Author Topic: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force  (Read 2086 times)

Offline apophenia

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Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« on: August 09, 2019, 05:11:52 AM »
Italian Aircraft in the Postwar Imperial Ethiopian Air Force

The Imperial Ethiopian Air Force (imiperiyali ye’itiyop’iya ayeri hayili was re-established in 1944 when African-American personnel set up a flying school at Lideta airfield outside of Addis Ababa. [1] Ethiopia acquired a handful of aircraft from the US and Britain but neither Allied country was prepared to offer much further aid. [2] Meanwhile, a peace treaty was being negotiated between postwar Italy and Ethiopia but compensation for the 1935 Fascist invasion and subsequent occupation was inevitable.

In anticipation of the peace treaty, Italy offered compensation in the form of military equipment. Ethiopia agreed to this gesture with the proviso that no Italian personnel would be permitted on Ethiopian soil. Under those conditions, Rome was to deliver equipment to the British military administration at Mogadiscio in former Italian Somaliland. From there, most equipment was shipped by rail to the Ethiopian border. Aircraft would be flown by contracted pilots to Kabri Dahar airfield for collection by the IEAF.

The first ex-Italian aircraft to arrive were all trainers. [2] The first combat aircraft was the Fiat G.55 Ch’ilifiti (Hawk). These fighters, referred to by the Italians as the G.55Et, were standard wartime G.55/0 models armed with an MG 151/20 motor-cannon and four 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns. The fighters were given a brief overhaul by Fiat at Turin but were unchanged in their equipment fit.

The G.55Et is shown in the approved Sand-and-Stone (Sabbia e Pietra) camouflage. This camouflage was based on the RAF scheme of the same name but mixed from available, wartime Italian paint stocks. The camouflage pattern was applied by hand. The pattern on each airframe was similiar but not identical.

This Ch’ilifiti was, however, delivered in wholely inappropriate markings. The fuselage roundels are correct but over-scale. The rudder stripes are completely wrong - tailplane markings should consist solely of the Imperial Ethiopian flag on either side of the fin. The individual aircraft number is also incorrect. Individual aircraft numbers were to positioned behind the fuselage roundel, rendered in black, using Ge'ez (Ethiopic) numerals (not Arabic).

'White 4' was the personal mount of IAA (Ila Ammist Aleqa, Sergeant) Hassan Omer. This G.55 was named 'Shifta' (Bandit) but, in standard IEAF practice, such names were never marked on airframes.

The Ethiopians had also been offered advanced trainers but rejected both a two-seat Ch’ilifiti - the Fiat G.55B - and more economical, radial-engined equivalent - the Fiat G.62. Instead, the IEAF opted for a single-seat derivative of the G.62. The G.63Et was effectively a Fiat A.76-powered G.55. As the IEAF's Dinibit’i (Sparrowhawk), the G.63Et would act as an attack aircraft - without the G-55's belly radiator, the G.63 could accommodate a bomb rack on its centre section.

The Dinibit’i shown is in fully correct IEAF markings. In contrast with the G.55 (above), a small Imperial flag is displayed on the fin with the Ge'ez numeral '4' in black on the rear fuselage. Properly, this G.63 is 'T4' for the fourth tewagi awiropilani. The cowling has been painted in the yellow colour of Tefokakari 6 (Sqn 6) This Dinibit’i was the personal mount of Matoalaga (Captain) Isaias Ahmed and was named 'Deborah' (Bee).

(To be continued ...)

Added: Hmmm, these were Sand-and-Spinach at home, here at the Uni computer lab they look a bit bilious  :P
___________________________

[1] Heading this school was aviator John C. Robinson who had first helped establish the IEAF in 1935.

[2] After the Italians had been driven from the country, a British Military Mission to Ethiopia (BMME), under Major General Stephen Butler, was established to reorganise the Ethiopian Army.[19] The Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement of 1944 removed the BMME from the jurisdiction of East Africa Command at Nairobi and made it responsible to the Ethiopian Minister of War.

[3] This included 6 x Caproni Ca.100 basic trainers - Biguri (Partridge) in IEAF service; 6 x Nardi FN.506 intermediate trainers - IEAF Dirich’itochi (Quail); and 4 x Caproni-Bergmaschi Ca.309 utility transport/trainers - IEAF Rigibi (Dove).
« Last Edit: August 09, 2019, 05:13:42 AM by apophenia »
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2019, 05:57:51 AM »
Beautiful!!  Looking forward to more.

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2019, 05:58:08 AM »
Most colorful, apophenia! They look a natural in those cool markings!

Brian da Basher

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2019, 04:13:13 AM »
Oh yeah!!! :smiley:  Any chance of some bombers or transports?
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2019, 07:18:59 AM »
Thanks folks!

