Clandestine US Operations: Indonesia 1958, Operation "Haik"
By Tom Cooper (introduction) & Marc Koelich (chronology & notes)
Sep 1, 2003, 18:31
Basically, there were three kinds of US clandestine and covert operations:
- CIA operations, which were essentially para-military in nature, and usually used some kind of a front (about which usually not really much is known until today);
- covert USAF operations, flown by aircraft with or without US- markings (meanwhile most of such operations were well covered in different publications)
- private enterprises, most of which worked on a smuggling for profit efforts (the history of most such operations remains to be published).
Their relatively small volume characterized usual para-military operations organized by the CIA, with a small number of aircraft involved (except in SEA), and by their air-to-ground tasks. Types used foremost during the 1950s and 1960s were Douglas B-26 Invader and North American P-51 Mustang, which were available in abundance after the end of the WWII, and large number of which were now in storage, from where they could be removed without much attention from the public. If any kind of aerial opposition was expected, everything possible - sometimes short of engaging official US military forces - was tried in order to neutralize it early during the operation by a concentrated counter-air operation. Despite this, several times US aircraft involved in clandestine operations were engaged in air-to-air combats by local air forces, and here are the backgrounds behind such cases.
Officially, this operation was never undertaken by the CIA. Until today the Agency never admitted it took place. The background of the operation might look strange at the first view: it was that the CIA obviously "felt", that President Sukarno's Indonesia was turning communist, and that something had to be done about that, with the best apparent solution being to bring him to fight the communists.
For the operation the CIA decided to use some existing oppositional forces - of which there was a plethora in Indonesia - as a front for the activity. In late 1956, for example, two Army colonels - founders of the organization later better known under the name PERMESTA - declared that they now control the central and northern Sumatra. While central Indonesian authorities did almost nothing against them – at least not immediately – the officers were swift to contact the USA and ask for help. Washington was not interested to do anything or to get involved, however, until additional problems with Dutch were caused by Sukarno, because of which the Indonesian communists sided with him. After this development, some military supplies were shipped, and the CIA - after a considerable amount of research and planning - decided to use PERMESTA - which, under the aegis of PRRI controlled also the northern Sulawesi - as a front. A decision was taken to organize an air arm, and in February 1958, the first three B-26s were taken out of a bone yard at Clark Field AB, Philippines, and prepared for combat operations and delivery to Sulawesi, while several American pilots were recruited to fly them, together with a number of Polish pilots and navigators (most of which soon left, however).
In March 1958 also three F-51Ds were taken from the Philippine Air Force, together with some pilots, recruited for the oncoming operation against Indonesia. Addtional B-26s and F-51s were to follow as becoming available after a complete refurbishment. So came into being the Angkatan Udara Revolusioner - AUREV - which was to act as a kind of PERMESTA Air Force, officially comanded by Col. Muharto. Actually, the AUREV was under the control of the CAT - Civilian Air Transport (a CIA front company) – had a full CIA-backing, and could count also on some support from the ROCAF C-46’s for transport duties, as well as PBY Catalinas of the Philippine Air Force.
B-26 Invaders known to have been taken by CIA for the operation Haik
The first two B-26s, formerly TB-26Bs, were painted overall black:
- B-26B 44-34268, delivered 12 Apr 1958, fate unknown
- B-26B 44-34376, delivered 12 Apr 1958, survived and used for Project Farm Gate in 1963
The following four aircraft, formerly two RB-26Cs and two WB-26Cs, were left in “bare metal” overall, but had a black anti-glare pannel in front of the cockpit:
- B-26B 44-34690, delivered 12 Apr 1958, fate unknown
- B-26B 44-35221, delivered 17 May 1958, probably aircraft in which Allen Pope was shot down
- B-26B 44-35441, delivered 17 May 1958, probably aircraft damaged and abandoned at Mapengat
- B-26B ? delivered 18 May 1958, fate unknown
Of the following aircraft from the third batch four were used as bombers, while two (44-34643 and 44-35968) – although camouflaged in black and green overall – were intended to be used as sources of spares.
- B-26C 44-34643, delivered 26 May 1958, as spare parts source, probably abandoned in Indonesia
- B-26C 44-35968, delivered 26 May 1958, as spare parts source, probably abandoned in Indonesia
- B-26B 44-35242, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field
- B-26B 44-34346, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field (previously in service with AdA in Indochina, and later used for Project Farm Gate, in 1963
- B-26B 44-34391, used solely as source for spares at Clark Field
- B-26B 44-34539, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field and used for Project Farm Gate in 1963
- B-26B 44-34620, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field and used for Project Farm Gate in 1963
- B-26B 44-34682, not delivered, kept in reserve at Clark Field and used for Project Farm Gate in 1963
F-51D Mustangs known to have been used for Operation Haik (all exPhAF)
All aircraft were in “bare metal” overall, sanitized for any kind of serials or other markings: only a few wore small black codes on the fin:
- 44-73514, ‘3514’ or ‘I’?
- 44-74030, ‘II’
- 44-73562, ‘III’
On the other side, the Indonesian Air Force (Angatan Udara Republik Indonesia or AURI) was at a time a small asset with only three small squadrons of combat aircraft, including the 1st Skadron, equipped with 13 operational B-25Js, for which there were only five qualified crews, and the 3rd Skadron, equipped with 13 operational F-51Ds, for which there were only ten qualified pilots (only three of which have ever got any air-to-air combat training). Ready or not, both the AUREV and the AURI were soon to clash in a series of sharp attacks and counterattacks.
When he finally decided to do something against the PERMESTA&PRRI, on 21 March 1958 Sukarno first ordered the AURI to attack the radio stations at Padang and Bukittiniggi - on Sumatra. The attack prompted the CIA to move its aircraft into the area as well, and on 12 April first three B-26s were flown to Sulawesi. Hardly 24 hours later, one of them flew the first combat mission of the AUREV, attacking the AURI Makassar air base, on southern Sulawesi. On 17th April another strike followed, in which an oil tanker was sunk near Balikpapan, and oil storage tanks of Royal Dutch/Shell damaged. Three days later the AUREV flew also its first counter-air missions, starting a series of strikes against AURI air base at Halmahera.
However, most of the AURI was not to be found there any way, as the Indonesian Air Force was away, fighting rebels at Sumatra, and supporting a successful operation, initiated on 18 April, which was to force the rebels away from Sumatra.
