By Santiago A. Flores
During the Second World War, Mexican military aviation took a quantum leap in its development from flying general purpose biplanes not suited for coastal and antisubmarine patrols, to flying the latest fighter bombers in combat operations by the end of the war.
Not too many people know, that Mexico participated in Second World War, being one of the unknown allies from Latin America. For the first time in its history Mexico and the United States in their common interest, had to work together to overcome decades of distrusts, wars, invasions, lost territories and disputes.
The Mexican American military relationship started with a difficult start because Mexico was cautious to avoid US troops stationed in the country, doing a delicate balancing act between the Mexican government and its people. Mexico was portraying the government of General de Division Manuel Avila Camacho as able to defend the country with its own manpower, resources and training that was given to the Mexican military by the United States.
Mexico’s contribution to the allied war effort, has not received much attention by researchers and historians. The political and economic aspect has only been covered, leaving aside the actual combat operations, so it is time for this aspect to be told. This effort was accomplished by many years of research, consulting many archives in the United States and Mexico and talking to a lot of people that have been of great help in putting this story together.
But before we start this story, we need to go back when aviation started in 1910 and how it came along during a number of rebellions that rocked Mexico in the last century.
I don’t expect to cover everything, but my hope is to open the door to other researchers, historians, modelers and enthusiasts to continue to research this unknown subject that many people, even in Mexico don’t know.
What is generally known about this subject is basically that the German U- Boats sunk Mexican Merchant shipping and that Mexico declared a state of war to the axis powers and sent a fighter squadron to fight in the Pacific war.
But in my research I found more things that have not been yet mentioned or covered, that will be a surprise to some.
From the beginning, Mexican pilots were engaged in the defense of both Pacific and Golf coasts. Pilots and personnel were sent for training in the USA. British citizens, living in Mexico, contributed to the Spitfire fund, delivering four Spitfires to the RAF, ending one of them, in the famous US Eagle squadron.
Mexican citizens and those of dual nationality, were volunteering for the Allied air forces. The majority, went to the US military and others to the allied air forces. Their stories are quite interesting. One Mexican ended up in the famous 1st AVG flying Tigers. I assume some of you will be surprised to learn this.
Mexico experienced a rapid development of Military aviation that affected all aspects as Lend Lease aircraft arrived. This event changed training methods, doctrine, maintenance procedures among many other things. Also, at this time, the official birth of naval aviation and its first naval aviation units, were deployed to the Gulf of Mexico.
I’ve been researching Mexican military aviation for a long time, and I consider this to be a very important chapter in the history of Mexican Air Force, to which the effects and consequences are still present in its actual organization today.
My next book project will cover the period of the rebellions from the 1920’s to the 1940’s, where aviation was used for internal security and some of its veteran pilots would play an important role in the Second World War.
I’ve been really busy with researching and writing subjects about Mexican military history since I retired from the federal service and I run a household (wife, kids and pet included) at the same time.
I hope this book will spark an interest in aviation south of the border, where a lot has not been covered yet.
Thank you in advance.
You are in for a treat!
Mexicans at War. Mexican Military Aviation in the Second World War 1941-1945 will be available to order here.