For All Nails #182: Arma Superior
by Noel Maurer
TRENT'S AIRMOBILE GUIDE
First published in 1933 by Group Captain Sir Walter Trent, CNAAF (ret.), FRNAMHS.
Compiled and edited by Walter Trent, Jr., FRNAMHS, and Rachael Wright, FRNAMHS. Copyright (c) 1974, Trent's Publishing, PLC., 33 Centre St., Burgoyne, PA 8E3 24C
Emgrasa, or the Empresa Granadina de Aeromobiles, S.A., was founded by the New Granadan government in 1959. Aeroméxico Espacial holds a 25 percent share in the company; Freitag/Banner GmbH owns an additional 20 percent. The company's first product was a small 80-seat regional jet, which became a minor export success, particularly in Europe. In 1963 the company opened its military division. The division's first product was a small jet-powered trainer.
EMGRASA CAT-1 "Gato"
In 1966, during the waning days of the Hermión regime, Emgrasa undertook a joint project with Aeroméxico Espacial and Freitag/Banner to design a surface attack aircraft for battlefield interdiction and close air support specialized for South American conditions. That meant an airmobile capable of operating at high subsonic speed and low altitude, by day or night, and if necessary, from bases with poorly equipped or damaged runways. The Gato relies on a single overpowered double-intake fan-blade turbojet for thrust.
Production began in 1970, mostly for domestic use, but the airmobile has been exported to several other Latin American air arms (including Brazil, Chile, Guatemala and Peru), and representatives of the Associated Russian Republics joint procurement agency have recently expressed an interest in the aircraft. If a contract is signed, exports to other German clients are expected to follow.
- Type: Single-seat ground attack aircraft
- Dimensions: Wing span: 29 ft -- Length: 46 ft -- Tail height: 15 ft.
- Engines: 1 Malverde J-5 turbofan engine
- Maximum speed: 0.97 Pings
- Cruising speed: 0.8 Pings
- Maximum altitude: 42,000 feet
- Over the Caribbean Sea
- 21 January 1975
Three Gatos take off from the airfield in Barcelona. Their call sign is "Tiburón." Without air-to-air missiles, the three aircraft are on a very risky mission to destroy as many English ships as possible near the island of Tobago, which intelligence believes to be the primary target of the Royal Task Force. FN1
The pilots know that the limones have identified their attack corridors, but they have the advantage of operating relatively close to shore. Captain Jorge Justo knows that it would have been better strategically to have hit the limones pre-emptively, when they were further away, but he understands why that was politically impossible. To his surprise, he finds himself thanking God for politicians -- without them, this mission would be far harder, in terms of his own ability to survive it, if not for their ability to contribute to the defense of the fatherland.
With one minute to reach their targets, Justo's number three pilot, Carlos Hill, radios: "¡Aeromobile a la derecha!" Hill is flying to Justo's left, and Justo feels faint annoyance that Hill -- one of the graduates of the FANG's auxiliary pilot training program, rather than an Arma Superior man -- didn't call out a clock time. The annoyance is immediately replaced by fear when he glances to his right and sees a grey-blue silouette looming out of the drizzle. It's flying in almost the same direction they are. For a second he thinks it might be Neogranadian, but then it begins to bank in what can only be an attempt to get into position to weld a pipe down his exhaust. FN2
"¡Vuelo! Abandone las bombas -- preparense para enfrentar hostiles." The other airmobile is clearly a enemy AC-17 Hummingbird, and as Justo follows through on his own orders he notices that the airmobile he saw banking to his right is not the one Hill was trying to warn him about: there's another Hummingbird a little farther away and approaching fast. It's immediately clear to Justo that his wingman is preparing to engage the second English aero with his 20mm cannons. Puto, thinks Justo. The the first Hummingbird is going to paste Hill while Hill wastes rounds on the second.
He knows he can't hit the second Englishman at 700 meters, but he also knows that lighting up his weapons will give the first limón a target he can't refuse. Hoping -- there really isn't time to pray -- that this tactic will save his wingman, Justo starts blasting. To his satisfaction, the gringo he's shooting at overreacts. FN3 The Hummingbird rolls and dives towards the sea. Justo goes into a dive; almost losing control, but the CAT-1 Gato is nothing if not responsive. He's plunging towards the point where he thinks the second Hummingbird was headed, and hopefully too fast for the first to get a lock on him.
Now having the split-second he needs to turn a hope into a prayer, he opens up with the cannons again. Something flashes. The enemy aircraft being hit? Justo barely notices it, since he's busy trying not to crash into the water. Pulling up and banking to his left, Justo flashes barely meters past Hill's aircraft. He can't see what happened to Gutiérrez, his second pilot, so he activates the radio and says, "Segu ... "
There's a flash and thump and Justo feels his aero change from a highly responsive piece of aeronautical engineering into a useless hunk of metal. Figuring that he's at least 500 meters up, he punches the eject button and swooshes out into the air. His fallscreen opens and he's yanked brusquely up. By fate, he gets twisted to an angle where can see the screens of both his wingmen pop open -- the goddamned limones got all three of 'em. "¡Puto!" he rails at the fates as he drifts towards the sea.
Forward to FAN #183: Wheeler Wars.
Forward to 21 January 1975: URGENT BUSINESS PROPOSAL.
Forward to American War: Mail Call.
Return to For All Nails.