The AUREV thus used the time to fly the first two F-51Ds to Sulawesi as well. The AURI returned to the area only in mid-May, and on 16th of the month three B-25s, escorted by two F-51s, attacked Manado airfield, claiming a destruction of three AUREV Mustangs and one Catalina. While the AUREV certainly haven't had as many F-51Ds on Sulavesi, at least that part of Indonesian claims remains disputable, but the story of the Catalina very likely destroyed in that attack is highly probable, as it is known that the Philippine AF used Catalinas to fly supplies and spare parts to AUREV.
The CIA now had to reinforce not only because of losses suffered during the AURI strikes to its airfields. Namely, it was known that the Indonesians were short of getting the first batches of MiG-17s, MiG-19s, MiG-21s, as well as a small number of Tu-16 bombers from the USSR (not a single AURI unit became operational on the Soviet jets in 1958, however, as all were busy training additonal pilots and technicians). But, on 18 May a engagement developed, in which AUREV B-26 clashed with AURI F-51D, and which proved to be decisive for the future of the Operation Haik.
This short clash happened when the B-26 flown by US contract-pilot Alan Pope was tasked with a strike against convoy of Indonesian ships underway to attack PERMESTA on Morotai. Pope found his target near Ambon, flew between the convoy and the land, and turned to attack, expecting not to be detected until the last moment. However, he was detected early, and the Indonesians opened fierce fire at the low flying B-26, damaging it severely. Only moments later, the AURI F-51D flown by Capt. Dewanto appeared on the scene and attacked the crippled bomber. Pope and his navigator, Rantung, parachuted safely, but were immediately captured.
Shortly after, another B-26, flown by another US contract-pilot, Connie Seigrist, also clashed with Dewanto while underway to strike the AURI airfield at Ambon. Seigrist used his one chance as Dewanto passed in front of his bomber, and opened fire. Dewanto's Mustang was damaged, but Seigrist mounted no follow-up attack against the more nimble fighter.
A B-26B from the second batch of Invaders organized for the Operation Haik, and flown to Indonesia via Manado, on the Philippines. This B-26B was later captured by the Indonesians at Mapengat, on Sulawesi, in derelict condition, and looks very similar to the example flown by Alan Pope when he was shot down. Some of the aircraft used in this operation possibly carried the title "PERMESTA" under the wings, but nothing similar was ever confirmed for any of the involved B-26s. The only characteristic "marking" of this aircraft is the black anti-glare pannel in front of the cockpit, which is deeper than this was usually the case: Pope's aircraft should have had the "shallow" anti-glare pannel. (all artworks by Tom Cooper)
AURI F-51D "F-338" was the Mustang flown by Capt. Dewanto when he finished off Pope's B-26 on 18 May 1958. Several details about the appearance of this aircraft at the time remain unclear, however: it is unknown if the plane has got the full national insignia, for example. By 1958, most - but by far not all - of the Indonesian Mustangs (regardless if F-51Ds or F-51Ks), should have got the national markings between the prefix "F", and serial. If not, then the aircraft might still have carried the Indonesian flag underneath the right wing instead the Pentagon. Unclear is also the colour of the spiner and propeler: some sources insist these were painted blue, as seen here, others that they were pained red (spinner) and black (propelers, like on the artwork bellow), but it is also possible that the spinner was blue, but propellers black with yellow tips. Interestingly, today there is an AURI Mustang F-338 preserved at the Yogyakarta Air Force Musuem. The aircraft in question, however, is a Cavalier Mustang previously coded F-361: it was re-serialled into F-338 in memory of Capt. Dewant's aircraft, which scored the only known air-to-air kill in the history of the Indonesian Air Force. There is also a second F-338 - possibly fake - displayed on pole at the Air Force's Headquarters in Jakarta.
Alternatively, Capt. Dewanto's P-51D might have looked this way, with AURI's Pentagon instead of the dash between F and 338, and underneath the right wing as well.
With the capture of Pope, the CIA's clandestine operation was not clandestine any more, even if the Indonesian government made no efforts to reveal the extension of the US involvement to the full lenght. Nevertheless, the Operation Haik was continued until in August 1958 the PRR/PERMESTA ceased to operate after a series of defeats by the Indonesian Army.
Having its tail painted either in red or dark blue (most likely red - at least on the spinner, as this colour is generally associated with AURI Mustangs), F-328 wore also personal insignia on the left side of the fuselage, underneath the cockpit. The meaning of the title "Sally" remains unknown, but it is known that another AURI Mustang, F-330, was named "Dotty" - reportedly for pilot's girlfriend from the times he was in training in the USA. The aircraft should have worn the insignia of the 3 Skuadron on the right side underneath the cockpit, like F-322 shown above. Some of AURI Mustangs had also chequered rudders, but it remains unknown which colours were used in their cases.
On the right side, the F-328 (which was also seen without any other markings but the serial and the fin flash) also carried the marking of the 3 Skvadron.
Interestingly, the AURI was so impressed by the performance of PERMESTA B-26s, that it requested a batch of these in exchange for Pope, and despite deliveries of MiG-17s, MiG-19s, MiG-21s, and Tu-16s from the USSR! Also interesting is the fact, that the B-26s remained in Indonesian service until 1974 – quite a few years after most of Soviet-supplied jet fighters.
As the second batch of Invaders to be sent to Mindanao in mid-May 1958, two additional B-26Cs were prepared at Clark Airfield, on the Philippines, to be used as spare part sources. Unlike the two Invaders from the first batch, which were painted black overall, or those from the second batch, left "bare metall" overall, this and another B-26C (with their glass-noses plated over) had a unique colour scheme, with upper surfaces largely in black and the undersides in green. Neither example ever reached Manado.
