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Aerial Operations in the Revolutions of 1922 and 1947 in Paraguay

Aerial Operations in the Revolutions of 1922 and 1947 in Paraguay Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2019 Title Aerial Operations in the Revolutions of 1922 and 1947 in Paraguay
Author Antonio Luis Sapienza Publisher Helion
Published 2019 ISBN 9781912390588
Format 48 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


Historian Antonio Luis Sapienza recaps "The First Dogfights in South America" in Aerial Operations in the Revolutions of 1922 and 1947 in Paraguay – eighth in Helion's superb "Latin America@War" range.

Sapienza's compact, 48-page chronicle separately surveys air actions in each revolution. And coverage confirms that even limited numbers of warplanes can can prove potent players in armed conflict.

In 1922, for instance, Paraguay had no air arm. But both loyalist and insurgent factions quickly acquired several surplus warplanes each – of which Ansaldo SVA.5 and SVA.10 arguably remained the most numerous and potent.

A quarter century later, both sides in 1948's internecine fighting mostly fielded armed trainers with locally produced aerial munitions and, in some cases, hand-held weapons.

But with neither side achieving air superiority, resourcefulness ruled.

By dint of cannibalization, for instance, government mechanics restored three obsolete, 1939-vintage Caproni AP.1s – Paraguay's only true warplanes – to flying condition.

Rebel personnel likewise adapted "rudimentary" ventral weapons racks to Vultee BT-13s – converting the fixed-gear trainers to light bombers. Loyalist BT-13s also sported a similar modification.

But what of dogfights? In both revolutions, air-to-air incidents occurred, and hits were scored – but no victories achieved.

Helion's picture-packed volume sports dozens of rare photos. And 18 color profiles survey the swath of warplane colors in both conflicts.

Action accounts and extended, explanatory captions also supplement the slim study. A selected bibliography cites sources. And several tables and four maps augment the account.


I believe that a Regia Aeronautica "stormo" more accurately equates to "wing" – not "squadron". The small size and low resolution of some intriguing shots also prevent clear interpretation of details.

Example: might that Revolutionary Air Arm BT-13 on page 25 actually sport camouflage?

Sapienza's brace of captivating case studies confirms that timely and properly applied air power, however modest, can prove pivotal in smaller, local conflicts. I loved it.


My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!