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Old 22nd July 2015, 12:19
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Imperial Ethiopian Air Force at war 1935-1936?

Although some sources state otherwise, Ethiopia had air force contingent when Italy invaded the country in 1935. The Imperial Ethiopian Air Force was founded in 1929 and had some 20 aircraft by 1935. From the wikipedia more or less fascinating stuff is to be found:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_Air_Force

Very interesting person in this context is the John Robinson: the wiki article is interesting and here something more: http://www.thereporterethiopia.com/i...opian-airlines

He appears also in this rare film clips showing the Ethiopian Air Force aircraft back in 1935: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AgQ67kw5gk and http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65...rs-discuss_war

According to wiki all aircraft of Ethiopian Air Force were without armament but used only for transport and flying ambulance purposes (of the latter - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Gustaf_von_Rosen)

And some more at this forum: http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showth...pian+Air+Force

However does anyone know more details about the operations of Ethiopian Air Force in the war against Italy in 1935 - 1936. Although wiki says that the air force was not armed, were there any known combat operations by Ethiopian Air Force during the war? Like small-scale bombings and strafings against Italian ground troops? Surely some reconaissence missions?

To my knowledge there were not any air-to-air combat between Italian and Ethiopian aircraft during the war.

Last edited by GuerraCivil; 22nd July 2015 at 14:52.
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Old 22nd July 2015, 20:17
Leendert Leendert is offline
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Re: Imperial Ethiopian Air Force at war 1935-1936?

No air combat reports found so far (probably will not either...), but an interesting item in the online Australian newspaper archives (Townsville Daily Bulletin of 21 Nov. 1935).
It reads that the Emperor Haile Selassie drove to Akaki aerodrome outside Addis Abeba. Once there an aeroplane made a reconnaissance flight to make sure no Italian aircraft were in sight. Then the Emperor entered a large cabin monoplane which took off escorted by two biplane fighters.

Purpose of the Emperor's flight was inspection of the front lines.

In a Dutch newspaper of 20 Nov 1935 I read that the Emperor's plane was not a military one.

On his return flight to Addis Abbeba it seems that the Abyssian imperial airplane was spotted and chased by Italian aircraft, but they couldn't catch up... Need confirmation on that.

At that time the Emperor also ordered four unarmed Percival Gull airplanes for communication work.

Regards,

Leendert
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Old 22nd July 2015, 20:20
Leendert Leendert is offline
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Re: Imperial Ethiopian Air Force at war 1935-1936?

Nice to read as well: http://airminded.org/2011/06/03/the-emperors-viceroy/

Regards,

Leendert
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Old 27th July 2015, 09:25
bearoutwest bearoutwest is offline
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Re: Imperial Ethiopian Air Force at war 1935-1936?

This thread has peaked my curiousity, so I did some digging in my local library, where a couple of books on the Italian-Ethiopian War 1935-36 can be found about John Robinson, the American Negro volunteer pilot nicknamed the “Brown Condor”.

(a) Father of the Tuskegee Airmen - John C. Robinson (Phillip Thomas Tucker), and

(b) The Man Called Brown Condor (Thomas E. Simmons) – this second book has descriptive passages that are more literary than literal, so perhaps although the incidents recorded are correct, the details may require a pinch of salt.

I’ve summarised some pertinent details from the two books below:

Armed Ethiopian aircraft:
- (a) records on p.109: “…Robinson and his aviation technicians and mechanics continued to arm as many aircraft as possible. After much effort and technical innovation, all four French Potez aircraft were mounted with machine guns. ….”
- (b) notes – descriptively – a conversation between Robinson and his pilots on p.180 regarding no installing guns on the Potez’s to keep the weight down. (Who to believe?)
- both books note that the Potez were generally flown with only the pilot, to keep the weight down, so it is unlikely that the gunner’s position was equipped with a machine gun, and the forward armament seems limited to a single synchronised machine-gun – if/when carried.

Aerial combat (4 Oct 1935):
- (a) records on p.130-131 on October 4, the day after the first bombing raid on Adowa, “….Robinson now encountered aerial combat for the first time in his life: “The day after [the bombing of Adowa] I started back to Addis Ababa with some important papers and was attacked by two Italian airplanes….” “…Despite being outnumbered by the swarming Italian aircraft, Robinson gamely fired back at his combat-trained opponents and “got off several rounds” that hit his target when they were close….. Robinson’s ammunition was soon exhausted in quick bursts of fire from the machine gun mounted on the Potez. He was forced to break off the engagement and attempt to escape……”
- New York Times records this incident on its 5-Oct publication (referenced in (a))

Ethiopian aerial claims (Dec 1935):
- (a) notes on p.161 “….second week of December (1935)…..on a flight north from Addis Ababa to Dessie…” Robinson surprised and attacked a Caproni bomber without escort. He made several firing passes and inflicted extensive damage before running out of ammunition, and having to escape from Italian fighters (Ro37?) coming to the Caproni’s aid. Robinson’s aircraft [I assume it’s a Potez 25] is hit by machine gun fire but he escapes without injury.