AURI OrBat for 1958-1959
B-25C/D/Js were initially left bare metal overall, but with the time many were painted in Olive over, and Sky under. Mitchels known to have been used by the AURI were:
- M-346 (C, VIP-transport)
- M-421 (J, strafer)
- M-423 (ex 43-27926, damaged in May 1958)
- M-433 (J, strafer, ex 44-29022, made an emergency landing at Manado after being hit by AAA, in 1958)
- M-439 (J, strafer)
- M-449 (bare metal overall)
- M-456 (J, strafer, ex44-30505)
- M-459 (ex 44-31201, painted olive over, sky under, personal mount of Capt. Ismail)
- M-464 (ex 44-31258)
In August 1959 Indonesia was granted permission to purchase B-26s; originally, eight Invaders were to be bought, but funds were available for only six, and two were never delivered, even if they were seen in Indonesian markings in the USA. All entered service with the 1 Skadron:
- M-261 (former N3489G, not taken up, albeit seen in AURI markings in the USA)
- M-262 (cannibalized for spares and later scrapped)
- M-263 (not delivered; although one of AURI B-26Js was later marked as “M-263” for display purposes, the AURI never operated any Invader with this serial)
- M-264 (retired and scrapped in the 1970s)
- M-265 (preserved with the TNI-AU Museum, Yogyakarta)
- M-266 (lost in tropical strom over Buru Island, in August 1962; crew KIA)
- M-267 (retired and scrapped in 1977)
- M-268 (canniblized for parts and scrapped in 1974)
Most of C-47s and Dakotas used by the AURI were left in bare metal overall, and carried a red strip along the window row, as well as a black title “ANGKATAN – UDARA” on the upper side of the fuselage.
C-47/Dakota known to have been used by the AURI were:
- T-450 (ex44-77145), destroyed on the grond on 18 May 1958
Mustangs known to have entered service with the 3 Skadron AURI were:
- F-303 (K, 44-12752, damaged during the attack against Laha, on 7 May 1958)
- F-305 (K, 44-12754, slghtly damaged during the attack against Laha, on 7 May 1958)
- F-319 (D, 44-13045, damaged during the attack against Amahai, on 10 May 1958)
- F-329 (D, 44-84478)
- F-335 (D, 44-84798)
- F-338 (D, 44-84801, shot down a CIA/PERMESTA B-26 in May 1958)
Chronology of Operation HAIK
Notes by Marc Koelich
This unique chronology of the Operation Haik was compiled by Marc Koelich. His work might prove slightly problematic to read and follow in some places, but is a “must” for any reader with deeper interest in CIA's enterprise in Indonesia. Namely, Mr. Koelich went to a great extension to gather information and then cross-examine the existing evidence, and is offering here an unique insight into what different sources - especially those from opposing sides - report about the US clandestine activities in Indonesia of the late 1950s, most of which are still denied by the US authorities.
Mr. Koelich's work should therefore be understood as a beautiful example of precise historical research, the way works of this nature should be done, and can only be described as extremely useful.
The team of ACIG.org website is very proud and greateful to have been offered the possibility to publish these notices, and is of course also looking forward for any reactions from our readers.
The author used the following sources:
- 1 “Pedet Soedarman, Pengalaman Heroik Seorang Penerbang Bomber” a biography of Pedet Soedarman, a former Mitchell and Invader pilot, by Sumardjo.
- 2 “Feet to the Fire” by Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, US Naval Institute, ISBN 1-55750-193-9
- 3 “Air War in Paradise” Air Enthusiast magazine volume No 82 (by Leif Hellstrom)
- 4 Various articles published in the Indonesian aerospace magazine Angkasa, including interviews of Air Vice-Marshall Ismail (one of the B-25 pilots during the raid on Permesta radio station) and Petit Muharto, the Indonesian commander of AUREV.
- 5 The official TNI-AU/AURI history as quoted in Angkasa.
- 6 “Foreign Invaders” by Dan Hagedorn and Leif Hellstrom.
- 7 “Kopassus, Inside Indonesia’s Special Forces” by Kenneth Conboy, Equinox Publishing, ISBN 979-95898-8-6
- 8 “Benny Moerdani, Profile of a Soldier Statesman”, by Julius Pour ISBN 979-8313-03-8
Both PRRI and PERMESTA movements were prompted by army officers who were unsatisfied with most of the income produced by their respective provinces being used by the central government for the development of the main island of Java.
At the beginning, none of these movements asked for independence, but a greater regional autonomy and a better repartition of the country’s income between the provinces.
PRRI was based on Sumatra Island and was actually the combination of 3 movements, one based in the city of Padang, the second in Medan and the third in the southern city of Palembang, each of them led by an Army Colonel.
PERMESTA was originally based in Makasar (a city also called Ujung Pandang), but its leader, Lt.Col. Sumual was from North Sulawesi and he got most of its support from this province. As there were not many die-hard supporters in Makasar, the movement headquarters moved to North Sulawesi and its capital Manado.
Permesta partly financed itself by directly exporting the North Sulawesi copra production, mostly via Singapore.
The anti-communist and mainly Christian Permesta found immediate support in Taiwan. Chinese C-46s and Catalinas, owned by the Civil Air Transport (a CIA front company) and Fushing, made ferry flights between Taiwan and Manado.
AURI operations prior to 15 May 1958
On 22 February 1958, two AURI 8 guns-solid nose B-25’s took off from their base at Morotai to attack the radio station at Manado. This was the former national radio building, now in rebel hands. The pilots used their guns and rockets and silenced the Permesta radio.
Note: Pedet Soedarman gives the date of the raid as 12 February, Air Enthusiast as 22 February. The date of 22 February given by Ismail, one of the pilots, is more plausible because the station aired on 17 February the announcement that Permesta was severing links with the central government and joining the PRRI.) (Sumardjo and Angkasa Feb.94
On 2 March 1958, two AURI B-25’s taking off from Morotai Air base attacked and reportedly destroyed AUREV fuel tanks at Mapanget airport. They then straffed a bridge on the main road between the city of Manado and Mapanget airport. After the attack, both planes returned to Makasar (South Sulawesi), where they refueled and continued towards Jakarta.
Note 1: it is highly probable that these B-25s were later used in the March-April campaign against the PRRI in Sumatra and that no more AURI planes were dispatched to Morotai until late May 1958 (Sumardjo and Angkasa Aug.95)
Note 2: according to Air Enthusiast, the Mitchells were completely off-mark on both targets
Of special interest in the case of the F-322 is the fiery insignia of the 3 Skvadron. It consists of a red field with white figure "3", with two black winged arrows, outlined in white, with yellow shadows, and flames on the rear end of the red field. If the tail was indeed painted red - or dark blue, remains unconfirmed. The aircraft was reportedly seen in these markings - and in pristine condition - at Padang airfield, in April 1958, while AURI Mustangs were escorting B-25Js into attacks against CIA-backed rebels. Nevertheless, photographic evidence is missing and the full backgrounds of this report remain unclear. Namely, in general, ex-Dutch Mustangs have kept the same serial they had at the time of the transfer to the AURI, However, the KNIL-ML P-51D H-322 was reported as missing on 10 October 1949, consequently, the AURI should not have had a Mustang serialled F-322.
