Fighter Aviation Day in Brazil Date in the current year: April 22, 2024

Fighter Aviation Day in Brazil Fighter Aviation Day is observed in the Brazilian Air Force every year on April 22. It celebrates the contribution of the Brazilian fighter aviation to the Allied war effort on the Italian front of World War II.

Brazil first employed military aviation during the Contestado War in 1914, but the active development of the Brazilian Air Force began during World War II. The present-day Brazilian Air Force was created in 1941, and the 1st Fighter Aviation Group of the Brazilian Air Force was officially formed in December 1943. It consisted of 350 men, including 43 pilots.

After extensive training in the United States and Panama, the 1st Fighter Aviation Group was declared operational. It participated in the air defense of the Panama Canal Zone before being sent to the Italian front as part of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in September 1944.

By April 1945, when the Allied forces started an offensive along the Po Valley, the squadron had lost more than half of its pilots. 23 pilots had been killed, shot down and captured, or relieved from their duties due to being injured or suffering from combat fatigue.

On April 22, 1945, the remaining Brazilian pilots flew 44 individual missions and destroyed a huge number of German military vehicles, including tanks, barges, and bridges in the San Benedetto region. To commemorate the war effort of the 1st Fighter Aviation Group, April 22 was declared Fighter Aviation Day in the Brazilian Air Force.

During the liberation of Italy, the 1st Fighter Aviation Group flew a total of 445 missions, with a total of 2,550 individual flights, 5,465 combat flying hours and 6,144 total hours of flight. It was the most efficient squadron of the XXII Tactical Air Command.

Upon their return to Brazil, the pilots of the 1st Fighter Aviation Group were declared national heroes for their contribution to the Allied war effort and participated in a victory parade. Notable members of the 1st Fighter Aviation Group of the Brazilian air force have included:

  • José Vicente Faria Lima, a military engineer and later the mayor of São Paulo from 1965 to 1969; a founding member of the 1st Fighter Aviation Group
  • Joaquim Pedro Salgado Filho, a lawyer and politician credited with separating the Brazilian Air Force from the army; a founding member of the 1st Fighter Aviation Group
  • Rui Moreira Lima, a military fighter pilot who created the battle cry of the 1st Fighter Aviation Group, Senta a Púa!

Today, the Brazilian Air Force has several fighter aviation squadrons. The Northrop F-5F Tiger II is the backbone of Brazil’s fighter aviation, although their gradual replacement with the Saab JAS 39 Gripen began in 2021. The first two serial production Gripen E fighters arrived in Brazil in April 2022.

In addition to Fighter Aviation Day, Brazil celebrates the Brazilian Air Force Anniversary on May 22 and Aviator’s Day on October 23. The anniversary of the Brazilian Air Force commemorates the day in 1941 when the National Air Force of the newly established Ministry of Aeronautics was renamed the Brazilian Air Force. Aviator’s Day honors Alberto Santos-Dumont, a pioneer of Brazilian aviation, and his first flight.

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