Latin America@War: Air Wars between Ecuador and Peru, Volume 1: The July 1941 War

With ‘Air Wars between Ecuador and Peru, Volume 1: The July 1941 War’ by Amaru Tincopa, shortly going to the press, it’s time for the usual ‘brief intro’ to this book and its content.

This project has me ’emotionally involved’ because I kind of ‘witnessed from afar’ its coming into being over the last 10 years. For this reason, I’m very happy to see it being realized, and very proud to have played at least a small role in that process.

To start with: the ‘border conflict’ between Ecuador and Peru is as old as these two countries (see: 200 years). Related emotions are going extremely high (for the orientation of our readers in Europe: they are easily matching emotions related to all sorts of ethnic and sectarian conflicts in the area of the former Yugoslavia). Even if it’s unlikely that more than ‘few hundreds’ of people in both countries are ever going to read this book (simply because shipping costs from the UK to Ecuador and Peru are very high), any related titles are 1000% certain to cause ‘another controversy’ there, and authors to be blamed of all sorts of bias, and whatever else.

Thus, I find the author made a very sensitive decision when approaching this topic – which was to ‘stick to the documentation’ instead of the usual claims, counter-claims, media-reporting, and similar.

Now, researching in local military archives is possible – but only in Peru, and then after a longer struggle between the author and the authorities. Anyway, Amaru did manage to get insight into the related documentation, and thus this is forming the core of this book, too. On the contrary, doing something similar in Ecuador… sigh… I think it would be easier for me to get insight into the official Iranian military archives. Thus, have no doubt: this book is certain to appear ‘leaning in favour of Peru’ – simply because it contains much more information from that country’s air force than from Ecuador. Sorry for this, it’s really not Amaru to blame: he definitely did his homework (and much more than this).

Contents

– Chapter 1: Origins
This is the usual intro to the topic, covering the history of the area in question (from pre-historic times to the times of the Inca empire), the history of Ecuador and Peru, socio-economic and geo-political backgrounds, and the history of their border conflict. After all, and as always, we want our readers to understand how and why the conflict in question erupted.

– Chapter 2: Peruvian Military Build-Up
This chapter is providing an in-depth insight into the build-up of the Peruvian military, from its establishment in 1821, until the early 20th Century. While providing a particularly detailed history of military flying in that country, and a lavishly illustrated history of the Peruvian military aviation of the 1930s, fans of ‘tanks’ and then ‘Czechoslovak arms’ are going to find it great for providing unique details on the acquisition of Czechoslovak-made tanks and other vehicles in the late 1930s. The chapter ‘culminates’ in a detailed order of battle for the Peruvian Military Aviation of the July 1941 War – down to every single aircraft and pilot of every unit that existed.

– Chapter 3: The Ecuadorean Military
At 5,5 pages, this chapter might appear ‘short’ on the first look, but make no mistake: it’s providing the best coverage of military flying in Ecuador from its inception to 1941 ever provided, and – thanks to help from few other researchers – is also the best-illustrated feature to this topic published so far. The story is that of aviation pioneers trying their best against all odds – especially the failure of their government to provide them with decent aircraft, spares, and even fuel.

– Chapter 4: Peruvian Combat Operations, July 1941
For reasons cited above, this and the following chapter might appear as ‘rather dry’: their essence are translations of all the reports about Peruvian Military Aviation’s activity during the war Amaru was able to unearth from the related archive. There you are: the Ecuadoreans invaded, the Peruvians mobilized, moved their flying units from bases elsewhere around the country to the combat zone, and then hit back in force. In total, this is a blow-by-blow account, without any kind of propaganda, without any kind of emotions, without bias or else, yet providing details on every sortie flown, on every combat operation undertaken by the Peruvians, every success and every loss.

– Chapter 5: Peruvian Combat Operations from August 1941 until the end of the Conflict
This is a similar chapter like the previous one, yet providing a review of operations after the first – crucial – phase of the conflict: in late July 1941, the Peruvians have launched their major counter-offensive and not only recovered the territory lost during the initial Ecuadorean attack, but drove deep into the enemy territory, too. As in Chapter 4, everything is nicely and patiently described, step by step – and lavishly illustrated, too, and then with a huge collection of high-class crystal-clear photography.

– Chapter 6: Epilogue
With Ecuadorean military on retreat, and Peruvians on a ‘neat, linear’ advance into the enemy territory, the war was brought to an end through US and allied pressure, and the two countries concluded their conflict with the Rio de Janeiro Protocol. Soon after, Peruvian military aviation was largely re-equipped with donations from the USA. That’s where the story ended – only to be continued 30 years later.

The colour section is ‘thick’, to put it mildly: thanks to provision of extensive references, Luca Canossa drew 22 beautiful colour profiles. Essentially, every type of aircraft in service with Ecuadorean and Peruvian military aviation services of the time is shown, all the markings presented in detail, too.

Since working on this project, I’m outing myself as a big fan of Caproni Ca.310’s and Ca.135’s designs: simply love their lines and find it pity neither is really well-known in the English-language area.

Fans of the legendary ‘Tante Ju’ – aka Junkers Ju.52 – shouldn’t miss this volume either. A few of examples operated by the Deutsche Lufthansa found their way into this conflict, and then saw quite some intensive service, too.

Bottom line: this war was hopelessly overshadowed by contemporary developments in Europe in particular. But, it’s a ‘highly interesting little war’ – and this book is providing not only excellent ‘entry-level’ coverage, but is certain to leave readers well-versed into the conflict between Ecuador and Peru deeply impressed.

Find out more on our website here.

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