Beginning of AUREV and Early Operations
Supply missions were flown for PRRI by CIA-owned planes, including Catalinas, C-46’s and C-54’s but, to my knowledge, there is no record of any rebel combat plane operating in Sumatra. There were reportedly plans to dispatch B-26 Invaders to Sumatra, but the Indonesian Army had taken back the main towns and airfields in Sumatra before the Invaders were ready for action.
All the AUREV missions were flown over Eastern Indonesia: Sulawesi, North and South Moluccas and the Eastern coast of Borneo.
In March 1958, two C-45s were purchased in ROC by Permesta through the Far Eastern Transportation Corporation and were flown by 3 Chinese pilots hired from the same company.
Note: Conboy/Morrison) (Air Enthusiast gives the company name as Far Eastern Air transport or FAT
These Beechcrafts were actually former bomber trainers from the ROCAF, and originally might have had small bomb bays and glass noses. FAT purchased them as surplus and civilized them, mostly by replacing the nose. The two aircraft sold to Permesta however kept their bomb bays. A C-54 was also purchased via another Chinese Airline, Foshing, but was found not suitable for the airfield around Manado.
Note: Air Enthusiast
The creation of AUREV (acronym for Angkatan Udara Revolusioner, Revolutionary Air Force) was announced on 18 March 1958.
Conboy/Morrison. In an interview for Angkasa magazine, Petit Muharto declares AUREV was started in April.
AUREV was under the orders of former AURI Major Petit Muhardjo, assisted by former AURI Mustang pilot Captain Hadi Sapandi. Petit Muhardjo, himself a Javanese not related to the dissident provinces, had been quite vocal against the intrusion of politics, especially communist-style indoctrination, in the Armed Forces. As a result, he was “exiled” and given a posting as Air Attaché in Manila, where he first got in touch with Permesta personalities. Summoned back to Jakarta, he instead flew to Singapore where he met Permesta political leaders and bumped into Hadi Sapandi, a former Mustang pilot bitter with the Jakarta politics and with his own situation. (Petit Muharto interview in Angkasa)
The CIA decided to supply AUREV with two common types of aircraft, the Invader and the Mustang. Both types were used by many air forces around the world, and Invaders were readily available at Clark AFB, where many had been mothballed, including some aircraft formerly leased to the French for their war in Indochina. The Mustangs would be “re-possessed” from the Philippine Air Force. As there were no Philippine or Indonesian pilots qualified on the Invader, the CIA decided to bring in Polish pilots previously hired for secret air drops and reconnaissance missions over Eastern Europe. (Conboy/Morrison and Air Enthusiast)
In late March 1958, two former Philippine Air Force Mustangs were hired by the CIA, together with a couple of armorers. (Conboy/Morrison and Air Enthusiast)
On 12 April, four Polish airmen under contract with the CIA flew two black unmarked and turretless B-26s from Clark AFB to Mapanget. Fuel drums and bombs had been flown in by CAT C-46s. (Conboy/Morrison)
Note: according to Air Enthusiast, six Poles left Clark in three black unmarked B-26Bs on 12 April. Air Enthusiast, and Leif Hellstrom in “Foreign Invaders” give the serial numbers of three Invaders fitted with 6-gun noses and painted in black at Clark Field.
On 13 April, the day after their arrival from Clark AFB, the two bomb-loaded black Invaders with Polish/Indonesian crews started on their first mission, with targets Makasar in South Sulawesi and Balikpapan on the island of Borneo, but the first plane crashed shortly after take-off, killing its crew of two Poles and one Indonesian. The second Invader attacked Makasar air base in South Sulawesi, apparently without causing major damage. After the crash, the remaining Poles asked to return to Clark or Europe as this was not really part of their fight. They left Mapanget within a week.
Note 1: Conboy/Morrison
Note 2: (MK): we have two versions here, either two or three Invaders were flown into Mapanget by the Polish aircrews. Both authors, Leif Hellstrom and Ken Conboy, have bonafide sources. As three black Invaders were deployed, another possibility would be that the Poles brought two and that William Beale brought the third one from Clark AFB on 19 May.
On 16 April 1958, an armed AUREV C-45, flown by Chinese pilots, attacked the airfield at Balikpapan (Eastern coast of Borneo) and damaged two transport planes, one belonging to AURI and the other one to Royal Dutch Shell. (Conboy/Morrison)
1-Air Enthusiast gives the date of attack as 17 April, without identifying the attacking aircraft, Beech or Invader. The damaged planes were a Royal Dutch Shell Dakota and an AURI Catalina.
2-In an interview to Angkasa magazine, a former AURI Catalina pilot reports that a Catalina was destroyed on the ground at Balikpapan by an AUREV Invader flown by Pope-?-, but no date is specified, is it 16 April or more probably 28 April ?
3-In “Foreign Invaders”, Leif Hellstrom mentions the attack on Balikpapan on the 17th, stating that an oil tanker was sunk, a fuel depot damaged and a C-47 of Royal Dutch/Shell badly damaged)
On 19 April 1958, CIA-pilot William Beale flew from Clark AFB to Mapanget (MK: in a B-26 or a C-46??). William Beale was a former USAF bomber pilot who had joined CAT and lived in Taiwan. Allen Pope, a former Invader pilot in the Korean War, who was flying for CAT out of Saigon, was approached at the same time, and he took the job.
On 20 April 1958, two Mustangs were ferried from Clark AFB to Mapanget by their Filipino contract pilots.
Note: Conboy/Morrison and Air Enthusias
Pencil-type ferry tanks were used.
Note MK: I wonder if they were of the 160 gallon Fletcher Aircraft Corporation type, that had been used for Mustang ferry flights between Japan and Korea. A picture in “Foreign Invaders” also shows a B-26B from the second batch with this type of tanks fitted.
In the morning of 20 April, an Invader flown by William Beale attacked the airfield at Palu, Central Sulawesi.
In preparation of a Permesta seaborne operation to take the island of Morotai, a Mustang and an Invader attacked Morotai Air Base in the morning of 21st April, damaging an airstrip, a fuel depot and some buildings. The second AUREV Mustang made a quick attack on Jailolo airfield, then straffed buildings on Ternate Island.
Note 1: Conboy/Morrison and Air Enthusiast for the attack on Morotai.
