainers. This unit saw action in the Chiapas rebellion of January 1994.

    Missions completed by the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron

    • 53 ground support missions flown in support of American troops in Luzon from 4 June to 4 July 1945,

    • 37 training missions from 14-21 July 1945 (including missions of transporting new aircraft from Biak Island, New Guinea),

    • 4 fighter sweeps to the island of Formosa, 6-9 July 1945,

    • 1 dive bombing mission agaisnt the Port of Karenko, Formosa, 8 August1945,

    • 1 convoy escort mission in the Sea North of the Philippines, 26 August 1945.

    Combat record
    Combat Missions flown 96
    Offensive Sorties flown 785
    Defensive Sorties flown 6
    Hours flown in Combat 1966:15
    Hours flown in the Combat Zone 591:00
    Hours flown in Pre-Combat 281:00
    Average hours flown per pilot 86:00
    Total Hours flown 2842:00

    Bombs Dropped 1000 lb 957

    Bombs Dropped 500 lb 500

    Total rounds of 0.50 cal used 166,922 rds.

    Aircraft lost in combat 0

    Aircraft damaged in combat 5

    Pilots killed in combat 0

    Pilots killed in accidents 4

    Pilots missing 1

    Note There is a discrepancy among American and Mexican records on the type and the amount of bombs dropped by the squadron. A translated copy of the summary of all the combat misions by the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron submitted by Capt.2/o. Amadeo Castro Almanza on March 12, 1946 to the American Embassy in Mexico city shows the following type of bombs dropped by the unit:
    1,000 lb: 530
    500 lb: 500

    http://www.geocities.com/dutcheastindies/201squadron.html
     
  2. reddog2k

    reddog2k Member

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    Did they encounter japaneese fighter planes at all? Thanks for the info Mahross.
     
  3. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Better late than never I guess.
     
  4. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Wanted to bump this and add another link with some additional reading on the 201st.

    "The MEAF debarked in the Philippines on May 1, 1945. General George C. Kenney, the Commander of the US Army and Allied Air Forces in the SWPA, wrote about this event in his memoirs:
    That afternoon Colonel Cardenas, the commander of the Mexican Expeditionary Force, landed at Manila with the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron. After a reception at the pier I took Cardenas over to see General MacArthur, and after the official exchange of greetings, the Mexicans were officially assigned to my command. They then proceeded to Clark Field, where I turned them over to Brigadier General Freddy Smith with instructions to outfit them with P-47s and give them a course of advanced combat training before putting them into action. Both officers and enlisted men were a fine-looking lot and seem anxious to get to work against the Japs as soon as possible.[SIZE=-1]41[/SIZE] ​
    Colonel Cárdenas with the MEAF personnel established at Fort Stotsenburg in Clark Field, located about 40 NM Northwest of Manila. Some MEAF elements were assigned to the Fifth Fighter Command as Liaison officers. The 201st Squadron established in Porac, in the Clark Field's area, and was attached to the 58th Fighter Group, Fifth Fighter Command, Fifth Air Force, US Far East Air Forces.[SIZE=-1]42[/SIZE] The unit remained in this situation until its attachment to the 360th Air Service Group (CR&TC) on 11 August 1945; it was assigned to 13th Air Force along with 360th Air Service Group on 1 September 1945.[SIZE=-1]43[/SIZE]
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    HyperWar: Mexican Expeditiary AF in WWII: 201st Squadron [Chapter ][SIZE=-1][/SIZE]
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  5. dmether

    dmether Member

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  6. dmether

    dmether Member

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    First picture is the commander of the Mexican Expeditionary AF Col. Antonio Cardenas
     

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  7. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    That's the first time I hear of that, thanks for sharing , I'm learning everyday.
     

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