Oh yeah!!! :smiley:  Any chance of some bombers or transports?

Thinking on it. I've got some trainers in the works, but for now ...


Tranche Two - Italian Aircraft for the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force

As anticipated, Fiat G.55 Ch’ilifiti (Hawk) fighters didn't last very long in Ethiopian service - a combination of aging airframes and engines with inexperienced (and perhaps undertrained) pilots. Fortunately, Italy was already offering updated Fiats with brand-new engines. [1] The first offering was for the impressive Fiat G.66Et powered by a big, 2,050 hp Rolls-Royce Griffon 61 V-12 engine. A prototype G.66 was built - albeit with the less-powerful Griffon IV - and demonstrated before the British Air Attache in Rome (who acted as a purchasing agent for the IEAF).

The prototype G.66Et was created using wartime airframe components but introduced some major changes beyond the new powerplant. The cockpit was fitted with a new sliding 'bubble' canopy [2] and the vertical tail was somewhat enlarged to cope with the combination of reduced side area and increased engine power. Fiat also resurrected the wing radiators used on the wartime G.55S torpedo-fighter conversion. The primary purpose was to increase radiator core size but, as on the radial-engined G.63, this change also permitted installation of a centre-line rack for a drop tank or bomb. Fixed armament was to comprise two British Hispano cannons and two 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns.

British reports of the G.66Et 'Girifoni' were received with enthusiasm by the IEAF. However, the government of Ethiopia was concerned with the numbers on offer. Italy was offering the option of only six G.66Ets against a larger number of a less potent alternative - the Merlin-powered G.59A. In a back-and-forth, it was agreed that the IEAF would receive a dozen 'Ethiopianized' G.59s. These fighters were a hybrid of G.59 and G.66. Designated G.69 (originally G.59Et) by Fiat, the Merlin-powered fighter was dubbed Nisiri (Eagle) by the Ethiopians.

The G.69 Nisiri was basically a G.59A with the cut-down decking and sliding canopy from the G.66. [3] The example shown is 'A8' with the Ge'ez numeral '8' on its rear fuselage. Note that this G.69 has had its red spinner (indicating fighter squadron Tefokakari 3) overpainted to reduce visibility. 'A8' was the personal mount of AA (Amsa Aleqa, Senior Sergeant) Bayissa Tilaye and was named - rather grandly, 'Gedeyon' (The Annihilator).

(To be continued ...)
___________________________

[1] The airframes were to be a combination of refurbished wartime G.55 parts and newly-manufactured components.

[2] For the prototype G.66, this canopy was sourced from the UK where it had been intended for a cancelled Hawker Tempest fighter.

[3] In this, the G.69 anticipated the AMI's G.59-4A which did not appear until 1951 For the G.69s, canopies were also purchased in the UK - in this case, from scrap yards which were breaking up surplus Hawker Typhoon IIs.
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Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2019, 09:03:01 AM »
Looks every bit the business, apophenia!

Nice work on the camouflage!

Brian da Basher

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2019, 11:47:40 AM »
Beautiful aircraft and a most plausible story.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2019, 02:54:18 AM »
Transitions in the Postwar Imperial Ethiopian Air Force

Italy not the only nation providing aircraft to postwar Ethiopia. Other than Italian reparations, aircraft and support came from Britain, Sweden, Norway, [1] and, eventually, from the United States. Most welcome of the early donations were the Sk 14 advanced trainers from Sweden. These were North American NA-57 monoplanes with fixed undercarriages. In 1946, Sweden was in the process of buying replacement Harvard IIs from Allied surplus stocks and could spare Sk 14s. [2]

Throughout their IEAF service, the Sk 14 Yale wore the same silver-dope finish applied by FFVS before being shipped to Eritrea for assembly. As delivered, the Sk 14s retained some of their original Flygvapnet camouflage green acting as an anti-glare panel. Over time, white panels were added meant to increase the Sk 14's visibility in flight. Equipment was entirely of Swedish origin. Overall the Sk 14 Yale was a success in IEAF service. The only criticism was that its Wright Whirlwind engine left the trainer underpowered.

Top North American Sk 14 (NA-57) Yale combat trainer as delivered from Sweden, late 1946. IEAF markings (including white visibility panels) were applied at Lideta. This Yale is marked as 'S3'.

As spares for those Whirlwinds dwindled, thoughts turned toward higher-powered engines for the Sk 14s. The result was the 1948 'Alifa-Yale' rebuild with a Alfa Romeo 126 RC.34 radial. Conversion work was undertaken by Italian crews under British supervision in Somaliland. The Ala  engine were taken from now-redundant IEAF Savoia-Marchetti SM.79-I Ch’ach’ata (Buzzard) bomber transports flown to Mogadiscio for the purpose. On the SM.79, the Alfa engine produced 780 hp but, for the 'Alifa-Yale', the AR 126 was derated to 650 hp for take-off.