Note 2: note MK: Morotai Island, on the North of the larger Halmahera island in the North Moluccas, was one of the staging bases for Mc Arthur’s advance towards the Philippines. He used the island as his headquarters for a couple of months. Seven airstrips were built and could accommodate big transport planes and B-29s, and at least one airstrip is maintained by the Indonesian Air Force to this day.
Both Mustangs carried out a second attack on Jailolo airfield and Ternate harbor on 22 April.
Note: Conboy/Morrison - Air Enthusiast confirms an attack on Ternate harbor by both Mustangs without specifying the date.
On 23 April, both Mustangs were armed with 250lb bombs and attacked Ternate harbor, but missed the boats anchored there. They then decided to straff the army barracks. One of the Mustangs was hit by machine-gun fire but managed to make it back to Mapanget.
Note: Conboy/Morrison – confirmed by Air Enthusiast without date
On 24 and 25 April, the remaining Mustang took again Ternate for target. On the 26th, he returned to Jailolo airfield, followed by the C-45 “bomber”. Meanwhile, the AUREV B-26, still flown by Beale, made two attacks in the Palu area (Central Sulawesi).
On the morning of 27 April, CIA-pilot Allen Pope arrived from Clark AFB. (Conboy/Morrison)
Note MK: Air Enthusiast just mentions that Pope apparently flew his first mission on 29 April.
On 27 April, an AUREV B-26 flown by Pope and the serviceable Mustang attacked Morotai airfield to support the landing of Permesta troops. The airfield was occupied in the early hours of 28 April.
On the same day, the second Invader flown by Beale attacked the island of Ambon, in the Southern Moluccas, damaging a fuel depot and buildings.
Six Filipino mechanics under contract for CAT and two Philippine Air Force armourers were also flown to Mapanget by CAT.
A total of eight attacks were carried out by AUREV on the three AURI airfields around Ambon from April 27 onwards.
Note: from AirEnthusiast;
Note MK: airfields are: Laha, Amahai and Liang
On 28 April, the B-26s flown by Pope attacked the harbor of Donggala, near Palu in Central Sulawesi, and sank three merchant ships, registered in Panama, Italy and Greece. Turning over Palu, he spotted a vehicle depot and machine-gunned the jeeps and trucks parked there.
The other B-26, flown by Beale and AUREV commander Petit Muharto, went for the oil town of Balikpapan, on the eastern coast of Borneo. They placed one bomb on the airstrip, sank a British tanker with another bomb, missed another tanker with the third bomb, and finally sank the Indonesian gunboat KRI Hang Tuah with their last bomb.
Note 1: Conboy/Morrison
Note 2: Air Enthusiast records the sinking of a British-registered tanker at Balikpapan, probably by Beale, and the destruction by bombs of a Panamean and Italian ship in Ambon harbour; the same day a B-26 sank the Indonesian Navy gunboat Hang Tuah off Balikpapan.)
1-Angasa reports that an AURI Catalina was destroyed on the ground at Balikpapan by a B-26 flown by Pope and Muharto-could there be confusion with the later raid on Liang where Pope and Muharto destroyed or damaged another AURI Catalina?
2-In an interview to Angkasa magazine, a former AURI Catalina pilot, and friend of Muharto, recalls that Pope -?- destroyed an AURI Catalina at Balikpapan, but he did not mention the date. There was a second AURI Catalina at Balikpapan that day, but the Invader pilot did not spot it
On the same afternoon, Beale and Muharto bombed the Army barracks in Ambon.
On 29 April, Pope returned to the South Moluccas in a B-26 in the morning.
Note MK: target unknown
In the afternoon, Pope, with co-pilot Hadi Sapandi (deputy commander of the AUREV) and radio-operator Harry Rantung, bombed the airfield at Kendari in South-East Sulawesi, damaging the runway, the fuel depot and the buildings, before machine-gunning an Indonesian patrol boat, the KRI Intana, in Kendari’s harbor.
On 30 April, Pope returned to Palu and Donggala, sank a ship and bombed a warehouse and a bridge.
Beale, in the second B-26, bombed the Ambon airport.
At Clark AFB, by the end of April, four additional B-26Cs had been converted into B-26Bs with eight-gun solid noses, but without wing guns. They were left in natural metal finish except for the engines.
Note: Air Enthusiast and Foreign Invaders-photo
On 1 May, Beale returned to Clark for R&R in his B-26. Some rivalry had developed between Beale and Pope, who had very different characters.
Pope attacked the city of Ambon in the other B-26 but there was an explosion in his right engine and he returned to Mapanget on one engine.
Between 1 May and 5 May, AUREV flew no missions, as one B-26 was damaged and the other was at Clark with Beale. One of the Mustangs still had a hole in the wing near the fuel tank, and the other one was grounded for lack of a wingman.
On 5 May, CIA-pilot James Cherbonneaux arrived at Mapanget with a third unmarked Mustang.
1-in Air Enthusiast, the pilot is described as “Bill”, a former USAF Sqn Leader in Korea, and the date of his arrival is “around May 1”.
2-James Cherbonneaux was interviewed by co-author James Morrison
3-the 18th FBG website records the death of a James Cherbonneaux in 2001
After a new Mustang had been delivered from Clark on 5 May, the two Filipino pilots took the two serviceable Mustangs to Palu and Donggala on 6 May.
They returned to Palu on 7 May and straffed the airfield.
On the same day, Pope and Muharto went for Ambon airfield in the now repaired B-26, damaging an AURI Dakota and Mustang on the ground.
Note: Conboy/Morrison and Angkasa Dec.99
Air Enthusiast; on May 7, an AURI C-47 and F-51 were damaged at Laha airfield
In early May, a US Navy barge delivered aviation fuel and bombs in Manado.
On 8 May, the two serviceable Mustangs headed for S-E Sulawesi (most probably Kendari harbor or airfield) while Pope in his B-26 went for Palu.
Note MK: some of the morning missions might have been flown to support the Permesta troops landing at Parigi, around 30km from Palu
Later that day, a CAT Catalina landed at Jailolo, which had been occupied by Permesta troops coming from Morotai, before returning to Mapanget.
In the afternoon, Pope headed for the Ambon Island and attacked the airfield at Liang, on the eastern tip, and destroyed one AURI Catalina on the ground while damaging some installations, before machine-gunning an Indonesian navy gunboat in Ambon harbor. Note: Conboy/Morrison, and Angkasa March2000 for the destroyed AURI PBY;
Note: Air Enthusiast: an AURI Catalina was destroyed at Liang airfield and four airmen seriously wounded.
