Invaders from Peru

Last revised August 26, 2000


From 1930 to 1968, the South American nation of Peru was led by a series of military governments, closely allied with the oligarchy and vigorously opposed to any sort of reform. The latest military government was that of General Manuel A. Odria, which overthrew the liberal and reformist government of Jose Luis Bustamante y Rivero in 1948. Odira imposed a personal dictatorship on Peru and re-imposed free-market orthodoxy and vigorously suppressed any left-leaning movements. Nevertheless, greater political stability brought more investment and a period of strong economic growth set in.

However, Peruvians living between the Sierra and the coast did not benefit very much by this growth, and living standards stagnated and actually fell during this period. With economic disparity between the rich and the poor steadily increasing, the Sierra experienced a period of intense social mobilization during this period. A wave of strikes and land seizures swept over the Sierra during this period.

Peru was the first Latin American nation to receive a substantial number of Invaders, acquiring eight examples for the Fuerza Aerea de Peru in 1954-55. They were all transparent-nosed B-26Cs, and were initially assigned to the 21o Escuadron de Bombardero Ligero at Chiclayo, supplementing the unit's B-25Js and PV-2 Harpoons. The B-26Cs that were provided were equipped with fully-armed and functional dorsal and ventral turrets, but their guns were later taken out since there were no trained crews to man or maintain them. One of the Invaders was converted into a two-seat trainer, and had both of its turrets removed and the glass nose was replaced by a B-26B-style solid nose. Two more B-26Cs arrived in December 1956, four more in December 1957, and still four more in March of 1958. Two attrition replacements came in June 1960, for a total of 20 B-26s delivered to the FAP.

The Peruvian B-26s were initially serialed in the range FAP 570 to 587. In early 1960, all surviving B-26s, were re-serialed in the range FAP 214-230.

Wing spar cracking problems began to appear in February of 1961, with the crash of a B-26 at Quebrada de Tarnbillos. This accident resulted in severe flight limitations being placed on the FAP B-26 fleet. Fourteen FAP B-26s went through the wing re-sparring program at Albrook AFB in the Canal Zone between 1962 and 1965. Unfortunately, two more FAP B-26s were lost in accidents during this time. Because of the re-sparring program, the availability of the B-26s was at a very low level all throughout this period, and the FAP B-26s missed out on the fighting against the Frente de Izquierda Revolucionara (FIR) insurgent movement which broke out in the early 1960s.

The FAP realigned its operational structure during the early 1970s, and the operating squadron was renamed the 721o Escuadron de Bombardero Ligero. It was stationed at Piura, near the border with Ecuador.

There had been friction between Peru and Ecuador ever since 1941, and occasional clashes had taken place between the armed forces of the two countries. However, no overt incidents involving FAP B-26s and Ecuador ever took place, although frequent armed reconnaissance missions involving B-26s took place near the border. This tension between Peru and Ecuador continues in the present day.

Beginning in 1973, the FAP B-26s were withdrawn from service at Piura and replaced by Cessna A-37Bs. The last FAP B-26s had stood down by late 1974 or early 1975. Seven were still seen sitting derelict at Piura at the end of 1975.

Sources:


  1. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.

  2. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume I, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1988.

  3. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  4. Foreign Invaders--The Douglas Invader in Foreign Military and US Clandestine Service, Dan Hagendorn and Leif Hellstrom, Midland Publishing, 1994.

  5. US Library of Congress Country Study--Peru