Bottom Up-engined North American Sk 14AR 'Alifa-Yale'. Note combination of British and Italian antennae. This indicates both its use as a fighter lead-in trainer and the replacement of the original Swedish avionics. Like most 'Alifa-Yale', 'S2' has lost its undercarriage trousers (all surviving vestiges of these spats being removed during the Mogadiscio rebuild).

The scheme for the 'Alifa-Yale' was little changed from the original ex-Flygvapnet Sk 14 trainers. On 'S2', even the Swedish green for the anti-glare panel was retained (on some 'Alifa-Yale' this was repainted in flat black. An obvious change in insignia was the American-inspired post-1955 Ethiopian roundel. Following that US influence, these 'star-and-bars' roundels were applied in four positions only (the original port underside and upper starboard side wing roundels were scrubbed off).

For the fighter lead-in trainer role, the 'Alifa-Yale' was quickly replaced by ex-RAF Harvards. Eventually, donated US T-6 Texans replaced all of the Sk 14s. The 'Alifa-Yale' survived for a while as a target-tug but, in that role too, the 'Swedes' would be eclipsed by Texans.

_______________________________

[1] The Norwegian donations came from missionary activity not from Oslo. Two ex-USAAF Noorduyn UC-64 utility transports were sources and converted for medevac. Technically Red Cross aircraft, the Norsemen replaced two smaller, ex-RAF Fairchild Model 24 Argus ambulance conversions. The Noorduyns flew from Negele in support of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission hospital until it was taken over by the Ministry of Public Health in 1956.

The Red Cross Norsemen were named 'Abba Dagnew' and 'Abba Kagnew' (after pre-1936 Fokker F.VIIa trimotors, once of which was employed on air-ambulance duties).

[2] Other surplus Flygvapnet aircraft offered but not accepted were a half dozen Sk 10 (ASJA Tigerschwalbe biplane trainers and well-worn J 20 (Reggiane Re.2000) fighters. The offer of
J 11 (Fiat CR.42) fighters was also rejected although the engines and propellers of those Falco biplanes were gratefully accepted as spares for the IEAF's Fiat G.63 fleet.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2019, 06:24:25 AM by apophenia »
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Offline ChernayaAkula

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2019, 06:27:07 AM »
Lovin' this! All of it!  :-*
Cheers,
Moritz

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Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2019, 06:57:23 AM »
Wow those are so believable they could fool lots of folks!

I especially like the re-engined version.

Another feast for the eyes, apophenia!

Brian da Basher

Offline apophenia

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2019, 06:26:00 AM »
Cheers folks!

Italian Phase-Out for the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force

In the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force system, the Italian-supplied Savoia-Marchetti SM.79-I Ch’ach’ata (Buzzard) was classified as a bomber (yebomiberi awiropilani). In reality, the out-dated trimotors were transports with a secondary bomber role. During refurbishing in Italy, the main bomb bays and defensive weapons stations had been removed. Passenger seating and fuselage windows were installed similar to those of the prewar SM.79P transports. All that made the SM.79-I Ch’ach’ata a bomber-transport were bomb shackles under the inboard wings and a periscopic bombsight fitted under the navigator's position. [1]

Bottom Savoia-Marchetti SM.79-I Ch’ach’ata as originally flown to Asmara in Eritrea. Note the incorrect rudder stripes and that the colour order is reversed on the non-standard roundel. [2]

For unrecorded reasons, the four SM.79s were delivered to Ethiopia in an all-over silver dope scheme instead of the requested camouflage. [3] The markings were also incorrectly applied. Instead of the national flag on the tail fin, a large 'Lion of Judah' was painted on to the rudder. Individual aircraft numbers were also applied in Arabic numerals instead of Ge'ez. The roundels were correct but, initially, lacked their black outline. Consideration was given to repainting the Ch’ach’atas but this was never realized.

As recounted earlier, the SM.79s would eventually be flown to Somaliland to be stripped of their engines. Those Alfa Romeo 126 RC.34 powerplants were used to upgrade the Swedish-supplied North American Sk 14 trainers to 'Alifa-Yale' standards. Once deprived of their engines, the Savoia-Marchetti airframes were scrapped at Mogadiscio. The IEAF would have no bomber capability until the arrival of US-supplied B-25J Mitchell medium bombers in 1958.

 Up-engined North American Sk 14AR 'Alifa-Yale'. Note combination of British and Italian antennae. This indicates both its use as a fighter lead-in trainer and the replacement of the original Swedish avionics. Like most 'Alifa-Yale', 'S2' has lost its undercarriage trousers (all surviving vestiages of these spats being removed during the Mogadiscio rebuild).