Note MK: in an interview to Angkasa magazine, Petit Muharto states that the AURI Catalina was destroyed by Pope and himself flying an Invader, no date specified. One of the AURI Catalina pilots, and also a friend of Muharto, reportedly twisted his ankle jumping from the Catalina when he spotted the AUREV B-26.
On 9 May, Beale returned to Mapanget (with his B-26?) while Pope took his leave
Note MK: locally? To Clark? With his B-26?
On 9 May, Beale returned from leave and attacked the town of Ambon, noticing that an AURI had taken off and tried to chase him.
Note MK: There is a mention of AURI Mustangs chasing an AUREV B-26 that had just bombed their base in Angkasa Dec.99, but no date is indicated. Air Enthusiast mentions that the attacking B-26 was chased away by an AURI Mustang on 8 May.
On 10 May, Beale in his B-26 and the two Filipino pilots in their Mustangs attacked the airfield at Amahai, on the island of Ceram (or Seram), destroying an AURI Mustang on the ground.
(Air Enthusiast: on 10 May, an AUREV B-26 returned, escorted by the two Mustangs and an AURI Mustang was damaged at Amahai airfield.
Sometime between 10 and 13 May, CIA-pilot Connie Seigrist arrived at Mapanget in a Catalina.
According to Pedet Soedarman, this Catalina was white without any other markings. (Sumardjo)
On 12 and 13 May, the 3 pilots attacked several targets in Central Sulawesi.
(Air Enthusiast: on May 13 a single B-26 did some slight damage to the runway and base hospital at Laha, but without causing any casualties.)
On May 12, at Clark AFB, six additional clear-nose Invaders were pulled from storage. Four were fitted with gun-noses, while the remaining two, intended as a source for spares, kept their plexiglas noses and were painted in black on the upper surfaces and green over natural metal on the lower surfaces.
(Air Enthusiast and Foreign Invaders – photo)
On the afternoon of the 13th, Beale in his B-26 and Seigrist in a new Catalina headed for Ambon, where Beale machine-gunned and sank a sailboat.
Possibly on 14 May, Seigrist tried to convert the Catalina into a bomber. He took the plane over the coral reefs off Manado and some bombs were rolled out of a platform through the blisters. Only one out of four did explode on target and the idea was abandoned.
Note: Conboy/Morrison and Air Enthusiast
Also on 14 May, Beale decided to quit the operation. (Conboy/Morrison)
Note MK: Air Enthusiast just mention that Beale had left the operation before 18 May following an argument between Pope and himself
Pedet Soedarman recalls that, prior to the 15 May attack, Indonesian Intelligence estimated the strength of AUREV at 8 airplanes from the Invader, Mustang, Catalina and Dakota types.
Note MK: AUREV Strength on 15 may 1958:
1-Did Beale bring his B-26 back to Clark when he left the operation?
2-During the 15 May 1958 attack, the following AUREV airplanes were at Mapanget:
- 3 Mustangs, 2 of them serviceable
- 1 Catalina
- maybe 1 B-26
the other B-26 (maybe the sole B-26) was on mission, flown by Pope.
3-The two C-45s were at Tasuka, maybe with a Chinese C-46 (report by AURI pilot-Air Ent.).
4-Conboy/Morrison-page129: “other than Pope’s B-26, the rebel fleet now counted just one serviceable P-51”, which would mean that Beale took his B-26 back to Clark. Or did Beale come back on 9 May without his B-26, leaving just one B-26 at Mapanget?
5-Air Enthusiast-page35: “No B-26s were touched, or even spotted by the AURI attackers…” and “As it happened, one of the two remaining B-26s had been dispatched to attack the AURI airfields on Ambon in the morning of May 15, but of course found them empty…”
6-Air Enthusiast-page35: “some pilots also reported the presence at Tasuka of one aircraft like a Dakota, only much bigger. Most likely this was a RoKAF C-46…”
Prepared on a basis of a poor photograph showing four AURI Mustangs preparing for take-off approximately at the time of the operations against AUREV, this artwork depicts the AURI Mustang F-319 (44-13045), which - according to article in AirEnthusiast No.82 - took part in the fighting of 1958. The aircraft was obviously hastily camouflaged, probably in two shades of green, or in green and brown: the exact colours remain unknown. On the same photograph also the nose of a Mustang that was probably F-303 can be seen, which carried some quite spectacular squadron insignia. F-303 was reportedly destroyed on 18 May 1958 at Laha airfield.
The AURI Offensive on 15 May 1958
Note MK: Most of the following is from Pedet Soedarman’s biography by Sumardjo
The attacks carried out on 15 May 1958 were aimed at restoring AURI’s air superiority over Eastern Indonesia by damaging the airfields used by AUREV and destroying as many rebel airplanes on the ground as possible.
On 14 May 1958, 4 B-25 Mitchells and 5 P-51D Mustangs were gathered at Maumere airport, on the island of Flores, where the crews took received their instructions from Major Leo Wattimena.
The targets were the four airfields in AUREV hands:
- Mapanget, Manado’s airport, located North of the city and the main AUREV base.
- Tasuka, a smaller airfield near Tondano Lake, South of Manado (this airfield is sometimes called Kalawiran or Tondano or Langoan, but AURI pilots like Pedet Soedarman use the name Tasuka).
- Morotai, on the island of the same name, North of the larger Almahera Island, a huge airfield built by US forces during the Second World War, and that had been used as Mac Arthur’s headquarters for a few months. This AURI base had been taken over by PERMESTA forces during a raid on 28 April 1958.
- Jailolo, a smaller airfield located on the western coast of Almahera Island.
The first phase was a dawn attack on Mapanget and Tasuka. 3 Mustangs and 3 Mitchells would attack Mapanget, while one Mitchell and two Mustangs would attack Tasuka.
Should enough AUREV planes be destroyed on the ground, the AURI planes would go back to their South Moluccan bases to be refueled and rearmed, before attacking Morotai and Jailolo the same day.
Should the AUREV planes, especially the Mustangs, be spared, the AURI planes would regroup at a different location (Maumere?) and the attack on Morotai and Jailolo would be re-planned.
An AURI Catalina based at Ambon (capital of the South Moluccas) was on SAR duty.
