FMA IAe 33 Pulqui II

The FMA IAe 33 Pulqui II (in the indigenous language Mapuche, Pulqúi: Arrow) was a jet fighter aircraft designed by Kurt Tank in the late 1940s in Argentina, under the Perón government, and built by the Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA). Embodying many of the design elements of the wartime Focke-Wulf Ta 183, an unrealized fighter project, the FMA envisioned the IAe 33 Pulqui II as a successor to the postwar Gloster Meteor F4 in service with the Fuerza Aérea Argentina. The Pulqui II's development was comparatively problematic and lengthy, with two of the four prototypes being lost in fatal crashes. Despite one of the prototypes being successfully tested in combat during the Revolución Libertadora, the political, economic and technical challenges faced by the project meant that the IAe 33 was unable to reach its full potential, and the Argentine government ultimately chose to purchase F-86 Sabres from the United States in lieu of continuing development of the indigenous fighter to production status.

FMA IAe 33 Pulqui II
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Fabrica Argentina de Aviones
Origin Argentina
Country Name Origin Year
Argentina 1950
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Argentina 1950 1960 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Fabrica Argentina de Aviones 5 View

In September 1955, the sole remaining Pulqui II prototype was pressed into action in the Revolución Libertadora, a coup d'état led by General Eduardo Lonardi against Perón. The exact details of its participation are unknown, but when rebel forces commanded by Lonardi captured Córdoba as their first conquest, together with the Meteor F 4s fighter-bombers stationed at the Córdoba Escuela De Aviación - SACE (Military Aviation School), the IAe 33 was enlisted in the struggle. After flying combat missions against Perónist stalwarts, it later appeared in a flyover during the victory parade at Córdoba celebrating the triumph of the coup over loyalist forces.

When the military junta came to power, the IAe 33 project was thrown into disarray. The new government released many of the leading air force staff; similarly, most of Tank's team was forced to leave Argentina with Tank himself going to India, where he worked for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and later developed the HF-24 Marut supersonic fighter.


In 1956, the air force, in an effort to gain political support, planned a record flight from Córdoba to Buenos Aires to demonstrate the combat potential of the IAe 33. The Pulqui II would fly 800 km, strafe an air force practice range in the Buenos Aires area, and then return to Córdoba using only internal fuel. The only oxygen equipment available for such a long flight was scrounged from a FMA Meteor under repairs. Lt. Balado successfully completed the flight (including the strafing demonstration) at an average cruise speed of around 900 km/h, but the oxygen system failed on the return leg.[22] The semi-conscious pilot managed to perform an emergency landing at high speed, but the heavy landing and resulting stress broke the landing gear, with the Pulqui II overrunning the end of the runway, the aircraft being damaged beyond repair.[38]

Role Fighter/Interceptor
Manufacturer Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA)
Designer Kurt Tank
First flight 27 June 1950
Retired 1960
Primary user Fuerza Aérea Argentina
Number built 5 (1-static test, 4 flying prototypes)
Developed from Focke-Wulf Ta 183


General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 11.68 m (38 ft 4 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.6 m (34 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 25.1 m2 (270 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 3,736 kg (8,236 lb)
  • Gross weight: 6,875 kg (15,157 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Nene II turbojet, 22.69 kN (5,100 lbf) thrust

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 1,080 km/h (671 mph; 583 kn)
  • Cruising speed: 954 km/h (593 mph; 515 kn)
  • Range: 3,090 km (1,920 mi; 1,668 nmi)
  • Endurance: 2 hours, 50 minutes
  • Service ceiling: 15,000 m (49,213 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 25.5 m/s (5,020 ft/min)

Armament

  • Guns: 4 × 20 mm (0.79 in) Hispano-Suiza HS.404 license-built Bofors Oerlikon cannon

End notes