The scheme for the 'Alifa-Yale' was little changed from the original ex-Flygvapnet Sk 14 trainers. On 'S2', even the Swedish green for the anti-glare panel was retained (on some 'Alifa-Yale' this was repainted in flat black. An obvious change in insignia was the American-inspired post-1955 Ethiopian roundel. Following that US influence, these 'star-and-bars' roundels were applied in four positions only (the original port underside and upper starboard side wing roundels were scrubbed off).

There is some confusion over the various models of twin-engined Caproni-Bergmaschis in IEAF service. It doesn't help that the Ethiopians named all Caproni-Bergmaschi models Rigibi (Dove). The IEAF received four Ca.309 Ghibli utility transports - the original Rigibi. Another four Ca.310 Rigibi IIs served as light transports and trainers. The latter role ensured a short life-span for the Rigibi IIs which were replaced by a second tranche of Ca.310A Rigibi IIAs in late 1947. The Rigibi IIIs were Ca.314 recce-bombers but their Delta engines tended to over-heat in Ethiopia's typically hot-and-high operating conditions.

The Ca.314 Rigibi IIIs were augments and ultimately replaced by Piaggio-powered Ca.311 recce-bombers. Although less powerful, these Rigibi IVs were better-suited to Ethiopian conditions. Like the Savoia-Marchetti's, the Ca.311s were stripped of all defensive armament to lighten them and improve take-off performance. The rugged and simple Rigibi IV was considered a complete success in IEAF service but, with the 1953 US-Ethiopian aid agreement, Italian aircraft began to disappear from the IEAF inventory. Surviving Rigibi Is and IIAs were all replaced by Beech C-45F Expeditors in 1955. [4]

With its extensively-glazed nose and rear-fuselage compartment, the Ca.311 was too useful to give up straight away. Although classed as a recce-bomber (yematawek’iya bomiberi awiropilani), the  Rigibi IV was mainly used in a photo-reconnaissance role. Rather than lose that capability, in 1955, it was decided to re-engine the Rigibi IV fleet. In place of their worn-out Piaggios, the surviving three Ca.311s received Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Juniors using the same engine mounts and cowlings as for the IEAF's Beech transports. [5] As Rigibi IVPs, the re-engined Capronis served on until 1959 when they were finally replaced with Beech AT-11s for commonality with the other Expeditors.

Top IEAF Caproni-Bergmaschi Ca.311 Rigibi IVP. The surviving Rigibi fleet lost its camouflage paint in favour of silver dope in 1953-54. [6] 'Färäs' (Steed) had its 'White 3' painted on the rudder (as dictated by the 'bars' portion of the new roundels).

_______________________________

[1] In normal IEAF use, both the shackles and bombsight were removed. Especially at higher-altitude airfields, the Ch’ach’ata's performance was marginal, making weight and drag reduction essential.

[2] Since Ethiopians never followed European heraldry standards, this tricolour reversal was seen as incidental. The absense of a black surround to the roundel was considered a bigger issue.

[3] This was likely because the Italians assumed a transport role for these bomber conversions.

[4] Towards the end of the same year, IEAF Fiat G.69s would also be replaced by US F-51D Mustang fighter-bombers. Soon the fighter role would be taken over by jets - first the T-33, then the F-86 Sabre.

[5] It was also intended to replace the Rigibi IVPs' British avionics suite with standard US equipment but these plans were never realized before the fleet was eclipsed by Beech. Photo-recce Rigibi IVPs were assigned to Cäwa Harar Meda - a 'Regiment' level formation meaning that they were assigned to the IEAF as a whole rather than an individual squadron.

[6] 'White 3' is shown - with still-unpainted nacelles and cowlings - as she was written off in December 1955. Hamsalaga (Lieutenant) Mebrahtu Gebresellsie was attempting to land in dust storm on the gravel strip at Semera in the Afar Region. There were no casualties but the aged Ca.311 was considered damaged beyond repair. Gebresellsie was of Tigrayan origin as was the aircraft name 'Färäs'.
"... behind a rust-streaked dumpster with EAST VAN HALEN painted across its back in runny black spray-bomb." William Gibson, Spook Country

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2019, 06:53:18 AM »
These are some real beauties, fact aside that they're two of my favorite Italian multi-engine types.

You make it look so believably real it's amazing, apophonia!

I like that these majestic birds were in service until the 1950s,.

Brian da Basher

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2019, 02:40:16 AM »
 :smiley: :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline Robomog

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Re: Immediate Post-WW2 Ethiopian Air Force
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2019, 09:31:58 AM »
Like those two  :smiley:

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