After briefing, the planes were dispatched to 3 separate airfields in the South Moluccas, Laha (Ambon), Liang and Amahai where they were refueled and the pilots tried to get some rest.
Before dawn, on 15 May 1958, all the planes involved in the operation took off and met over the island of Lifamatola. Approaching the coast of Sulawesi, they had to drop below the cloud cover, but the skies over Manado were clear enough to carry out the attack.
Over Mapanget, the AURI Mustangs started straffing the tarmac, destroying a Catalina and damaging the AUREV Mustangs (1 or 2 or 3 depending on the sources), they also fired rockets at installations, damaging the AUREV sleeping quarters (Conboy/Morrison).
The Mitchells then took turns dropping bombs on the runway and one B-25, flown by Pedet Soedarman, was hit by AAA fire, but managed to make it back to the Moluccas.
At Tasuka, the two AUREV C-45 were destroyed on the ground (Conboy/Morrison.)
1-According to some sources,the two AURI Mustangs that attacked Tasuka then went for Mapanget but both were hit by AAA guns. The first one caught fire and crashed in a palm tree plantation, killing the pilot. The second one ditched off Manado Bay and the pilot was recovered by a boat manned by governmental troops. Other sources say these incidents occurred around 10 June…
2-There are pictures in the TNI-AU archives of a (or two) destroyed C-45 at tasuka, one at least carrying a “Permesta” marking under the right wing.
3-There is a poor quality picture showing a destroyed and burned Catalina
4-There are at least three pictures showing damaged Mustangs captured at Mapanget. From the type of propeller blades, these are two different planes.
With the Mustang threat gone, two Mitchells and three Mustangs took off on the same afternoon from their South Moluccan airfields and attacked Morotai and Jailolo without meeting any opposition and with no real target to destroy.
On 15 May, while the Indonesian Air Force was attacking Mapanget and Tasuka, Pope bombed the Naiko, a governmental transport ship, in Ambon harbor before attacking the military barracks.
In the afternoon of the 15th, Pope flew a second mission against the airfields around Ambon, but was driven off by AAA fire and attacked the town where he also bombed a market, killing and injuring many civilians.
Note: Air Enthusiast
Note MK: even though it was widely advertised at the time, and even amplified by the US Embassy itself, some people think this bombing of the market never happened.
After the 15 May attack by AURI planes, AUREV had only one Mustang and one Invader left. This slightly damaged Mustang was rapidly put back to flying condition.
The CIA decided to rebuild the Air Force.
A CAT C-46 landed at Mapanget to bring one of the Filipino Mustang pilots and Connie Seigrist back to Clark AFB, with the mission to recruit new Filipino pilots, while Seigrist went to take a crash course on the B-26 and ferry back another Invader.
Note: Conboy/Morrison and Air Enthusiast
At Clark AFB, three more ex-Philippine Air Force Mustangs were stripped of their markings on 17-18 May.
Note: Air Enthusiast
Meanwhile, a Chinese unmarked C-54 loaded part of the AUREV stock of bombs at Mapanget and brought it to safety on the Filipino island of Sanga Sanga, South-West of Zamboanga. This island was already used as a discreet refueling stop for CAT C-46s and was scheduled to be the secret forward operating base for future CIA operations.
Note: Air Enthusiast confirms the use of a secret airfield on a small island off Zamboanga, actually closer to Borneo than to Zamboanga, but calls the island Tawi-Tawi.
Note MK: Tawi-tawi is a group of islands in the Sulu Sea, nowadays a province part of Muslim Mindanao, while Sanga-Sanga would be the name of the airport, still active today.
A replacement Catalina was dispatched from Taiwan to Mapanget with CAT pilot David Red Kern.
Note: Air Enthusiast
Note MK: date??
On 17 May, Connie Seigrist returned from Clark AFB with a new B-26.
On 17 or 18 May, CIA-pilot Truman Barnes ferried another B-26 from Clark AFB to Mapanget. Note: Conboy/Morrison
Note: Air Enthusiast: on May 17, two B-26s were ferried to Manado with one more following on 18 May, all of them with eight-gun noses and natural metal finish. Total B-26 deliveries to the AUREV thus stood at six aircraft. One of the new aircraft was delivered by Connie Seigrist, while the two others were flown by CAT pilots.
Note: Foreign Invaders: two additional B-26s were flown out to the rebels on 17 May, and a third aircraft on 17 May.
On 18 May, Pope in his B-26 and Connie Seigrist in the new B-26 took off for the South Moluccas. Permesta had received information that a governmental invasion force was being put together at Ambon. Pope and his radio operator Harry Rantung were to attack Ambon airfield and check if there were any signs of an invasion force. Seigrist would attack the Amahai airfield on Seram Island and help Pope if necessary.
Note: Air Enthusiast: Seigrist’s targets were the airfields around Ambon. He claims to have shot up three B-25s, before machine-gunning at low level some Mustangs camouflaged under some bushes. AURI does not list any B-25 loss that day, but the Mustang and the Dakota previously damaged at Laha airfield on May 7 were completely destroyed, and another Mustang was damaged.)
Note MK: who attacked Laha airfield? Pope or Seigrist?
When Pope arrived over Ambon airfield (MK: Laha??), the lone AURI Mustang was being fueled and the two previously damaged planes, a Dakota and a Mustang, were parked along the runway. Pope bombs hit the fuel truck (maybe also the serviceable Mustang?) and destroyed the two damaged planes. Pope then headed for Ambon harbor and spotted the invasion fleet. He reported by radio and dropped his last bomb, missing the transport ship Sawega. He made a second pass where he was reportedly hit by AAA fire from the boats.
In the meantime, at Liang airfield, AURI Captain Dewanto had received report that an AUREV plane was attacking Ambon and he took off, heading west.
Note MK: To this day the argument goes on between the Navy and the Air Force as to who shot Pope down. It is almost certain that Pope had been hit by the Navy AA guns, fact confirmed by many sailors and other troops on the Sawega, and by Rantung himself. Dewanto most probably gave him the coup de grace. Some Navy and Army personnel are adamant that there was no Mustang, even in some recent interviews, while other allegedly fired at Dewanto’s plane, thinking it was an AUREV Mustang.
Pope and Rantung jumped while the B-26 crashed into the sea. Both landed on a small island off the western tip of Ambon island and were captured by government troops. They were brought aboard one of the ships of the invasion force and were transported to Jakarta only after Morotai had been re-taken by the Indonesian Army.
