El Salvadors Whistling Death Planes
by Carlos Fiasco
(from Central Region of Americas Plane Spotting newsletter #8)
(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa)
The buying by Israeli of the Aerospatial "Super Magister" program in the
beginning of 1970s meant, of, course, that many of older IAF Fouga Cm-170
Magisters were now excess to requirement and so were rebuilt and reupgraded
by Isarel Aircraft Industries for the export purpose. Most of these were
simplistic refurb-ishments of the standard 2-seat trainer variant and went
on to serve in many world airforces as long-lived basic trainers, of which
some are in place still. However, to make more sales of Fouga Cm-170
Magisters to more customers, Isarel Aircraft Industries begat 1-seat attack
verison with the name IAI CM-170K Tzukit.
(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable is
IAI CM-170K Tzukit was got from inspiration of Air Macchi Mb.326K (also
named Impala in Southern Africa) and K-designation was in fact blatent copy
of this name also. The designer's direction was to fit 2 DEFA 553 cannons
(of which Israeli had a manufacturing permission) in bumps underneath, with
many cannon shells in place of the rear pilots seat and bottom. But when this
configuration was test-flown, kickback and shaking damaged the aircraft frame
parts and even meant that that prototype was written away not to be flown again.
Serendipitously, a solution was found. Isarel Aircraft Industries was at
the time remaking Israeli Air Force Skyhawk aircrafts with DEFA cannons, so
there old Colt Mk.12 20mm cannons were spare for fitting to Fouga Cm-170
Magisters and when this was tested in flight it worked OK.
(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable are
20mm cannons in bumps on bottom)
As well as the cannons, the wing beams were made stroger to carry more
ordnance and the Turbo Mecca Marbore motors were tuned for more horsepower.
An ejecting seat, some armour and sighting electrical boxes were added also.
This was all called "Stage I". Stage II was conceived to start with new
General Eclectic J-85 motors (same as Super Magister) to give the horsepower
to carry more weights of ordnance, and a diffently arranged wing with 6 bomb
racks made possible by the moving of the air brakes to the back of new wing
end fuel tanks which looked like those on Sukhoi Su-25 Frogsfeet.
(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable are two bomb
Unfortunately for Isarel Aircraft Industries, the IAI CM-170K Tzukit did
not get sales to many customers. This was foremostly because even with the
stroger wings, ordnance weight of the IAI CM-170K Tzukit was too little, even
with clever Israeli-developed weapons such as "square" FFAR pod with 9 rocket
projections, whilst, alternatively, the, Stage II version with heavier
ordnance weight was too expensive to be buying for an already used aircraft.
Arabian boycott of Israel exports was a large problem also. Only a few Stage
I aircraft were sold and no Stage II aircraft were ever sold, but 1 customer
was El Salvador.
(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable are
9 rocket FFAR pods)
American Government ideas was for many years defeat the export of
hi-technology weapons such as jet fighter planes to Central American countries,
but this policy was "blown up" by the Israeli in the 1970s when first they
made a sale of Dassalt MD.450 Oragans to El Salvador then, a sale of Dassalt
Supermystere B2s to Honduras. El Salvador followed this mode then by buying
of 20 re-made Fouga Cm-170 Magisters of which the last 8 were conveerted to
IAI CM-170K Tzukits before they were remade. Accusedly El Salvador wanted
Stage II IAI CM-170K Tzukits but they were told by American Government that
permissions to sell to them the American Gereral Eclectic J-85 motors would
not ever be made, so they got Stage I only.
El Salvadors IAI CM-170 Tzukits were sent in normal IAF dessert camoflage
of green sand and brown paints due to a mistaken communication between the
Fuerza Aerea Salvadorena and the Isarel Aircraft Industries. In El Salvador
it was seen that these paints were too light of hue for the flora of that
place, so it was decided to paint across the sand paint with a green paint
of darker hue that was sent with the Dassalt MD.450 Oragans. A sotry is that
the first painter saw a snake under the plane and was epiphanied to leave
"snakes" of sand paint in the paint colours (or maybe he justly made a big
mistake and it looked fine and they kept it, but the first story is better
to tell in bars maybe?).
(IAI CM-170K Tzukit in circuit at B.A. de Mayaculpa. Notable is sand
paint "snakes". Paint is badly after many years of fight)
The Salvadorean IAI CM-170K Tzukits and also there 2-seat Fouga Cm-170
Magisters fought a lot in the El Salvador Civil War in the 1980s years and
soon 4 were crashed or shot down but they did many bombings of rebels. The
palnes were said to have been given the name "Whistling Death" because of
the sound of there motors (but truthfulness of this history is unclarified
so far by researching).
But from the middle of the 1980s Cessna A-37B Dragonflys were sent from
America because of American President Ronald Reagans changes of American
Government policy about El Salvador. The IAI CM-170K Tzukit was a lot
posterior to the Cessna A-37B Dragonflys becasuse this plane (thrust with
irony by General Eclectic J-85 motors that IAI CM-170K Tzukit was not allowed)
had much bigger weight of ordnance, and so the IAI CM-170K Tzukit became less
and less seen. Now only 1 is ordained to still be alaive in El Salvador with
2 Fouga Cm-170 Magisters also.
(All photos by author - pardons that closeup photos of aircraft on ground
all taken by Military Police who arrested author at B.A. de Mayaculpa)
Kit: Airfix 1/72nd Fouga Magister
Gun Blisters: Revellobox 1/72nd Mystere IV rocket pod halves
Gun barrels: Airfix 1/72nd early Skyhawk
Pylons: Airfix 1/72nd BAe Hawk
Paint: Humbrol enamels, sprayed (badly) and brushed, Karismacolour pencils and black pastel
Decals: home made national markings, magister stencilling, Hawk ejection seat triangles
Mods: headrest to make moulded-in seat look like ejector seat, masking tape seat straps,
scratchbuilt gunsight, single cockpit and cut down canopy, gun blisters added, tailpipes blanked off,
pylons added, rocket pods scratchbuilt from brass tube and Evergreen rod.
Best bits: the way the single seat conversion came together, the rocket pods and the gunsight.
Worst bits: when the filler cockled the engine door skin, and when the brown paint went horribly,
Full build thread here: