Badge 1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron - Senta a Pua! - Italy 1944-45


Canoas, Brazil

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Here a short history about the FAB (Força Aérea Brasileira – Brazilian Air Force) during the Italy Campaign: The 1º Grupo de Aviação de Caça in Italy, 1944-1945 Formed on 18 December 1943, the 1ºGAVCA had its cadre composed of volunteer FAB (Força Aérea Brasileira) pilots. Its Commanding Officer was Ten.-Cel.-Av. Nero Moura. The Group had 350 men, including 43 pilots, and was sent to Panama for combat training, since the pilots already had flying experience — one of its pilots, 2º Ten.-Av. Alberto M. Torres, was the pilot of the PBY-5A Catalina that had sunk the U-199. There, the Group suffered its first casualty — 2º Ten.-Av. Dante Isidoro Gastaldoni (KIFA).On 11 May 1944, the Group was declared operational and became active in the air cover in the Canal Zone, equiped with the Curtiss P-40. Following the completion of its initial training, the Group was sent to the USA on 22 June for an operational conversion course on to the Republic P-47D Thunderbolt that was to equip the 1ºGAVCA. The Group departed to Italy on 19 September 1944, arriving at Livorno on 6 October. There it became part of the 350th Fighter Group USAAF, an unit which had been formed on 1 October 1942 in Britain. Several of its first pilots had served previously with the Royal Air Force or the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the Allied landings in Northern Africa (Operation “Torch”), the 350th FG was transferred to that region and followed the Allied invasion of Italy. Until the arrival of the 1ºGAVCA, the 350th FG was made up of three squadrons: 345th Fighter Squadron (“Devil Hawk Squadron”), 346th FS (“Checker Board Squadron”) and 347th FS (“Screaming Red Ass Squadron”). When the 1ºGAVCA – or, rather, the 1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron – 1st BFS – was incorporated to the 350th FG, that unit was subordinated to the 62nd Fighter Wing, XXII Tactical Air Command, 12th Air Force USAAF. The call-signs for each of the Groups component squadrons were: 345th FS, “Lifetime”; 346th FS, “Minefield”; 347th FS, “Midwood”; and 1st BFS, “Jambock” THE BADGE OF THE 1ºGAVCA The badge of 1ºGAVCA was designed while the Squadron was travelling to Italy aboard the transport ship UST Colombie by a group of its pilots, Ten.-Av. Rui Moreira Lima, Ten.-Av. José Rebelo Meira de Vasconcelos, Ten.-Av. Lima Mendes and Cap.-Av. Fortunato C. de Oliveira. The use of an ostrich to represent the Brazilian fighter pilots comes from the fact that, during the early Forties, several Brazilian aircrew went to the USA to fly back to Brazil the aircraft then being bought in large numbers by the Brazilian authorities, not only training but also combat aircraft. During their stay in that country, they got acquainted to American food: baked beans, powder eggs and powder milk, among other items. The then Cel.-Av. Geraldo Guia de Aquino dubbed the pilots “ostrichs” and the nickname caught. The war cry “Senta a Pua!” was a suggestion from Ten.-Av. Rui who had heard it several times from Cap.-Av. Firmino Alves de Araujo while serving at Salvador Air Base; it was used by the latter on his subordinates, inviting them to do their tasks at once and quickly. It became the Brazilian equivalent of the British Tally-Ho and the French “A la Chasse!”.

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