HIDDEN HISTORY ‘Football War’ Part 1

There are now few veterans of the ‘Football War’, known locally as the ‘100-Hour War’, between El Salvador and Honduras. Salvadoran Mustang and Corsair pilot Gen Rafael Villamariona is one — he recalls those days in July 1969

The sole Cavalier-converted TF-51D Mustang supplied to the FAS, serial FAS 400, was used to convert new pilots to the type as well as seeing combat.
Rafael Villamariona on one of the FAS Mustangs. Then a captain, he rose through the air force’s ranks to become its commander, retiring as a general.
Cavalier F-51D Mustangs FAS 404 and 405 before delivery to El Salvador, flying over Sarasota, Florida in 1968.
Mechanics working on one of the Salvadoran Mustangs shortly before the conflict.
A rather dangerous plaything for some local kids on the island of Madresal — an FAS FG-1D Corsair, complete with weaponry, during the war.

The ‘100-Hour War’, as it’s known in El Salvador, the ‘Guerra del ’69’ as the Hondurans call it, or the ‘Football/Soccer War’ to the rest of the world, became a part of aviation history as the last time piston-engined aeroplanes engaged in aerial combat. Gen Rafael Antonio Villamariona of the Salvadoran Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña, FAS) is a veteran pilot from that July 1969 conflict, during which he held the rank of captain, and has rarely told his story — until now.

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