While Pope was being shot down, Seigrist straffed the empty Amahai airfield before turning West to assist Pope. On the way to Ambon, he had a head-on run with Dewanto and both planes were hit.
Note MK: AURI confirms that there were bullet holes in Dewanto’s Mustang.
Dewanto headed back to Liang airfield while Seigrist returned to Mapanget. As one of his tires had been damaged, Seigrist didn’t land straight and his front gear collapsed. For a few days, neither AUREV nor the CIA knew that Pope had been captured.
Note: Air Enthusiast: Seigrist escaped by hiding in nearby clouds. His left landing gear had been damaged by AAA fire.
On 19 May, Truman Barnes in the newly arrived Invader and the sole AUREV Mustang patrolled the Moluccan waters, looking for the invasion fleet but spotting nothing.
Note: Air Enthusiast: on May 19, a final B-26 sortie was flown by CAT pilots.
On 20 May 1958, CIA Headquarters ordered to cease all operations; all operatives were to return to the Philippines. The last serviceable Mustang was flown to Sanga Sanga by its Filipino pilots and a CAT C-46 brought the American/Filipino team back to Clark AFB. Note: Conboy/Morrison
On 21 May, Truman Barnes flew the lone serviceable B-26 to Sanga Sanga. At Mapanget a burned Catalina, a damaged Invader and two damaged Mustangs were left behind.
Note MK: in the Air Enthusiast article, it is stated that Truman B. and Ron S., 2 CAT pilots, were flown in by C-46 to help ferry out the B-26s, which they did on 20 or 21 May. The PBY went straight back to Taiwan while the four-???- B-26s and the last flyable Mustang staged at Tawi-Tawi, where the Mustang was returned to Philippine Air force personnel.
Note: Foreign Invaders: a final reinforcement was sent on 26 May…when the two B-26Cs were flown out of Clark.
Note MK: did they fly to Mapanget after leaving Clark???)
Note: Air Enthusiast: the two B-26Cs left Clark on 26 May and probably both ended up on Taiwan
It is to be noted that Permesta and AUREV received some support directly from ROC.
In the beginning, this support was through two civil airlines, Fushing and Far Eastern Transportation Corporation. A civilian B-26 and a C-54 were purchased in the USA and flown to Taiwan where the B-26 was re-militarized by the ROCAF.
The C-54 was then dispatched to Mapanget on 15 or 16 May with a Chinese crew and it’s this plane that brought part of AUREV’s bomb stock from Mapanget to Sanga Sanga.
The now armed B-26 was flown in to Sanga Sanga by a ROCAF pilot between 15 and 17 May. On 19 May, it attacked the Balikpapan airfield. Other attacks were reportedly carried out on 15 June, 28 June, 9 July, 13 July and 19 July.
Note: Air Enthusiast: the Indonesians claim that several attacks were made by B-26s or unidentified aircrafts long after the AUREV was disbanded.
On 6 July, a Chinese PB4Y Privateer dropped supplies for Permesta.
Around mid-July, the last Chinese advisors were evacuated from North Sulawesi by a Fuching Catalina and the base at Sanga Sanga was closed.
A last supply drop by Privateer was conducted on 6 August 1958.
Permesta troops continued the fight in the mountainous areas South of Manado and the last of them surrendered in 1961. The last group of Permesta rebels resisted in the island of Halmahera, North Moluccas, until their surrender in January 1962.
AURI operations after 15 May 1958
After this attack, AURI Mitchells and Mustangs provided close support for governmental troops landing at Bitung, North Sulawesi on 15 June 1958, and at Wori, North of Manado,
Note: 16 June according to Pour or 21 June 1958 according to Pedet Soedarman.
On 19 May (Pour) or 20 May (Conboy/Morrison) 1958, Morotai airfield was re-occupied by governmental troops.
Two more AURI Mustangs were lost to AAA fire in early June, one ditching in the sea and the other one crashing into a coconut plantation.
Note MK: an Indonesian AF source mentioned around June 10 in two separate incidents, while other sources say these planes were actually lost during the 15 May attack. Both incidents were related in Angkasa magazine, but the date depended on the person interviewed.
Mapanget was lost to governmental troops around 20 June and Manado fell on 26 June. Note: Pour
After resisting to governmental troops for a week (equipped with .50 caliber machine guns and British-made scout cars), the rebels quietly left the city on 24 June and moved South towards Tomohon. The first Navy (Marinir) elements entered Manado on 26 June.
Note MK: the air support operations continued at least until September in the area South-West of Manado. Pedet Soedarman mentioned that the AURI B-25 and P-51 pilots were completely exhausted by that time.
By July 1961, […], most senior rebel officers were setting down their weapons. Three months later, the last holdouts had rallied to the central government.
Questions without an Answer
It remains unclear how many B-26 Invaders were finally used by the AUREV: the prepared in Clark for transfer to AUREV are clearly described in Air Enthusiast (and in the book "Foreign Invaders"), but:
- Did the Poles bring two (Conboy/Morrison) or three (Air Enthusiast) black six-gun nose Invaders to Mapanget on 12 April?
- Is there a possibility that Beale brought the third Invader on 19 April?
- Also, during the AURI attack on 15 May, were there two Invaders or only one (Conboy/Morrison) in Indonesia? And did Beale quit the operation before or after the attack?
This Cavalier Mustang - rebuilt under MAP, and delivered to Indonesia sometimes around 1971 - is now displayed on pole at Malang AB, the home of AURI Mustangs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It still wears the sharkmouth insignia worn on many - if not all - Indonesian Mustangs at the time. Note a different version of the 3 Skvadron insignia then on F-322 seen above: the red field is outlined in black, and two black arrows are also lacking their outline. The plane is displayed mounting rocket launchers as used not only on AURI F-51Ds, but also B-25Js and B-26Bs: however, such launchers were not used in 1958.
Another mystery, probably the most intriguing of all, is the origin of some 20 or so additional Mustangs purchased for the AURI after 1958.
The aircraft were probably acquired from the US civilian market, but this could not be entirely confirmed so far on the basis of known serial numbers and histories of single aircraft. It is reported that the Indonesians approached some Central American nations for P-51Ds, possibly Guatemala and Nicaragua - the later known to have many Mustangs but only a few pilots for them.
Any additional details would be more than wellcome!