Potez(?) destroyed in bombing raid – southern front (12 Jan 1936)
- (b) notes on p.196 – Ethiopian pilot “Mulu Asha” lands his courier aircraft (I assume a Po25) on the southern front – in the area leading to the Battle & Massacre of Ganale Doria. The Ethiopian aircraft is destroyed by a bombing raid featuring a “…first wave of Marchetti SM 81 tri-motor bombers…..tops of their wings were painted in large red sunburst patterns…..” The bombing included high-explosives and gas. Mulu Asha is injured in the raid, and subsequently killed in the retreat on foot.

Aerial combat resulting in damage to Ethiopian aircraft without damage to Italians (Jan 1936?):
- (a) notes on p.163 “…Robinson’s most serious injury resulted from….” When his Potez (armed for self-defence) is caught by surpise by “…two Italian fighter-reconnaissance aircraft, Imam biplanes….” The Potez is damaged in the tail section, and Robinson sustains a flesh wound in the left arm, but escapes into nearby cloud.
- (b) records this with more poetic description on p.187. The timeline given is after the battle of Tembien, and the Italian biplanes are recoded as IMAM RO37bis of the 103 Squadron.
- Wiki notes the First Battle of Tembien on 20 January 1936.

Tally of aerial combat incidents:
- (a) records on p179-180 that Robinson was “….cited several times for bravery. He was in twelve actual flying battles and in one he narrowly missed shooting down the plane of Mussolini’s son (Vitorio)….”

Unfortunately, there are few (if any) corresponding tie-ins with the Italian details in the previous thread, linked above?!?!

It's a starting point anyway.
...geoff
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Old 31st July 2015, 18:15
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: Imperial Ethiopian Air Force at war 1935-1936?

Something in Spanish linked to the topic: http://www.eurasia1945.com/protagoni...perial-etiope/ - it is based on article written by Isaac Johnson (?) and published in Spanish military history magazine Revista FAM Historia Militar (2011).

Johson states that Ethiopian air force had some teeth: it played a significant role in suppressing a rebellion against the Negus in 1930 when the planes were equipped with bombs and machine guns.

However in the Ethiopian-Italian war the air force limited its role to liason, reconaissence and transport (ambulance) duties. My guess is that it simply did not have resources for more ambitious combat role. The ground attacking operations were probably avoided in order to save few available planes and not to speak of challenging Italians in air combat.

Imperial Ethiopian Air Force was not directly involved in any combat action against Italians during the war of 1935-1936 according to Johnson (unless we consider reconaissence missions). The Italians air attacks destroyed at least three Ethiopian aircraft (2 Fokker VII + 1 Heinkel HD 21) on the ground - so at least Italians were aware of the existence of Ethiopian air force and probably made an effort to destroy it on the ground. Almost all Ethiopian planes were lost during the campaign in one way or another. Only one plane of Imperial Ethiopian Air Force (Junkers W 33) managed to escape in Sudan in May 1936 (according to Johnson).

Some Spanish sources claim that one ex-Ethiopian air force plane was bought by Spanish Republicans (Basques) and flew in the Spanish Civil War. The plane (Fokker VIII or Beech 17) was baptized as "Negus" to honor its origin. http://www.foroaviones.com/foro/mili...del-negus.html

I googled to find something in Italian (claims?) but found nothing promising.
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Old 1st August 2015, 04:06
bearoutwest bearoutwest is offline
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Re: Imperial Ethiopian Air Force at war 1935-1936?


"The Man Called Brown Condor" (Thomas E. Simmons).
There are some great resolution photos of the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force/Corps on the author's website:
http://thomasesimmons.net/the-man-called-brown-condor/

In this book, the question of arming the Potez 25s is covered by a descriptive conversation.
Mulu Asha, "...The Potez 25c came with machine guns but the army took them. ...." (Presumably after the 1930 rebellion against the Negus, which required airpower to surpress.)
Robinson, "....Their IMAM RO 37 is at least thirty miles an hour faster than a Potez 25. If we put a gun, ammunition, and gunner in the back cockpit, the extra weight will slow us down even more. .... We're messangers. That's our job. ...."

Unfortunately, this doesn't make it clear whether the reported conversation is about all Potez armament or only the gunner and flexible machine gun. Which means the fixed synchronised gun could have been retained?!?!?!



“Strike From The Sky” by Richard Hallion, records the Italian losses during the Abyssinian Campaign to total 16 aircraft:
- 3x Ca101, 2x Ca111, 2x Ca133, 2x SM81, 1x Cr20, 5x Ro1, 1x Ro37, with 78 crewmen killed and 148 wounded.
- 259 aircraft were reported hit by antiaircraft fire (small arms and 20mm Oerlikon cannon)
- During ground strafing in Mai Mescic valley after Battle of Amba Aradam, all SM-81s and Ca101s participating were hit by ground fire, one was lost.
- During the Battle of Lake Ascianghi, 25 aircraft were hit and one brought down.
- During the Battle of Birgot, 7 aircraft were hit, 2 pilots wounded and 2x Ro37 forced down behind own lines.
- No discussion of air-to-air engagements.

Regards,
...geoff
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Old 4th August 2015, 05:14
bearoutwest bearoutwest is offline
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Re: Imperial Ethiopian Air Force at war 1935-1936?

Here's an interesting website on the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force circa 1929-1936. It's in French, but for us non-French speakers, google-translate gives a reasonable idea on the content.

page on the Potez 25
http://www.crezan.net/pag_aby/abyssinia_avi_po25.html

index page
http://www.crezan.net/pag_aby/

Regards,
...geoff
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