Resurrecting the last North American NA-50 Fighter

The recovery team with the NA-50 now safely in the hangar at Las Palmas AFB in Lima, Peru. Members of EAA Chapter 1527 have already begun to restore this unique airframe. (image via EAA Peru)

The NA-50 was an export fighter which North American Aviation (NAA) designed for the Peruvian Air Force in the late 1930s. They type evolved from the two-seat NA-16 trainer which, as we all know, NAA developed into the prolific and hugely successful T-6/SNJ Texan, and numerous sub-variants. The NA-50 was lightly armed, with just two .30 calibre machine guns and wing-mounted hard points for small bombs. NAA produced just seven examples, delivering them to Peru in 1939. The Peruvians nicknamed the type as Torito, meaning Little Bull. Some of the Peruvian NA-50s did see some combat in a border conflict with neighboring Ecuador during July, 1941.

An NA-50 pictured here during testing in the USA prior to its delivery to Peru. (image via Wikipedia)

Interestingly, NAA produced a similar sub variant, the NA-68, for the Royal Thai Air Force, but the six airframes they completed were impounded before they could be delivered, and impressed into U.S. Army Air Force Service as the P-64.

The Royal Thai Air Force ordered six NA-68s, but the U.S. Army Air Forces impressed them into service before they could be delivered. These diminutive fighters served as the P-64 in U.S. service. The P-64 pictured here was photographed at Moffett Field in California on December 6, 1941. The type served as an advanced fighter-trainer. (image via Wikipedia)

It is interesting to note that, despite the small numbers produced, one example of each variant survives. The Experimental Aircraft Association Aviation Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin has an airworthy P-64, which they occasionally fly, and the Peruvian Air Force has one surviving NA-50. In a twist of fate, the EAA is now helping the Peruvian’s to resurrect their NA-50 to flying condition so that it can take part in the bicentennial of Peru’s independence from Spain during 2021. The following message is from John Saúl Cavero Sarmiento, president of EAA Chapter 1572 in Lima, Peru, the EAA Chapter which is taking on the restoration. If there is anything our readers can do to help them with their efforts, please do be sure to contact them!

The NA-50 as she was up until EAA Peru (EAA Chapter 1527) brought her down off her pole. EAA Chapter 1527 president John Cavero is standing in the foreground. (image via EAA Peru)

EAA Peru is the name by which EAA Chapter 1572 is known within the EAA community.

Founded on July 23, 2015, EAA Peru seeks to replicate the EAA model in our country, in accordance with the specific conditions and challenges present. Like any EAA member, we are passionate about aviation and we are determined to apply what we know to contribute to the development of Peru. Our goal is to create an element of national identity through aviation, the aerospace sciences, and the application of technology.

In accordance with our vision, we have embarked ourselves upon a project that has the potential to completely change Peru and influence the lives of its citizens in a deeply positive way. Our project is the restoration of the last remaining North American NA-50 in the world.

This aircraft is the pride of the Peruvian Air Force (sp. Fuerza Aérea del Perú – FAP) and a national historic treasure for Peru. It was part of a squadron of 7 aircraft purchased by Peru from the USA in 1939. The squadron was involved in combat during the War between Peru and Ecuador in 1941. It is during this war that José Abelardo Quiñones Gonzáles, a Peruvian national hero, sacrificed his life to save his fellow airmen, by deliberately crashing his NA-50 into the Ecuadorian anti-aircraft battery that had just shot him down.

This NA-50 has been sitting on a pedestal at Las Palmas Air Force Base for more than 50 years. Now, as a joint effort between the Peruvian Air Force – FAP and many other Peruvian organizations, with the support of the Experimental Aircraft Association EAA, through its Chapter 1572 in Lima, Peru – the goal is to restore the last NA-50 to an airworthy condition for the celebrations of the Bicentennial of Peru’s Independence from Spain in 2021. We are sure we can accomplish this task within the time limit and by doing that, have a very strong and positive impact upon the short-term “it’s impossible” mindset that plagues most of Peruvian society. As we see it, the NA-50 restoration is not a mere aviation project, but a national project that could change the lives of many people in the country.

As part of the EAA family we are reaching out to every EAA Chapter in the world that would like to contribute with this project and spread “The Spirit of Aviation” to the people of Peru, a country that needs aviation desperately but has no knowledge of it. Any kind of support is welcomed, whether it’s financial, in the form of materials and equipment, expertise and further promotion of the project through blogs, articles, the media or any other mean of communication. If you think you have something of value that we can use, then this is most likely the case.

You can get updates of the project through the internet on, or through our Facebook page NA-50. I thank you deeply for your interest in helping us, even though you are far away we are all part of the EAA family. We are cleared for takeoff!

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